The WGC HSBC Champions returns to the Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai, China for the eleventh time in the tournament’s 12-year history, and the only year it was staged elsewhere was in 2012.
The course is a par-72 measuring in excess of 7,200 yards, and features fairly generous tree-lined fairways, whilst the undulating bentgrass greens averagely run at 11 on the Stimpmeter. Water hazards, and various changes in elevation will also test any golfer’s armoury of shots this week. Players often make their score on the par-5s, whilst the driveable par-4 16th gives players chasing the lead a real risk-and-reward opportunity.
Power isn’t everything though as, though Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson have won this title, shorter and straighter hitters Russell Knox and Kevin Kisner were first and second last year. However, power is still deemed to be a big advantage. Wind may play a big part this week, so it may pay to avoid those who don’t play well in such conditions.
Rory McIlroy heads the market this week and, with tournament figures of 5/4/6/11, it’s not hard to see him getting involved – though he never really appeals when it’s windy. However, it’s impossible to rule out second favourite Dustin Johnson on those grounds, and he could easily win this for a second time if he turns-up hungry for another title. He really should have won two already but, now a much more accomplished player, he’s less likely to throw away a winning opportunity if in contention. – and he makes this week’s staking-plan despite single-figure quotes.
I also can’t leave out the resurgent Ross Fisher who suggested he could easily win a tournament before the end of the season when finishing runner-up at both the Alfred Dunhill Links and the European Open, and his tee-to-green game has been showing-up well in the statistics. Add in the fact that he finished third here last year, and only lost in a play-off here in 2007, and he only needs to putt better than average to have a serious chance.
I was going to leave it at just two selections this week but, when I saw previous winner Bubba Watson priced-up at 45/1, I had to add him to this week’s portfolio. He’s had a nice rest in recent weeks and, though he wasn’t at his best before that break, a players of his talents will come good again sooner rather than later – and it’s ridiculous that he’s a bigger price to place than McIlroy and DJ are to win.
Dustin Johnson 4 Points Win @ 13/2 (BetVictor, Betstars)
Ross Fisher 1.5 Points Each-Way @ 66/1 (Betstars, Betfair) ¼ odds 5 Places
Bubba Watson 1.5 Points Each-Way @ 45/1 (Betfred) ¼ odds 5 Places