Past Hero winner seven years ago at another course but fourth, sixth and third on his first three Bahamian visits. Winner of his home-state Open in the spring before placing third at the Masters and second to Morikawa at our Open, he should put his exquisite short game to telling use on his first outing as a proud father.
The Englishman followed up his Valderrama victory by nearly setting an early target in Dubai that might well have earned him a Tour Championship playoff. A closing 66 got the Sheffield man a share of second place. He has no course form but the linksy feel and prospect of wind should be right up his alley.
Patrick Reed has come close at Albany before - the Texan was runner-up to Bubba Watson in 2015 and third to Henrik Stenson in 2019. He was a close runner-up to Lucas Herbert in Bermuda not too long ago so should score well.
Rose has had three top-fives at Albany and holds each-way claims at a big price. Recent form from has, to put it kindly, been patchy but there has been some good stuff in there - sixth at Wentworth and 12th at Sea Island
HERO WORLD CHALLENGE GOLF BETTING TIPS AND PREVIEW 2021
The underwhelming start to the new DP World Tour - a rain-wrecked Joburg Open cut to 36 holes, the SA Open reduced to Sunshine Tour status and the Alfred Dunhill scrapped, all because of the chaos caused by the new South African Covid strain - means we finish golf ‘21 early with this week’s the Hero World Challenge.
That is unless you count the QBE Shootout pre-Christmas party in Florida next week in which the usual suspects - 23 guys and Lexi Thompson with England’s Lee Westwood/Ian Poulter one of the 12 pairs - have a good time for a decent purse.
Although not an official event, the Hero, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation and is hosted by the great man himself when he’s fit to play, is more serious stuff with a serious field and $3.5m in prize money, $1m going to the winner. Played for the sixth time at the posh Albany club in New Providence, Bahamas but not since Henrik Stenson triumphed two years ago because of you-know-what, the increased field of 20 is headed by a rematch between Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy, who occupy the first two places in the betting.
These are the two who dominated the European Tour Championship finale in Dubai a couple of weekends back when McIlroy led for much of the way but went into meltdown after an unlucky break four holes from home, leaving the marauding Morikawa to whoosh past him and everybody else in a flying finish.
Also locking horns again are best-of-enemies Brooks Koepka and Bryson DeChambeau who sort-of buried the hatchet for a recent 12-hole TV showdown which the former won with contemptuous ease. Other big names include Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele and McIlroy’s European Ryder Cup pals past and present Viktor Hovland, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Rose and defending champion Stenson, the rank outsider of the field this time after a gloomy couple of years since that last W on his CV.
This is just the sort of laid-back, inconsequential tournament Rory might well win as a quick pick-me-up after that embarrassing fold two Sundays ago. His two victories in the States this year came in run-of-the-mill events rather than on the big stages.
But this is his first time at this birdie-paradise 7302-yard par 72, which Bubba Watson blitzed in 25-under on its debut as the Hero venue in 2015 and his 263 still stands as the record after subsequent victories by Hideki Matsuyama, Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm and Stenson.
Only the last-named of that quintet is in the Bahamas line-up now so it is highly likely we shall have a new Hero to applaud. Will it be Open champion Morikawa on his Albany bow or someone who has yet to have a win this year and has a bigger motive to succeed?
There are a few of those - Thomas, Scheffler, Rose and Webb Simpson - who come into the blank-2021 category and decent cases can be made for Simpson and Rose who have shown encouraging signs of a revival recently. I am not keen on Thomas whose game has been ragged the past couple of months and whose record of 5-12-11 on this linksy Ernie Els-designed course is nothing to write home about.
Rose and Patrick Reed have each had three top-fives at Albany - the Texan was runner-up to Watson in 2015 and third to Stenson in 2019 - and hold each-way claims at big prices. Recent form from both has, to put it kindly, been patchy but there has been some good stuff in there - Reed a close runner-up to Lucas Herbert in Bermuda, Rose sixth at Wentworth and 12th at Sea Island.
More obviously in good nick is Fitzpatrick who followed up his Valderrama victory by nearly setting an early target in Dubai that might well have earned him a Tour Championship playoff. Two late errors, one of them unforced, halted a huge birdie spree but a closing 66 still got the Sheffield man a share of second place. He has no course form but the linksy feel and prospect of wind should be right up his alley.
For the winner, if not Morikawa (who didn’t have his A game with him in Dubai until the last six holes but was still too good), then give me Spieth, past Hero winner seven years ago at another course but fourth, sixth and third on his first three Bahamian visits.
Winner of his home-state Open in the spring before placing third at the Masters and second to Morikawa at our Open, he should put his exquisite short game to telling use on his first outing as a proud father, wife Annie having presented him with Sammy who arrived on my 80th birthday but will almost certainly become a better golfer.
Koepka has new clubs in his bag, three Cleveland wedges and a souped-up Srixon driver, and played as well as he needed to against a sub-standard DeChambeau in their “grudge” match but still seems to be favouring his dodgy knee. He might return to his his dominant best but is a risky proposition, no more so perhaps than most of his rivals who are jaded after a long, difficult, Covid-flecked year.
Finally, congratulations to my old Racing Post sparring partner Steve Palmer on picking 225/1 shot Thriston Lawrence as his sixth and final tip for the Joburg Open. The winner, who paid twice those odds on the Betfair Exchange, was a brilliant amateur, the only South African to win the Lytham Trophy, and turned pro at 17 but did not do as well as expected with only one Sunshine Tour in six years.
Four top-six finishes at that level this campaign, including one on his last pre-Joburg outing, persuaded Palmer to give the outsider a spin. Maybe it was lucky the tournament was cut to 36 as there was plenty of time for Lawrence to lose his lead but as all the prize money was paid out so were the punters - and that’s what counts.
In weak events like that one anything can happen and I can’t have been the only one to have a couple of quid on Palmer’s homework - he has never been a guesser and always makes a case for even the most unlikely selection - and to back two 225/1 winners in the same year (I found Stewart Cink for GM Monthly readers in my first week with you back in April) is the stuff of dreams. May 2022 bring something even more stunning!
HERO WORLD CHALLENGE GOLF BETTING TIPS 2021
- 2pts each-way Jordan Spieth at 12/1 with Bet365
- 1.5pts each-way Matt Fitzpatrick at 25/1 with Bet365
- 1pt each-way Patrick Reed at 33/1 with 888Sport
- 0.5pt each-way Justin Rose at 28/1 with Betfair
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Celebrating my 52nd year tipping and writing about golf. Tipped more than 800 winners (and more than 8000 losers!). First big winner Lee Trevino at 8-1, 1972 Open at Muirfield. Biggest win £40 each-way Ernie Els at 80-1 and 50-1, 2012 Open. Most memorable: Giving the 1-2-3 at 33-1, 50-1, 33-1 out of 4 tips from a field of 180 in 2006 Pebble Beach Pro-Am. According to one bookmaker “Undoubtedly one of the greatest tipping performances of all time”. And, of course, putting up a 150/1 winner with Stewart Cink in my very first column for Golf Monthly. Lowest handicap 9 Present handicap 35.6. Publications tipped for: Sporting Life, Racing Post, Racing&Football Outlook, Golf World, Golf Weekly, Golf Monthly, Fitzdares Times. Check our Jeremy's latest tips at our Golf Betting tips home page
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