Daniel Box
By Daniel Box

Hot on the heels of Tiger Woods' outstanding victory in Japan we arrive in Shanghai for the final World Golf Championships event of 2019, the WGC-HSBC Champions.

WGC-HSBC Champions Preview

Last Year

In 2018 it was rising American star Xander Schauffele who emerged victorious after defeating fellow countryman Tony Finau in a playoff thanks to birdies on his final three holes.

The pair had finished four strokes clear of Justin Rose, with Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Patrick Reed and Tommy Fleetwood also featuring in the Top 10.

The Course

The event has been held at Sheshan GC in Shanghai nine times out of the ten since it has achieved WGC status, with the other being held at Shenzhen's Mission Hills.

WGC-HSBC Champions Preview Image Credit - Matt Wallace Instagram

According to PGA Tour's website, the greens are intentionally set up to be slower than standard Tour courses because of the increased likelihood of high winds. So when the forecast is good, which it is this week, this effectively becomes target practice for the players and the scoring is set to be good.

WGC-HSBC Champions Preview Image Credit - WGC-HSBC Instagram

In fact, in three of the last six editions of the event the winning score has been better than 20 under par, suggesting that the players enjoy the layout.

Having said that, the par 5s are not just gimme-birdie holes, and they have consistently ranked among the toughest on Tour with the average score being only a little below par.

WGC-HSBC Champions Preview Image Credit - WGC-HSBC Instagram

If the course does play soft, then precise iron play and length off the tee will be rewarded here. Although, where isn't it?!

The Field

As you would expect for a WGC event the field is strong, even despite the fact that it's halfway across the planet for most of these golfers and takes place during the 'off-season' - if golfers even have one of those these days!

WGC-HSBC Champions Preview Image Credit - WGC-HSBC Instagram

However the formidable duo of Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson both miss out as they recover from injury in the hope of being fit for the President's Cup, while last week's winner Tiger Woods is giving his back, knee and the rest of his body a well-earned break.

Speaking of the President's Cup, there's a few pretty intriguing players to watch this week with picks to take place following this week's event.

WGC-HSBC Champions Preview Image Credit - HSBC Sport Twitter

Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson, who will be relying on a Captain's pick from Tiger Woods if they are to take part, could do with a good week. So could Ben An, Corey Conners and Jazz Janewattananond for the International Team.

WGC-HSBC Champions Preview Image Credit - Byeong-Hun An Twitter

Bernd Wiesberger, Shane Lowry, Matt Fitzpatrick and Matt Wallace, who occupy the Top Five in the European Tour's Race to Dubai standings, are all in the field this week as they look to prime themselves for a big finish to the year in the Middle East.

Our Tips

The Favourite - Patrick Reed @ 30/1

Back to his best after some lacklustre form since winning The Masters and undergoing swing changes, Reed won the Northern Trust towards the end of last season and hasn't missed a cut since, with three consecutive Top 20s in his last three starts.

Reed finished in seventh place last year so should know his way around this course and has a decent record in WGC events over the last few years too.

The Outsider - Ian Poulter @ 60/1

Poulter has history in this event with a win in 2012 and five top 20s at this course. He arrives in form too, with T16 and T13 finishes in his last two starts, so seems primed to contend here at a course he loves.

The Longshot - Kurt Kitayama @ 125/1

The American blows a little hot and cold but has already picked up two European Tour victories in the last 12 months, catapulting him into the Top 100 in the world after being outside 1100 just two years ago.

Depsite a mid-season dip Kitayama has bounced back with third and fourth place finishes in his last two starts, and his length off the tee should be an asset here.


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