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BlogHSBC Champions Preview and Picks

HSBC Champions

November 6 – 9, 2014

Sheshen International G.C.

Shanghai,, China

Par: 72 / Yardage:7,266

Purse: $8.5 Million

with $1,400,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Dustin Johnson (Won’t defend)

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

A great field this week, best of the fall events as 40 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings are in China this week. The field consists of six of the top ten; #2 Adam Scott, #3 Sergio Garcia, #5 Henrik Stenson, #6 Justin Rose, #7 Bubba Watson and #10 Rickie Fowler.  Of those between 11 and 25 there are eleven players; #12 Billy Horschel, #13 Martin Kaymer, #14 Jordan Spieth, #17 Graeme McDowell, #18 Jimmy Walker, #19 Vicctor Dubuisson, #21 Chris Kirk, $22 Hunter Mahan, #23 Hideki Matsuyama, #24 Jamie Donaldson and #25 Patrick Reed.  Of those from 26 to 50 there are 23 of them, probably to make sure that they stay within the top-50 by the end of the year;  #26 Charl Schwartzel, #27 Ryan Moore, #28 Kevin Na, #29 Keegan Bradley, #30 Joost Luiten, #31 Thomas Bjorn, #32 Bill Haas, #35 Jason Dufner, #36 Luke Donald, #37 Stephen Gallacher, #38 Mikko Ilonen, #39 Ryan Palmmer, #40 Gary Woodland, #41 Kevin Streelman, #42 Thongchai Jaidee, #43 Miguel A. Jimenez, #44 Ian Poulter, #45 Le Westwood, #46 Graham Delaet, #47 Marc Leishman, #48 Brendon Todd, #49 Brandt Snedeker and #50 John Senden.  Last year there were also 40 of the top-50 in the field

The field includes 7 of the Top 25 on this year’s FedEx point standings for 2015.  Those players include  #4 Ryan Moore, #6 Hideki Matsuyama, #T10 Sergio Garcia, #T10 Kevin Na, #T10 Gary Woodland and #T22 John Senden

This is the second of four stops in the Final Series playoffs.  So with many looking to catch Rory McIlroy this is a great week to make up ground as McIlroy isn’t playing and the HSBC having a big purse.  The distance between first and second is over 3,000 points so it’s probably doubtful that anyone could catch him.  So the field includes 21 players in the top 25 on the Race to Dubai point list.  Here are the players not in the field; #1 Rory McIlroy, #4 Marcel Siem, #15 Ross Fisher and #24 Romain Wattel.

The field includes only 3 of their past champions: Ian Poulter (2012), Martin Kaymer (2011) and Sergio Garcia (2009, Nov.2008). (defending champion Dustin Johnson is still away from the game on personal leave).

There are 10 past winners of World Golf Championships events in the field: Martin Kaymer (2011 HSBC Champions); Ernie Els (2004, 2010 Cadillac Championship); Hunter Mahan (2010 Bridgestone Invitational, 2012 Cadillac Match Play); Ian Poulter (2012 HSBC Champions, 2010 Cadillac Match Play); Keegan Bradley (2010 Bridgestone Invitational); Luke Donald (2011 Cadillac Match Play); Patrick Reed (2014 Cadillac Championship); Justin Rose (2012 Cadillac Championship); Adam Scott (2011 Bridgestone Invitational); Henrik Stenson (2007 Cadillac Match Play).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the WGC-HSBC Champions field is our performance chart listed by average finish. One last way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at WGC-HSBC Champions in the last five years or check out our brand new and sortable 8-year glance at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the HSBC Champions

