Naturally, there is no cut here, and with only a few golfers, we can't afford to miss with our daily fantasy picks -- even with no potential of missed cuts.
Let's dig into the course, the key stats, the win simulations, and the best bets of the week.
You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.
Albany Golf Course Info & Key Stats
Distance: 7,414 (long: but only ~30 yards longer than the average par 72)
Fairway Width: N/A
Average Green Size: 4,500 square feet (~75% of the PGA average)
Green Type: Bermuda
Past 5 Winning Scores: -18, -18, -20, -18, -18
Past 5 Cut Lines: N/A (no-cut event)
Key Stats: Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, Birdie or Better Rate, Adjusted Strokes Gained
The Hero World Challenge moved to Albany in 2015, but there is no ShotLink data for this event. Therefore, while we have a decent number of years to study (six -- there was no event here in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic), we don't have quite the data we usually accrue over such a large sample.
But we do know a few things: it's a long overall course yet isn't overly long relative to the usual par 72. What stands out more is that there are tiny greens, just 4,500 square feet on average. We're usually dealing with greens of 6,000 square feet across the larger PGA Tour sample.
We've seen long hitters win and contend here but also some shorter hitters (more on them in the next section), so it's evident that driving distance alone isn't a must. You can be accurate or long -- but you do need to be good off the tee. Losing out consistently off the tee to elite golfers over four rounds isn't going to lead to a very good result.
Without much detail and knowing scores around 18-under will win (it was also -25 in the first year at Albany, for what that's worth), we need ball-striking and birdies to ensure our rostered golfers aren't missing greens and just trying to get up and down for par.
Golfers With Great Course/Event History
The best strokes gained averages among golfers who have played at least twice here over the past four years:
- Jon Rahm (+2.26: DNP, 2nd, 1st, DNP)
- Tony Finau (+0.58: 7th, 10th, 2nd, DNP)
- Justin Thomas (+0.39: 5th, 5th, 12th, 11th)
- Xander Schauffele (-0.09: 12th, 10th, 8th, DNP)
- Kevin Kisner (-0.31: DNP, 7th, DNP, 12th)
- Jordan Spieth (-1.47: 20th, 16th, DNP, 3rd)
That leaves six golfers with just one start here:
- Viktor Hovland (+7.90: 1st in 2022)
- Scottie Scheffler (+6.90: 2nd in 2022)
- Tommy Fleetwood (+5.33: 3rd in 2018)
- Sam Burns (+4.90: 3rd in 2022)
- Collin Morikawa (+3.90: 5th in 2022)
- Matt Fitzpatrick (-0.10: 12th in 2022)
Past winners in the field include just Viktor Hovland (2022) and Jon Rahm (2018). Other winners at Albany are Henrik Stenson (2019), Rickie Fowler (2017), Hideki Matsuyama (2016), and Bubba Watson (2015).
Win Simulations for the Hero World Challenge
Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their golf betting odds at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets for the Hero World Challenge
The three plays my model thinks are positive values are all first-timers to Albany, which is okay because we have only a handful of guys who have played here a ton anyway.
Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for the Hero World Challenge
All stats cited below originate at datagolf and reference ranks relative to the field over the past 50 rounds. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. References to my combo model refer to a combination of long-term, field-adjusted form, key stat performance, and hole-by-hole-level strokes gained data.
Ranking the Field (Overall)
1. Jon Rahm (FanDuel Salary: $11,500 | Golf betting odds: +500) - Irons are just okay right now relative to the field but an elite putter and substantially more likely to win than anyone else.
2. Xander Schauffele ($10,500 | +1100) - He's a no-cut specialist with elite putting and iron splits, which matter for the small greens.
3. Tony Finau ($11,000 | +900) - Tone has converted on wins lately thanks to great long-term putting. Not an ideal course fit but 7th, 10th, and 2nd here.
4. Scottie Scheffler ($11,300 | +800) - Runner-up finish here last year but second in the field in approach; putter is cold, so if it clicks, we're in business.
5. Justin Thomas ($10,700 | +1100) - Has consecutive top-fives here and has the potential to be overlooked, which has a lot of value in this small field.
6. Tom Kim ($9,400 | +1800) - Absolutely love the game for a course like this; 4th in approach and 1st in accuracy.
7. Collin Morikawa ($8,800 | +200) - The setup is prime for Morikawa, who is 1st in approach and 3rd in accuracy among the field.
8. Sungjae Im ($9,600 | +1600) - Similar to Kim and Morikawa: accurate (4th) but with weaker iron play (11th).
9. Viktor Hovland ($10,300 | +1400) - Defending champion; long-term form has been bad but T5, T21, T20 to start the new season.
10. Matt Fitzpatrick ($10,000 | +1200) - Irons are second-worst in the field, but he gains distance and accuracy -- plus a good putter.
11. Tommy Fleetwood ($9,800 | +1600) - 4th at CJ CUP last time we saw him on Tour; has a win and T5 in past two DP World Tour starts.
12. Max Homa ($8,700 | +2600) - Two-way driver (i.e. accurate and long) with a top-three short game.
13. Shane Lowry ($9,500 | +1600) - Has gone win, cut, and T23 on DP World Tour since September. Short-game is weak right now but the irons are there.
14. Corey Conners ($8,600 | +2600) - Super accurate (2nd) and good ball-striker. The question is whether he makes enough of the birdie chances.
15. Cameron Young ($9,000 | +1800) - Not a good course fit (16th in accuracy, 1st in distance) but a top-five ball striker.
16. Jordan Spieth ($9,100 | +1800) - Terrible form at Albany. Very inaccurate off the tee -- and the putter isn't what it used to be.
17. Sam Burns ($9,200 | +1600) - Top-two putter but withdrew last time out at Houston Open and not a great course fit, either.
18. Billy Horschel ($8,500 | +3300) - Possibly too low on him but 17th in approach and overall ball-striking.
19. Kevin Kisner ($8,000 | +6000) - A true longshot despite a 19-golfer field; only golfer to average negative strokes gained: off the tee; hard to overcome that against this field.