'Tis (almost) the season for giving, and this week the PGA Tour does just that as it serves up the return of its most famous denizen at the 2016 Hero World Challenge.
Tiger Woods looks set to end his time in the wilderness as he aims to tee it up at his own foundation’s annual tournament after a late withdrawal from October's Safeway Open. Though prize money won by the players is not included in the PGA Tour money rankings, the event brings together 18 players at the very top of the world game.
This is the 18th running of this charitable event and was first held in 1999 at Grayhawk Golf Club in Scotsdale, Ariz. Bubba Watson won last year’s tournament as he shot a final-round, 6-under 66 to secure a three-shot victory over fellow American Patrick Reed.
The winner's share is $1 million from the $3.5 million purse. The second-place player gets $400,000, a big drop off compared to normal events.
Course: Albany Golf Club in The Bahamas
Designed by Ernie Els, Albany’s 18-hole championship golf course is a par-72, 7,400-yard facility which will test every aspect of the declared field’s game.
The course combines the best of links and desert features with windswept dunes and strategically challenging water features. Tight fairways are aplenty and green undulation provides a significant challenge.
How Will Tiger Woods Do?
When Woods pulled out of the Safeway Open, he cited issues with facets of his game rather than any particular health issues. If that be the case, further time away from the game may have allowed for the required work on his swing and strengthening of his mental approach.
He will be rusty and his game will be vulnerable, but this is Tiger Woods, and the game is eminently more enjoyable with his return. This week will give us our first insight into the progress of Woods’ game and may tell us just how far away he is from truly competing with the world’s best once again.
An 18-man field should make it a little easier to land on the tournament winner, right? Not quite that easy as the quality of the field on show does present its own problems. Players like Jimmy Walker and Hideki Matsuyama can be hot this time of year, and it would always be foolish to overlook Dustin Johnson.
Let’s be foolish, though, and side with the Rookie of the Year from the 2016 PGA Tour season, Emiliano Grillo. The Argentine could be headed for big things in 2017 and winning the Hero World Challenge would be an important first step.
As far as Tiger is concerned predictions are of little value. It would be an achievement to see him get round in one piece and to have played semi-competitive golf. All about the tournament experience for the 14-time major winner after 15 months out of the game.