This week the PGA tour heads to the Bahamas with just 18 golfers for The Hero World Challenge. There will be no cut this week, so expect four rounds of scoring for your golfers unless there is a WD. Albany’s Championship Course is set up a little different than your typical PGA Tour course. Bringing excitement to the week will be the course’s five Par 3s and five Par 5s to match. If that did not encourage low scores enough, there are even a few drivable Par 4s on the course, which could benefit the longer hitters.
When looking at this tournament, one of the main aspects to look at is a player’s birdie making ability. Last year at the 2015 Hero World Challenge, Bubba Watson was able to take the Championship Course by posting 20 birdies, with a few eagles to boot. We expect that same trend to continue this year in the Bahamas. With the weather not looking to be a factor this week, finding golfers who are solid with their approach shots could be key to racking up those birdies. The guy we like the most to do so?
Hideki Matsuyama (DK $9,900) – Hideki has only played two tournaments this year on the PGA Tour so far, but he finished with 2nd and 1st place finishes. He also played an unofficial event in the ISPS Handa World Cup of Golf, where his team finished 6th. To the end the 2015-2016 season, his last three finishes were T15, T24, and 5th. What you can learn from all the above is that there isn’t a hotter golfer coming into the Caribbean than Hideki.
With five Par 5s on this course, Par 5 scoring is obviously a factor that will make a difference. Fortunately for Matsuyama, he comes into this week ranked 6th on Tour in that area, averaging a score of 4.38 on Par 5s. Having not played much since the end of last season, we looked at last year’s stats to make sure that he hasn’t simply had a few good weeks on Par 5s. As it turns out, Matsuyama ranked 21st – clearly Par 5 scoring is a part of his game that he excels in. To add onto that, another stat that popped out was his Birdie or Better ranking, where he was 6th last season and 1st this year. Finally, approach shots will arguably be the most important area of play this week for the players, given the volatility of this course compared to what they are used to. Last season, Matsuyama ranked 2nd in SG: Approaches and 13th in Proximity on Approaches. Being at the top of the rankings for each of these key stats bodes very well for the Japanese star’s chances at Albany.
With most of the top players in the world playing this week, we see Hideki as the player that stands out the most. His hot hand, combined with ranking high in nearly all of the key stats for Albany, make Hideki a great play this week. We expect to see him at the top of the leaderboard come Sunday.