GOLF

Hero World Challenge: Course Information, Daily Fantasy Picks, Win Simulations, and Best Bets

Who sets up best for success at Albany in this week's loaded 20-golfer field?

The PGA Tour calendar year isn't quite over.

We've got a 20-golfer field on tap for the Hero World Challenge, and we can get in on the action from a FanDuel perspective this week. Daily fantasy golf with a 20-golfer field really turns into a game-theory fest, of course, but who sets up best for this week?

Let's dig in.

You can jump ahead to any specific section of the piece you would like.

Course Information
Key Stats
Golfers With Great Course History
Win Simulations
Best Bets
Daily Fantasy Picks

Albany Course Information

Par: 72
Distance: 7,4,14
Average Green Size: 4,500 square feet
Green Type: Bermuda
Stimpmeter: N/A
Past 5 Winning Scores: -18, -20, -18, -18, -25
Past 5 Cut Lines: N/A (no-cut event)

So, it's a long course overall that got longer with some renovations since we last saw it, but it's only around 30 yards longer than the typical par 72 on the PGA Tour's rotation. We don't need to overreact here.

The more interesting angle is that the 4,500-square-foot greens are about as small as we get, on average, for the PGA Tour. (The average is around 6,000, and among 52 courses in my database, these rank fourth-smallest.)

The small greens have not really led to poor scoring, however, but it's important to keep in mind that this is a loaded field with no cut. Those who run hot will be able to go deep at Albany.

Notably, at 7.1 fairway acres per yard, Albany ranks as the second-most open course in my database, and there are only 2 acres of rough. That's absurd.

Key Stats

- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
- Driving Accuracy
- Birdie or Better Rate
- Strokes Gained: Putting on Bermuda

Overall, there isn't a huge angle with the distance despite the openness and length, according to datagolf's course fit tool.

In fact, there's a bit of a de-emphasis on it compared to other courses on the PGA Tour. Actually, the more powerful hitters get the biggest expected decrease at Albany in terms of strokes gained, via datagolf.

With small greens, iron play gets bumped up the list, and with a no-cut setup, we absolutely need birdie-makers to contend for our DFS lineups and with our outright bets.

Golfers With Great Course History

With such a small field, we're actually dealing with 9 of 20 golfers with no course history here, via FantasyNational.

Those who have played here with positive strokes gained averages include Patrick Reed (0.9), Henrik Stenson (0.8), Justin Rose (0.7), Tony Finau (0.5), Jordan Spieth (0.3), and Justin Thomas (0.2).

Golfers with poor results overall at this course include Xander Schauffele (-0.1), Webb Simpson (-0.5), Brooks Koepka (-0.9), Bryson DeChambeau (-1.0), and Daniel Berger (-1.7).

Win Simulations

Here are the most likely winners this week, according to my win simulation model, as well as their FanDuel Sportsbook win odds.

Golfer FanDuel
Salary
Win% Top-
10%
Made
Cut%
FanDuel
Sportsbook
Win
Odds
Bryson DeChambeau $10,800 8.8% 63.0% 100.0% +1000
Viktor Hovland $10,200 8.0% 62.2% 100.0% +1000
Justin Thomas $11,200 7.3% 61.7% 100.0% +900
Jordan Spieth $10,400 7.2% 58.1% 100.0% +1100
Rory McIlroy $11,000 7.1% 60.4% 100.0% +700
Daniel Berger $9,000 6.8% 57.8% 100.0% +2000
Collin Morikawa $11,500 6.5% 58.7% 100.0% +750
Sam Burns $9,800 5.7% 55.0% 100.0% +1600
Xander Schauffele $10,600 5.7% 54.3% 100.0% +1200
Webb Simpson $8,800 5.7% 54.4% 100.0% +2000
Abraham Ancer $9,500 5.5% 53.4% 100.0% +1800
Scottie Scheffler $10,000 4.8% 53.7% 100.0% +1600
Tony Finau $8,900 4.4% 49.7% 100.0% +1600
Matt Fitzpatrick $8,600 3.4% 44.3% 100.0% +2200
Tyrrell Hatton $8,400 3.2% 42.9% 100.0% +2900
Harris English $8,200 2.9% 42.2% 100.0% +3300
Brooks Koepka $9,200 2.6% 38.6% 100.0% +2000
Patrick Reed $8,100 2.1% 38.2% 100.0% +2700
Justin Rose $8,300 2.0% 37.5% 100.0% +2700
Henrik Stenson $8,000 0.3% 13.8% 100.0% +5000

Win Simulation Analysis and Best Bets

At the top of the odds board, we have iron gurus Rory McIlroy (+700) and Collin Morikawa (+750), but they're rating out as a bit overvalued, according to the win simulations.

Instead, the next tier -- Justin Thomas (+900), Bryson DeChambeau (+1000), Viktor Hovland (+1000), and Jordan Spieth (+1100) -- are rating out as more viable.

