2022 Hero World Challenge Odds, Expert Picks, Preview: Tony Finau & Justin Thomas Worth an Outright Bet
Photo by Orlando Ramirez/Getty Images. Pictured: Tony Finau.
- The PGA TOUR heads to the Bahamas with a stacked field of 20 players competing.
- Jason Sobel breaks down his two favorite outright picks for the week, including a play on the scorching hot Tony Finau.
- Check out his picks and analysis below.
Click arrow to expand 2022 Hero World Challenge odds via bet365
If you’ve clicked on this golf preview here in late November, then I shouldn’t have to do much convincing when it comes to the topic of why betting a limited-field Silly Season event can remain so appealing. It’s all those other people we’re left to wonder about.
This week’s Hero World Challenge marks the latest return of tournament host Tiger Woods, who is making his first competitive appearance since walking across the Swilcan Bridge back in July, along with 19 of his elite-level, non-LIV friends, including early favorite Jon Rahm (+600) and Masters champion Scottie Scheffler (+800).
I’ll get to Tiger in a little bit here. In a career that has been long on success and short on value, he might actually own some of the latter this week.
Let’s start, though, with a winning trend. That’s right – even Silly Season events can have trends.
Since moving to Albany Golf Course in the Bahamas seven years ago, the victory list for the Hero hasn’t exactly been a who’s who of the absolute biggest superstars, but there hasn’t been more than one surprise, either.
Here’s where each of the past half-dozen winners were priced, according to golfodds.com:
|Year and Winner||Pre-tourney Odds||Place on Board|
|2015 Bubba Watson||+1000||T4|
|2016 Hideki Matsuyama||+650||T2|
|2017 Rickie Fowler||+800||4|
|2018 Jon Rahm||+1200||7|
|2019 Henrik Stenson||+3000||T14|
|2021 Viktor Hovland||+1000||4|
The easy conclusion here is that we haven’t needed to look too far to find winners at this one. Only Stenson was longer than 12/1, and four of the six ranked inside the top 20 percent on the pre-tourney board.
That’s hardly an unbreakable pattern – obviously, since Stenson already broke it – yet I’m going to start my recommendations this week with a pair of players who fit the profile.
Tony Finau (+900)
Consider yourself warned: This is about to become a massive season for Finau, who already owns a victory at the Cadence Bank Houston Open. Now, I’ll admit that I don’t know if that means he’s on the verge of a 4-5 win campaign or if he’ll bag his first major title, but I do know that this isn’t the same Top-Five Tony of the past half-decade – the one who always had the tools to win, but continually posted those agonizing close calls.
He now owns four wins in his last 32 global starts and three in his last seven, all of which suggests the sky is the limit now that he’s gotten more comfortable in contention. That should translate well at Albany, where he’s shown form even before this career transformation.
In his maiden voyage to this event, he finished runner-up to Rahm, albeit four strokes off the pace. The next year, he opened with a 79 that mind-bogglingly included bogeys on three par-5s, but he rebounded with 68-69-65 to finish T10. And last year, he trailed by just a stroke at the midway point, only to close in a share of seventh place.
But again, this is a different Finau than we’ve known in the past. We can see the confidence in his body language these days, not only on Thursday morning, but on Sunday afternoon, as well. I really like Finau in matchups against the lower-priced Scheffler, but I think he’s a smart outright play, using this opportunity to show his fellow world-class players what they’ll be up against next year and beyond.
Justin Thomas (+1000)
So much of the prognostication game this time of year revolves around trying to get inside players’ heads and figure out which ones are truly motivated. That goes double for a limited-field event in a vacation paradise such as this. I’ve covered this event on multiple occasions in the past and, well, let’s just say it’s not uncommon to run into a competitor during a late-night casino run. (You know, when I’m meandering past those high-limit tables.)
Thomas is the type of player who only does business trips, though. He might not always play his best golf in these situations, but I can assure you he enters ‘em with more preparation and intent than some of his peers.
Throw in a chance to have his good buddy Tiger hand him a trophy – a nice little promotion for The Match next week – plus a chance to get his first win since claiming the PGA Championship in May and just his second since THE PLAYERS last March, and we have to believe the motivation level will at least rival that of anyone else in this field.
In his last two starts at this event, JT has a pair of T5 results. He only played once during the fall portion of the schedule (a T-40 at the CJ Cup), so he’ll be using this as a springboard into the meaty part of the season.