The 78 leading players from the European and PGA Tours come together this week in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions event at the Sheshan International GC, where Justin Rose will be defending the title he won in stunning fashion last year. The Englishman was six shots off the pace with eight holes left to play. But he reeled off six birdies down the stretch as Dustin Johnson collapsed.
The Sheshan course features water hazards, narrow fairways and small targets. These make this par 72, 7,143-yard layout challenging, particularly if all of those factors are combined with tricky pin positions. Dramatic changes in elevation add to the spectacle. Johnson was the winner here in 2013. While Bubba Watson, Russell Knox and Hideki Matsuyama have all since lifted the trophy. Phil Mickelson, Francesco Molinari, Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia are the other previous champions at Sheshan.
WGC-HSBC Champions Favourites
This WGC-HSBC Champions event features 19 of the world’s top 30 players and four of the top five, including Rory McIlroy. He was unable to play here last year due to injury. Johnson has three top fives in his last four visits to Sheshan, including that 2013 victory. He is the joint market leader at odds of 8/1* across the board. Defending champion Rose is also widely available at 8/1*. Brooks Koepka became the new world number one when he claimed his third title of the year in South Korea last week – the other two were majors – and the American is the 9/1* third favourite with Bet365.
McIlroy can be backed at 10/1* with most firms with a leap to the rest of the field. Jason Day has won twice in 2018 and after a run of solid but not spectacular form. He was back in the top five at last week’s CJ Cup. The Australian is a best price of 18/1* with a number of firms, as is the 2016 winner Matsuyama. Matsuyama hasn’t finished lower than 18th in his last six starts with two top fives in his last four appearances. However, it is over a year since the Japanese star’s last win. Other leading names near the top of the market include Tommy Fleetwood, Jon Rahm, Francesco Molinari and Paul Casey.
WGC-HSBC Champions Tips
Spurred on by his role in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory last month, Tyrrell Hatton has been on song at his last two tournaments. The consistent Englishman hasn’t missed a cut in 11 outings since June. He was runner-up at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship before rounds of 68 and 66 took him into a share of 14th place at the CJ Cup. He has finished in the top 20 in eight of those last 11 tournaments. His results here have improved year-on-year, to a peak of 11th place 12 months ago. The world number 23 looks ready to mount a serious challenge at Sheshan. He can be backed at best odds of 30/1* with Bet365.
Ian Poulter has re-established himself as a top 50 player in 2018, winning the Houston Open and being his usual dogged and determined self in Europe’s Ryder Cup success. He wasn’t at his best prior to his wildcard appearance at Le Golf National. But he was back in the top 10 at Nine Bridges last week and his previous record at this course means he has to be taken seriously. Poulter was the winner here in 2012, runner-up a year later and shared sixth place in 2014. He will be raring to go as he returns to Sheshan after a two-year absence and can be backed at best odds of 55/1* with Bet365 or Betfred.
*all odds subject to change