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BlogWGC-HSBC Preview and Picks

WGC-HSBC Champions

October 27th – 30th, 2016

Sheshan International Golf Club

Shanghai, China

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7.199

Purse: $9.5 million

with $1,400,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Russell Knox

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 eight of the top ten; #2 Dustin Johnson, #3 Rory McIlroy, #5 Henrik Stenson, #6 Adam Scott, #7 Patrick Reed, #8 Bubba Watson, #9 Danny Willett and #10 Hideki Matsuyama.  Here are the rest of the top-50: #11 Rickie Fowler, #13 Paul Casey, #14 Sergio Garcia, #16 Branden Grace, #17 Jimmy Walker, #18 Alex Noren, #19 Matt Kuchar, #20 Russell Knox, #21 Justin Thomas, #23 Brooks Koepka, #24 Louis Oosthuizen, #25 J.B. Holmes, #26 Emiliano Grillo, #27 Charl Schwartzel, #28 Kevin Chappell, #31 Rafael Cabrera Bello, #32 Scott Piercy, #33 Ryan Moore, #34 Tyrrell Hatton, #35 Chris Wood, #36 Kevin Na, #37 Kevin Kisner, #38 Daniel Berger, #39 Byeong Hun An, #40 Francesco Molinari, #41 Thomas Pieters, #43 Bill Haas, #44 Shane Lowry, #46 Lee Westwood, #47 Bernd Wiesberger, #48 Martin Kaymer and #50 Soren Kjeldsen

Last year there was 35 of the top-50 in the field, so five more.

The field includes 19 of the Top 25 on this year’s FedEx point standings for 2016.  Those players include #1 Rory McIlroy, #2 Dustin Johnson, #3 Patrick Reed, #4 Adam Scott, #5 Paul Casey, #7 Ryan Moore, #8 Kevin Chappell, #10 Russell Knox, #11 Emiliano Grillo, #12 Justin Thomas, #13 Hideki Matsuyama, #14 Jimmy Walker, #17 Si Woo Kim, #18 Matt Kuchar, #20 Gary Woodland, #21 Bubba Watson, #22 Roberto Castro, #23 Kevin Kisner and #25 Charl Schwartzel.

The field includes only 6 of their past champions: Russell Knox (2016), Bubba Watson (2015), Dustin Johnson (2014), Martin Kaymer (2011), Francesco Molinari (2010) and Sergio Garcia (2009, Nov.2008).

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 sortable 8-year glance at the WGC-HSBC Champions.

