Twenty of the world’s best golfers teed it up in the 2023 Hero World Challenge held at the exclusive Albany Championship Golf Course in the Bahamas. First held in January of 2000, the tournament host is Tiger Woods and of course the invitation-only list has seen a who’s who of golf greats compete. In 2015, the tournament went global, moving to Albany, Bahamas after years on the West Coast and one year in Florida.
Ernie Els designed the golf course and it features a par-72, 7,309-yard layout with five par-5s and five par-3s, and eight par-4s. The links-style course features windswept dunes and challenging water features.
The Hero World Challenge drives strong philanthropic support for TGR Foundation, Tavistock Foundation and the Bahamas Youth Foundation. In 1999, Tiger Woods and his father Earl established the Hero World Challenge to benefit TGR Foundation and today, the tournament continues to raise funds for youth-focused charities and empower youth through education.
Before the tournament Woods said, “My game feels rusty; I haven’t played in a while.” Woods has not played competitive golf since he withdrew from the Masters in April.
Joining Woods for the 72-hole no-cut event were two-time defending champion Viktor Hovland, world No.1 Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Max Homa. This year’s event saw an increased purse of $4.5 million, with the winner taking home $1 million,
SCHEFFLER IN CONTROL
The first two days saw the leaderboard in constant motion as players continued to find this unique course layout to have a Jekyll and Hyde personality. The front nine seemed to lull the players into a false sense of security as they had little problems moving up the leaderboard. The back nine brought them back to reality as most players had problems negotiating what appeared to be a difficult stretch of holes.
The third day saw Scottie Scheffler move to a 3-shot lead heading into the final round at 16-under. Matt Fitzpatrick, who had put the Dunhill Links Championship between his Ryder Cup appearance, and the Hero World Challenge, birdied the last three holes to move to 13-under and play with Scheffler in Sunday’s final twosome.
Tiger Woods continued to struggle trying to regain that “magical touch” he made famous throughout his career. This was his fifth time playing here in the Bahamas and has only once finished within 10 shots of the winner. He headed into the final round at (E) even par. After completing his third round, Tiger said, “I still have game, it’s whether or not the body can do it. I’m very pleasantly surprised at how I’ve recovered every day…”
Other players at the top of the leaderboard heading into the final round, along with Scheffler -16 and Fitzpatrick -13 were Justin Thomas -12, Jason Day -10, Tony Finau -10, Collin Morikawa -10 and Jordan Spieth -10. Viktor Hovland, this year’s defending champion, headed into the final round at (E) par.
The leaderboard, as the last twosome made the turn to the back nine, showed Scheffler -18, Finau -14, Sepp Straka -14, Spieth -13, Thomas -13, Fitzpatrick-13. Tiger Woods had reached the 16th hole sitting at -1. He started the front 9 with a double bogey on the par 3 2nd hole but had worked his way back to -1.
Tiger finished his final round at even (E) par. After his birdie on the 15th hole which got him to -1, he bogeyed the 16th he parred the 17th and 18th. He seemed to struggle at some points during the final 9 holes both today and yesterday but overall, he managed to finish all 72 holes and host the awards ceremony.
Scottie Scheffler won the 2023 Hero World Challenge with a -20 with a final round 68. He picked up the Winner’s Trophy along with the 1st place check for $1 million. With this win, Scheffler’s Official Career Money Earnings are $43,120,567. Sepp Straka finished 2nd with a -17 total and final round 64. He took home $375,000 for his efforts. Third place check of $225,000 went to Justin Thomas. He finished with a -16 and a 67 final round.
“The challenge of playing with a lead, in the final round, is not easy,” he told reporters after signing his card. “Whether it’s mechanically, strategically, or emotionally. I played some good golf today. No boogies, so, I felt like when I needed to make some birdies in the round, I was able to do so like on 14 and 15. Then you know, I just played solid today and kind of kept my distance from the rest of the guys.”
Scheffler showed poise, experience and talent to close out his third victory of the year, the last coming in May at Tournament Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
“I mean same game plan as always, I mean my lines may be changed by a few feet depending on the situation, but for the most part, I mean, everything was basically the exact same,: he added. “I was just trying to hit good shots and give myself some good looks.”