The Confidence Factor: WGC-HSBC Champions

The last event of the Asian Swing is the most lucrative.

It also has the best field!

World Golf Championships

HSBC Champions

Sheshan International Golf Club

Shanghai

 

Sheshan Cheat Sheet

Yards (per official scorecard): 7,261
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Creeping Bentgrass
Stimpmeter: 11.5′
Rough: Ryegrass
Bunkers/Water Hazards 82/Water in play on 11 holes
Architects: Neil Haworth (2004)
Purse: $10 million; $1.8 million, 550 FedExCup points (winner).
Defending Champion (event): Justin Rose (-14; 274)
Fact of the Week: Sheshan has hosted every event minus the 2012 edition.
Fact of the Week II: Justin Rose made up eight shots on Sunday last year to win. Only Paul Lawrie (1999 Open Championship) has turned around a larger deficit. Rose beat Dustin Johnson while Lawrie beat Jean van de Velde.

 

Notes:

  • 78 players.
  • 72 holes, no cut.

 

 

2017-18 Winners

Looking back to look forward as you’ll notice no Spieth, Fowler, Scott, McIlroy, Matsuyama, Fleetwood, Finau, Stenson or Garcia.

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

Event Winner
   
Safeway Open Brendan Steele
CIMB Classic Pat Perez
WGC-HSBC Champions Justin Rose
Sanderson Farms Ryan Armour*
Shriners Hospitals for Children Patrick Cantlay*
OHL Mayakoba Patton Kizzire*
The RSM Classic Austin Cook**
Sentry TOC Dustin Johnson
Sony Open Patton Kizzire (2)
CB Challenge Jon Rahm
Farmers Insurance Open Jason Day
WMPO Gary Woodland
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Ted Potter, Jr.
Genesis Open Bubba Watson
Honda Classic Justin Thomas
WGC-Mexico Championship Phil Mickelson
Valspar Championship Paul Casey
Arnold Palmer Invitational Rory McIlroy
WGC-Match Play Bubba Watson (2)
Corales Puntacana Resorts Brice Garnett*
Houston Open Ian Poulter
Masters Patrick Reed
RBC Heritage Satoshi Kodaira*
Valero Texas Open Andrew Landry*
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Billy Horschel & Scott Piercy
Wells Fargo Championship Jason Day (2)
THE PLAYERS Championship Webb Simpson
AT&T Byron Nelson Aaron Wise**
Fort Worth Invitational Justin Rose (2)
Memorial Bryson DeChambeau
FESJC Dustin Johnson (2)
U.S. Open Brooks Koepka
Travelers Championship Bubba Watson (3)
Quicken Loans National Francesco Molinari
A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier Kevin Na
John Deere Classic Michael Kim*
The Open Championship Francesco Molinari (2)
RBC Canadian Open Dustin Johnson (3)
Barracuda Championship Andrew Putnam*
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Justin Thomas (3)
PGA Championship Brooks Koepka (2)
Wyndham Championship Brandt Snedeker
THE NORTHERN TRUST FEC I Bryson DeChambeau (2)
Dell Technologies FEC II Bryson DeChambeau (3)
BMW Championship FEC III Keegan Bradley
TOUR Championship Tiger Woods

 

The Confidence Factor is the weekly column I write for PGATOUR.COM. I’ve included the link here for you. Please read as I’m not going to write it all out here.

 

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: 264 (-24); Dustin Johnson, 2014
Course Record: 62; Martin Kaymer, 2014
Recent Defending Champion(s): None
Multiple Winners (event or course): None
First TOUR Win (last): Russell Knox, 2015.
First-time Event: Knox
Low Round 2017: 63; Dustin Johnson (Round 2); 64 Brooks Koepka (Round 1).
Odd Facts: Martin Kaymer made 29 birdies here in 2014 and finished T8. Danny Willett’s 62 is not considered part of the course record because it was lift, clean and replace.

 

Quick Thoughts

It’s a big-boy event that will favor the premium players who are used to TOUR set-ups. With plenty of trees, sand and water, this should be an easy pickings for those who can move it tee-to-green. The top of the leaderboard from last year should be a massive clue.

If the weather behaves it can open up the field as lower scores will prevail. If the conditions are weather-affected I’d expect the cream at the top as per usual.

Event Winners:

Year Player Notes
2017 Justin Rose (-14) Trailed by six at the turn before completing the comeback in the wind.
2016 Hideki Matsuyama (-23) Won by seven as he circled 29 birdies for the week.
2015 Russell Knox (-20) The exception, not the rule!
2014 Bubba Watson (-11) Defeated Tim Clark in a playoff.
2013 Dustin Johnson (-24) Won by three over Ian Poulter.

 

Must-Haves

Justin Rose: The defending champ gets the plaudits this week as he’s been in absolute cruise control in 2018. This was his first start of the season last year so he’s not breaking what doesn’t need fixing. Three top-seven finishes in four tries at Sheshan.

Dustin Johnson: He made three doubles here in 2013 and won by three. He threw away a six-shot lead last year after setting the 54-hole record. With three top-five finishes in four starts, he gets the bump over World No.1.

Brooks Koepka: Yep, he won last week and was T2 here last year but the new World No. 1 will be answering those questions all week. After a week on Jeju Island, he has a one-week head-start while Rose and DJ come in fresh.

