WGC HSBC Champions Betting Tips
Robert Cobley is a maths graduate with years of experience in the sports betting industry. He has now teamed up with Bet UK to bring his golf betting tips to our readers.
Sheshan International Golf Club - Songjiang, China - Par 72, 7,266 Yards
The final World Golf Championship event of the 2019 season is upon us this week as the 78 qualifying players head to the exclusive Sheshan International Golf Club in Songjiang, forty miles west of Shanghai. Sheshan was designed by Nelson & Haworth in 2004, and is staging the event for the 14th time in the last 15 years (it was at Mission Hills in 2012).
At 7,226 yards, and a par 72, Sheshan is not intimidating on paper, and that is reflected by the setup and scoring that we have seen here over the years. It is a gently rolling parklands course with average width tree lined seashore paspalum fairways that are just perfect for players to hit from. Though the fairways are wide enough for the majority of shots, those who do stray will often be punished. Water is in play on 11 of the 18 holes, the rough is deep, and there are strategically placed bunkers in the landing areas. From the bunkers and the rough it's only about a 60 percent chance that a player will be able to reach the putting surface. This is not helped by the fact that the majority of approach shots are to raised greens that sit above the player.
The greens are bentgrass, highly receptive, and will yield many birdies over the week. If a player is approaching these greens from these fairways, the birdie probability is as high as with any event on the PGA Tour. The challenge for the second shots comes primarily with the expansive runoff areas. These are large, steep, and Augusta like; fittingly for an event dubbed locally as "Asia's Major".
Sheshan is an all round test of golf, and will the winner will need to exhibit a complete game to reach the likely winning score of around 20 under par. The longer hitters do have an advantage on the reachable par 5s, and the drivable par 4 16th hole, particularly with the course set to be soft this week. The key performance stats will be strokes gained off the tee (any player regularly finding these fairways is going to have a lot of birdie chances) and scrambling for those bigger hitters that cash in on the easier holes but find themselves in trouble once or twice a round. Previous course form has traditionally had little relevance here.
Last Five Winners:
The Market Leaders
Rory McIlroy (11/2) comes into this week as the strong market favourite following his 3rd place finish at the Zozo Championship behind Tiger Woods and Hideki Matsuyama last week in Japan. On paper McIlroy and Sheshan fit like a glove. Rory is the highest ranked PGA Tour player in the field for strokes gained off the tee, will love the soft landing areas, and aggressive style of golf needed to overcome, and indeed possibly overpower, this course. His high ball flight will be perfect for approach shots to the raised greens, and it is hard to see Rory not contending if he brings a strong putting game with him. Mcilroy has never won here, and last year could only manage a disappointing 54th placed finish. That was on the back of a month off, and he is definitely in better shape this year. Before that he had posted four top 6 finishes in his five starts here (the other being an 11th). Barring a significantly poor week, Rory will almost certainly contend.
Last week's runner up and 2016 HSBC Champions winner Hideki Matsuyama (11/1) sits next in the market. Hideki is another good driver of the ball, and has the perfect all round game that is needed to compete at Sheshan. His results here aside from that victory three years ago are generally mixed with no other finishes inside the top 30, although his form coming into this week is as good as it has ever been at this time of year. With a 3rd and a 2nd place finish in the last two weeks, I couldn't discount Hideki either and he probably shouldn't be five points bigger than Rory. This price in a 78 runner field with 5 places on offer holds some appeal.
Xander Schauffele (14/1), last year's winner, returned to competitive action last week with a more than respectable 10th place finish at the Zoho Championship. Schauffele has that win behind him, and was playing good golf before the break, so he is likely to be in contention for an improved finish this week. The remainder of the top of the market is made up of English duo Justin Rose (16/1) and Paul Casey (20/1). Rose has a fantastic record here with a 3rd placed finish last year to follow up his success in 2017, and he has two further top 7 finishes in his other three starts at Sheshan. This is his first tournament on the PGA Tour Asian swing, and he could be a contender if his improving form holds. He isn't for me though. Casey has been an ever present here, but has not finished inside the top 10 since back in 2011. He was 17th last week, and has so far been able to reproduce the impressive form he showed during the 2019 PGA Tour playoffs. He should nonetheless be ready following last week's showing, and i would take him over Rose at a bigger price. The course suit's Paul's game, and it's all about the form he brings this week.
Rob’s Betting Tips
Headline Golf Betting Tip
Ian Poulter is a past winner of the HSBC Champions event, having won the 2012 event the one year where it was held away from Sheshan, at Mission Hills. Poulter won that event by three strokes, and has three WGC wins to his name following further successes at the World Matchplay. Poulter has enjoyed a good year, and his form over the last couple of weeks has shown real improvement. What has really caught my eye was the way that he played over the weekend in Japan. He shot 64, 68, tying Rory McIlroy for the lowest round of the week and pushing himself to just outside the top 10 having made a slow start to the tournament.
Over the weekend last week, Poulter ranked number one for putting and proximity to the hole with his approaches; a pretty deadly combination. Driving is generally a fairly solid area for Ian, and if he can tie that in with maintaining those two parts of his game over the next four days then he has the potential to go all the way here in China. Poulter isn't scared to win, and would love nothing more than to round off his year by stepping back into the victors circle. I expect a strong showing, 2 points e/w at 40/1.
Hideki Matsuyama came so close to landing us a big win last week; beaten only by the brilliance of Tiger Woods as he claimed an incredible 83rd career title on the PGA Tour. That 2nd place for Hideki came on the back of a 3rd at Nine Bridges, and the in form Japanese player can go one better here at a tournament he has won before back in 2016 with a tournament record score of 23 under par. Hideki has 14 career wins, with the last being at another WGC, the Bridgestone Invitation, back in 2017 where he blew away the field to win by 5 strokes from American Zach Johnson. Going two years without a victory will seem like a very long time for a player of his quality, and this is the perfect time, and place, for Matsuyama to put that right.
Coming in to the event that he won in 2016, Hideki was on a similarly strong run of form having finished 2nd the week before on the back of a win at the Japan Open where he had beaten the field by three strokes. Sheshan requires a good all round game, and Hideki has that regardless of form. With him hitting the ball so well, and his putting being red hot, it is hard to see Hideki not contending strongly for a third straight week, and he could well be the player to beat here. I recommend backing him with 2 points e/w at 11/1.
Sergio Garcia has had a bit of a rocky ride over the last two weeks since we backed him for the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges. That 60th place there was followed by an improved, but again disappointing, 33rd last week. One small glimmer of positivity was back to back sub par rounds over the weekend, and Sergio is another that will be well acclimated to the Asian conditions entering this week following eight competitive rounds here in the past couple of weeks.
Garcia is a great driver of the ball, and has remained one even when out of form. He has struggled with his approach shots and around the greens over the past couple of weeks, and it is these areas that need to see the most improvement if he is to contend here. The fairways are perfect, and the short par 5s and drivable 16th bring opportunities for Sergio to use his long, straight driving to get an advantage on the field. In his last four appearances here, Sergio has finished in the top 10 three times, and Sheshan is clearly a course that suits him well. Having won in Holland and followed it up with a 7th in Spain last month, i'm prepared to gamble that Sergio's game is still there and have 2 points e/w at 40/1.
Play Starburst at Bet UK
*All odds from Bet UK’s online betting markets correct at the time of writing.
If you are betting on the WGC HSBC Champions, please gamble responsibly and remember that when the fun stops, stop. All players must be 18+, begambleaware.org