This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Hero World Challenge
Albany Golf Course (7,309 yards, par-72)
$1,000,000 to the winner but no FedEx Cup points
NEW PROVIDENCE, the Bahamas – The Albany course is a rare layout with five par-5s and five par-3s on a par-72 track. Birdies will be mandatory, and there have been lots of them during the three years the tournament has been played here. Rickie Fowler, and before him Hideki Matsuyama, won at 18-under the past two years, while Bubba Watson was an eye-popping 25-under in 2015 to christen the track. All three are back for another go at it. Of course, this is Tiger Woods' event that benefits his charitable foundation. In recent years, we wondered whether Woods would even play. Now, he's got a real shot in the elite 18-man field that features seven players in the top-10. Last year, in his first start in 10 months, Woods tied for ninth. A win this week would move him from No. 13 in the world rankings to No. 6, according to the self-proclaimed "OWGR guru" on Twitter, Nosferatu (@VC606).
Recent Past Champions
2017 - Rickie Fowler (Albany)
2016 - Hideki Matsuyama (Albany)
2015 - Bubba Watson (Albany)
2014 - Jordan Spieth
2013 - Zach Johnson
2012 - Graeme McDowell
2011 - Tiger Woods
2010 - Graeme McDowell
2009 - Jim Furyk
2008 - Vijay Singh
Key Stats to Victory
• Par-5 birdie or better percentage
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach
• Putting average/strokes gained putting
• Scrambling/strokes gained: around the green
Par-5 scoring can be the tipping point but is not essential, as we saw last year with Fowler. He registered a whopping 30 birdies, but went only 9-under on the 20 par-5s. He could have finished so much better than his 18-under total, but he could not make one eagle all week and also had six bogeys and three doubles, one of them on a par-5. He did, however, shoot an 11-under 61 on Sunday to blow past the field. Matsuyama, on the other hand, got to 18-under almost entirely on the strength of his par-5 scoring, which was 15-under. The Japanese star had 22 birdies and two eagles. Watson's 25-under winning score came with 13-under on the par-5s, and he totaled 27 birdies and two eagles. So as we see, 24 birdies/eagles -- one-third of the holes -- was the minimum for the winner since the move to Albany. There is no rough here, but wayward drives will land in the native areas. The ball might be playable, might not be. With a field this small, any golfer who takes this week seriously and isn't too starstruck has a chance to win. Unfamiliarity with the Albany course should not be a big issue for the eight newcomers.
FanDuel Value Picks
Justin Rose, $11300 – Rose finished fifth here a year ago, toward the beginning of a hot surge that has continued to this day. He's in the top-10 very often and in contention more weeks than not. With a three-way tie for second or better this week, Rose can recapture the No. 1 ranking he keeps trading back and forth with Brooks Koepka.
Rickie Fowler, $11100 – Fowler won here last year and was third the two previous years, so he obviously comes to play. And isn't it just like Fowler to win a tournament that's not really a tournament, at least not in the eyes of the PGA Tour?
Tiger Woods, $11000 – Woods has likely already put his match with Phil Mickelson in the rear-view mirror. If nothing else, it got him somewhat close to tournament golf a week before this week's event. Woods for the most part played well the past two years, tying for ninth last year and leading the field in birdies in 2016. He surely would like to send a message to everyone that he will be even better next year than he was this year.
Justin Thomas, $10900 – Thomas had a sniff of No. 1 earlier this season, but has been bypassed by three guys, and now sits at No. 4. If he wants to regain the top spot, this would be a good place to start, where his long game can eat up the par-5s. Thomas didn't do that a year ago, when he even bogeyed two of the par-5s while finishing 11th. But he did rank second on the PGA Tour last year in par-5 birdie or better percentage.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Patrick Reed, $9500 – One thing we know for sure about Reed is, he always comes to play. And he surely wants to stick it to some of his Ryder Cup teammates for his perceived mistreatment (granted, Jordan Spieth and Jim Furyk aren't around, but Reed takes what he can get). Reed has played well here the past three years: fifth, 10th and runner-up to Bubba Watson.
Xander Schauffele, $8600 – Schauffele is no stranger to playing well in loaded fields, including recently when he won the WGC-HSBC Champions. He has been in contention in multiple majors and won the Tour Championship the year before Woods did. Schauffele was 16th in par-5 birdie or better percentage last year.
Gary Woodland, $8500 – Woodland had a torrid stretch of high finishes broken his last time out at Mayakoba. Before that, he had nine top-10s in 10 starts. Woodland of course hits the ball far, and he's also very accurate. So even though his putting is not top-notch he should be able to feast on Albany's quintet of par-5s. He was ranked 11th in par-5 birdie or better last season.
Keegan Bradley, $8000 – Bradley and Woodland are two of the three guys at the very bottom of the FanDuel board (sandwiching Alex Noren). Anyone could get hot at the right moment and soar up the leaderboard, so we'll take a flyer on some cheap options, allowing us to load up at the top with Rose, Woods, etc. Besides, Bradley should be well suited for this track, with his solid tee-to-green game. His putting has been getting better, as he is currently ranked 10th on the young season in putting average.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
Focusing on lineup construction, there are a few things to consider. Webb Simpson was replaced in the field by Patrick Cantlay, and while Cantlay was not immediately available for lineups, he has been added to the player pool. With just 18 golfers in the field, still, every one of them will have at least moderate ownership. So, don't wrack your brain trying to find a hidden guy -- no one is hidden this week. Some guys have been inactive for much of the fall, others have been busy. For instance, Patrick Reed followed up the European Tour season-finale in Dubai two weeks ago with a tournament in Hong Kong last week. Conversely, Justin Thomas has been idle for five weeks. What we are seeing, though, is that more guys are playing more often during the fall season. The days of half the field arriving at the Hero without having played since the Tour Championship are in the past. Lastly about lineups: Some of the golfers will take this tournament seriously, others will view it as a six-figure cash grab with a week at the beach. Some of these guys might be a bit nervous in such an elite field. And remember, there are no worries about missed cuts this week; everybody plays four rounds.