Player CIMB Classic BMW Masters McGladrey Classic Handa Perth Shriners Hospitals World Match Play Hong Kong Frys.com Open Portugal Masters Dunhill Links Handa Wales Tour Champ. BMW Champ.
Alexander Levy
(241.67 pts)
DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(37)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
T25
(16.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Victor Dubuisson
(192.33 pts)
DNP T21
(29)
DNP 2
(100)
DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Thorbjorn Olesen
(179.33 pts)
DNP T28
(22)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
T58
(0)
T32
(6)
DNP DNP
Joost Luiten
(164.33 pts)
DNP T13
(37)
DNP DNP DNP 3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Win
(44)
DNP DNP
Shane Lowry
(163.67 pts)
DNP T16
(34)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP DNP T33
(11.33)
T6
(40)
T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP
Sergio Garcia
(162.5 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(22.5)
T4
(40)
Mikko Ilonen
(158.67 pts)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(158 pts)
T21
(29)
DNP DNP DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP 22
(14)
T20
(15)
George Coetzee
(156 pts)
DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP 4
(80)
DNP DNP T21
(19.33)
T25
(16.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Jamie Donaldson
(143.67 pts)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T13
(37)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Ryan Palmer
(141.5 pts)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T14
(24)
DNP 7
(27.5)
T4
(40)
Tommy Fleetwood
(136.33 pts)
DNP T39
(11)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
T2
(66.67)
T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP
Gary Woodland
(136 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T9
(22.5)
T23
(13.5)
Billy Horschel
(135 pts)
T37
(13)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(66)
Win
(66)
Chris Kirk
(129 pts)
DNP T48
(2)
T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(40)
T36
(7)
Justin Rose
(127.5 pts)
DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(40)
35
(7.5)
Ernie Els
(123 pts)
DNP T26
(24)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP T32
(12)
DNP DNP T16
(17)
Ryan Moore
(122.5 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T50
(0.5)
Kevin Streelman
(117.33 pts)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T59
(0)
Henrik Stenson
(113.5 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T23
(13.5)
Kevin Na
(112.5 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP WD
(-5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(15.5)
T46
(2)
John Senden
(112.5 pts)
7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP T18
(32)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 26
(12)
T23
(13.5)
Thongchai Jaidee
(112 pts)
DNP T28
(22)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP DNP T17
(22)
T32
(12)
T17
(11)
DNP DNP
Jimmy Walker
(111.5 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP 63
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T17
(16.5)
T20
(15)
Patrick Reed
(109.5 pts)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(15.5)
T53
(0)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the HSBC Champions

Player CIMB Classic BMW Masters McGladrey Classic Handa Perth Shriners Hospitals World Match Play Hong Kong Frys.com Open Portugal Masters Dunhill Links Handa Wales Tour Champ. BMW Champ.
Jin Jeong
(-26.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP
Antonio Lascuna
(-10 pts)
T71
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Zhang Lian-Wei
(-10 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Miguel A. Jimenez
(-10 pts)
DNP 77
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Anirban Lahiri
(-10 pts)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jason Knutzon
(-7.67 pts)
T46
(4)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DQ
(-1.67)
DNP DNP
Matt Jones
(-6.67 pts)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T53
(0)
Keegan Bradley
(-2.5 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-2.5)
Ashun Wu
(0 pts)
DNP T64
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Mu Hu
(0 pts)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

The PGA Tour has another week in Asia and the last WGC event of 2014 (or should we say the first one on the PGA Tour 2015 schedule).  In a way with so much money offered (first place check of $1.4 million) and the European Tour final series going on, it’s hard to believe that so many players aren’t here.  First you have #1 ranked Rory McIlroy, who decided that he wasn’t going and used his legal problems as an excuse.  Sorry Rory, you will have weeks ahead to catch up with your lawyers on his upcoming suit with his former management team.  So we just don’t buy him not playing in the first two final playoff series events, possibly he didn’t want to travel to China is a better excuse.  He has a big enough lead he  could take the whole four-week playoffs off and still win the Race to Dubai.  So maybe the European Tour needs to make some changes so that there is some value to play in these playoff events.

It’s nice to see a sponsor willing to put up so much money for a fall event but frankly this is all about golf in China and this is the right time to showcase this event.  The last thing the PGA Tour wants is this event to move to February or March and interrupt the flow of the regular season, so November is the perfect time to play this event.  Unfortunately that means it doesn’t get the same effect that the other three WGC events get, at least we can say there is one WGC event played outside of America.

