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2021 Hero World Challenge picks, odds, field: Red-hot PGA insider says back 25-1 long shot at Albany Golf Club

CBS Sports logo CBS Sports 12/2/2021 CBS Sports Staff
Rory McIlroy holding a baseball bat © Provided by CBS Sports

The PGA Tour is on a break through the holidays, but most of the world's top golfers will be full steam ahead this week in the 2021 Hero World Challenge. The 20 players in the Hero World Challenge field will be competing for the $1 million first prize, full world-ranking points and bragging rights over a field that includes 15 of the world's top 20 players. Henrik Stenson returns as the defending champion after shooting 18 under to beat Jon Rahm by one stroke in 2019. Last year's event was canceled because of the pandemic. The tournament benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, and the 15-time major champion will attend this year to host the unofficial PGA Tour event.

Rory McIlroy is the 15-2 favorite in the latest Hero World Challenge golf odds from Caesars Sportsbook. Collin Morikawa (8-1), Justin Thomas (10-1) and Jordan Spieth (11-1) also are among the many contenders in the star-studded Hero World Challenge field. Bryson DeChambeau (12-1) and Brooks Koepka (20-1) also are playing, fresh off their showdown in The Match 5, won handily by Koepka. Before you make any 2021 Hero World Challenge bets or PGA Tour predictions, be sure to check out what proven golf insider Sal Johnson has to say.

The esteemed golf insider has been around the game for many years and knows what it takes to win. Johnson had a strong run during the fall season. 

Before the Mayakoba event in Mexico, Johnson had Viktor Hovland among his players to watch, while he predicted Koepka would miss the cut. Koepka didn't break par and went home early again, while Hovland shot 23 under to cruise to a four-stroke victory.

Before the Zozo Championship in Japan, Johnson tabbed Hideki Matsuyama in his best bets, and he was right on the money. Matsuyama shot a final-round 65 and won by five strokes after trailing by one with eight holes to play on Sunday.

At the Sanderson Farms Championship, Johnson nailed Burns as his winner. Anyone who has followed Johnson's advice has cashed in huge.  

Now Johnson, the first producer of "Inside the PGA Tour," a longtime ABC Sports golf producer who worked with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, and founder of the world's top golf stats database, has released his highly confident 2021 Hero World Challenge golf picks, and they will surprise you. You can only see Johnson's expert PGA Tour golf picks at SportsLine.

Top 2021 Hero World Challenge golf predictions

In a huge surprise, the golf expert is strongly fading Bryson DeChambeau, who is among the favorites at 12-1. The 2020 U.S. Open champion hasn't played much recently, and he hasn't looked in form when he has. He played poorly in The Match V against rival Brooks Koepka last weekend. He failed to post a birdie and conceded after nine holes in the scheduled 12-hole exhibition match. Albany doesn't fit his game very well, and he finished 12th and T-15 in his two appearances. You're much better off looking elsewhere, Johnson says. 

On the other hand, Johnson has watched Morikawa's development from the start and knows the 24-year-old is at the top of his game. Morikawa won the DP World Tour Championship Dubai last week and has finished in the top 10 in both tour starts this season. He was the runner-up at the CJ Cup last month and has stats that are in line with his great run last season. He was second in strokes gained tee-to-green, fifth in greens in regulation (70.8 percent) and 10th in driving accuracy (69.6) last season. Morikawa has five tour wins, including two major titles.  

The golf expert also knows McIlory has the stats to win anywhere if he can put four good rounds together. He did that at last month's CJ Cup, where he went 25 under to win. He looked like he was in line to do it again at the DP World Tour Championship Dubai last week, when he went into the final nine holes with the lead. But he faltered down the stretch and Morikawa surged to the victory as McIlroy ended up tied for sixth. He was second in driving distance (319.3 yards), fifth in par breakers (25.3 percent) and 10th in strokes gained tee-to-green last season.

How to make 2021 Hero World Challenge golf picks

Johnson is backing a long shot who comes into this week at more than 20-1. This veteran has had some strong finishes recently, and even when he isn't playing well his putter can keep him in contention. This golfer could pull off a stunning victory in this star-studded field, and anyone who backs this underdog could cash in huge. You can only get Johnson's Hero World Challenge picks at SportsLine.

Who wins the 2021 Hero World Challenge? Where do Collin Morikawa and Rory McIlroy finish? And which massive long-shot is a must-back? Check out the odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Sal Johnson's full leaderboard, picks and analysis for the 2021 Hero World Challenge, all from the insider who knows what it takes to win on the PGA Tour, and find out.

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2021 Hero World Challenge odds, field, top contenders

Rory McIlroy 15-2

Collin Morikawa 8-1

Justin Thomas 10-1

Jordan Spieth 11-1

Viktor Hovland 11-1

Xander Schauffele 12-1

Bryson DeChambeau 12-1

Sam Burns 16-1

Tony Finau 16-1

Scottie Scheffler 16-1

Daniel Berger 18-1

Abraham Ancer 18-1

Webb Simpson 20-1

Brooks Koepka 20-1

Matthew Fitzpatrick 22-1

Patrick Reed 25-1

Tyrrell Hatton 25-1

Justin Rose 25-1

Harris English 33-1

Henrik Stenson 50-1


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