A number of +2000 isn't usually considered sleeper territory, but we have that with Daniel Berger, who rates out as the best overall value in the model this week as far as outright winners go.

I'll be focusing on Thomas and Berger with the short field this week and a light overall betting card.

Daily Fantasy Golfer Picks for the Hero World Challenge

All stats cited below originate at FantasyNational. Strokes gained data includes stats from the past calendar year and is adjusted based on my field strength and recency tweaks. Putting surface splits also come from FantasyNational and include the past 50 rounds when possible -- unless noted. All ranks and percentile ranks are among the field. 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.

Best of the Best

I'll be ranking the field by salary tier from a value-based standpoint.

1. Bryson DeChambeau (FanDuel Salary: $10,800 | FanDuel Sportsbook Win Odds: +1000) - DeChambeau can overpower a course with minimal rough and that's long overall. Sub-$11,000 salary and great win odds have him first overall for me.
2. Justin Thomas ($11,200 | +900) - Thomas likely won't catch as much chalk as Morikawa or Rory and is the field leader in adjusted tee-to-green play over the past year.
3. Collin Morikawa ($11,500 | +750) - Morikawa's dart-throwing potential at these small greens is really hard to nitpick even if he's the worst putter -- by far -- among the top six in salary.
4. Rory McIlroy ($11,000 | +700) - Rory is primed to be prohibitively popular with his current form and field-best betting odds with a reasonable salary. It's an easy week to differentiate from the chalk and try to let variance do its thing.
5. Jordan Spieth ($10,400 | +1100) - Spieth has good win odds based on the simulations -- and a great salary. It's hard to place him above the Morikawa/McIlroy tier, however. Spieth boasts the best-combined short game in the field.
6. Xander Schauffele ($10,600 | +1200) - It hurts me to put my guy Xander down at the bottom of this elite tier, but someone has to be. That said, we see the best and worst from Schauffele in no-cut events, and he makes for an extremely easy pivot if he goes forgotten.

Mid-Range Picks

1. Viktor Hovland ($10,200 | +1000) - Hovland is the best value in the field for me by far. Vik is 3rd overall in my combo model, outright, as well. His combination of accuracy, distance, and scoring can set him up for a win here.
2. Daniel Berger ($9,000 | +2000) - Berger had a bad showing here back in 2017 but is in way better form now than then, so hopefully, that helps him get knocked down by others this week in terms of popularity. He owns the second-best adjusted irons in the field over the past year.
3. Sam Burns ($9,800 | +1600) - It's a bermuda course with long yardage, and that's pretty much the recipe for Burns to thrive. Because he doesn't have the name value others do around his salary, he could be overlooked a bit.
4. Scottie Scheffler ($10,000 | +1600) - Scheffler, honestly, is a bet on birdie potential (89th percentile in this field over the past 50 rounds).
5. Abraham Ancer ($9,500 | +1800) - Though the course is long, it doesn't demand distance and can actually benefit shorter hitters, as well. That keeps Ancer well within striking distance even if we have to nitpick him against other great options in this tier.
6. Brooks Koepka ($9,200 | +2000) - Koepka was low already in my model but is now coming down from a beatdown at The Match over Bryson. We can question the motivation level as well as the stats compared to this stellar field.

Low-Salaried Picks

1. Webb Simpson ($8,800 | +2000) - Webb is easily the best value in my model among low-salaried options. Simpson's form isn't nearly as bad as perceptions seems, either: he just gained 9.8 strokes from approach play at the RSM and finished 14th at THE CJ CUP.
2. Harris English ($8,200 | +3300) - Harris has the second-best birdie rate in this tier behind only Simpson and actually the best overall putting the past year in this tier -- including Simpson.
3. Patrick Reed ($8,100 | +2700) - Reed popped at the Butterfield Bermuda Championship (T2) but has been quite weak before and since then. That said, he has good form here (2nd, 10th, 5th, and 11th).
4. Tony Finau ($8,900 | +1600) - Finau is the standout in this tier from a win odds standpoint but does lag from a bermuda putting standpoint. Over the past 100 rounds, he's averaging -0.07 strokes per round from putting on bermuda greens.
5. Henrik Stenson ($8,000 | +5000) - He's coming in with five straight missed cuts on the PGA Tour. He also posted no top-20 finishes in 2021 on the PGA Tour, either. The PGA Tour variable is key here. Stenson actually has four straight top-30 finishes on the European Tour. He's been gaining strokes from approach play with his Euro Tour data, as well. He should be discounted by others with the PGA Tour data being so bleak.
6. Tyrrell Hatton ($8,400 | +2900) - Hatton has field-leading wedge play and field-average driving accuracy. He hasn't played here before, but that applies to nearly half the field. There's just not much to separate him from the others, especially when Reed and Stenson likely come with popularity leverage.
7. Matt Fitzpatrick ($8,600 | +2200) - Few if any will benefit more than Fitzpatrick if hitting fairways is enough to stay relevant at Albany. However, he (admittedly) prefers tougher setups. We probably won't see a peak Fitzpatrick week.