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

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 Portugal Masters Safeway Open British Masters Dunhill Links Tour Champ. Porsche Euro Italian Open BMW Champ. European Masters Deutsche Bank KLM Open Barclays
Paul Casey
(308.5 pts)
T21
(29)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP 4
(80)
DNP DNP 2
(50)
DNP 2
(50)
DNP T31
(9.5)
Justin Thomas
(266 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP DNP T32
(9)
DNP CUT
(-5)
DNP T10
(20)
Bernd Wiesberger
(238 pts)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
T7
(55)
DNP 5
(46.67)
DNP DNP T41
(3)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP
Alex Noren
(233.33 pts)
DNP T37
(13)
DNP Win
(132)
T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP
Richard Bland
(230 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(80)
T18
(32)
DNP T7
(36.67)
T5
(46.67)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP T16
(11.33)
DNP
Alexander Levy
(220.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(80)
T63
(0)
DNP Win
(88)
T7
(36.67)
DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP
Rory McIlroy
(211.5 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP DNP T42
(4)
DNP Win
(66)
DNP T31
(9.5)
Adam Scott
(210 pts)
T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(50)
DNP DNP T4
(40)
DNP 4
(40)
DNP T4
(40)
Hideki Matsuyama
(195.5 pts)
2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 5
(70)
DNP DNP T24
(13)
DNP T15
(17.5)
DNP CUT
(-5)
Ryan Moore
(185.5 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP T64
(0)
DNP T8
(25)
DNP T7
(27.5)
Tyrrell Hatton
(177 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(45)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP T45
(3.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Ross Fisher
(168.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T67
(0)
T2
(100)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP T58
(0)
DNP T45
(1.67)
DNP
Dustin Johnson
(167 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T6
(60)
DNP DNP Win
(66)
DNP T8
(25)
DNP T18
(16)
Emiliano Grillo
(164.5 pts)
T17
(33)
DNP T26
(24)
DNP DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP T32
(9)
DNP T33
(8.5)
DNP T2
(50)
Scott Piercy
(157 pts)
T10
(40)
DNP T3
(90)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T24
(13)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP T22
(14)
Richard Sterne
(146 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(45)
T2
(100)
DNP T39
(7.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Patrick Reed
(145.5 pts)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T24
(26)
DNP DNP T13
(18.5)
DNP T5
(35)
DNP Win
(66)
Kevin Chappell
(139.5 pts)
T45
(5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(100)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP T8
(25)
DNP T31
(9.5)
Kevin Na
(126.5 pts)
T29
(21)
DNP 7
(55)
DNP DNP 29
(21)
DNP DNP T20
(15)
DNP T11
(19.5)
DNP CUT
(-5)
Martin Kaymer
(120 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 6
(60)
DNP 6
(40)
T20
(20)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Gary Woodland
(110.5 pts)
T56
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP T24
(13)
DNP T15
(17.5)
DNP T4
(40)
Si Woo Kim
(107.5 pts)
T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T10
(40)
DNP DNP T20
(15)
DNP T15
(17.5)
DNP CUT
(-5)
Scott Hend
(101.67 pts)
T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP
Russell Knox
(101 pts)
T10
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 23
(27)
DNP DNP T17
(16.5)
DNP T15
(17.5)
DNP T60
(0)
Roberto Castro
(101 pts)
DNP DNP T35
(15)
DNP DNP T17
(33)
DNP DNP 3
(45)
DNP T24
(13)
DNP CUT
(-5)

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player CIMB Classic Portugal Masters Safeway Open British Masters Dunhill Links Tour Champ. Porsche Euro Italian Open BMW Champ. European Masters Deutsche Bank KLM Open Barclays
Wu Ashun
(-33.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Nathan Holman
(-25 pts)
DNP DNP DNP WD
(-5)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T68
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Dean Burmester
(-10 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 72
(0)
DNP
Jacques Blaauw
(-10 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Matthew Millar
(-10 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Chan Shih-chang
(0.33 pts)
T69
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Soomin Lee
(1.67 pts)
77
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T28
(14.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP
Henrik Stenson
(2 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T41
(4.5)
DNP WD
(-2.5)
Marcus Fraser
(4.67 pts)
T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP T66
(0)
DNP
Miguel Tabuena
(9 pts)
T45
(5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T28
(7.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Last year I wondered what the future of golf in China would be.  When this event became a WGC event, then added to the European Tour’s final series, things looked up for this event.  There were other professional events being played in China and it looked like the sky was the limit for golf on the European Tour.  But the landscape of golf in China is changing.   First golf is becoming extinct in China as the government is putting bans on club membership and shuttering golf course projects.  So frankly nobody knows what direction this is going other than folks are bailing out.

But for this tournament it looks rosy as last year HSBC signed on for another five years of this event.  So even with other tournaments going away, this one will be around.  With the new sponsorship, prize money has gone up another million dollars as the purse is $9.5 million with the winner getting $1.4 million and last place paying $40,000 I can see why the attendance is so good.

Still some top players like Jason Day and Justin Rose (both nursing injuries) aren’t here with good reasons, but Jordan Spieth, Brandt Snedeker, Kevin Chappell, Jim Furyk and Zach Johnson has pass this up.  Weird that two weeks ago Brandt Snedeker would play in a very small event in Fiji but pass on this.

Players to watch

Amazing that Justin Thomas won again last week.  Guess we should of seen that coming, he did finish T-8th in Napa but with the long flight from Napa  So does it set up well for him to play good this week in China, probably not.  Have to also advise against the hottest player Paul Casey who hasn’t played well in China his last two starts.  Now in talking about guys that have done well in past HSBC’s that I see playing well you have to look at last year’s winner Russell Knox and Dustin Johnson.  I also like Sergio Garcia who hit the ball well at the CIMB and could carry it over to this week.  In looking at a player that did well in Malaysia that could carry over to this week, watch Scott Piercy who finished T-10th at the CIMB with a very poor final round 72.

