The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course info, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
This is an event with a field of around 70 players and 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 in China. 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 may not be the most meaningful event ever, but a win here can really mean big things down the road, so we usually see one or two of the big names rise to the occasion and play well here.
Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai, China
Par 72, 7,200-7,300 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 in 2014. The winning score here 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. Last year, however, we saw players take advantage of some softer conditions as Russell Knox took home his first PGA Tour win at -20. The changes definitely made things a little tougher, and the course has played much tighter the last couple of years with thicker rough. I would still expect a fair number of birdies given the usually slow greens and the shortness of the course in general, but it may favor a more accurate hitter off the tee than in past years.
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, in 2014 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
2015—Russell Knox -20 (over Kevin Kisner -18)
2014—Bubba Watson -11 (over Tim Clark playoff)
2013—Dustin Johnson -24 (over Ian Poulter -21)
2012—Ian Poulter -21 (over four players at -19)
2011—Martin Kaymer -20 (over Freddie Jacobson -17)
- Each of the past six winners had at least a T20 or better at a major championship or the Players in the year of their victory
- Five out of the past six winners had a T5 or better in one of their five starts before this event
Par 5 Scoring
Proximity 200-225 Yards
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green
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. 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, especially with some reachable par 5’s and longer par4’s, and you’ll want players who are proficient from that range.
Finally, while there’s no one style of player I’d necessarily favor over another this week, it should be noted that the past few winners have all been extremely strong tee to green players, with last year’s winner Russell Knox ranking 10th on tour in Greens in Regulation and 21st in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green in the year of his win. Likewise, both Bubba Watson and 2013 winner Dustin Johnson are always ranked highly in both these categories as well. I’d definitely weigh this stat heavily this week and look for players who have been strong tee to green lately in recent events.
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful of putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their odds of winning this week.
|Louis Oosthuizen||50-1||$7,400||Roberto Castro $7,600 and 100-1
Lee Westwood $7,700 and 90-1
Si Woo Kim $7,700 and 80-1
|Kevin Kisner||80-1||$6,900||Gregory Bourdy $7,100 and 200-1
Thongchai Jaidee $7,100 and 125-1
Sean O’Hair $7,300 and 150-1
HORSES FOR COURSES
Rory McIlroy has played this event three times now and has never finished worse than 11th. That streak also includes three finishes of 6th, 5th and 4th. Coming off a huge end of the year, it won’t be a shock at all if McIlroy wins here to cement a solid 2016.
Martin Kaymer won this event back in 2011 and also has a 6th and 8th place finish here since that time. He enters this week playing extremely well with three 6th place finishes in his last four events.
Ross Fisher isn’t a name most players will be familiar with but he is someone to look out for this week. Fisher has played this event five times and finished runner-up twice and was also 3rd last year. He has an incredible course history and has been playing well on the Euro Tour of late as well.
Paul Casey has played this event nine times since 2005 and now has amassed six top ten finishes to his name at this course. He’s been playing great lately and looks ready to take down a title.
Pricing is all over the place this week, and there are several good values at each price range. Given the international makeup of this field, there are also some European Tour players you can consider using here such as Scott Hend and Rafa Cabrera-Bello, both of whom have been in great form of late and can certainly challenge in a field like this. I like targeting players like that this week, then picking out the studs I want to roster and going from there. This week will be similar to last in that birdies and bonus points will be plentiful, so finding the points at the bottom of the salary ranks will be crucial to any success.
Top Studs from Last Week
- Justin Thomas $10,400 and 148 fpt
- Russell Knox $8200 and 91 fpts
- Adam Scott $10,900 and 92 fpts
Top Values from last week
- Scott Hend $7,800 and 111.5 fpts
- Si Woo Kim $7900 and 93.5 fpts
MY PICK: Paul Casey $9,600
I’m going to stick it out with Casey one more week here and see if he finally gets the win. While Casey finally finished outside of the top 5 last week, he by no means played poorly and should be much more at home at this week’s course where he’s reeled off six top tens in nine appearances. The Greens in Regulation monster should be able to follow in the footsteps of other tee to green specialists like Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson here and challenge for the win. In the semi-off season for many golfers, Casey has been active and is still arguably in the best recent form of any player. At under $10k in price, he still looks like a great play at the top this week.
MY SLEEPER: Chris Wood ($6,800)
Sleeper Qualification: must be under $7,000 in salary and projected by me to be less than 10% owned
Wood is simply a player who never seems to quite get the credit he deserves in my books. Ranked 35th in the world, Wood won of the biggest events on the Euro Tour last season and also challenged at a few other big events along the way. He’s back to full health now after a mid season injury and has a nice streak of four made cuts on the Euro Tour including back to back top 25’s. While he doesn’t have a huge course history to fall back on this week, Wood is more than capable of challenging in a field like this and looks like he’s trending towards challenging again soon. At only $6,800 he simply offers more upside than most of the players salaried around him this week and makes for an excellent value at that price.
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