EIGHT of the world’s top 10 players roll up to the Sheshan International GC, Shanghai for the 2016 edition of the WGC-HSBC Champions.
Shanghai has suffered the hottest summer in 130 years but recently five inches of rain fell on the course in 48 hours. Although the forecast is for some rain it probably won’t affect the venue.
Fairways are an average width but the rough will be more penal than last year. Hitting fairways is going to be crucial and putting will also be of importance.
With driving accuracy and putting being an important part of this week’s game one man who stands out is Ryan Moore. The American has four top 10s in his last seven outings and is a good fit here.
His stats are consistent, with figures last year for GIR at 66.53% (18th) and putting average of 1.743 (17th). He won the John Deere Classic in August and has won five times on the PGA Tour but never more than once a season. If he keeps improving this year he will win more than once this season.
Hideki Matsuyama finished three strokes behind winner Justin Thomas last week at the CIMB Classic and with rounds of 69 64 69 66 he looks in good form. Add that to his three top-five finishes in six at the tail end of last season he looks to be hitting the ball well.
With GIR of 62.04% and putting average of 1.741 I think he has the game for this course. He’s not had the best of luck at this tournament having to withdraw twice of the three times he’s played here but he’s worth a go and I have every confidence he can do the business this week.
I make no apology for picking Paul Casey again. He is playing with such confidence and I think he is going to win soon on the Tour. He’s like Dustin Johnson over the years with Majors but I stuck with him and Casey’s the same – he has the talent and now realises he can play with the top players. His GIR last year was 64.67% with putting average of 1.793 so again he has the game. At least his price is a bit keener.
Scott Hend (66-1) nearly gave me a each-way last week. If he hadn’t started so badly he would have been closer to the top of the leaderboard come Sunday evening. As I’ve mentioned before the Australian loves playing the Asian Tour and is top of the Order of Merit this year by quite a margin.
In his first tilt at the WGC-HSBC last year he finished a creditable T19 and that was after a final round 73. His GIR is 68.9% and a putting average of 28.37 so I will have another small wager on him this week.