20 Top DFS Golf Rankings for the Hero World Challenge
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Pull in the data, predictions, and insights from this article to help with your fantasy golf picks for the Hero World Challenge, and check out our PGA Lineup Optimizer to make more informed player selections for your DFS lineups. All the best this week!
The Hero World Challenge
Recap from The RSM Classic: Talor Gooch has been playing outstanding golf for pretty much the whole season, and he was able to breakthrough on Sea Island to capture his first PGA Tour win by three strokes over Mackenzie Hughes - huge congrats to Gooch, I love seeing players attain their first professional victory!
Preview for the Hero World Challenge: This tournament isn't an official PGA Tour event, but most of us still play DFS like it is and who doesn't enjoy watching elite players compete in the Bahamas?! This is the smallest field tournament that we see all year with just 20 players making the journey to Albany, Bahamas, to play in Tiger Wood's hosted event benefiting his charitable foundation. We, unfortunately, didn't have a 2020 edition of the Hero World Challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but it's wonderful to welcome it back for 2021. We have a very strong field on tap including Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay, and other star players, as well. This tournament started back in the year 2000 as the Williams World Challenge in Scottsdale, Arizona, at the Grayhawk Golf Club with Tom Lehman defeating David Duval by three strokes. Since 2015, however, this tournament has been played in Albany, Bahamas, at the Albany Golf Course, and has been known as the Hero World Challenge since 2014. Not surprisingly, Tiger Woods won this tournament five times between 2001 and 2011 and has also been the runner-up five times - unfortunately, he won't be competing this year due to his vehicle accident earlier this year, but he has started to hit golf balls again, so that's a very positive development in his rehab efforts. The tournament record on this particular course came in 2015 when Bubba Watson went off for a -25, beating Patrick Reed by three strokes. Winners of the Hero World Challenge since 2015 include the aforementioned Bubba Watson in 2015, Hideki Matsuyama in 2016, Rickie Fowler in 2017, Jon Rahm in 2018, and Henrik Stenson in 2019.
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Tournament purse: The prize money for this event is set at $3.5M, the winner collects $1M but won't receive the normal 500 FedEx Cup points since this isn't an official PGA Tour event, so there are no FedEx Cup points awarded this week.
Course and key stats: The Albany Golf Course is 7,309 yards in length, is a par 72, and the greens are Bermudagrass and average 4,500 square feet. The winning score here on this track ranges from -18 to -25, so expect a birdie-fest with lots of fantasy points to go around. Some of the core key stats to pay attention to (although most aren't very polarizing) are strokes gained: around the green which is the most important one by a far cry, driving distance, strokes gained: putting, strokes gained: tee to green, and driving accuracy percentage.
The field: We have a super tiny field of just 20 golfers, but interestingly enough, this will be the largest field that the event has ever seen as it's typically 18 players or less. There will obviously be no cut line and all players will play 72 holes unless there is a withdrawal situation. 15 of the top 20 ranked players in the world are competing, so there will be a ton of talent to watch and enjoy. On a scale ranging from A to D, I rank the field strength to be an A.
Three questions I have about the Hero World Challenge:
1. Rely on course history? A good number of the players have competed here before, but some have never been part of this exclusive event before including Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler, Abraham Ancer, Viktor Hovland, and others. I'll be certainly looking at past results as I always do on any given week, but I'll be even more focused on recent results than usual, especially considering the fact that players haven't been here for two years.
2. How to navigate the key stats? Other than strokes gained: around the green, driving distance, and to a certain degree, strokes gained: putting, it's hard to know how to weigh the key stats for custom modeling for this tournament. Strokes gained: approach is always a key stat I pay attention to even when the key stats don't really factor it in, and this course is very "getable" so you can't go wrong including birdie or better percentage, as well.
3. Will we see a scrub player surprise? I'm always trying to figure out which low-cost player is going to pop and have a big week to unlock huge value for my DFS lineups, and I imagine that you have the same mentality also. I think we will see one of the scrubs do quite well with a top 5-ish finish, but it's hard to say which one. I would guess Patrick Reed - nothing about his stats would indicate that, but he has an excellent history here and can seemingly come out of nowhere.
Lineup construction strategy this week: With such a microscopic field you can do anything you'd like to, especially since there's no cut line to deal with. Even more than normal though, you have to focus on projected player ownership and look for strong pivot plays to avoid the chalk, and I'd recommend leaving AT LEAST $700 to $1,000 on the table, if not more if you want to have potential unique lineups in the large GPPs.
All the best in your journey to win or at least be in the money in some contests - here are my power rankings for each of the 20 players, plus I include player salaries for DK, as well. I consistently provide recent and seasonal finishes for each of my picks, their performances at the event over the last 5 years, and add in some tasty pieces of information, also.
