Golf Preview: WGC-HSBC Champions

The final World Golf Championship event takes place this week with China hosting the HSBC Champions.

Since 2009 it has been a WGC event and is now the fourth leg of the series- following on from the WGC-Dell Match Play, the WGC-Mexico Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational events.

he field consists primarily of players who have won the top rated tournaments in the previous 12-months, supplemented by other leading players in the world rankings and money lists of the major tours from across the world.

A stellar field is lining up at the Sheshan Golf Club with six of the top-ten in the world taking part, including defending champion Hideki Matsuyama – who is also looking to land his second consecutive WGC event.

“It is different, coming back as defending. I don’t want to put a lot of pressure or expectations on myself,” said the Japanese superstar

“Just let the tournament come to me like it did last year. All I can do is just try to play my best and hopefully that will work out well.”

World number one Dustin Johnson lines up looking for his third WGC event, and he has tasted success at Sheshan before having won the event in 2013, so it is little surprise he is favourite to take the honours – especially as his big rivals Justin Spieth and in-form Justin Thomas won’t be playing.

“I’m always excited to come here. I’ve had a lot of success in this tournament. It’s something I look forward to,” Johnson said.

There is a big European contingent looking for victory in China, with the likes of Jon Rahm, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose amongst the most fancied.

The pro’s point of view…

Our resident golf expert is Cliff Jackson. Cliff is a leading youth coach and PGA professional at the famed Seaton Carew Links – one of the oldest courses in the world.

A high calibre contest this week, and both Matsuyama and Johnson have a very good record at this course, and given they like the WGC format – I have to go with these two guys.

The Bookie says…

We caught up with Betfair’s Joe Dyer to get their views on this week’s action

The WGC circus pitches up in China for another running of the HSBC Champions and there is Major-winning quality at the top of the betting in the shape of Dustin Johnson.

A winner on the track when first played at Sheshan International in 2013, the massive-hitting American was fifth on his return to the course in 2015 but delivered a flat performance last year, coming home 35th.

Brilliant at the Presidents Cup, he hasn’t been seen in a strokeplay tournament since the Tour Championship. The 8-1 available with the Sportsbook (paying 1/5 the odds down to sixth place) will look big to some and small to others.

For a course that favours big hitters, Jon Rahm catches the eye at 16-1 but the enigmatic Spaniard’s form has been a little indifferent in the past fortnight. At the same price could Marc Leishman go one better than last week’s runner-up spot? The Aussie has the power to contend and has shown a liking for the track (ninth on debut, 11th on second look).

Golf regularly throws up huge-priced winners and so we sign off with a mention for Alexander Levy at 100-1. Twice a winner in China, including earlier this year, the Frenchman is a brilliant putter whose wins have all come with mega under-par totals and Sheshan International is a tournament that yields plenty of birdies.

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