The Hero World Challenge is not an official PGA Tour event and awards no FedExCup points but, controversially, does count towards the Official World Golf Ranking.
Two spots have been added to the field this year so 19 of the world’s top-50 (plus defending champion Henrik Stenson) will tee up in the Bahamas.
The tournament is in its 21st year and most of the pre-tournament coverage has focussed on the pre-event press conference with tournament host and five-time winner Tiger Woods.
Woods hasn’t been seen or spoken publicly since a serious car accident in February and the announcement he will front the media has caused a stir.
DEFENDING CHAMPION: Henrik Stenson was the last to raise the trophy two years ago with a dramatic one-shot win over Jon Rahm.
RIGHT: Henrik Stenson wont this event when it was last played in late 2019. PHOTO: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.
The Swede took control in the final round with a spectacular eagle at the par-5 15th, his 5-wood from 236 metres finishing less than a foot from the cup.
Stenson was 26th in the World Rankings that week but has since fallen to 182, the only player in the 20-man field not in the top-50.
COURSE: An ultra-exclusive playground of the rich and famous, the Albany Golf Club is part of a resort development which boasts Tiger Woods and Ernie Els among its investors.
Opened in 2010, Els’ design firm also built the course which has played host to Woods’ tournament since 2015.
With little in the way of natural undulation, the course relies on man-made features built from soil created when several water hazards were excavated.
Described on the club website as ‘combining the best of links and desert features’, Albany has enough width to accommodate resort guests year-round which has proved relatively easy for the world class field at this event.
18-under has been the winning score three times since the tournament moved here in 2016 while both Jon Rahm (-20) and Bubba Watson (-25) have both gone lower.
An unorthodox configuration of five par-5’s and five par-3s accounts for some of the good scoring as does the lack of genuine rough.
Sandy waste areas dotted with clumps of thick grass mean anything a long way offline can find genuine trouble though more often than not balls missing the fairway are playable.
Two driveable par-4s – the 7th and 14th — give the field something to think about on each nine.
Albany boasts a difficult finish with the long par-4 16th the toughest hole on the course and water in play on both the par-3 17th and par-4 18th.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: With such a small but quality field it’s hard to predict who might be in the mix come Sunday but on recent form it would be foolhardy not to have at least one eye on Collin Morikawa.
He makes his debut at the event this week and it may turn out the course isn’t to his liking but as well as he has played in 2021 that seems unlikely.
His confidence will be high after winning in Dubai two weeks ago and with an iron game as sharp as his, he is almost always going to be in contention.
The real danger man this week, though, could be Jordan Spieth whose wife Annie gave birth to the couple’s first child three weeks ago.
Spieth has missed this tournament just once since turning professional – for his wedding in 2018 – and while he has never won at this course he has been in the top-six in three of four appearances.
Spieth wouldn’t be the first golfer to find a new perspective after becoming a father and after a satisfying return to form in 2021 he could be dangerous this week.
72-HOLE RECORD: 263 (-25, Bubba Watson, 2016)
72-HOLE RECORD: 61 (Rickie Fowler, 2017)
PAST AUSSIE WINNERS: No Australian has won this event.
AUSTRALIANS IN THE FIELD: There are no Australians in the field.
Round 1: Friday (Fox Sports 506 5.30am – 8.30am)
Round 2: Saturday (Fox Sports 506 5.30am – 8.30am)
Round 3: Sunday (Fox Sports 506 4am – 9am)
Round 4: Monday (Fox Sports 503 3am – 8am)
*AEDT, check local guides