Power Ranking the full field of 20 Golfers for the Hero World Challenge
1. Collin Morikawa (Salary: DraftKings - $10.6K) - I believe that Morikawa is the player to beat this week as he has two wins in his last nine starts including winning The Open Championship in July and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai on the European Tour very recently. He has also finished no worse than T7 over his last three starts including a runner-up at THE CJ CUP in a fairly strong field. His game is back in fine shape after going through a back injury, and I think he's gearing up for a big 2022 where he could overtake Jon Rahm as the top-ranked player in the world - he's currently #2. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: None.
2. Justin Thomas (Salary: DraftKings - $10.2K) - Thomas has been sniffing around a win since finishing T4 at THE NORTHERN TRUST late last season, and since then he has two other top 4's in four starts including a 4th at the Tour Championship and a 3rd in his most recent start at Mayakoba. If his putter cooperates, then he should be in the mix to win this week and most other weeks, as well. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: 2019 - T5, 2018 - T12, and 2017 - 11th.
3. Rory McIlroy (Salary: DraftKings - $10.8K) - He has been elevating his game over his past few starts with three top 6's in his last four starts including winning THE CJ CUP, and he has finished no lower than T14 in six of his last seven tournaments played. Rory's off the tee game and putting have both been phenomenal as of late, and watch out if he gets his approach game back soon as it has been a tad shaky since late August. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: None.
4. Sam Burns (Salary: DraftKings - $7.5K) - Burns is arguably the most complete player in the world right now as he's gaining strokes like a mad man in all stat categories, and that has translated into excellent finishes since May with two wins in his last fifteen starts at the Valspar Championship and the Sanderson Farms Championship. He has four top 8's in his last six starts and has finished no lower than T21 in eight consecutive starts. He broke through in 2021 and could really bust out huge soon with larger tournaments on his radar for 2022. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: None.
5. Viktor Hovland (Salary: DraftKings - $9.9K) - He's a ball-striking wizard and that has led to two wins in his last eleven starts on the PGA Tour and the European Tour including Hovland's title defense at Mayakoba in early November where he gained 15.08 strokes total on the field. If he manages to figure out his chipping and putting then there's no limit to what he can achieve on the PGA Tour since his woods and long irons are rock-solid. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: None.
6. Abraham Ancer (Salary: DraftKings - $7.3K) - He ended his long PGA Tour win drought in August when he won the WGC - FedEx St.Jude Invitational and Ancer has been pretty good since too with three top 9's in his last seven starts including a 7th in his native country of Mexico at Mayakoba. He almost always gains strokes in ball-striking and with his short game - two key ingredients for success on golf's largest stage. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: None.
7. Bryson DeChambeau (Salary: DraftKings - $9.3K) - The PGA Tour's longest driver of the ball is a maniac off the tee as he gains strokes like crazy in that stat category, and DeChambeau has a soft touch on the greens, especially for being a hulk of a man. He has three top 8's in his last four starts including a runner-up at the BMW Championship where he gained 8.03 strokes off the tee and 9.36 with the flat stick. He hasn't found success on this track just yet, but he's a much different golfer than he was two and three years ago, so I expect him to finish quite high. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: 2019 - 15th and 2018 - T12.
8. Daniel Berger (Salary: DraftKings - $7.2K) - He won earlier this year at Pebble Beach in February and had seven top 10's last season overall. More recently, he has four top 11's in his last seven starts and two of those were majors - we haven't seen him since early September at the Tour Championship, but he's a gamer, and lots of time off from competitive golf seems to benefit his game more than hurt it. He has lost strokes putting over his last three starts, but if that returns to his normal baseline, then he should be firmly implanted in the top 10 when all is said and done. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: 2017 - T14.
9. Scottie Scheffler (Salary: DraftKings - $7.8K) - He had huge finishes at the majors last season finishing no worse than T19 and he had three top 8's in the final three. He has yet to win on the PGA Tour but came very close recently with a T2 at the Houston Open and a 4th at Mayakoba. He plays a complete game and is just a hot putter away from winning - I think he will put a victory on the board in 2022. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: None.
10. Webb Simpson (Salary: DraftKings - $6.7K) - He hasn't been able to put together a full tournament in a while, but when one part of his game is down, another part is up and it's still allowing him to finish well. He has six top 19's in his last nine starts including a T8 at The RSM Classic where he gained 9.84 strokes on approach and uncharacteristically lost 1.31 on the greens. He had a top 10 here two years ago and should be a shoe-in for another one this year. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: 2019 - T10.
11. Xander Schauffele (Salary: DraftKings - $8.7K) - Since winning the Olympic men's tournament in August he has finished no worse than T49, and has three top 18's during that span including a T5 at the Tour Championship where he originally started in the T16 spot at -2 under par. He needs to figure out his off the tee game again, but he's solid on approach, good with his putter, and average around the greens. He has finished no worse than T10 here in two starts, and should be around that same result again this year. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: 2019 - T10 and 2018 - T8.
