The Hero World Challenge is a limited-field invitational, but it's more exclusive than that. Only the most recently successful of the highly successful populate the field of 18 at Albany in The Bahamas. Consider that recent Open Championship winners Henrik Stenson (2016) and Jordan Spieth (2017), both of whom also are among the last seven FedExCup champions (Stenson, 2013; Spieth, 2014-15), required sponsor exemptions to participate.
The highest level of talent aside for a moment, that the fifth edition of the tournament on New Providence can be contested at all is a blessing. It's been only three months since Hurricane Dorian ravaged the northern islands of the archipelago.
For the first time in the event's history (early 2000-present), the Hero World Challenge begins on a Wednesday. The 72-hole competition with no cut is scheduled to conclude on Saturday, Dec. 7, so that all golfers headed to next week's Presidents Cup have an extra day to travel to Australia and acclimate to its time zone.
Scroll past the full field below for details on the host course, what's up for grabs and more.
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The field at Albany is reserved for the defending champion, the winners of the majors since the last edition, the first 11 available in order of highest position in the Official World Golf Ranking (on Aug. 26) and two sponsor exemptions. As host of the tournament, which is run in conjunction with his foundation, Tiger Woods would have received one of the two exemptions if he didn't check one of the first three boxes. In fact, he checks two for good measure. Jon Rahm defends.
All 12 members of the U.S. Presidents Cup team qualified, but Dustin Johnson withdrew in favor of additional time to rest and prepare for the trip to Oz. As the next available via the OWGR, Chez Reavie is the last man in at Albany.
None of the golfers who are scheduled to represent the Internationals in the Presidents Cup are in The Bahamas, but six are competing in the Emirates Australian Open, which has a traditional Sunday finish.
Albany is a par 72 with equal nines, but there are five par 3s and five par 5s. The latter set opens the possibilities for seriously low scoring. Bubba Watson's 25-under 263 in the inaugural edition on the course in 2015 is the course tournament record and three of the four scoring averages have landed sub-70. Last year's clip came in at 69.472. Rahm prevailed at 20-under 268.
The course was minimally impacted by Hurricane Dorian and other storms this year, so it will play similarly as it has in the past. With no significant changes, the 7,309-yard track will be fun to navigate. What rough exists is trimmed tight, while the omnipresent threat of wind caps Stimpmeter readings on the TifEagle bermudagrass greens at a PGA TOUR-familiar 12 feet. Seasonable daytime highs in the mid-to-upper 70s are forecast. Rain is not expected.
The winner of the Hero World Challenge receives $1 million of the $3.5-million prize fund. And while the victory isn't official on any circuit and the earnings don't contribute to any money list, all golfers will collect OWGR points.