The Cheat Sheet provides fantasy golf players with course information, player history and the most noteworthy trends of the week to help them with their roster selections.
This is an annual WGC event with a field that tops out around 78 players and features no cut. After we saw Tiger Woods gain his historic 82nd win, this week will be a slightly more muted affair as we head into China for the last leg of the Asian swing. Despite being a lucrative WGC event, several top players are skipping this week, although the likes of Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Hideki Matsuyama are in the field. Also in the field will be last year’s winner (Xander Schauffele) and runner-up (Tony Finau). The two young Americans took part in a nice duel on Sunday last year as Schauffele hunted down the hard-luck Finau. One thing to look forward to this week is the fact there’s a lot of exciting young international players in the field here, look for one or two of them to try for a breakthrough here Sunday.
Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai, China
Par 72, 7,200-7,300 yards
Outside of 2012, this event always has 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-under in 2014, down about six or seven shots from the previous incarnations of this tournament, when players regularly would break the 20-under mark. The past two years have seen winners clock in around 14-under par, and the changes seemingly have made the course play much tighter off the tee with thicker rough penalizing off-kilter shots. I still would expect a fair number of birdies given the usually slow Bentgrass greens and the shortness of the course in general, but players will need to have solid ball-striking throughout to take advantage of the scoreable holes here.
Sheshan features a pretty eclectic blend of longer tough par 3s and 4s, some short drivable holes and four par 5s, which will offer the best shots at birdie. Just to give you an idea of how much easier the par 5s are to play compared to the rest of the holes; in 2014, winner Bubba Watson went an astounding 14-under playing the par 5s and played the rest of the holes to the tune of 3-over to barely hold off Tim Clark. As well, last year’s playoff participants ended the week first and second in Par 5 Scoring. Playing these four holes well under par undoubtedly will be the key to success at this venue.
2019 Weather Outlook: The weather this week looks quite benign and certainly won’t be as big a factor as last week, when the heavy rain forced the event organizers to alter one of the holes. Highs for the week look set to be in the mid-to-low 70s for all four days with little-to-no rain in the forecast at all. The higher humidity and warm temperatures should help keep greens receptive this week. Also helping will be the fact winds are set to remain below or around 10 mph on all four days. With a nicer forecast, don’t be shocked if we some players get past 14-under, which has been the winner’s score here the past two seasons.
PAST FIVE WINNERS
2018—Xander Schauffele -14 (in playoff over Tony Finau)
2017—Justin Rose -14 (over Dustin Johnson -12)
2016—Hideki Matsuyama -23 (over Daniel Berger -16)
2015—Russell Knox -20 (over Kevin Kisner -18)
2014—Bubba Watson -11 (over Tim Clark playoff)
— Each of the past eight winners had at least a T20 or better at a major championship or the PLAYERS in the year of their victory.
— Eight out of the past nine winners had a T5 or better in one of their five starts before this event.
Par 5 Scoring
Par 3 Efficiency 200-225 Yards, Approach Proximity Greater Than 200
Strokes Gained: Approach
I explained in the course description how important Par 5 Scoring is this week, but just to reemphasize, with the par 3s all playing more than 200 yards and many of the par 4s playing tough after the renovations, doing well on the par 5s here has become necessary to scoring well on this course. Each of the past five winners has ranked inside the top 10 in Par 5 Scoring for the week with three of the past five winners landing in the top two in this stat for the week.
With all of the par 3s 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. These generally will play as some of the toughest holes on the course as well, so performance on them will be key.
Finally, it should be noted the past few winners all have had extremely strong approach games. The 2015 winner, Russell Knox, ranked 10th on tour in Greens in Regulation and 10th in Strokes Gained: Approach in the year of his win, and 2016 winner Hideki Matsuyama ranking third in this category.
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.
Player: Danny Willett
Odds to Win: 45-1
DraftKings Price: $8,100
Corey Conners; 45-1 and $8,200
Matthew Fitzpatrick; 45-1 and $8,300
Francesco Molinari; 50-1 and $8,400
Player: Adam Hadwin
Odds to Win: 60-1
DraftKings Price: $7,500
Louis Oosthuizen; 60-1 and $7,600
Ian Poulter; 60-1 and $7,700
Andrew Putnam; 66-1 and $7,800
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Justin Rose (best finish: win-2017): Rose has played in this event five times since 2011, landing inside the top 10 in four of those five starts. He hunted down Dustin Johnson late Sunday in 2017 for the win and has cashed in for fantasy players in the past here.
