The PGA Tour doesn’t have another official event until the Sentry Tournament of Champions in the first week of January in Hawaii, but the Hero World Challenge kicks off a series of holiday events on Thursday at Albany Golf Club in Nassau, The Bahamas.
Tournament host Tiger Woods, who has won the event a record five times since its inception in 2000, is not in the field but is expected to make his first public appearances since being injured in a serious car crash in February.
“Given Tiger’s current and improving condition, it is expected that he will be there (in the Bahamas) and speaking as host,” TW Legion, which follows Woods’ movements, said in a recent post on its Twitter page.
“ … We are anticipating to see and hear from Tiger this coming week in The Bahamas for the first time officially since February.”
Woods posted a three-second video last week of himself hitting a golf shot with a smooth, perfect swing and no sign of any problems because his injuries. The video almost instantly went viral and had many people predicting when he might return to competitive golf.
Tiger has yet to give any indication of when that might happen.
The Hero World Challenge was not played last year because of the Coronavirus Pandemic, so Henrik Stenson of Sweden will be the defending champion after claiming the title in 2019 by one stroke over 2018 winner Jon Rahm of Spain thanks to a late eagle.
The top-ranked Rahm, who is not playing this year, was trying to become only the second back-to-back winner in tournament history, which was pulled off by Woods in 2006 and 2007.
Stenson and Jordan Spieth (2014) are the only former Hero World Challenge champions in the field this year.
Second-ranked Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, who recently became the first American to win the DP World Tour’s Race to Dubai, is the highest-ranked player in the field, which also includes No. 4 Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, No. 6 Justin Thomas, No. 7 Bryson DeChambeau of Clovis, No. 8 Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and No. 9 Viktor Hovland of Norway.
Also in the 20-man field from the top 25 of the World Golf Rankings are No. 11 Spieth, No. 12 Abraham Ancer of Mexico, No. 13 Tony Finau, No. 14 Harris English, No. 16 Brooks Koepka, No. 17 Daniel Berger, No. 18 Sam Burns, No. 19 Scottie Scheffler, No. 21 Tyrrell Hatton of England, No. 24 Matt Fitzpatrick of England and No. 25 Webb Simpson.
Rounding out the field are No. 27 Patrick Reed, No. 47 Justin Rose of England and Stenson, who has slipped to No. 182.
The Hero World Challenge Field includes the winners of 19 major championships and 14 players who competed in the Ryder Cup in September.
Most tournaments during the regular season, other than the four majors, the Players Championship and the World Golf Championships, would love to have fields as strong as this one.
It simply shows the respect Woods has from his fellow pros.