12. Justin Rose (Salary: DraftKings - $6.1K) - I'm actually a tad surprised with Rose's play as of late with three top 12's in his last five starts including a T6 at the BMW Championship where he gained 11.90 strokes total. You also got to like that he has three top 5's here in the last three installments of this tournament, so his Bahamas play is top-notch and it could potentially continue this year, as well. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: 2019 - T5, 2018 - 3rd, 2017 - T5, and 2016 - Withdraw.
13. Jordan Spieth (Salary: DraftKings - $8.3K) - Spieth tends to run hot and cold and now he's in a bit of a cool zone with only one top 10 in his last eight starts, but that was a runner-up at The Open Championship. His stats don't look too impressive over his last five starts but he has managed to put together three top 20's during that stretch including a T12 at the WGC - FedEx St.Jude Invitational. He has three top 6's in his last four looks at this event including a T3 in 2017, so the good track record is a positive for him here, and he could snag another top 6 if his ball-striking returns to form. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: 2019 - 16th, 2017 - T3, and 2016 - T6.
14. Tony Finau (Salary: DraftKings - $7.0K) - It wasn't long ago that we saw Finau smiling ear-to-ear after winning THE NORTHERN TRUST six starts ago by gaining 9.69 in ball-striking and 5.11 with his short game. His results haven't been too eye-catching lately even though his stats look fairly decent, but it's his putter that has gone stone cold losing 13+ strokes over his last three tournaments played that had shot tracker in place. He has had two top 10's here since 2018, and was 2nd to only Jon Rahm three years ago. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: 2019 - T10 and 2018 - 2nd.
15. Matt Fitzpatrick (Salary: DraftKings - $6.6K) - I should maybe have Fitzpatrick up higher on this list since he won four starts ago on the European Tour and is coming off a T2 at the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai, but he hasn't been able to put together a great tournament on the PGA Tour since his T10 at the Palmetto Championship in June in a weak field. I can see him finishing anywhere from 5th to 18th, but it's likely going to be closer to the latter result versus the former one. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: None.
16. Tyrrell Hatton (Salary: DraftKings - $6.5K) - He has two top 2's between the PGA Tour and the European Tour since June, but also has four missed cuts in his last eleven starts between both tours. He has three top 18's in his last five starts, but two of them were on the European Tour, and he's relying on a short game since he has been regularly losing in the ball-striking category. He has gained strokes around the green in ten straight events that offered shot tracker, and if that stat holds up being the most important one at this tournament, then he could have a decent showing. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: None.
17. Patrick Reed (Salary: DraftKings - $6.4K) - He has two top 5's here since 2017 including his solo third here two years ago, he also had a runner-up performance in 2015, and has finished no worse than T11. I like his showings at this event, but his recent form isn't where it should be with just two top 10's since June, and he's absolutely bleeding strokes in the ball-striking category. He's a threat to finish top 10, but I can certainly see him finishing in the bottom 25% unless his putter comes back to life. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: 2019 - 3rd, 2018 - 11th, 2017 - T5, and 2016 - 10th.
18. Harris English (Salary: DraftKings - $6.2K) - English won twice this year which is great, but he has two missed cuts and a withdraw in his last three starts, so there's cause for concern right now with Harris. It's hard to say what we will see out of him, but at least his short game should be there, and that could allow him to finish much better than my 18th place ranking for him. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: None.
19. Henrik Stenson (Salary: DraftKings - $6.0K) - I only put Stenson ahead of Koepka due to his strong track record at this event as he won two years ago, and has three top 4's in four starts since 2016. He has missed back-to-back cuts on the PGA Tour but had four straight top 30's on the European Tour before that including a 3rd at the Omega European Masters and a T4 at the Real Czech Masters. I expect that we will see him finish around 17th as he did here four years ago in 2017, but maybe he will surprise us. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: 2019 - Won, 2018 - 4th, 2017 - 17th, and 2016 - 2nd.
20. Brooks Koepka (Salary: DraftKings - $6.8K) - It might be too harsh having Koepka in the 20 spot but his approach game has sort of gone to the dogs since early August, and has been average to less-than-average with his short game since April. He finished dead last here two years ago and wasn't much better five years ago with a T13 finish while losing 3.61 strokes total to the field. He did have a solo 7th finish in 2015 but only gained 1.83 strokes total. He did defeat DeChambeau in The Match last week, but I need to see a lot more from Koepka in regular competition before I'm convinced that his game is back on track. I think he will finish somewhere in the teens this year - we will just have to wait and see if it's a low or high teen result - better times ahead in 2022 for Brooks. Hero World Challenge finishes over the last five years: 2019 - 18th and 2016 - T13.
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Jeremy has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 successful years, and actively plays golf, hockey, baseball, and table tennis. He has over three years of fantasy sports writing experience - including writing a daily fantasy sports strategies and tools eBook in 2016. He is an active member of DraftKings - specializing in NHL and PGA contests over the past 5 years. He enjoys spending time with his family, traveling to hot places in the frigid Canadian Winters, binge-watching on Netflix, and starting and managing digital businesses.