This week marks the end of the PGA’s three week trip through Asia and the last WGC stop of the year. The HSBC Champions is an official WGC event which means it often draws many of the top players away from their offseason for one more big money tournament. This year the field isn’t quite as strong as usual but world number one Dustin Johnson is in attendance, as is Jason Day and Marc Leishman. The tournament has been played on the same course since 2005 (excluding 2012) the Sheshan International Golf Club located in Shanghai. The course was renovated in places before the 2014 event but the past couple of seasons has still seen low scoring dominate. A shorter score-able par 72 layout and a decent weather forecast means we should likely be in for a birdie-fest here once again.
Course layout: Sheshan is a shorter par 72 venue and while we’ve seen some bombers do well here, shorter hitters like Tim Clark, Kevin Kisner and Russell Knox have also played well at this venue in the past few seasons. While you don’t want to over commit to one style of player, the fairways here were narrowed somewhat on renovations and outside of the par 3’s there aren’t a ton of tough holes. With water in play on over half the holes, positioning yourself off the tee here, rather than gambling for more length, is generally more important as the penalty level for inaccuracy is obviously heightened on many holes. One final note, the greens here are bentgrass and usually run fairly fast although humidity can sometimes slow them down. We have seen some traditionally weaker putters have good weeks with the flatsticks here of late, so in general it seems like the greens play fairly easy.
Marc Leishman ($9,900): Leishman continued his stellar play last week in South Korea where he lost in a playoff to Justin Thomas. The Aussie has taken a huge leap this year in terms of fulfilling on his massive potential and actually enters the week at lower outright win odds than Jason Day. He’s played this course four times, but has finished T11 and T9 here in his two most recent appearances in 2015 and 2014, both after the redesign. He’s played well in this part of the world over his career and as only the sixth most expensive player in a fairly watered down WGC field he’s a great cornerstone for DraftKings play once again.
Paul Casey ($9,200): Casey is playing his third week in a row here. After jet-lag likely caused a slow start in Malaysia, he rebounded there with a second 63 and a fourth round 65 to finish T7. While he couldn’t pull himself into contention on a new venue last week, Casey has had plenty of success at Sheshan with six top 10 finishes here over 10 starts. This venue has been kind to players with excellent approach games recently as recent winners Knox and Matsuyama ranked highly in SG: Approach. Casey ranked second in that category on tour last season and looks like great value to perhaps land us a big DraftKings week.
Others: Hideki Matsuyama
Patrick Reed ($8,500): Reed has played some of his best golf late in the season and comes into this week having finished inside the top 20 in five of his last six starts. One bad round last week cost him otherwise he likely would have been in contention for the win in Korea. While the busy Reed likes to play often, he should be fairly rested for this event as he took multiple events off after the Tour Championship and should now be fully adjusted to being in Asia after last week’s event. Reed has played Sheshan GC three times and has a best finish of T7 here from 2015, which is also encouraging. His recent form and high win rate over his career makes him look like a nice play here at under 9k in this field.
Chez Reavie ($7,500): While we don’t often associate Chez Reavie with WGC events, his solid form from the middle of last season on has got him an invite this week. The long time tour vet has now finished inside the top-20 in five of his last six starts and his strong approach game definitely fits the profile of past winners at Sheshan. While he’s only played here once before, he has stayed busy since the Tour playoffs, and should be in better competitive form than much of the field. He’s a solid target this week with all of the question marks around the lower tier players.
Bill Haas ($7,300): Haas is a nice price this week on DK in a weaker field at just $7,300, especially given the fact he had his best placing ever at this event (in five appearances) last year with a T4. The American veteran hasn’t won since 2015, but has showed well at tougher field events the past couple of years with a T5 at the US Open and a semi-final finish at the WGC Matchplay. He had a decent start in California two weeks ago at the Safeway Open and should be motivated to build on that on a course which yielded good results last season.
Others: Francesco Molinari
High-upside GPP Picks
Matthew Fitzpatrick ($9,200): Fitzpatrick is another player who has been on a nice end of season roll and could be setup here for a breakthrough type of performance. The Englishman, who is still only 24, has now won four times on the Euro Tour, including a win only four starts ago at the Omega Masters. While he’s not long off the tee, Fitzpatrick has handled longer courses well in the past and has placed well at Sheshan in two appearances placing T7 here in 2015 and T16 last year. He’s now shot in the 60’s in 10 of his last 12 rounds and looks primed for a big week in a field which is less intimidating than in years past.
Alex Levy ($7,500): Levy is a talented Frenchman who comes into the week with some good recent form. Levy’s now made his last three cuts on tour, including a T7 at the Alfred Dunhill Links, and was in prime position to collect another win only a month or so ago in Germany, before eventually finishing second. Levy has actually won twice in China already (including this year at the China Open) and was T14 at this event back in 2014. He can be streaky, but almost always plays well in this part of the world and comes in with a lot confidence.
Other: Kiradech Aphibarnrat
Players to Consider (in no order)
– Marc Leishman, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama, Matthew Fitzpatrick
– Chez Reavie, Bill Haas, Alex Levy, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Francesco Molinari
Paul Casey 20-1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 35-1
Patrick Reed 35-1
Alex Levy 125-1 EW