The 2023 Hero World Challenge welcomes 20 of the best players in the world -- including the biggest name in the sport -- to Albany, Bahamas, this week. Tiger Woods makes his long-awaited return to competition alongside the likes of world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, FedEx Cup champion Viktor Hovland and two-time major champion Collin Morikawa.
Woods has not been seen since the 2023 Masters when he was forced to withdraw during weekend action due to an ankle injury. Having since undergone ankle fusion surgery, the 47-year-old now appears to be walking with a smoother gait as he ramps up his playing schedule before the end of the calendar year.
The 15-time major champion is not the only star to return from injury; Will Zalatoris will be doing the same. The wiry right-hander was on the sidelines for eight months due to a back injury, and has chosen Albany as the place to begin his comeback. Zalatoris has dropped to world No. 33 during this span, and a strong result this week could push him inside the top 30 -- a key cut-off point for signature events on the PGA Tour in 2024.
Justin Thomas hovers inside the same bubble after a quality outing on the DP World Tour. Max Homa aims to keep his winning ways going after winning in South Africa his last time out. Matt Fitzpatrick, Rickie Fowler, Cameron Young, Sam Burns, Jordan Spieth and Tony Finau round out those hoping to make one last impression on the 2023 season.
2023 Hero World Challenge
Dates: Nov. 30 - Dec. 3 | Location: Albany — Albany, Bahamas
Par: 72 | Yardage: 7,449 | Purse: $4,500,000
2023 Hero World Challenge field, odds
- Viktor Hovland (4-1): The two-time defending champion arrives to this year's proceedings a completely different player compared to years past. Evolving into one of the best players in the world, if not the best, Hovland has his sights on the coveted three-peat. There is no reason to suggest the Norwegian will not put up a good fight; he just finished runner-up at the DP World Tour Championship following a two-month break. His near-miss in Dubai came on the heels of running through the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the U.S. team at the 2023 Ryder Cup.
- Scottie Scheffler (9/2): The top-ranked player hasn't been seen on the golf course since the 2023 Ryder Cup. Despite a historic statistical season that included 14 top-five finishes, Scheffler cooled in the later stages of his 2023 campaign. A runner-up to Hovland at the BMW Championship preceded a blown lead at the Tour Championship. The putter was a problem for the Texan all season and remains the club to keep an eye on. Should he find comfort on the greens, Scheffler will threaten to win, as he finished runner-up to Hovland in both 2021 and 2022.
- Max Homa (8-1): There is a case to be made Homa is a top-five player in the world at the moment. Winning on the DP World Tour in his last start, the American claimed his fifth trophy in his last 51 worldwide starts. The 33-year-old has quietly turned into one of the best putters and has rode his momentum on the greens to eight straight top-21 results. Since missing the cut at the Travelers in June, Homa has been near flawless.
- Collin Morikawa (8-1): The two-time major champion got off the schneid at the 2023 Zozo Championship for his first victory in nearly two years. Despite the prolonged hiatus from the winner's circle, Morikawa continued to put up statistics similar to those from his early winning days. Over the last six months he ranks third in total strokes gained, third in strokes gained tee to green and third in strokes gained approach. He had to pull out of the Netflix Cup after tweaking his back, but the 26-year-old should get up for this tournament. Two years ago, Morikawa had a chance to become the world No. 1 with a victory, but instead he fired a final-round 76 to finish T5.
- Matt Fitzpatrick (16-1)
- Justin Thomas (18-1)
- Cameron Young (20-1)
- Rickie Fowler (22-1): A winner of this event in 2017, Fowler makes his first appearance in the Bahamas in three years. His form at the venue is undeniable; he has finished inside the top half of this field in each showing and comes in following a rejuvenating 2023. A strong spring turned into a memorable summer with his close call at the U.S. Open and victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. However, Fowler's game fell off once fall arrived. Outside his T16 finish in a 30-man field at the Tour Championship, Fowler hasn't connected on a top 20 since his win in Detroit.
- Tony Finau (22-1)
- Sam Burns (22-1)
- Wyndham Clark (22-1)
- Jordan Spieth (22-1): Outside a month-long stretch from the Arnold Palmer Invitational to the RBC Heritage, Spieth didn't do a whole lot in 2023. He appeared to be on the cusp of a strong summer before wrist and back injuries surfaced the week of the Wells Fargo Championship. He never seemed to fully recover as he missed four of his last 10 cuts and finished 27th out of 30 players at East Lake. Albany should be a nice fit for his game, on paper, but Spieth hasn't figured out the puzzle in recent years.
2023 Hero World Challenge picks
|Winner (18-1): Some players see this week as a trip to the Bahamas with their peers, while others see it as a chance to cap off the year with a bang. Put Thomas in the latter group, especially after his disappointing season that saw him miss the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The 15-time PGA Tour winner has rediscovered his swing and found the top five at the Fortinet Championship and the Nedbank Challenge on the DP World Tour. He is one who will want to impress Tiger and shut up the doubters from 2023, and there may be no better spot for it considering his three straight fifth-place finishes at Albany.
|Contender (20-1): The majority of the field has not been seen since the Ryder Cup, meaning slow starts may on the horizon. Not for Young, however, as the reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year played twice during the FedEx Cup Fall to middling results. He was never able to put four rounds together, but he did flash his scoring upside with a closing 64 in Mexico and opening 66 at the RSM Classic. He finished third in his debut appearance in 2022 and should be licking his chops at the prospect of entering the winner's circle in this limited field.
|Sleeper (80-1): Why not? Expectations for Woods are low, but reports from the grounds of Medalist in Jupiter, Florida, suggest he is walking without pain and striking the cover off the golf ball. He has only played five times since his car crash in 2021 but has made four cuts with those coming at major championships and the toughest fields in golf. A win for Woods would be playing 72 holes without a hiccup, but don't be surprised if the wily 47-year-old finds a way to finish in the top half of the field.
Who will win the Hero World Challenge, and which longshots will stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now to see the projected leaderboard and best bets, all from the model that's nailed 10 golf majors and is up more than $9,000 since June 2020.