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The Hindu
The Hindu
Ashwin Achal

Hero World Challenge | Two-time defending champion Hovland starts favourite; chance for Tiger Woods to test his fitness

Tiger Woods may not find favour with the bookmakers, but as always, his mere presence is enough to generate buzz. The Hero World Challenge, which commences here on Thursday, marks Woods’ comeback after yet another injury lay-off.

The tournament will provide a measure of where Woods stands, both in terms of fitness and form. Woods’ troublesome ankle, which flared up during the third round of the Masters in April, will be put to the test over 90 holes (including the Pro-Am).

Woods, 47, will also play with son Charlie in the 2023 PNC Championship at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Orlando in a couple of weeks.

On electing to return to his home tournament, Woods said, “the smaller field size, and the fact that it’s at the end of the year — which sets me up for expectations going into the following year — is a nice landing spot. This is a good springboard into the following year, and my foundation benefits from it. So there’s so many positives that come from playing in this event,” Woods said.

The tournament is a benefit for the Tiger Woods Foundation, and players will receive Official World Golf Ranking points.

Favouring long drives

The Albany course, designed by Ernie Els, favours long drives and low scores. This suits Viktor Hovland just fine, as the Norwegian enters the tournament as the two-time defending champion.

Having won the recent BMW Championship and the Tour Championship, Hovland will once again wear the tag of favourite in this 20-man field.

Hovland will be pursued by Scottie Scheffler, who finished second in the previous two editions.

U.S. Open champion Wyndham Clark and British Open winner Brian Harman are some of the other contenders. Will Zalatoris makes his first start after back surgery.

The Hero World Challenge carries a $4.5 million total purse, with $1 million reserved for the winner.

(The writer is in Nassau, Bahamas on invitation from Hero MotoCorp)

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