Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler and tournament host Tiger Woods headline the field for the 24th Hero World Challenge, which begins Thursday at Albany Golf Course in New Providence, The Bahamas.
And don’t forget fourth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway (pictured, right), who has won this unofficial PGA Tour event that benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, in each of the last two years.
The 47-year-old Woods (pictured, left) will play for the first time since withdrawing from the Masters last April because of a serious injury to his right leg, which required two surgeries after a rollover SUV accident in Southern California in February of 2021.
“My game feels rusty because I haven’t played in a while,” Woods, who has won this tournament a record five times, but not since 2011, said on Tuesday after he walked slowly to the microphone. “… I’m excited to compete and play and I’m just as curious as all of you are to see what happens because I haven’t done it in a while.
“Six months of doing nothing (after a second surgery in April), that’s the hard part. I don’t have any of the pain that I had at Augusta or pre-that in my ankle. I think the best scenario for this coming year would be maybe a tournament a month. I think that’s realistic, whether you would have to start with maybe at the Genesis Open or something in March near The Players Championship.”
Woods claimed his 82nd PGA Tour victory by three strokes over Hideki Matsuyama in the 2019 Zozo Championship at Narashino Country in Chiba, Japan to tie Sam Snead’s all-time record, but does he believe he can get the tiebreaker: “Absolutely.”
Hovland held off Scheffler each of the last two years to win the Hero World Challenge, by two strokes last year and by one shot in 2021.
“It was nerve-wracking each time,” said Hovland, who has claimed six victories on the PGA Tour, including the BMW Championship and the Tour Championship in August of this year during the playoffs to capture the FedEx Cup championship. “It’s been a lot more stressful than it should have been.
“But I obviously really like this golf course.”
Also on the Hero field this week are seventh-ranked Max Homa of Valencia and Cal, eight-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, ninth-ranked Brian Harman and 10th-ranked Wyndham Clark, the reigning U.S. Open champion.
Others include Rickie Fowler of Murrieta, the 2017 Hero World Challenge winner, Jordan Spieth, the 2016 winner, Justin Thomas, Tony Finau, Justin Rose of England, Jason Day of Australia, Collin Morikawa of La Canada Flintridge and Cal, Sam Burns, Lucas Glover, Cameron Young, Keegan Bradley and Sepp Straka of Austria.
Will Zalatoris is playing for the first time since undergoing back surgery in April.
Other former winners of the Hero World Challenge include Jon Rahm of Spain, Vijay Singh of Fiji, Zach Johnson, Jim Furyk, Henrik Stenson of Sweden, Bubba Watson, Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, Luke Donald of England, Davis Love III, Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Tom Lehman.
For first-round tee-times and full results later, visit: https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard