Hero World Challenge 2021 picks: Why our experts' favorite bet is Justin Thomas
Every time you think the golf season is about to shut down, another tournament pops up, and thus, another betting opportunity. This week, it’s the 2021 Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, which features a 20-man field that includes some of the biggest names in golf.
Unfortunately, with a smaller field, you’re going to have to pay a premium on some of the top guys. There are only a handful of players north of 20-1, so this isn’t the week to sprinkle some units on a few longshots. Make one or two stands on some of the favorites, and sit back and enjoy.
That said, there’s still some value to be found on certain players in the high teens/low 20s range. Patrick Reed and Brooks Koepka, with five majors between them, are two names that might pop on the odds board for you. A few names were popular bets by our betting panel this week, which is looking to close the year out with another victory.
Read on to see who we like this week at the 2021 Hero World Challenge.
Hero World Challenge 2021 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Sam Burns (16-1, FanDuel) — Burns has been the best player this fall, period. He wants to prove that he belongs among golf’s elite, and here he is, on the range with the best players in the world. To win this event cements him as an American star, and I believe he’s hungry to get there.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Patrick Reed (25-1, DraftKings) — This is an all-value play for me. A player of Reed’s caliber should not be 25-1 in a 20-person field, even if his recent form suggests otherwise.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Daniel Berger (18-1, FanDuel) — Berger didn’t fare well here a few years ago but is a much better golfer now. Has some of the best long-term irons in the field.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Justin Thomas (11-1, Caesar’s Sportsbook) — We are starting to see Thomas’ game round into form, coming off a third-place finish in Mayakoba in his last start. His advanced metrics are true to his DNA, gaining at least two strokes on approach in six consecutive measured events, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. With no cut in Albany, he’ll be guaranteed four rounds, which is a tournament structure that has been present for the majority of his PGA Tour victories.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Justin Thomas (11-1, Caesar’s Sportsbook) — This is a generous number. In win simulations on RickRunGood.com, JT wins this event the most: 12.5 percent of the time, giving him the best value in this field. You’ve probably bet him in a full-field event at a similar price; it’s an easy case to be made for JT.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Sam Burns (16-1, FanDuel) — Given his recent form and the fact he absolutely feasts on Bermuda greens, Burns easily has the most value at the top of this odds board. Unfortunately, I wasn’t on him at Sanderson like the rest of the gambling community, so this is my shot at making amends.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Justin Thomas (11-1, Caesar’s Sportsbook) — Thomas comes into this event ranked fourth in the FanShare Sports' course-suitability ranking and first for strokes gained/total over the past two years in this field. He also ranks top six for SG/total over the past two months, Opportunities Gained over the past two months and SG/total at Albany.
Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel had another strong season in 2020-’21, correctly predicting 14 winners in the last 28 events of the year. We’re already off to a hot start in the new season, too, with Rick Gehman hitting Sam Burns (16-1) at the Sanderson Farms Championship and Viktor Hovland (19-1) at the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba. Brandon Gdula also hit on Hovland at Mayakoba, and Stephen Hennessey cashed on Hideki Matsuyama (12-1) at the Zozo Championship.
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," (below) where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes tour pros) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
Hero World Challenge 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Bryson DeChambeau (10-1, FanDuel) — If you believe his comments at The Match that his game is a mess, it’s tough to envision betting him at this number.
Mayo: Rory McIlroy (7-1, DraftKings) — He’s had plenty of chances in Albany before, but I can’t bet him as the favorite.
Gdula: Rory McIlroy (7-1, FanDuel) — The field is small, and scoring will go low, so it’ll be hard for the chalk to win. I’d rather take better odds with Justin Thomas, Bryson DeChambeau, or even Jordan Spieth at the top.
Gehman: Tony Finau (16-1, DraftKings) — Since his victory at The Northern Trust, Finau has struggled to find consistent results. In his last start, he missed the cut in Houston and continued to struggle on the putting greens. Over his last three measured events, he’s lost a total of 13.27 strokes putting. There doesn’t appear to be a reprieve in sight in Albany, which features Bermudagrass greens -- Finau’s worst surface.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Jordan Spieth (11-1, DraftKings) — Spieth is returning to golf post-baby this week, and odds are, he hasn’t been grinding on the range in between diaper changes. I’m sure this will be a nice week for him to work on his game … which was a bit hit or miss the last times we saw him (he lost strokes on approach in four of his last five events, per Fantasy National).
Powers, Golf Digest: Brooks Koepka (25-1, DraftKings) — This is just me telling myself to not bet on him for the seemingly fifth time this fall. Usually, at 20-1 or higher, Brooks is an auto-smash, especially in a 20-man field, but after disposing of Bryson in Vegas I don’t think his care meter will register again until April.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Brooks Koepka (25-1, DraftKings) — He may be fresh off smashing Bryson DeChambeau in Vegas but Koepka ranks bottom five in this field for Course Suitability, SG/total over the last two months, Opportunities Gained over the last two months, SG/total over the last two years and SG/putting on Bermuda over the last two months.
Hero World Challenge 2021 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Brooks Koepka (+100) over Tony Finau (PointsBet) — Koepka's putter was hot last week at The Match, and Finau's putting has been really bad on tour over the past two months. In a birdie-fest, give me the hot hand.
Mayo: Abraham Ancer (-105) over Bryson DeChambeau (DraftKings) — At courses where distance is mitigated I’ll always side with the more consistent iron player in a matchup. That’s why Ancer as a slight dog is the play here.
Gdula: Sam Burns (-102) over Scottie Scheffler (FanDuel) — Burns gets a lengthy course with Bermudagrass greens, which is his bread and butter. Scheffler’s putter puts him behind Burns.
Gehman: Justin Rose (-110) over Tony Finau (DraftKings) — Home-course knowledge goes a long way in Albany, so that’s a big boost to Rose. His game has been tidy in recent weeks while Finau has struggled to roll the ball into the cup. I expect this to be competitive, but Rose gets the nod from me.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Xander Schauffele (+100) over Jordan Spieth (DraftKings) — Plus-odds on the No. 4-ranked player in the world over my fade of the week? Sign me up.
Powers, Golf Digest: Justin Thomas (-110) over Rory McIlroy (DraftKings) — JT certainly seems to be on to something of late with every club in the bag but his putter. If that flips, he should be able to clip Rory, who, despite the victory at CJ Cup, has not been strong on approach of late.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Webb Simpson (odds) over Brooks Koepka (book) — As you can see above, Koepka is not fancied at all this week. Simpson on the other hand ranks top six for SG/total over the last two years, SG/total over the past two months, SG/putting on Bermuda over the last two years and first for Opportunities Gained over the past two months.
Matchup Results from the RSM Classic: Mayo: 1 for 1 (Kuchar (-110) over Homa); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Henley (-108) over Niemann); Powers: 1 for 1 (Hughes (+105) over Kisner); Caddie: 0 for 1; Gehman: 0 for 1; Hennessey: 0 for 1; Alldrick: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Mayo: 8-1-0 (up 6.34 units); Powers: 6-2-1 (up 3.78 units); Caddie: 5-4-0 (up 0.66 units); Gehman: 3-5-1 (down 2.49 units); Alldrick: 3-5-1 (down 2.5 units); Gdula: 3-6-0 (down 3.25 units); Hennessey: 3-6-0 (down 5.2 units)
Hero World Challenge 2021 picks: Top 10s
Caddie: Viktor Hovland (-220, DraftKings) — I expect big things in 2022 from this guy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he contends this week.
Mayo: Viktor Hovland (-220, DraftKings) — It’s a hefty number to lay, but if he putts well it’s a very safe bet he’ll finish in the top half of this field.
Gdula: Harris English (+120, FanDuel) — Plus money is hard to find on top 10s this week. English has great birdie ability and putting, which can help him go low.
Gehman: Xander Schauffele (-170, FanDuel) — Schauffele has been a staple on the first page of the leaderboard in his career and this week should be no different. He’s been excellent in no-cut events, including this one. In his two previous trips, he finished T-8 and T-10.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Brooks Koepka (-130, FanDuel) — I don’t have interest in Koepka in the outright market, but based on his performance at The Match, we know his game is decently sharp—so I think even a disinterested Koepka can beat half this field.
Powers, Golf Digest: Justin Rose (+125, FanDuel) — Rose seems to be rounding into form with a pair of top 12s in his past four starts. Plus, I’m a sucker for the home-game angle.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Henrik Stenson (+250, DraftKings) — Stenson is a big price to finish top 10 in a 20-man field. Sure he may have missed his last two cuts on the PGA Tour but he had picked up some good form before that when playing in Europe. He recorded four top 30s in a row which included a pair of top-five finishes.
Top-10 results from the RSM Classic: Alldrick: 1 for 1 (Denny McCarthy +1000); Powers: 1 for 1 (Talor Gooch +350); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Webb Simpson +320); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Webb Simpson +320); Everybody else: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Powers: 3 for 9 (up 14.5 units); Mayo: 1 for 9 (up 6 units); Alldrick: 1 for 9 (up 2 units); Hennessey: 2 for 9 (up 0.7 units); Gehman: 2 for 9 (down 0.3 units); Caddie: 2 for 9 (down 3.8 units); Gdula: 0 for 9 (down 9 units)
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.
Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.