COMCAST BUSINESS TOP 10
Five things from Hero World Challenge
December 06, 2021
By Jeff Eisenband , PGATOUR.COM
- December 06, 2021
- Viktor Hovland has victories in his last two worldwide starts. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)
After a one-year hiatus, the Hero World Challenge returned last week to Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas. Viktor Hovland won the tournament, but host Tiger Woods may have stolen the show. Woods gave his first press conference since his February car accident and was seen hitting balls several times during the week, his first time in a year that he’s been seen swinging a club in public.
While he declared that his future is as a part-time TOUR player, his demeanor and swing to seemed to suggest a return to competitive golf is much sooner than previously believed. There was no reason to believe that his rumored return to the PNC Championship in two weeks won’t happen.
Hovland topped a leaderboard full of big names, further cementing his status as a rising star, while his fellow 24-year-old, Collin Morikawa, suffered a stunning final-round collapse that kept him from attaining the top spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Viktor Hovland, King of paradise
In his short PGA TOUR career, Hovland has dominated events in locations where most people go for vacation. It must be the tropical climate he grew up with in Norway, of course.
The Hero gave him victories in his last two worldwide starts. He preceded this victory by winning the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba, located on Mexico’s eastern coast just south of Cancun. His first PGA TOUR win came at the 2020 Puerto Rico Open.
Four of his five worldwide wins since turning pro in 2019 have come in the Western Hemisphere, but outside the contiguous United States. His lone win outside of a tropical climate came at this year’s BMW International Open in Munich, German.
Collin Morikawa engages in almost perfect week
It’s been a good year for Morikawa. He won a World Golf Championship, joining Woods as the only players to win a major and WGC before turning 25. He claimed his second major, at The Open Championship, and secured the clinching point at the Ryder Cup (going 3-0-1, as well). Then he became the first American to win the European Tour’s Race to Dubai.
He added another big moment in the days before the Hero, proposing to longtime girlfriend Katherine Zhu. A Hero win would’ve provided the perfect ending to the year. It would have made him the No. 1 player in the world.
Morikawa opened the Hero with rounds of 68, 66 and 64. He went to sleep Saturday with a five-shot advantage at 18 under.
Woods even gave Morikawa a new nickname, calling him the “athletic Jim Furyk.”
But Morikawa had a rare off-day Sunday. He shot 5-over 41 on his front nine, including double-bogeys on Nos. 4 and 6. Birdies on No. 11 and 15 showed some grit, but the putter never seemed to get going, as Morikawa finished at 14 under, good for a T5.
Four of the six players who finished T5 or better -- Hovland, Scheffler, Morikawa and Sam Burns -- were all making their debuts at the Hero World Challenge. It was a good week for the game’s rising stars. Hovland rose to No. 7 in the world ranking, while Scheffler and Burns continued their rise to the top 10 in the world. Scheffler is now 11th and Burns is 13th. All four will start 2022 in the top 15 of the FedExCup, as well.
Tony Finau’s billionaire caddie
It’s not often that the wealthiest person at a tournament is a caddie, but that was the case at the Hero. With Tony Finau’s regular caddie, Mark Urbanek, at home with his pregnant wife, Finau needed a fill-in for the Bahamas. Luckily, he found a guy who could make the time. And maybe pay for dinner.
Ryan Smith picked up the bag. Smith made his billions (with a ‘b’) as the executive chairman and co-founder of experience management company Qualtrics. As of last year, he was the owner of the NBA’s Utah Jazz, as well. Smith is worth $1.5 billion according to Forbes, putting him at a lowly T2035 on the World Billionaires List for 2021.
Finau has long been friends with Smith, even “since he had zero dollars in his bank account,” Finau told Golf Digest.
The outcome was pretty good too. Finau finished T7, earning a $114,000 payout.
No word on whether Smith will get a cut from that or not.
