Rory McIlroy and Collin Morikawa lock horns again this week as market leaders for the Hero World Challenge. The former world number one (McIlroy) and the man who could take that position for the first time this week (Morikawa) were the main protagonists in both the CJ Cup and the DP World Tour Championship.
In the CJ Cup, McIlroy managed to repel a fast-finishing Morikawa. The American fired a Sunday 62, but the Northern Irishman edged over the line in front in the Vegas sunshine.
It was a different story in the DP World Tour Championship, though, as McIlroy faltered over the closing holes to allow Morikawa past. McIlroy was incredibly unlucky with his approach shot to the 15th hole in the final round of the Dubai shootout – it clattered into the flagstick and deflected into a greenside bunker – but Morikawa took full advantage with a ruthless display.
McIlroy is 7/1 for the Hero, while Morikawa can be backed at 15/2. Both are making their debut at the Albany course.
Schauffele looking to end victory drought
If McIlroy and Morikawa take time to settle in The Bahamas in their first start at Albany, then Xander Schauffele may be the man to star in the Hero World Challenge.
At this time of the year, with Christmas approaching and the next Major still four months away, many of the elite may slip into auto-pilot mode and not be fully invested in scoring well in the Hero. Schauffele, though, knows that failure this week would mean his PGA Tour victory drought will stretch to three years.
His last Tour trophy came in the Sentry Tournament of Champions in Hawaii in January, 2019. The 12/1 on Schauffele is appealing, given how well he has played since becoming Olympic champion in August. A strong Tour Championship performance followed, then he made an excellent Ryder Cup debut, earning three points from his four matches.
There are similarities between Albany and the layout where he triumphed in the Sentry, so perhaps this island visit is just the tonic Schauffele needs to lift Tour silverware again. Three of his four Tour wins have come in small-field, no-cut events like this one.
Rose may provide some each-way value
Justin Rose lived in The Bahamas for many years and knows Albany extremely well. He has prepared thoroughly for the event, knowing that victory would cement his position in the top 50 of the world rankings and set up a strong 2022, so the 22/1 against his name is worth an interest.
Each-way terms of a fifth the odds, the first four places are available. Rose can boast Hero World Challenge form figures of 5-3-5 from the last three years, underlining his comfort at the track, and he warmed up nicely with 12th place in the RSM Classic last time out.
Henrik Stenson won the last World Challenge, stabilising his career in the process, and his pal Rose may repeat the trick two years later.
*All odds correct at time of writing.