by Fatiha Betscher in Nassau, The Bahamas
The event was first staged in January 2000 at the Grayhawk Club in Phoenix, Arizona while this week will be the seventh hosting of the event on the Ernie Els designed Albany course in the Bahamas.
Woods dominates the ‘past champions’ records with five Hero World Challenge victories, three more than both Davis Love III and Graeme McDowell and in a reflection of Woods’ tournament dominance, he’s also been runner-up on five occasions.
This week will be only the fourth occasion this year Woods is competing having finished mid-field in the PGA Championship, withdrawing from the US Open and then, the highly-emotional scenes in missing the cut at the 150th Open.
MAKING THEIR HWC DEBUT THIS WEEK
Six players will this week make their Hero World Challenge debut.
Tom Kim, who won the Wyndham Championship in August and the Shriners Children’s Open in October (plus made a fiery Presidents Cup debut in September).
Cameron Young, PGA Tour Rookie of the Year.
International Presidents Cup team members Corey Conners and Sungjae Im.
Ireland’s former Open Championship winner Shane Lowry, who is also the reigning BMW PGA champion.
Five-time Tour winning Max Homa.
FORMER HWC WINNERS
Tiger Woods – 2001, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2011
Viktor Hovland – 2021 (On debut)
Jon Rahm – 2018 (One debut)
Jordan Spieth – 2014
MAJOR WINNERS FROM 2022
Justin Thomas – PGA Champion
Matt Fitzpatrick – US Open Champion
Six of the current world’s top-10 teeing.
Scottie Scheffler (2), Jon Rahm (5), Xander Schauffle (6), Justin Thomas (7), Matt Fitzpatrick (9) and Collin Morikawa (10).
The Hero World Challenge again attracts OWGR points though the event does not attract FedEx Cup points.
HOST ALBANY GOLF COURSE
The course plays to a par-72, measuring 7,414 yards.
The Ernie Els course is relatively flat, like much of the Bahamas and therefore exposed and subjected to the Caribbean winds.
Els designed a ‘links-like’ course featuring strategic water hazards and boasting five par-5s and just as many par-3s.
262, Jordan Spieth (2014). Albany record: 263, Bubba Watson (2015)
61, Rickie Fowler (fourth round, 2017)
Four of the last five winners of the Hero World Challenge at Albany have finished at exactly 18 under.
THE LAST TIME
Viktor Hovland became the third straight European to win the Hero World Challenge and the first debutant to win in Albany since Jon Rahm in 2018.
Hovland, who topped Scottie Scheffler by one shot, fired a 6-under 66 Sunday, highlighted by back-to-back eagles on No’s 14 and 15 in the final round.
Collin Morikawa held the 54-hole lead but made double bogeys on No’s 4 and 6 on Sunday and couldn’t recover, ending up with a 4-over 76 in the final round.
Scheffler, meanwhile, caught fire on his back nine Sunday firing a 6-under 30 for his final nine holes. It was too little, too late, however. Hovland started the day six shots back of the lead but still managed to lift the trophy despite finishing bogey-bogey. Sam Burns and Patrick Reed finished tied for third, while Morikawa and Justin Thomas finished tied for fifth.
Harris English, who finished tied for 14th, shot the round of the week, a 9-under 63 on Saturday.
ITEMS OF INTEREST
The golf course is located within the Albany private estate around 21 kilometres from Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.
The ultra-private Albany estate was opened in 2010, boasting a 600-acres luxury resort community. It is jointly owned by Joe Lewis, Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, and Justin Timberlake.
The Albany Golf Course was opened for play in December, 2010.
Albany gets its name from the pink beachfront Bahamian manor house that was the home of Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) and the villain in the James Bond film “Casino Royale”.
There are three golf courses on the main island – Albany, Royal Blue, Blue Shark and in taking the short drive over the Sidney Poitier Bridge, there is the fourth named the Ocean Club on Paradise Island.
There are more golf courses than cricket ovals, with cricket first being played in 1846. Basketball has however overtaken cricket as the No. 1 sport in the Bahamas.
There are three roads of interest within the Albany estate – Ernie’s Way, Woods Drive and Lewis Drive.
Talking of roads, Tiger Woods admitted in signing with Hero as an ambassador he has never ridden a motorbike.
The Albany Marina is a focal point for those residing within the estate and it is not uncommon for ‘Privacy’, and Woods’ ultra-luxury boat, to be berthed in the marina during the tournament.
And for those golf-related collectors the Albany club pencil is quite unique – a bright, rainbow coloured item that is provided to mark your scorecard.