This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Hero World Challenge
Course: Albany Golf Course (7,309 yards, par 72)
Winner: $1,000,000 (No FedExCup Points)
An elite 18-man field will assemble in the Bahamas for the fifth consecutive year. Tournament host Tiger Woods will be looking for his sixth career win in his own event, but first since moving to Albany. This will mark Woods' first start since winning the Zozo Championship over a month ago. Defending Champion Jon Rahm will be coming in hot after wrapping up the European Tour's Race to Dubai title with a win at the DP World Tour Championship. Eight of the top 12 players in the OWGR will be represented this week, including Albany member Justin Rose and CJ Cup winner Justin Thomas. The Saturday finish will accommodate travel to Australia for 11 of the 12 U.S. Presidents Cup team members that are in the field this week. Dustin Johnson withdrew to prepare for the Presidents Cup as he recovers from offseason knee surgery. The weather should be just about perfect with mild wind gusts throughout.
2018 – Jon Rahm (Albany)
2017 – Rickie Fowler (Albany)
2016 – Hideki Matsuyama (Albany)
2015 – Bubba Watson (Albany)
2014 – Jordan Spieth (Isleworth CC)
2013 – Zach Johnson (Sherwood CC)
2012 – Greame McDowell (Sherwood CC)
2011 – Tiger Woods (Sherwood CC)
2010 – Greame McDowell (Sherwood CC)
Key Stats to Victory
Flat and open are the two biggest adjectives to describe Albany. There is very little rough this week, so if you miss the fairway chances are you will find yourself in a sandy area. Albany is extremely exposed, so gusty winds are not uncommon at all. With five par-5's on the card, birdie chances will be plentiful, especially to the longer hitters in the field. With good weather expected, Bubba Watson's Albany tournament scoring record of 25-under-par in 2015 might be challenged this week. The bermudagrass around the greens can make even this elite field of players look silly, so a sharp short game will be important to help you save a few shots. Lastly, you need to make putts. GIR's will be easy to come by this week, meaning those that don't putt well are going to have a hard time staying near the top of the leaderboard no matter how well they are hitting it.
FanDuel Value Picks
Jon Rahm, ($11,500)
If you're looking for a weakness in Rahm's game, good luck, because you won't find one. The World No. 3 has won each of his last two starts and has 16 total top-10's in 24 worldwide starts in 2019. Rahm cruised to a four shot win in his first start at Albany last year.
Justin Thomas, ($11,300)
Thomas has been incredibly consistent since mid-summer. In his last nine starts, his worst finish was a T17. Included in that stretch are wins at the BMW Championship and the CJ Cup. Thomas has two things that will be incredibly valuable at Albany, distance and precision iron play. Thrown in a putter that has been filling up cups for several months now, and you have a player that's going to notch a lot of birdies and eagles this week.
Patrick Cantlay, ($11,000)
Cantlay remains one of the easiest players to trust on a week-to-week basis. He has amassed a whopping 30 top-25 finishes since the start of 2018. The last time the UCLA product teed it up was at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open where he finished runner-up. Cantlay is fourth in SG: Tee-to-green, third in GIR percentage, and fifth in birdie average this season. In his first go-around Albany last year he closed with a 64 to finish in T5.
Xander Schauffele, ($10,400)
When we last saw the San Diego State product he was taking Rory McIlroy to extra holes at the WGC-HSBC Champions about a month ago. While he didn't prevail, that was still his fifth top-three finish of 2019, with each of them coming in premier fields. Schauffele will be able to take advantage of the five par-5's on the card this week, as last season he ranked sixth on Tour in par-5 scoring average. Schauffele is just so solid all the way through the bag, part of the reason why he ranked top 50 in all strokes gained categories.
Longer Shots with Value
Tony Finau, ($9,400)
Finau impressed in his Albany debut last year by closing with rounds of 64-67-69 to finish in solo second. The Utah native should feast on the par-5's this week, especially because he will be one of the few able to take a crack at all five of them in two. The wide-open layout of Albany will fit perfectly into Finau's bomb and gauge style of golf. If the putter is working on these greens like it was last year, look out.
Jordan Spieth, ($8,900)
While Spieth has been a little further off the radar as of late because of some spotty ball striking, make no mistake about it he is still the best putter on the PGA Tour. Because of both of those things, Spieth can still pile up the birdies with the best of them and also be prone to making some big numbers. He should be able to play pretty freely this week knowing that Albany is a wide-open course that allows for many creative shots. In three career starts at Albany, the Texan has gone 4th-T6-T3.
Webb Simpson, ($8,800)
Simpson nearly locked up his first win of the year a couple weeks ago at the RSM Classic, but ultimately fell in a playoff. He hasn't missed a cut since March with 12 top-25 finishes in that stretch. Simpson is tired of all these close calls, as he has posted four runner-up finishes in his last 10 starts. The 34-year-old ranks fourth in GIR percentage, third in birdie average, and third in scoring average this season. Simpson lacks the ideal length for Albany, but makes up for it with his elite iron play and putting.
Henrik Stenson, ($8,400)
Albany has really fit the Swede's eye. He was runner-up here back in 2016 and posted a fourth place result last year. Stenson is not as long as he once was, but his iron play is still up there with some of the best in the world. He has an ability to give himself a bunch of good looks every round. Stenson owns eight top-20 finishes in his last 11 starts worldwide. He is an absolute steal as the fourth-lowest priced player this week.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on a 60k standard salary cap)
When your roster is making up a third of the entire tournament, you are going to have to be aggressive. A lot will come down to total birdie and eagles made, that's why I think players like Finau and Spieth, who consistently make a lot of red numbers but also a few others, are good value plays this week. I'm going to avoid Rickie Fowler because he hasn't played competitively since the TOUR Championship and has been struggling with illness through the offseason. It's hard to say avoid Tiger Woods, but he has a lot on his plate at the moment as the Captain of next week's Presidents Cup team. Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas really look like the two clear favorites this week and it's hard to make a roster without starting by putting both of them on there.