A profitable week in Portugal with 125/1 shot Justin Walters finishing in a tie for 2nd place and securing his card in emotional fashion, however as ever it’s a little frustrating to get that close to a 3-figure winning bet that doesn’t convert, with the South African bogeying 2 of the final 3 holes to miss out by a single stroke. Despite all that, it was great to see such gutsy performances from Walters and eventual winner Steven Brown, as the Surrey man continued the fine record that Englishmen have at Vilamoura in recent times.
As the golfing year edges towards its close, we now head to China for the final World Golf Championship of 2019 ahead of the three Rolex Series events that will bring the European Tour season to its conclusion. After a brief change in venue in 2012 when this event visited Mission Hills and Ian Poulter was victorious, we’re back once again at the more familiar Sheshan track that’s hosted the tournament every other year. Bear in mind then when using this week’s event history stats that we’re on the track that hosted the HSBC Champions event from 2005-2011, as well as 2013-18, in both its pre-WGC and current guise.
Despite its addition to the PGA Tour schedule in 2013, this event is still very much the poor relation when it comes to WGCs. Barring injury and holidays, the other 3 WGC tournaments tend to have pretty much a full attendance from the world’s top 50 players, however this event is different with only Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Xander Schauffele here from the current top 10. Nevertheless, this limited field still features a number of household names, plus the cream of the 2019 European Tour crop, so we should expect some excellent golf in what has proven over the years to be a pretty open and unpredictable event.
WGC HSBC Champions – Featured Bookmaker:
Paddy Power are attacking this week’s WGC HSBC Champions and are offering a record-setting 7 places each-way at 1/5 odds on this 78 man field. If you haven’t already got a Paddy Power account then new customers can access a £/€20 risk-free bet which is refunded in CASH if it loses. 18+, T&Cs apply – to claim this offer click here and use promo code YSKA45.
- New customers only. Limited to one per person. If you’ve previously had a Paddy Power account, you will not qualify for the offer. Place your FIRST bet on any sportsbook market and if it loses Paddy Power will refund your stake in CASH. Max refund for this offer is £/€20. Only deposits made using cards or PayPal will qualify for this promotion. T&Cs apply.
Sheshan International GC, Shanghai, China. Designer: Neil Haworth, 2004; Par: 72; Length: 7,261 yards; Fairways: Paspalum/Rye; Rough: Paspalum/Rye with Bermuda overseed; Greens: A1/A4 Bentgrass; Stimp: 11-11.5ft.
Course Overview. The Sheshan International course is a 7,261 yard, Par 72 that features relatively wide but tree-lined fairways and 11.5 stimp bentgrass greens. With 4 par-5s and a driveable par 4 (the 16th hole), this track bears all the hallmarks of a bomber’s paradise, however (until last year’s renewal) it has tended to be those players who can churn out strong greens in regulation numbers over the 4 days and have putted well enough who have prevailed.
It’s fair to say there’s been a real mixture of players adorning the top of the leaderboard here in recent years – a play-off between Bubba Watson and Tim Clark in 2014 for instance reinforcing the view that this track suits no particular style of play over another.
Tournament Stats. We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s WGC HSBC Champions that will help to shape a view on players who traditionally play well at this event: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader Stats | Combined Stats.
Predictor Model. Our published Predictor Model is available here. As always you can build your own model using the variables available.
Winners & Prices. 2018, Xander Schauffele, 66/1; 2017: Justin Rose, 20/1; 2016: Hideki Matsuyama, 22/1; 2015: Russell Knox, 150/1; 2014: Bubba Watson, 28/1; 2013: Dustin Johnson, 40/1; 2012: Ian Poulter, 20/1; 2011: Martin Kaymer, 25/1; 2010: Francesco Molinari, 55/1.
Weather Forecast. The latest weather forecast for Shanghai is here. Dry, sunny and relatively calm conditions are expected throughout. Temperatures will peak around the low 70s Fahrenheit in what should be very pleasant conditions for golf.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors. Analysing the final stats of recent winners here at Sheshan gives us a little more insight into the type of player suited here:
- 2018, Xander Schauffele (-14). 33.3% fairways (77th), 63.0% greens in regulation (20th), 80% scrambling (1st), 1.59 putts per GIR (4th).
- 2017, Justin Rose (-14). 60.7% fairways (29th), 77.8% greens in regulation (3rd), 50% scrambling (42nd), 1.70 putts per GIR (7th).
- 2016, Hideki Matsuyama (-23). 55.4 fairways (43rd), 75% greens in regulation (10th), 66.7% scrambling (9th), 1.54 putts per GIR (1st).
- 2015, Russell Knox (-20). 73.2% fairways (5th), 84.7% greens in regulation (4th), 63.6% scrambling (31st), 1.64 putts per GIR (6th).