Now there is a bit of an oddity about this event, on the PGA Tour this is considered a 2015 event while on the European Tour it’s finishing up the 2014 season.  This is something that can’t get worked out, the European Tour needs this event as one of their four final series events and the PGA Tour is already four weeks into the 2015 season.  So there is no graceful way of doing this, the nice thing is that for the PGA Tour it’s official, and players get FedEx Cup points.  One other small item, there aren’t many big events left in the 2014 calendar year.  So for those between 44 and 60th in the world rankings this could be the last time that they could help their cause in world ranking points.  At the end of the year those in the top-50 of the rankings will receive invites to the Masters.  So for guys like #47 Marc Leishman, #49 Brandt Snedeker and #51 Shane Lowry they are looking to improve their positions so that they can be in the top-50 of the world rankings on December 31st.

One other person that could be a bit worried is Graham Delaet, who is 46th in the world rankings.  He tweaked his back at the Frys.Com Open pulling out a boundary stake and has struggled ever since.  He flew to Malaysia last week only to play a hole and withdraw and now it looks like Delaet may have a bulging disc, according to Steve Sands of the Golf Channel who was in Malaysia.  DeLaet is still in the field of the HSBC, but I wouldn’t put any wagers on him with this possible injury.

Tournament Information:

This event started in 2006 and played at Sheshan Golf Club.  Because of the big purse and the event giving out appearance money, most of the top players of the time including Tiger Woods played.  Tiger came close finishing second in it’s first year as David Howell won by three shots.  The event was part of the European Tour and despite being played in November was the leadoff event for the European Tour’s wrap-around season.  So the first event was played in November of 2005 but counted for the European Tour’s 2006 season.  It continued to grow for the next three years as more marquee names went to China and in November of 2008 the European Tour started it’s 2009 season with Sergio Garcia winning.  Right after the tournament, it became part of the World Golf Championship series, which help elevate it.  At the same time, the European Tour revamped the way they ended their season, so the event in November of 2009 was included in the 2009 European Tour season.  This created the problem of the same event being played twice in the same season.  Phil Mickelson won the November 2009 HSBC and despite the PGA Tour being part of the WGC was not considered an official PGA Tour event.

The tournament went on a bizarre three-year journey.  Beginning in 2010, the HSBC Champions counted as an official PGA Tour victory and offered a three-year exemption on the PGA Tour, provided the tournament was won by a PGA Tour member. Prize money, however, did not count toward the official PGA TOUR money list, even if a PGA Tour member won the tournament. Tournament winners during this timeframe include: 2010 – Francesco Molinari (unofficial PGA Tour win); 2011 – Martin Kaymer (unofficial PGA Tour win); 2012 – Ian Poulter (official PGA Tour win).

On the final day of the 2012 event, HSBC announced renewal of its title sponsorship through 2015.  With this announcement the HSBC became part of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup schedule.  It awarded official money and FedExCup points (and a three-year exemption) beginning in 2013 (which later changed to 2014 because the Tour went to a wrap-around schedule for events ending in 2013).  Sound confusing, it is so you just have to remember one thing.  The first “official” WGC-HSBC for the PGA Tour was the one played in November of 2013, but it counted for the 2014 PGA Tour season.  So this week’s event counts on the 2015 PGA Tour season and the 2014 European Tour season.

Course information: 

The Sheshan Golf Club is a par-72 golf course that was designed by Robin Nelson and Neil Haworth and opened in 2004. Sheshan International Golf Club features beautiful tree-lined fairways and gentle rolling hills around 1000-year-old Gingko trees, calm waterways, and a spectacular natural quarry. Set in the shadow of the Basilica of our Lady of Sheshan Cathedral and surrounded by beautiful Italian Tuscan inspired villas, Sheshan provides a truly unique experience.  Although located in the city of Shanghai, the serene surroundings suggest a genuine feeling of seclusion and nature.

Featuring well-placed bunkers throughout the golf course along with, deep collection areas, beautiful water features, and undulating greens.  The natural forestation was integrated into the course design. 10,000 trees and natural foliage has been preserved. Two 1000-year-old ginko trees grace the 4th hole. 16 million cubic meters of dirt was moved to create elevation, bunkers and valleys. Sheshan provides a beautiful and challenging golf course for all, including the best Tour Professionals in the world and is considered one of the best courses in China.

