This 2017 Hero World Challenge has what has to be the greatest “boutique” field you’d ever want to see.
You have many of the world’s best players — No. 1 Dustin Johnson, No. 2 Jordan Spieth, No. 3 Justin Thomas, No. 5 Hideki Matsuyama, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 7 Brooks Koepka, No. 8 Henrik Stenson and No. 9 Ricky Fowler. The only top 10 missing are Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Rory McIlroy (10th).
Race To Dubai winner Tommy Fleetwood’s teeing it up at Albany, so is Alex Noren. Charley Hoffman and Kevin Chappell are two of the “how did they get an invite?” guys.
Tiger impersonator (he wears red and black on Sundays) Patrick Reed is playing, so is Kevin Kisner, Daniel Berger, Frankie Molinari and all-around good guy Matt Kuchar.
Not bad for a gathering in late November/early December, especially considering all the horrible cross-over season fields that have been thrown in front of the golf television viewing audience the past six weeks.
Oh yes, don’t forget the world’s No. 1,199, the guy EVERYONE is wondering about — yes, Tiger Woods.
Woods is back, totally pain-free, hitting it miles past everyone (so they tell us) and you’d think he’s going to run away and hide from everyone and shoot 30-under.
Which begs the question — who is going to win this 2018 version of Tiger’s Gathering Of Friends?
Matsuyama was crushing the field after three rounds last year — he was 19-under through 54 holes, seven clear of the field. But a closing 73 let Stenson make a run. Stennie closed with 68 and Matsuyama won but just two.
Coming into this week, Matsuyama’s confidence was shaken in Japan a few weeks back when he and the rest of the field at the Dunlop Phoenix were crushed by Koepka. So keep an eye on Koepka to keep it up.
Fleetwood and Rose both played in Hong Kong last week after duking it out for the Race To Dubai, so they’ve been playing regularly.
Stenson appears recovered from a rib injury he suffered in China. He played well here last year, pushing Matsuyama.
As for the rest? Most of these guys have been on vacation.
Spieth started to get it going last week in Australia. He shot 67 the final round of the Australian Open and grabbed a top 10, so at least he’s been playing.
You want the miracle pick?
Take Tiger — everyone’s been falling all over themselves praising his swing, his distance and he admits he’s never felt this good.
How can he not win?