- 2014, Bubba Watson (-11). 66.7% fairways (18th), 66.7% greens in regulation (18th), 61.1% scrambling (17th), 1.69 putts per GIR (18th).
- 2013, Dustin Johnson (-24). 69.6% fairways (13th), 84.7% greens in regulation (1st), 63.6% scrambling (23rd), 1.52 putts per GIR (1st).
- 2011, Martin Kaymer (-20). 60.7% fairways (29th), 76.4% greens in regulation (10th), 76.5% scrambling (3rd), 1.62 putts per GIR (4th).
- 2010, Francesco Molinari (-19). 76.8% fairways (7th), 65.3% greens in regulation (23rd), 84% scrambling (2nd), 1.57 putts per GIR (2nd).
- 2009, Phil Mickelson (-17). 50% fairways (71st), 70.8% greens in regulation (20th), 85.7% scrambling (1st), 1.67 putts per GIR (15th).
Some differing approaches to winning this event have been evident over the years with either a sublime approach game or magical short game both having proved decisive for those listed above depending on the year, however in all instances the putter has needed to be warm with Bubba Watson’s 18th for putting average the worst anyone has recorded on their way to victory since 2009.
Incoming Form: Ian Poulter’s win in 2012 was at Mission Hills and I’ve excluded those stats from the list below accordingly.
All of the recent winners here at Sheshan had decent enough recent form, with at least one top-12 finish recorded in their previous 5 events, so entering this week with at least some semblance of form has got to be seen as a positive:
- 2018, Xander Schauffele: 6/MC/21/2/68/35/MC/49/3/7/25/48
- 2017, Justin Rose: 2/65/12/MC/4/54/63/MC/10/10/2/10
- 2016, Hideki Matsuyama: MC/MC/42/MC/4/3/MC/15/24/5/1/2
- 2015, Russell Knox: WD/10/MC/39/MC/MC/20/12/45/MC/38/21
- 2014, Bubba Watson: 48/3/MC/31/16/MC/37/64/30/29/2/14
- 2013, Dustin Johnson: 10/55/18/32/2/33/8/MC/27/62/5/12
- 2011, Martin Kaymer: 31/39/18/4/12/29/MC/2/MC/30/8/23
- 2010, Francesco Molinari: MC/2/4/MC/8/39/33/3/8/MC/2/35
- 2009, Phil Mickelson: 5/5/55/59/2/58/73/52/27/30/1/14
Course Form: Sheshan International form prior to winning for those same 9 victors is detailed below. Russell Knox and Dustin Johnson both won here on debut, whilst Hideki Matsuyama had a far from stellar record at Sheshan before lapping the field in 2016, and Xander Schauffele had hardly set the world alight when finishing 46th on debut the year before:
- 2018, Xander Schauffele: 46
- 2017, Justin Rose: 7/5/48
- 2016, Hideki Matsuyama: WD/41/WD
- 2015, Russell Knox: Debut
- 2014, Bubba Watson: 8
- 2013, Dustin Johnson: Debut
- 2011, Martin Kaymer: 20/6/30
- 2010, Francesco Molinari: 9/10
- 2009, Phil Mickelson: 1/8
2014 saw somewhat of a turning point for ‘Asia’s Major’ with thicker (wetter) rough, some new tees and additional bunkering coupled with inclement and colder conditions making Sheshan International far more of a challenge than previous years. Straying off of the fairway was more of a penalty and the Bermuda overseeded rough around the greens made for challenging scrambling, however with less run on the wet fairways the course also played long. Clearly this led to two vastly differing styles getting into contention with Bubba Watson overcoming Tim Clark in a play-off.
2015 was a little easier though with soft conditions underfoot combined with warmer and calmer weather by comparison which led to a far lower winning score by Russell Knox at 20-under, however Hideki Matsuyama eclipsed that winning score 3 years ago despite some fairly inclement weather and slow and bumpy greens to triumph by 7 shots.
Soft conditions in 2017 didn’t particularly help the players as the wind picked up throughout the 4 days, leading to Justin Rose’s 14-under total being good enough to lift the Old Tom Morris Cup as he picked up the pieces after Dustin Johnson relinquished a 6-shot lead. Wet and breezy conditions to start last year also kept a lid on scoring as -14 was good enough to take the title for the second consecutive year, this time for Xander Schauffele.
For me, I’m looking for an aggressive sort who can find birdies on these bentgrass greens, or a strong tee-to-green exponent who has a very strong week with the putter. Winners here have generally either been putting excellently in recent times (Schauffele, Matsuyama, Kaymer, Mickelson) or finding a high number of greens in regulation (Rose, Knox, Watson, Johnson, Molinari) and then did well enough on both counts on the week to ultimately prevail.
My selections are as follows: