Anniversaries are reasons to celebrate or reflect. The best present reasons for both. This is one of those anniversaries.
The Hero World Challenge marks one year since Tiger Woods' consistent return to competition. Qualifying his return is necessary because of the numerous stops and restarts of the past several years. As a result and by every measurement, the last 12 months have been a success.
Every time he's appeared – from resuming his career (T9, Hero) to contending (T2, Valspar Championship) to winning (TOUR Championship) to participating in the Ryder Cup again – he updated a stagnant "last time Tiger Woods (fill in the blank)" with not just pedestrian occurrences but notable achievements.
So, now, this week's Hero World Challenge serves as merely a continuation for the 80-time PGA TOUR champion, and you know he's just fine with that. Eighteen of the sport's best are assembled at Albany in The Bahamas for the fourth consecutive year. Scroll beneath the full-field ranking for more on the course and expectations.
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 18 Hideki Matsuyama 17 Jon Rahm 16 Patrick Cantlay 15 Xander Schauffele 14 Keegan Bradley 13 Henrik Stenson 12 Bryson DeChambeau 11 Alex Noren 10 Patrick Reed 9 Gary Woodland 8 Jason Day 7 Bubba Watson 6 Tony Finau 5 Tiger Woods 4 Justin Thomas 3 Dustin Johnson 2 Rickie Fowler 1 Justin Rose
The Hero World Challenge provides an opportunity in late autumn to keep the chops fresh during the TOUR's holiday hiatus. The bonus is stacked competition that just happens to include Woods, who doubles as the tournament host.
If U.S. fans didn't overindulge over the Thanksgiving weekend, this field will clinch that experience. In conjunction with his business partners and philanthropic benefactors, Woods attracts such strength and depth with Official World Golf Ranking points and a $3.5-million prize fund from which the winner will pocket $1 million. There is no cut in the 72-hole, stroke-play competition.
Albany is an Ernie Els design situated on southwestern New Providence Island. Because of its locale, wind is the primary defense, but with five par 5s, the course multiples the chances to sign for red numbers after completing the 7,309-yard stroll.
Last year's field averaged 70.333 on the par 72. (There are five par 3s to balance the nines as par 36s.) At 18-under 270, Rickie Fowler prevailed by four strokes last year, yet he started the final round seven back of the lead. His closing round featured 11 birdies en route to a bogey-free, course-record 61.
The heartiest gusts of wind this week are forecast for Saturday and in advance of probable rain on Sunday, but scoring once again should be low overall. Rising temperatures into the low 80s are expected.