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Tiger Woods hosts the Hero World Challenge before heading off to Australia for the President's Cup. (Marco Ugarte, File)
Tiger Woods hosts the Hero World Challenge before heading off to Australia for the President's Cup. (Marco Ugarte, File)|Associated Press
Golf

Golf: Mike Kern heads to the Bahamas to pick Tiger's Hero World Challenge, looking for Justin Rose to bloom with the field's two longshots

The tournament starts Wednesday morning.

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

After a week off, time for the unofficial Hero World Challenge, an 18-man invitational hosted by Tiger Woods in the Bahamas. It starts Wednesday, so that the guys in the field who will be playing in next week’s President’s Cup in Australia – and there are a bunch of them – will have a little extra time to get there.

Jon Rahm, the defending champion, is the favorite at 7-2. He’s won his last two starts on the European Tour. Justin Thomas is next, at 13-2. He’s followed by Patrick Cantlay, at 17-2.

Then there’s Woods and Xander Schauffele, at 9-1. Tiger has won this thing five times but not at this venue and not since 2011. Webb Simpson is 12, while Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler, who hasn’t played much lately but got picked by Woods to be on the American team instead of, say, maybe Kevin Kisner, are both 14-1. Just noting. Oops, almost forgot. Rickie hoisted the trophy here two years ago.

Bryson DeChambeau and Gary Woodland, who did win the U.S. Open six months ago, are 18-1 along with Patrick Reed. Tony FInau is 22-1. Jordan Spieth, your 2014 winner, is 25-1. Henrik Stenson is 28-1. So is Matt Kuchar.

Bubba Watson, who won in 2015, is 25-1. Kisner is 40-1, and might be trying to prove something. And Chez Reavie, who’s been playing well this fall, checks in at 60-1.

So what to do? It is an exhibition, so to speak, though there is real money involved. Right now it’s hard to go against Rahm, but I just don’t like those short odds. And I won’t play Tiger, just because. He could be more focused at this point on being the captain next week. Though, to be fair, he is going to be a playing captain, since he picked himself to be one of the non-automatic additions. He did win last month in Japan, but hasn’t played since.

I’m going to look for some decent payouts, cause that’s the way I tend to roll.

Justin Rose, 14-1

He tied for third last year, he plays that course since he lives there, and he doesn’t have to worry about heading to Australia since this is not a Ryder Cup year. And he hits irons well, which seems to be an advantage on this layout.

I was looking at Cantlay, who did finish second in his last start. But that was almost two months ago. And this really is even more of a guessing game than a regular event, even though there’s less people to handicap.

So let’s also try … the two highest names on the board.

Kevin Kisner, 40-1, and Chez Reavie, 60-1

Why not? Each of them is on their game right now, so let’s go for some big returns on our investment. Don’t go too heavy, since this is a different kind of event. Just enough to keep you hopefully interested come Saturday.

Then keep an eye out for our college and pro football picks later in the week, where we will try to do better than last week. At least the two weeks before that were decent. That’s the way this stuff tends to work. Simply trying to stay ahead of the dreaded vig, as always.

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