WGC HSBC Champions 2017

This week we continue our tour of Asia as we head to majestic Shanghai, China and the World Golf Championships Club for the final World Golf Championships event of the calendar year, the HSBC Champions, WGC HSBC Champions 2017.

WGC HSBC Champions 2017

WGC HSBC Champions 2017

Sheshan International Golf Club was the first premier private golf course in China founded in 2004 and was designed by Robin Nelson and Neil Haworth, the same pair of designers responsible for the course design at TPC Kuala Lumpur, World Golf Championships 2017.

For a rundown of the Euro Tour talent worth targeting, check out the WGC-HSBC Preview from Matt Cooper. I will focus on the golfers with a PGA TOUR card to their name, World Golf Championships 2017.

The Course
Sheshan International Golf Club, World Golf Championships 2017
Par 72 – 7,261 yards

This course should pose a solid challenge to the players this week as they contemplate distance or accuracy off the tee. In the past, we have seen some of the shorter hitters find success here but so have the bombers. It doesn’t appear to favor one style over another, WGC HSBC Champions 2017.

The fairways are a mix of rye and seashore paspalum grass. They are average width while featuring some elevation changes throughout the course. There are tree-lined fairways but aren’t as dense as some courses that we see on the PGA TOUR but definitely a handicap if you miss the fairway, WGC HSBC Champions 2017.

The greens are a formidable enemy typically running about an 11 on the stimpmeter with varying undulations and slight changes in the greens contour usually deceptive and fast. There is water on the course as well, coming into play on 11 of the 18 holes, WGC HSBC Champions 2017.

This week 28 players will be making their HSBC debut while 16 of those are playing in their first World Golf Championship event.

Past Winners
2017 Hideki Matsuyama
2016 Russell Knox
2015 Bubba Watson
2014 Dustin Johnson
2013 Martin Kaymer

Course-Specific Stats
The following stats are based on at least eight rounds of play at Sheshan since 2012. As always, thanks to fantasynational.com and make sure you check out their site.

TV Coverage

The Golf Channel will carry live coverage on Wednesday and Thursday from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. ET and Friday and Saturday from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Leader board

Follow all the action from China on the Golf Digest PGA Tour leader board.
Thursday Tee Times (all times ET)

No. 1 Tee

8:50 p.m. — Xinjun Zhang, Matthew Griffin, Gavin Green
9 p.m. — Andrew Dodt, Daisuke Kataoka, Charles Howell III
9:10 p.m. — Michael Hendry, Mike Lorenzo-Vera, Yanwei Liu
9:20 p.m. — Wesley Bryan, Graeme Storm, Yi Cao
9:30 p.m. — Ashley Hall, Phachara Khongwatmai, Haydn Porteous
9:40 p.m. — David Lipsky, Shugo Imahira, Hyunwoo Ryu
9:50 p.m. — Matthew Southgate, S.S.P. Chawrasia, Brandon Stone
10 p.m. — Peter Uihlein, Poom Saksansin, Wenchong Liang
10:10 p.m. — Adam Hadwin, Kyle Stanley, Paul Dunne
10:20 p.m. — Hideto Tanihara, Tony Finau, Russell Henley
10:30 p.m. — Ashun Wu, Thorbjorn Olesen, Bill Haas
10:40 p.m. — Jhonattan Vegas, Alexander Levy, Branden Grace
10:50 p.m. — Brian Harman, Bernd Wiesberger, Ross Fisher
No. 10 Tee

8:50 p.m. — Chez Reavie, Fabrizio Zanotti, Zecheng Dou
9 p.m. — Hudson Swafford, Richie Ramsay, Chan Kim
9:10 p.m. — Lucas Glover, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Richard Sterne
9:20 p.m. — Ryan Fox, Scott Hend, Patrick Cantlay
9:30 p.m. — Si Woo Kim, Patrick Reed, Phil Mickelson
9:40 p.m. — Tommy Fleetwood, Adam Scott, Alex Noren
9:50 p.m. — Henrik Stenson, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka
10 p.m. — Jordan Smith, Marc Leishman, Francesco Molinari
10:10 p.m. — Rafa Cabrera Bello, Xander Schauffele, Thomas Pieters
10:20 p.m. — Daniel Berger, Charl Schwartzel, Pat Perez
10:30 p.m. — Haotong Li, Tyrrell Hatton, Matthew Fitzpatrick
10:40 p.m. — Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Paul Casey
10:50 p.m. — Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Dustin Johnson

World Golf Championships 2017

The course itself is a standard-size par 72, with the stock four par-fives split evenly across the nines. Taking care of these is so often decisive, never more so than when Bubba Watson played them in 14-under and the rest of the course in three-over en route to his dramatic victory here in 2014, WGC HSBC Champions 2017,

WGC HSBC Champions 2017

WGC HSBC Champions 2017

Any notion that this is purely a test of power is undermined not only by Knox, who beat Kevin Kisner in an accuracy contest two years ago, but by those who’ve almost downed some of the world’s biggest hitters. Tim Clark’s drive-then-hybrid game almost did for Bubba, while Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter briefly threatened to trouble Dustin Johnson as he won this at an astonishing 40/1 a year earlier. World Golf Championships 2017.

Johnson is a very fair price to win the title once more but one thing stands out when it comes to his three visits here. Twice, he’s been able to prepare in Hong Kong and he’s finished first and fifth on the back of it. Once, last year, he’s arrived following an absence and things did not go to plan, two rounds of 74 leaving him with far too much to do and ultimately unable to crack the top 30.

Preparation has very much been key throughout this tournament’s history, right back to David Howell’s triumph over Tiger Woods in 2005. Only one champion – the enigma that is Bubba – managed to defy more than one week off and the vast majority had teed it up at locations ranging from Spain to Singapore prior to their trips to China.

With that in mind, those who’ve played either a European or PGA Tour event across the last fortnight are favoured and I’ll surprise myself by suggesting that this is an ideal chance for Paul Casey to win the biggest title of his career.

Now 40, the Englishman who was once considered to be a pretty ruthless operator now has quite the opposite reputation. Chances have come and gone since he chose to base himself in the United States and while he’s in exile from the Ryder Cup, he hasn’t even been able to buy himself credit in the way that Ian Poulter has.

Most criticism of his play in contention is fair. While Casey has been unfortunate on occasion – he birdied holes 70 and 71 to force a play-off with Bubba for the Travelers two summers ago and didn’t do all that much wrong when also beaten in extra holes for the Northern Trust Open earlier that year – he has also looked weak in the mix.