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the WGC-HSBC Champions:

Key stat for the winner:

Event will be played again at Sheshan after being played in 2012 at Mission Hills.  In the previous years held at Sheshan, there is no one stat that you can put your fingers on and say, geez this course favors such and such a player.  So we have to look at those that have played well before at Sheshan, one thing pops up.  All the recent champions had one thing in their favor, they had a very good year going into this event.  Look at Martin Kaymer in 2011, he had been playing well for two years, winning the PGA Championship.  In 2010, Francesco Molinari was putting the finishes touch on a great year, same with winners Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia.  So look for a player that has had a great 2013 to win this week.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

One thing that is for certain, look for a high ranked player to win.  The lowest-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking to win the HSBC Champions was Y.E. Yang, who was No. 77 when he won the event in 2006.  Here is a look at the HSBC champions over the years and how they ranked in the world rankings prior to victory:

  • 2013, Dustin Johnson, No. 23
  • 2012, Ian Poulter, No. 26
  • 2011, Martin Kaymer No. 6
  • 2010, Francesco Molinari No. 30
  • 2009, Phil Mickelson No. 2
  • 2008, Sergio Garcia No. 3
  • 2007, Phil Mickelson No. 2
  • 2006, Y.E. Yang No. 77
  • 2005, David Howell No. 19

With tight fairways and lot’s of roll in them, accuracy is important but not a big key.  The more important factor in looking at past years is a player that can dominate the par 4s. It’s also interesting to note that last five champions at Sheshan (not including 2012 when it was played at Missing Hills) have been 48 under on the par 4s, in 2013 Dustin Johnson was 12 under, 2011 Martin Kaymer was 10 under, Francisco Molinari was 12 under in 2010, Phil Mickelson was 10 under in 2009 and Sergio Garcia was 4 under in 2008.
Last week in Malaysia the weather was good even with hot muggy conditions.  Things will be totally different this week as temperatures will be in the 60s each day and no rain.  For more on the weather check out this link on Weather.com
Again like we say, look for the player with the hot hand.  Those that played well at both the BMW Masters and the CIMB Classic will play well this week.

Who to watch for at the HSBC Champions

(remember, these results only give out one of the two times played in 2009 and we are giving European Tour results for this event, what is shown for 2013 was 2014 results for PGA Tour)

Best Bets:

Martin Kaymer

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T8 9 Win T30 T6

Has been off since the Ryder Cup and is ready to rock and roll. Has had a lot of success at Sheshen, look for that to continue this week.

Justin Rose

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
5 T24 T7

Came very close to winning at BMW Masters last week. Finished 5th last year at Sheshen, he is one of our favorites.

Sergio Garcia

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
4 T23 T46

Winning has become very difficult for Garcia, seems to get in contention but can’t find a way to win anymore. Who knows maybe Sergio can back into a win this week, he is playing great right now.

Best of the rest:

Jamie Donaldson

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T8 T42

May want to take a good look at him, played well last year in this event and also last week at the BMW Masters.

Adam Scott

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
8 T11 T25

Can’t forget the #2 player in the world, did play last week in Japan and finished T38th and he could surprise some this week.

Graeme McDowell

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
3 T42 3 T34 39

Think that he can do something this week, course is good for him and he has a pair of 3rd place finishes including last year.

Ian Poulter

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
2 Win T13 T13 T45 T38 T31 T19

Yes he won in 2012 but that was on another course. But he did finish 2nd last year at Sheshen.

Solid contenders

Ryan Moore

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T50 3

Talk about a guy playing well, Moore won in Malaysia and did finish 3rd at Sheshen in 2009.

Victor Dubuisson

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
First time playing in this event

Finished T-5th in the Match Play, 2nd in Perth and T21st last week at BMW Masters. Never played in this event but could be a factor.

Bubba Watson

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T8 33

Playing for the first time since the Ryder Cup, looking to have a great start to his year, did finish T9=8th last year.

Gary Woodland

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
First time playing in this event

Was T2nd last week at CIMB, playing this event for first time but his length could help him this week.

Long shots that could come through:

Thorbjorn Olesen

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T11

Did win at Perth International just two weeks ago.

Alexander Levy

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
First time playing in this event

Was 2nd last week in BMW Masters, playing this event for the first time.

Bill Haas

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T21 10 T42 T21

He always seems to surprise you when you least expect it.

Be careful in thinking about him:

Graham Delaet

2014 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T6

He may of finished T6th last year but this year he comes to China injured and it may be a struggle for him to play 72 holes, let alone playing well.

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