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, something it did last year.  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 2017 PGA Tour season and the 2016 European Tour season.  This year it won’t be a part of the final series, it was dropped because the top players on the Race to Dubai couldn’t get in so the tour realized that it favored the top stars.

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.Bubba Watson had a great 2014 and five months after his China victory won the Masters in 2016.  Dustin Johnson and Ian Poulter were also very succesful before and after.  The same with defending champion Russell Knox, he won again on the PGA Tour over the summer  All the other champions also had the same thing going.  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.  So in a way the course favors a top notch player, someone that has won big events including other WGC events and majors.  The point is don’t be surprise to see either Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy or a Sergio Garcia do well.

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:

  • 2015, Russell Knox, No. 65
  • 2014, Bubba Watson, No. 7
  • 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

Very interesting to see how Sheshan compared with the other courses on the PGA Tour last year.  In driving accuracy it ranked 19th, in green in regulation was 33rd hardest course.  In scrambling it was 38th while in overal putting average it ranked 43rd.  The course had a 70.58 scoring average which ranked 43rd but also meant the players averaged playing it a shot and a half per round under par.  So look for low scoring.

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 3s. It’s also interesting to note that last six champions at Sheshan (not including 2012 when it was played at Missing Hills) have been 10 under on the par 3s, in 2016 Russell Knox was 2 under, in 2015 Bubba Watson was even par, 2014 Dustin Johnson was 4 under, 2011 Martin Kaymer was 5 under, Francisco Molinari was even par in 2010 and Phil Mickelson was 1 under in 2009.

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 low 70s each day and showers every day of the championship.  It’s suppose to rain all day on Thursday with clearing skies the rest of the week  So look for those players that do great in wet weather conditions.

Again like we say, look for the player with the hot hand.  Those that played well at both the Safeway Open and the CIMB Classic could play well this week.

 

Who to watch for at the HSBC Champions

Best Bets:

Rory McIlroy

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T11 T6 T4 5 4

Look for his hot hand to continue, has played well on this course and can score well

Dustin Johnson

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T5 Win T39

Has won on this course so if he can repeat what he did in the FedEx Cup playoffs he will be contending on Sunday.

Hideki Matsuyama

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
WD T41 WD

When he gets on a roll he does well for weeks on in. Played well at the CIMB and even though he hasn’t had a great record in this event, think he will change things this week.

Best of the rest:

Russell Knox

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
Win

Can he do what Thomas did last week, win the same event back to back? Played well last year and has had a good run of late, look for a good week.

Sergio Garcia

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T11 T28 4 T23 T46

Past winning of this event, his game is in good shape and he could win here again.

Patrick Reed

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T7 T22

He will be playing a lot in the coming weeks and I can see him starting up on the right foot this weekend with a top finish.

Adam Scott

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
70 T12 8 T11 T25

You never know when he is going to get things going and start winning again.

Solid contenders

Paul Casey

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T23 20 T4 T6 WD T9 T6 7

Just have to think that his very hot game could be cooling off for this week.

Rickie Fowler

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T17 T3 T55 T25

After a good Ryder Cup he could be in good sprints to play well this week.

Branden Grace

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T5 T39 T62

Played well last year and could carry on the good play.

Thomas Pieters

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T23

Is starting to play better in these type of events with very good field of players competing.

Alex Noren

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T54 T49 T19

His game has been great the last six weeks

Long shots that could come through:

Scott Piercy

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T35 T21 T2

Has played very well the last two weeks.

Ross Fisher

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T3 T16 T28 T2

Don’t forget the fact that he was T-3rd last year and has a pair of runner-up finishes in the last six weeks.

Francesco Molinari

2016 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04
T21 T39 T23 Win T10 T9

Past champion at this event, he could surprise a lot of folks with a good run.

Comments

  1. Graham Goulden says:

    I was in Portugal last week Pieters hit it really poor and was struggling to get motivated. Think hes burnt out myself and needs a break.

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