See below as we run through the main golf tournaments this week – the Australian Open and the Hero World Challenge.
This includes facts, odds and picks from our own golfing professional Cliff Jackson with odds from 32Red.
HERO WORLD CHALLENGE
- Albany, New Providence, Bahamas
- First staged in 2000
- Defending Champion: Jon Rahm
OVERVIEW: A unique tournament – the Hero World Challenge, hosted by Tiger Woods, is not part of any tour, but does earn World ranking points as well as offering big prize money given the field is limited to jusst 18 players.
Given the tiny field, the Hero Challenge is a prestigious event to play in and is full of world class players, including host Woods – but favourite is Jon Rahm, who is the defending champion.
The Tiger effect 😊🐯
Watch him this week at the Hero World Challenge.pic.twitter.com/mDGbYYKijt
— SuperSport 🏉🏆 (@SuperSportTV) December 2, 2019
- The Australian Golf Club, Sydney
- First staged in 1904
- Defending Champion: Abraham Ancer
OVERVIEW: The biggest event in Australasia – the Australian Open has a proud history and although the prize money is modest, it still boasts a very good field.
As you would expect, there is a strong home presence with Adam Scott, Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman.
The Bookies point of view…
32Red’s Sponsorship manager Jack Milner delivers a weekly verdict on each tournament.
Jon Rahm’s meteoric ascent up the golfing ladder has continued again this season with the Spaniard capping-off a tremendous season with success in the DP World Championship and cementing his position as the Race to Dubai winner and the undoubted MVP of The European Tour.
Rahm has a tremendous record at the event and is the defending champion, but looked weary in Dubai’s closing stages, ultimately scrambling home by a shot having looked likely to blitz his opposition on the back nine.
Those that tend to do well here in The Bahamas tend to have form correlating with The Phoenix Open; Rahm boasts tremendous form at the event and Rickie Fowler is a winner at both – Phoenix in January 2019 and Hero Challenge in December 2017.
Fowler is a fair price at 14/1, having struggled with consistency this term. Fowler, who turns 31 next week, was married earlier in the summer and perhaps took his eye off the ball on course. Nevertheless, he was still able to post top-ten efforts in both The Masters and The Open, and (once again) made the cut in all four majors.
Fowler ranked just 43rd on Tour last season for Par5 scoring, down from 27th and 9th the previous two seasons, and much more is needed for Rickie to return to the winners’ enclosure. There are 5 lengthy Par 5’s at The Albany Golf Course, with this week’s winner likely to have taken fully advantage of the numerous birdie and eagle opportunities.
Rickie’s best friend Justin Thomas ranks 1st for Par 5 scoring on Tour and is priced accordingly in the market, second only to the sublime Rahm. Given his length off the tee it’s surprising to see Patrick Cantlay rank so low but nevertheless I would expect him and compatriots Xander Schaufele and Webb Simpson to go this week.
There is little juice in those markets however, and I much prefer to take a punt on a different pair of Americans with Jordan Spieth and Matt Kuchar being too big at 28/1 and 30/1 respectively.
Spieth is still seeking the form that brought him three majors inside 18 months but has shown glimpses of promise with a refined swing this term and was a narrow third at the length PGA Championship won by Brooks Koepka at Bethpage. The Texan won this event by 10 strokes in 2014 and is priced too big for a man with spectacular form around the place.
Matt Kuchar is our final selection and is a man that continues to be overlooked by the layers. Kuchar is the ‘Steady Eddie’ of the PGA Tour but remains evergreen and has form figures reading 8-14-8-3-9 here at the last five renewals. ‘Kuch’ looks better than ever at the ripe old age at 41 and is much bigger than his likely chance of winning.
The pro’s point of view…
Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.
The Hero World Challenge is a fascinating event, and always makes good watching and I think that host Tiger Woods will put up a good showing here – he loves the event and knows his way around Albany.
I like another former winner in Jordan Spieth, he needs to get his game going and could do it here.
The Australian Open is a big event and I like the look of the home players, yes Adam Scott is favourite but I would be looking a little further down the betting in the shape of Cameron Smith and Marc Leishman.