Hero World Challenge Preview, Picks & Analysis
Jon Rahm will arrive in The Bahamas as the red-hot favourite to successfully defend the Hero World Challenge, hosted by Tiger Woods. The Spaniard took a break after winning the Andalucia Masters in front of an enthusiastic home crowd and arrived in Dubai feeling fit and refreshed. He duly held off Tommy Fleetwood and won the Dubai World Championship, pocketing a record first prize of $3m and being crowned Race to Dubai winner for 2019. It was his fourth Rolex Series victory and it capped another astonishing season.
He is one of an elite field of 18 but the headlines are all about those who won’t be playing. Dustin Johnson has withdrawn but insists that he will still be playing for the USA in the Presidents Cup. Johnson underwent arthroscopic surgery in September to repair cartilage damage in his left knee and has not played since finishing last in the Tour Championship.
Johnson wrote on Twitter that he made the decision to withdraw after “a lot of careful thought and consultation.”“While my recovery from knee surgery is complete, I feel another week of physical therapy and practice will best prepare me for the Presidents Cup,” Johnson said. “I have informed Captain Woods of my decision, which he fully supports and understands.”
Chez Reavie will replace Johnson in the Hero field. Reavie is coming off a career year that saw him finish eighth in the FedExCup. He won the Travelers Championship and finished third in the U.S. Open. Two players have already withdrawn from the upcoming Presidents Cup because of injury. Brooks Koepka reinjured his knee in South Korea and was replaced by Rickie Fowler, while Jason Day had to be replaced by Byeong Hun An after suffering a back injury.
Johnson won this year’s World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship and was runner-up in both the Masters and US PGA Championship, but he’s not had a top-10 since leaving Bethpage Black in May. Reavie will be making his debut in the Hero, which begins Wednesday in Albany, Bahamas. The tournament concludes Saturday to give the U.S. Team time to travel to Australia for the Presidents Cup.
The field in The Bahamas comprises Reavie, Justin Rose, Justin Thomas, Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, Tiger Woods, Xander Schauffele, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau, Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Gary Woodland, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Bubba Watson and Kevin Kisner.
Among those looking to find some form before travelling to Australia are DeChambeau and Fowler. The former has been spending time in the gym and has changed his diet as he attempts to bulk up to compete with the likes of Brooks Koepka and Rory Mcilroy. It seems an odd decision for a man who has become a serial winner on the PGA Tour, and it is one he may come to regret but DeChambeau has always done things his own way. Fowler is coming to the end of what has been a disappointing season and will be looking to justify Wood’s decision to give him a place on the US team for Australia after the withdrawal of Koepka.
It may be an invitational tournament but this year’s edition will be a fascinating one, not least as we wait to find out whether Woods can continue the astonishing form he demonstrated when winning the ZoZo Championship in China.
Jon Rahm. Walking on air
Tiger Woods. Looked fabulous in China
Justin Thomas. Back to his best
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