Tiger Woods reveals Hero World Challenge field: 4 things we noticed

Host Tiger Woods of the United States looks during the final round Hero World Challenge at Albany Golf Course on December 04, 2022 in Nassau, Bahamas.

Will Tiger Woods be playing his own tournament this year?

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Just because it’s golf’s silly season doesn’t mean there aren’t any big-time events to dissect.

With less than two months until his own Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas, Tiger Woods has announced the field for the elite, 20-man event.

Err… Well, at least 19 of the 20 players. We’ll get to that down below.

Aside from being one short of a full round, the field list, which mostly consists of players at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking (13 of the top 20), has plenty of things to note.

Here are the top four things we noticed about the field.

Where are the big 3?

The first name on top of the field list is no surprise: World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler.

Scheffler had another spectacular year in 2022-23. It was so incredible statistically, many consider it a slight disappointment he won only two events, including the Players Championship. In 23 events, he recorded 21 top 25s, but even that doesn’t do his year justice as 20 of them were top 12s.

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However, there were two other players, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, who held the world’s top ranking at some point in the PGA Tour season. Neither will be at Albany the first week of December.

McIlroy’s absence isn’t all that shocking as he’s only played the event once since it moved to the Bahamas in 2014. When he did tee it up in 2021 at Albany, he finished last in the 18-player field and opted to skip last year.

Rahm not playing is more surprising given that he won the event in his first try in 2018 and finished second the following year. He took off the 2021 edition before returning to finish T8 in 2022.

The Spaniard and World No. 3 just completed his most impressive season on the PGA Tour, racking up four wins, including the Masters, all before May. However, he publicly worried about balancing playing both a full PGA Tour and DP World Tour schedule given the PGA Tour’s structural changes, so his absence might be the result of not wanting to interrupt his time off.

No Ryder Cup Rematch

With no Rahm and no McIlroy, there are just three players from Europe’s winning Ryder Cup team in the field.

Viktor Hovland is back as the event’s two-time defending champion, so no surprise there. Joining him are Matthew Fitzpatrick, who has played the event the past two years, and Sepp Straka, who made his Hero debut last year.

Meanwhile, those who want to get a glimpse of the U.S. team are in luck as 11 of the 12 golfers who donned the Red, White and Blue in Rome will head to the Bahamas. Only LIV Golfer Brooks Koepka is missing.

Will Zalatoris Comeback 2.0

After initially injuring himself at the 2022 BMW Championship, Will Zalatoris was set to make his return at the Hero World Challenge last year. However, he ultimately decided he needed a little more time to recover from two herniated disks and made his return at the Sentry Tournament of Champions the following month instead.

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Unfortunately, Zalatoris was still playing with pain and ultimately withdrew from the Masters and underwent a microdiscectomy to alleviate the pain.

Now, Zalatoris’ inclusion in the field means he thinks he has a chance of coming back in the Bahamas or at least wants to have a spot there. He may end up quietly WDing again, but being included in the field means it’s there if he wants it.

The 20th man

You’re kidding yourself if you think the “TBA Tournament Exemption” in the initial field list is anything other than a placeholder for the tournament host himself.

In fact, Woods made this same move a year ago when he was unsure he’d be ready to return after playing just three events in 2022 in the wake of his February 2021 car accident.

Woods later inserted himself in the field, but, a case of plantar fasciitis flared up and forced him to withdraw on Monday of tournament week. He returned to play the Genesis Invitational in February, another event he hosts.

Like Zalatoris, Woods had surgery in April, although Woods’ was for a subtalar fusion, which severely limited the mobility of his right foot, but should have helped the pain he was obviously experiencing when he withdrew during the third round of the Masters.

Since then, we’ve only just begun to see new videos of Woods on the golf course, the first coming just over a week ago at Pebble Beach’s par-3 course he redesigned.

Is Woods ready to go after his latest procedure? The door is certainly ajar for him.

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