This is a 78 man field with no cut. As a World Golf Championship event with a large prize purse the HSBC attracts almost all of the top players in the world for one final big money week. As such the field this week is very high quality and the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Bubba Watson are all in attendance. There are quite a few international players in the field as well and while not all of them are big names, or come in with great records in events like this, some will have experience playing the course. It will pay to do some research this week as rostering some of the cheaper lessor knowns can save you a lot when building rosters.
Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai, China
Par 72, 7,261 yards
Outside of 2012 this event has always been held at Sheshan GC. However while the locale has remained the same the course did see numerous upgrades last year and the results were fairly startling. The winning score was a mere -11 in 2014, down about 6 or 7 shots from the previous incarnations of this tournament when players would regularly break the -20 mark. The changes definitely made things tougher and with water on play on over half the holes and some pretty long carries off the tee Sheshan is now not the simple birdie fest it was in past seasons.
Sheshan features a pretty eclectic blend of longer tough par threes and fours, some short drivable holes and four par 5’s—which will be the best shots at birdie for the players throughout the week. Just to give you an idea of how much easier the par 5’s are to play compared to the rest of the holes, last year’s winner Bubba Watson went an astounding -14 playing the par 5’s and played the rest of the holes to the tune of +3 to barely hold off Tim Clark. Playing these 4 holes well under par will undoubtedly be the key to success at this venue.
Last 5 Winners
Ian Poulter (different course)—2012
– Each of the past 5 winners had at least a T12 or better at a major championship or the Players in the year of their victory
– Each of the past five winners had a T5 or better in one of their five starts before this event
Par 5 scoring
Prox 200-225 yards
I’ve already explained in the course description how important par 5 scoring is this week but just to reemphasize, with the par 3’s all playing over 200 yards and many of the par 4’s getting reshaped, or toughened, doing well on the par 5’s has really become necessary to scoring well on this course. It’s a main stat to focus on this week. Driving distance is also a big factor. While shorter hitters have certainly won this event players like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlory and Bubba Watson have seemingly dominated the higher spots in this very tough field. With so many longer holes and the importance of scoring on the par 5’s, length can be a big advantage this week. Finally, with all of the par 3’s being in the range of 200-225 yards looking at a player’s performance over that distance is also a great stat to focus on. Longer approach shots will be a theme of this week and you’ll want players who are proficient from that range.
Who’s had success at Sheshan GC?
– Rory McIlroy has played this event three times now and never finished worse than 6th.
– Ian Poulter has won this event (albiet on a different course) but has also played Sheshan well too having finished 13th (twice), 6th and 2nd here all in the past 5 years.
– Paul Casey has a really strong record at Sheshan. In 8 appearances at this event he’s now finished inside the top 11 seven times with his only non-top 11 being a 20th back in 2013.
– Martin Kaymer won this event back in 2011 and also has a 6th and 8th place finish here since that time, definitely someone to watch out for this week.
Who’s struggled at Sheshan GC?
– Thongchai Jaidee has played Sheshan 6 times since this event became a WGC and outside of a 15th in 2005 hasn’t broken the top 25 here since then.
– Henrik Stenson has recorded three top ten’s at this event but those were all before the year 2010. In his last two attempts he’s failed to crack the top twenty.
– Miguel Angel Jimenez has played this event 5 times and never finished better than 38th, in fact the last two years he’s been near dead last at this event.
There’s actually a lot of quality in the lower 7k and upper 6k range this week which makes me really like using a stars and scrubs approach, especially in tournaments. While many will stick with the more traditional “safe” names, going with some of the more unheard of talent could prove prosperous especially since many of the golfers are in different states of form at the moment. I like targeting some of that high priced talent and using good solid value options at the lower price levels this week for lineups.
My Winner: Rory McIlroy
McIlroy has had a tough second half of 2015. Many seem to fear rostering him this week due to his ankle injury lingering but the fact is he’s looked pretty good lately and just missed out on another win last week in Turkey. I love his history on this course and the fact he’ll likely be able to dominate the par 5’s. He’s my choice for the winner this week.
My Sleeper: Thorbjorn Olesen
I love the price on Olesen and the talent. After sitting out half of 2015 Olesen returned a couple months ago and recently won the prestigious Alfred Dunhill Links event in Scotland which also requires good scoring on the par 5’s. Olesen played well here on the redesigned course last year and has done well at other big events in his young career, I could see another strong performance form him in 2015, he’s my sleeper pick for a strong week.