The Festival of Golf continues this week with a select field of 18 heading out to the Bahamas for the Hero World Challenge. With Christmas looming and a long season behind them these guys must be exhausted. First class travel and accommodation plus having to walk around the course up to 6 times in the space of a week will really take it out of you. So you have to question the motivation behind these players. Sure the cash is good but do any of these guys really need it? Is this just a jolly? Perhaps some of them will treat it that way and it may lighten them up to a point they can perform free from the pressures that accompany a normal regular season tour event……until they come down the stretch that is.
Then there’s is Jordan Spieth. This guy would beat up on his little sister in a tiddlywinks completion he’s so competitive and can’t be ruled out. He heads the market after his 2nd place finish at the Australian Open in Sydney last week but at 7/2 he looks too short even for a restricted field.
Spieth he looked a little ragged in Sydney as is his wont and his normally freakish putting couldn’t get him over the line though Matt Jones did his best to help. That fat 3 wood Spieth hit at the last – which by his own admirable admission saved it – in a single shot reflected his year in that it seemed that everything went right for him. That’s golf and you sense he’ll be in the mix no matter what. He’ll probably win hard held like he did this event last year – by 10!
The new venue for this event is The Albany an Els designed monster at 7.400 yards. As is the current trend it seems the course has a faux links feel to it but is at least near the ocean – so wind may play a factor. There’s little rough which suggests being able to hit the driver with impunity. Bubba’s view is to hell with it anyway – hit it long anywhere, make the next one shorter – it’s easier to gouge out a wedge than a long iron.
Significantly there are 5 par 5’s….yes….I know…get it down there Dustin and Bubba and shoot -20 for the par fives and the rest will take care of itself. Plus of course that means just 3 par 3’s and we know those buggers are hard to score on.
All the evidence points to a bomber so far and the prices reflect this. Dustbin is 7/1 behind Jordo. Bubba is 11’s. I see the case for Brooks Koepka along the same lines but he’s not played for over a month and that was a missed cut which followed a 41st place finish.
So who then? I’m going to go with Patrick Reed. By all accounts Patrick doesn’t need to rush home to spend time over Christmas with his College mates so perhaps he’s more determined than most. He’s got a family now and he appears to rather like teeing it up, this being his 6th week on the trot.
Is 6 weeks in a row too much? We’ll soon know. He comes into this in great form though with 5 consecutive top 10’s including a 2nd and 3rd. He’s been in the hunt for weeks on end and he must be playing on instinct given he will not have been working on anything major in that time not least because with all the golf travel and being on the phone to his mates you’re not gonna make any swing changes are you?
Reed’s stats are interesting. He’s not long but nor is he short at 290+. His recent driving has been wayward and he’s been hitting fewer greens in regulation than the field but he crucially manages to score. He’s a good putter and putting will be the great unknown here as no one has any course form. If driving accuracy isn’t the factor this place suggests then this frees him up and with his low ball flight he can cope with any wind. Anyone who’s seen him knows he loves that abbreviated arm ball punch which might be a shot he could deploy around The Albany to great effect.
On the basis he can wait at least another week before he hangs out with his chums I like the 12/1 on offer.