Rory McIlroy: He’s not playing “well” yet five of his last six worldwide are T12 or better including four T7 or better. He also plays well enough here but nothing on the podium in those finishes.

Francesco Molinari: Moli-Wood is back at it again this week! The 2010 champ here gets the bump as his course form is easily better. It will be a putting contest to separate these two.

Tommy Fleetwood: Ryder Cup darling continues his excellent summer/fall play as he was T2 at the Dunhill Links plus T9 at the British Masters following the celebrations. Only five of his 16 career rounds at Sheshan are in the 60’s. I’m guessing he nearly doubles that this week as well as he’s been hitting it.

Hideki Matsuyama: His rust-buster performance last week included 66-69 to close. His 29 birdies were plenty here in 2017 when he missed DJ’s record by a shot.

Ian Poulter: This will be his seventh crack at Sheshan so he’ll know how to crack the code. He gave it a sniff last week as he was in the final paring on Sunday so I’d expect and rousing response on a more familiar track.

Jason Day: Only the second time he’s played here but T11 from last year suggests he figured it out quickly. His first time to NINE BRIDGES last week saw him open with 73 before playing the final three rounds 13-under.

Tony Finau: T11 in his first try last year and should improve on that this time around with four loops under his belt. Hit the top 10 in three of four FedExCup Playoff events and tossed in a T10 after the Ryder Cup at the Dunhill Links. If he’s not out of gas, he should be in contention.

Paul Casey: He’s turning into the safest investment in fantasy land. Every week he’s hovering around the top 10. Every event he’s played 100 times prior.

Eddie Pepperell: His win in dire conditions at the British Masters was his second of the season on the European Tour and sixth top-10 finish in his last nine events worldwide. A wonderful character to boot, his golf is surpassing his personality and he could be the next to pull a “Russell Knox”.

Matthew Fitzpatrick: Won the Alps after finishing T7 in Denmark before taking a few weeks off. He returned to MC at the Dunhill Links and cash T16 at the British Masters. He’s 28-under in Shanghai the last three years T7, T16 and T9) and that’s with four of 12 rounds at Par or WORSE.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello: Busy week last week saw him share third as he circled 23 birdies after T2 GIR. He’ll give his putter plenty of chances again this week.

Tyrrell Hatton: He should have won the Dunhill Links for a third time but ditched a five-shot lead on the back nine on Sunday. He sacked up and played last week and led the field in too many putting categories to list as he cashed T14. I’d expect something in that range again this week.

Haotong Li: He’s the best home-grown talent in the field by far this week. After a wrist issue that slowed him down in August, he’s rebounded with T4, T27, T5 and T9 in his last four worldwide.

Patrick Cantlay: His game is relentless tee-to-green so it’s hardly a surprise why he contends almost everywhere. His worst finishes from June forward have been Shinnecock Hills (T45) and Aronimink (T55). Everything else is T27 or better and this is hardly a classic course.

Cameron Smith: Opened the Asian Swing T22 and T7 last week so it didn’t take long for him to get back in the groove.

 

Head’s Up!

Kyle Stanley: I will not fall in love with his fairways and greens numbers again this week. I will not fall in love with his fairways and greens numbers again this week…He was T5 in his maiden here last year.

Andrea Pavan: Win and five T20 or better in his last seven. I mean, that’s good, right?

Adam Hadwin: T21 or better in four of his last five and three of those were FedExCup Playoff events. He’ll blend in nicely this week.

Pat Perez: Reverse #NappyFactor? Playing well AFTER the kid is born?? His T7 last week was his first top 10 since Kapalua last January.

Keegan Bradley: Four Par-5 holes and a course that requires solid ball-striking is the best combo for Bradley!

Lucas Bjerregaard: His last six worldwide: T9, sixth, second, T20, first and T9 last time out. I’ll hang up and listen. Every DFS lineup with Pepperell I would guess!

Ashun Wu: Couldn’t hide him deep enough. Hopefully you’ve stopped reading by now! Plays in big fields regularly on the European Tour and is a very recent winner who’s in-form.

Thorbjorn Olesen: I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit the top five or bottom five. You have a chance at EVERYTHING when you sign up here! His hot is BOILING AF HOT and his cool is no chance. It’s exciting if anything!

Brian Harman: Showed a couple of flashes last week (64, 68) but also found time for a pair of rounds in the mid-70’s. If I’m going to fire on a guy who’s been quiet, I need a sign or two. He was eighth on his debut last year.

Brandon Stone: A win and two other top-10 finishes in his last seven worldwide.

Gaganjeet Bhullar: Sharma is the fancier name but I’d argue Bhullar, Bhullar, Bhullar has the more consistent play. The step up in class is always a worry.

Carry Out

Patrick Reed: Wonderfully all-or-nothing at this event, I’m not thrilled to see it’s his first event since the Ryder Cup fiasco. His short game is great but spraying it tee-to-green here isn’t the recipe.

Jon Rahm: There are plenty of other places he’ll make more sense.

Byeong-Hun An: The last two weeks were the time to make hay.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat: Too many chances here to not have broken into the top 20 yet.

Adam Scott: Two years ago he pulled off the 80-64. Last year he didn’t break par in four tries. Square peg. Round hole.

Russell Knox: Since winning the Irish Open he has one finish inside the top 40 (T35) in seven events.

 

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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