T.J. Auclair is a Senior Interactive Producer for PGA.com and has covered professional golf since 1998, traveling to over 60 major championships. You can follow him on Twitter, @tjauclair.
5 reasons to be excited for this week's Hero World Challenge
Series: Golf Buzz
Published: Wednesday, November 30, 2016 | 2:42 p.m.
If we're being completely honest with one another, there's no a whole lot in the world of professional golf to really, truly get excited about in late November-early December, right?
Well, that's a little different this year... actually, a lot different. Outside of majors -- and Ryder Cup, of course -- this might be the most anticipated tournament of the year, even though it's "unofficial..." and it has to do with the highest ranked player in the world -- No. 898 to be exact -- who we'll get to in a minute.
But here are the five reasons we're so excited for this week's Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas.
5. Twelve competitors from the 2016 Ryder Cup make up two-thirds of the field. For the USA, Rickie Fowler, Brandt Snedeker, Jimmy Walker, J.B. Holmes, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka are all teeing it up, while Europeans Henrik Stenson and Bahamas resident, Justin Rose, are also on hand.
4. Jordan Spieth could be halfway to a monster 2017 season. What does that mean? Well, Spieth is fresh off a win in the Australian Open. Last time he did that was in 2014. In his next start -- the Hero World Challenge -- Spieth won again. That set the stage for an incredible 2015 season in which he won the Masters and U.S. Open, tied for fourth at the Open Championship and was runner-up at the PGA Championship (to go along with three other wins in regular PGA Tour events). Can he bottle up the magic again?
3. Ryder Cup teammates Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka are paired together for the first 36 holes. Or, in other words, to of the longest hitters in the game today. There aren't going to be a lot of divots from where these guys will be hitting their approach shots.
2. The field features three of 2016's four major champions. U.S. Open winner Dustin Johnson is there. Henrik Stenson, the Open Champion is there (no truth to the rumor he travled to the Bahamas via jet ski with the Claret Jug). And PGA Champion Jimmy Walker is there. Masters winner Danny Willett is the only grand slam winner not in the field.
And if you needed just one more reason to be excited...
1. For the first time in 15 months, TIGER WOODS IS BACK, BABY! That's right. The No. 898th-ranked player in the field is teeing it up. The level of excitement for Tiger's return this week is so high that people were actually live-tweeting his pro-am round on Wednesday. Injury setbacks aside, this will be the first time we see Tiger play 72 holes golf since a T10 in his last PGA Tour start at the Wyndham Championship in August 2015.