2. Henrik Stenson (best finish: T2-2017, 2016): Stenson has played this event seven times since 2009, landing back-to-back runner-up finishes in his past two starts at the venue. He’s finished outside the top 20 here only twice in his past seven starts.
3. Paul Casey (best finish: T4-2011): Casey has played this event 12 times since 2005 and has amassed six top-10 finishes at this course as well as T11 and T12 finishes from the past three years. He’s put in a solid stretch of golf of late and will look to build on a good fall stretch this week.
4. Rory McIlroy (best finish: T4-2016, 2011): McIlroy has played this event six times over his career and has finished outside the top 12 here only once (2018, T54). He’s finished T6 or better here four times and should be primed to make another run at the title coming off a solid finish in Japan.
5. Ian Poulter (best finish: second-2013): Poulter has played well in China over his career. Overall, he’s played this week’s event seven times since 2009, finishing inside the top 15 on four occasions, with his best finish being a runner-up in 2013 to Dustin Johnson.
Top Recent Form
1. Hideki Matsuyama: Matsuyama comes into this week off of T3 and solo second-place finishes. He made a valiant charge for the win against Tiger Woods last week in his home country but came up short. He’ll go looking for his second WGC-HSBC Champions trophy this week.
2. SungJae Im: Im remained hot last week, finishing up the rain-soaked event in T3 position. He’s finished inside the top five in three of his past five events, including a win in an Asian Tour event three weeks ago.
3. Byeong Hun An: An bounced back from consecutive missed cuts to post T6 and T8 finishes over the first two starts of this Asian swing. Overall, he has three top-10 finishes in his past five starts.
4. Bernd Wiesberger: Wiesberger continued his impressive comeback season, posting a win in Italy in his most recent start, his second Euro Tour win of the season. He’s finished T17 or better in three of his past four starts.
5. Matt Wallace: Wallace has had a nice run in the fall, finishing T8 and T7 in his past two starts. Overall, he’s made five cuts in a row and posted top-10 finishes in three of his past five starts.
Cash Games: Given the no-cut nature of this event and the available talent available under-$7K, starting lineups with Rory McIlroy ($11,700) seems to make sense. McIlroy is a +600 favorite and has finished worse than T12 here only once. After McIlroy, the likes of Sungjae Im ($9,500) and Ian Poulter ($7,700) make for decent targets as well, with Poulter coming off back-to-back top-20s. Other potential cash-game targets include Byeong Hun An ($9,100), Keegan Bradley ($7,000) and Matthias Schwab ($6,700).
Tournaments: Despite not closing a tournament all season, this should be a good spot for Tommy Fleetwood ($9,900) to get on track. A top-five three starts ago and solid ball-striking and Par 5 Scoring stats from last week have him on the radar here — likewise, for Adam Scott ($9,300), who is a terrific par 5 scorer and was third in GIR last week in Japan. Other potential GPP targets this week include Bernd Wiesberger ($9,200), Matthew Fitzpatrick ($8,300), Louis Oosthuizen ($7,600), Robert Macintyre ($7,300) and Bubba Watson ($6,800).
MY PICK: Adam Scott ($9,300)
Scott comes into this event having played four events in the fall. The Aussie usually employs a lighter-than-normal schedule, so his busier play of late is interesting. While he only finished T33 last week in Japan, he was able to finish the week third in Greens in Regulation and seventh in Driving Accuracy, suggesting his ball-striking is in a good place. Scott hasn’t finished better than T11 in his past seven visits to this week’s course, but it sets up as a solid venue for him, nonetheless. Two of the past three winners at Sheshan International also have wins at the Memorial, another venue that features Bentgrass greens and four scoreable par 5s — and Scott finished runner-up there this past season. Ranked second on tour last year in Par 5 Scoring, the Aussie should be able to capitalize on Sheshan International’s shorter par 5s and should be buoyed by seeing long-time rival Tiger Woods capture another win last week. He looks like a nice pay-up candidate in DFS this week.
MY SLEEPER: Robert MacIntyre ($7,300)
MacIntyre has had a sort of breakthrough in 2019, posting three runner-up finishes on the Euro Tour over his past 14 starts. The 23-year-old has had it going late in the season, posting top-30 finishes over his past four starts, including a runner-up finish at the European Open and a T4 three weeks ago in Italy. The Scotsman is up to 88th in the world and, even though this will be his first WGC event, he has shone brightly against tougher fields already, posting a T6 finish at the Open Championship in July. This will be his first time teeing it up on this week’s course, but he did post a runner-up finish in China on the Challenge Tour back in 2018 and is no stranger to playing in this part of the world. He looks like the perfect type of upside play in DFS here that could explode for a big week in a thinner-than-normal WGC field.
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