Tiger roars on range
On the Range
Tiger Woods back on the range at 2021 Hero
A few weeks ago, Woods almost broke the internet by posting his swing on social media.
This week, we got a first-hand look at Woods on the range in Albany. And now the question appears to be not if, but when, the 82-time winner will return to tournament play.
“I’ll put it to you this way: As far as playing at the TOUR level, I don't know when that's going to happen,” he said in his pre-tournament press conference. “Now, I'll play a round here or there, a little hit and giggle, I can do something like that.
“A full schedule and a full practice schedule and the recovery that it would take to do that, no, I don't have any desire to do that. But to ramp up for a few events a year as I alluded to yesterday as Mr. [Ben] Hogan did, he did a pretty good job of it, and there's no reason that I can't do that and feel ready.”
After that cliffhanger on Tuesday, Woods was soon seen ripping fairway woods on the range and a Wednesday post on the PGA TOUR’s social media channels sent golf fans back into a frenzy.
Woods proceeded to participate in a series of range sessions, including one on Sunday, hitting drivers in full red and black attire. While 20 of the best in the world battled it out on the course, Woods looked fierce as ever in the practice area.
And if that all was not enough, he left the door open for a start at the PNC Championship in two weeks. Last year, Woods and son Charlie dazzled to a seventh-place finish. While Woods may currently find it too taxing to walk 72 holes in a PGA TOUR event, the PNC Championship offers an easier itinerary: 36 holes, access to golf carts and the ability to use some of Charlie’s drives from the front tees.
“It’s short for Charlie,” Woods said Saturday on the TV broadcast Saturday. “It’s not short from where I’m playing from. I gotta play back there with Justin (Thomas), and I’m hitting it half as far as he does.”
Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson mix up tee boxes
Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson have done a lot of things right in their careers. But Sunday they both did something wrong. They both hit off the wrong tee box.
Playing in the opening group, Spieth, the 2014 Hero World Challenge champion, and Stenson, the defending champion, reached the ninth hole and hit from, according to Stenson, the “tee box we did on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday.”
Except that was not the correct tee box on Sunday. In fact, that tee box was the starting point for the 17th hole for the final round. The correct 9th hole tee box was a bit farther up and to the left.
Jordan Spieth and Henrik Stenson were assessed a 2-shot penalty for playing from the wrong tee box in Sunday's final round. pic.twitter.com/09iXHHNDhJ— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) December 5, 2021
A rules official quickly drove up to Spieth and Stenson and notified them of the unfortunate news: They were each assessed a two-stroke penalty and sent back to the tee box (the correct tee box) as a result of their misdoings. Spieth ended up making a triple-bogey 8 and Stenson a double-bogey 7.
Spieth, who also received a two-stroke penalty on Saturday for unknowingly failing to return his ball to its original spot on the 18th green, finished in 20th -- last place for the event. Stenson finished 19th.
Players were told earlier in the week the tournament may switch the ninth and 17th tee boxes on Sunday and there was a notice in the players’ locker room on Sunday morning. But Spieth and Stenson were first out and with their heads down in the midst of the round, they made a mistake.
“I actually didn't think we were going to get penalized because it's a charity event, but then I realized there's world ranking involved and all that,” Spieth said.
Oh well. Stenson and Spieth still made $101,000 and $100,000, respectively.
COMCAST BUSINESS TOUR TOP 10
This week Name Points 1 Talor Gooch 852 2 Sam Burns 730 3 Sungjae Im 635 4 Hideki Matsuyama 594 5 Viktor Hovland 554 6 Max Homa 521 7 Matthew Wolff 511 8 Jason Kokrak 506 9 Rory McIlroy 500 9 Lucas Herbert 500
The Comcast Business TOUR TOP 10 highlights and rewards the extraordinary level of play required to earn a spot in the TOP 10 at the conclusion of the FedExCup Regular Season as determined by the FedExCup standings. The competition recognizes and awards the most elite in golf.