WGC HSBC Champions Preview
David Howell won the inaugural staging of this competition back in 2005. The WGC HSBC Champions was a co-sanctioned event for its first four years, existing under the guise of the European Tour, Asian Tour, Sunshine Tour and PGA Tour of Australia.
It was elevated to WGC status in 2009 and has been played at Sheshan International for every edition other than 2012; when was played at Mission Hills.
Few could have envisaged a more electrifying Zozo Championship last week. Tiger Woods not only equalled Sam Snead’s all-time PGA Title haul of 82, he essentially guaranteed his presence at this year’s President’s Cup.
Rory McIlroy leads the market this week, which is unsurprising given how well he ended the Zozo Championship. His prodigious length should make him an ideal candidate in China.
I’m a bit disappointed that the top tier American players have chosen to swerve this event. Koepka has lingering injury concerns but I would have expected to see Dustin Johnson get suited up.
Having said that, defending champion Xander Schauffele arrives in decent nick while the likes of Tony Finau and Jordan Spieth will no doubt represent the ‘Stars and Stripes’ valiantly.
As expected there is a strong European contingent, with Justin Rose, Tommy Fleetwood and Paul Casey forming a formidable English front.
2018: Xander Schauffele* (-14)
2017: Justin Rose (-14)
2016: Hideki Matsuyama (-23)
2015: Russell Knox (-20)
2014: Bubba Watson* (-11)
* denotes that the final round went to a playoff
Outright Betting – WGC HSBC Champions
Rory McIlroy 6/1
Hideki Matsuyama 12/1
Xander Schauffele 16/1
Justin Rose 16/1
Paul Casey 22/1
To Win (55/1), To Place (12/1)
I think that ‘El Nino’ could make a substantial impact this week.
It’s little more than a month since his tasted victory at the KLM Open. That was his 26th victory all told on both the European and US PGA Tour.
He hasn’t participated in this event since 2017, but a tie for 9th that year and tie for 11th the year before hint at his suitability for this test.
His 2.43 strokes gained per round make him 2nd only to Justin Rose among those who have played 12 rounds or more around Sheshan since 2015.
Charles Howell III
To Win (55/1), To Place (12/1)
This is a slight risk as Howell III has only played Sheshan the once: he finished in a respectable tie for 15th in 2017.
But he has truly hit the ground running this year, with a top 20 and two top 10’s in his first four starts.
He was excellent at the Zozo, making only five bogeys all week to ultimately finish in a tie for 8th. The confidence he will have gained from that could make him the type of off-radar selection that surprises many.
The Man to Beat
To Win (16/1), To Place (7/2)
I’ve opted to avoid the ridiculously low McIlroy. He may be the most talented player in the game, but I’m always concerned when he sits at 6/1 or 7/1.
Justin Rose makes far more sense at 16/1. He has an absolutely exceptional record in this event, with one victory and four top 10 finishes in his last five starts.
There is a lot to play for, as he could rise to as high as number four in the world this week.
He has been in somewhat subdued form since the Tour Championship. He had a top 10 at Wentworth but looked somewhat jaded at both the Dunhill Links and Italian Open.
If his exceptional tee-to-green game fires this week you can expect Rose to be in amongst it.
Check out our markets for the event here