HSBC betting guide
A preview and stats for the WGC-HSBC Champions in China - the second event of The Race to Dubai's Final Series
By Mark Kendall - Twitter: @SkySportsMK. Last Updated: 29/10/13 5:57pm
An overhead view of the second hole at the Sheshan InternationalGolf Club in Shanghai, China
The European Tour remains in Shanghai for a second straight week, and will be joined by leading players from all around the world to contest the fourth World Golf Championship event of the season.
This will be the eighth occasion that Sheshan International has hosted the HSBC-sponsored event, but the first time it has been included on the official PGA Tour schedule.
Expense was clearly not spared in building the course nine years ago, when more than one-and-a-half million cubic metres of earth was moved to create this stunning venue.
The greens are well-contoured and usually quick, while water comes into play on 11 holes.
Located in the west side of China's second city, the course offers a number of changes in elevation and has no shortage of trees.
However, there is still a good deal of room off the tee and, measuring in at around 7,600 yards when playing to its fullest, there is obviously an advantage for the bigger-hitters.
Last year's HSBC tournament was staged at Mission Hills in Shenzhen, following seven successive seasons at this week's location.
FORM at SHESHAN INTERNATIONAL
Full Tour History
Player: '05 / '06 / '07 / '08 / '09 / '10 / '11
Kiradech Aphibarnrat: - / - / - / - / - / 74 / 66
Gaganjeet Bhullar: - / - / - / - / 74 / - / -
Thomas Bjorn: 5 / 58 / - / - / - / - / 42
Gregory Bourdy: - / 39 / 55 / 51 / - / 39 / -
Keegan Bradley: - / - / - / - / - / - / 16
Mark Brown: - / - / - / 53 / 31 / - / -
Paul Casey: 7 / 6 / 9 / 11 / Ret / 6 / 4
Nicolas Colsaerts: - / - / - / - / - / - / 20
Luke Donald: - / 14 / - / - / - / 3 / -
Jason Dufner: - / - / - / - / 40 / - / -
Ernie Els: - / - / 21 / - / 2 / 6 / 33
Gonzalo F'dez-Castano: 32 / 47 / 38 / 43 / 45 / - / -
Darren Fichardt: - / 47 / 46 / - / - / 34 / -
Rickie Fowler: - / - / - / - / - / 25 / -
Hiroyuki Fujita: - / - / - / - / - / 46 / 46
Sergio Garcia: - / - / 46 / Won / 23 / - / -
Brian Gay: - / - / - / - / 25 / - / -
Bill Haas: - / - / - / - / - / 21 / 42
Peter Hanson: 19 / - / 33 / 3 / 31 / 6 / 33
Scott Hend: - / - / 27 / 48 / - / - / -
David Howell: Won / 47 / - / 58 / - / - / -
Mu Hu: 61 / 71 / MC / - / - / - / -
Mikko Ilonen: - / - / 15 / - / - / - / -
Ryo Ishikawa: - / - / - / - / 17 / 41 / -
Raphael Jacquelin: 25 / - / 48 / - / - / - / -
Thongchai Jaidee: 15 / - / 53 / - / 19 / - / 29
Miguel Angel Jimenez: 54 / - / - / - / - / 41 / 38
Martin Kaymer: - / - / - / 20 / 6 / 30 / Won
Wen-Chong Liang: 49 / 54 / 38 / 24 / 40 / 63 / 62
Shane Lowry: - / - / - / - / 28 / - / -
Matteo Manassero: - / - / - / - / - / 53 / 69
Graeme McDowell: 39 / - / - / 16 / - / 34 / 3
Rory McIlroy: - / - / - / - / 4 / 5 / 4
Phil Mickelson: - / - / Won / 8 / Won / 41 / -
Francesco Molinari: - / 9 / - / - / 10 / Won / 23
Ryan Moore: - / - / - / - / 3 / - / -
Louis Oosthuizen: - / 62 / 11 / 16 / - / 72 / 7
DA Points: - / - / - / - / - / - / 66
Ian Poulter: 19 / 31 / 38 / 14 / 45 / 13 / 13
Justin Rose: - / - / - / - / - / - / 7
Brett Rumford: 65 / - / 33 / - / - / - / -
Henrik Stenson: 32 / 18 / 9 / 5 / 40 / 13 / -
Richard Sterne: 25 / - / 24 / 20 / 60 / - / -
Bo Van Pelt: - / - / - / - / - / - / 11
Jaco Van Zyl: - / - / - / - / - / 13 / -
Nick Watney: - / - / - / - / 5 / 21 / 33
Marc Warren: 62 / 5 / MC / - / - / - / -
Lee Westwood: 12 / - / 2 / - / 8 / 2 / 13
Ashun Wu: - / - / - / 33 / 70 / - / 49
Size of Field: 74 / 74 / 89 / 77 / 78 / 78 / 78
NB: Tournament Not Held at Sheshan in 2012. Above list includes reserves.
The following players have not competed at Sheshan: Seuk-Hyun Baek; Jonas Blixt; Roberto Castro; George Coetzee; Graham De Laet; Jamie Donaldson; Ken Duke; Derek Ernst; Tommy Fleetwood; Stephen Gallacher; Branden Grace; Michael Hendry; Billy Horschel; Wen-Yi Huang; Scott Jamieson; Jin Jeong; Dustin Johnson; Masahiro Kawamura; Hao-Tong Li; Joost Luiten; David Lynn; Hideki Matsuyama; John Merrick; Thorbjorn Olesen; Scott Piercy; Daniel Popovic; Julien Quesne; Patrick Reed; Brandt Snedeker; Jordan Spieth; Kevin Streelman; Michael Thompson; Peter Uihlein; Jimmy Walker; Bubba Watson; Boo Weekley; Bernd Wiesberger; Chris Wood; Gary Woodland
TOP-10 Finishers in Last Week's BMW MASTERS at Lake Malaren
Gonzalo F'dez-Castano (Won)
Thongchai Jaidee (T-2nd)
Francesco Molinari (T-2nd)
Thomas Bjorn (T-5th)
Peter Uihlein (T-5th)
Paul Casey (T-8th)
Peter Hanson (T-8th)
Scott Jamieson (T-8th)
TOP-10 Finishers in Last Week's CIMB CLASSIC in Kuala Lumpur
Ryan Moore (Won)
Gary Woodland (2nd)
Kiradech Aphibarnrat (T-3rd)
Jimmy Walker (6th)
Graham DeLaet (T-7th)
Keegan Bradley (10th)
A view of the 18th green at the Sheshan Golf International Club in Shanghai, China
LOWEST 12 STROKE AVERAGES at SHESHAN INTERNATIONAL
(Last Four Tournaments 2008/11)
68.75: Lee Westwood (12)
68.92: Rory McIlroy (12)
69.08: Francesco Molinari (12)
69.38: Sergio Garcia (8)
69.67: Paul Casey (15)
69.69: Martin Kaymer (16)
69.75: Ernie Els (12)
69.92: Phil Mickelson (12)
70.25: Peter Hanson (16)
70.25: Graeme McDowell (12)
70.25: Nick Watney (12)
70.38: Thongchai Jaidee (8)
(Min. No. of Rounds = 8)
LOWEST ROUNDS at SHESHAN INTERNATIONAL
63: Ernie Els (2009)
63: Daisuke Maruyama (2009)
63: Rory McIlroy (2009)
63: Louis Oosthuizen (2011)
63: Martin Kaymer (2011)
64: 11 times
Sheshan International (Shanghai): Par 72; 7,266 yards
Winning Totals (Last Three Tournaments):
2011: 268 (Martin Kaymer)
2010: 269 (Francesco Molinari)
2009: 271 (Phil Mickelson)
As tends to be the case with most World Golf Championships events, the HSBC Champions has thrown up a host of high-quality champions in its relatively brief existence.
Phil Mickelson, Martin Kaymer, Francesco Molinari have all walked away victorious at Sheshan International Golf Club, while Ian Poulter took the honours when Mission Hills in Shenzhen played host 12 months ago.
With that in mind, it would appear that the top end of the market is where punters should be training their sights and it is certainly not difficult to make cases for a number of the favourites.
The man leading the betting is Rory McIlroy and one look at his record in China tells you why. McIlroy managed eight consecutive top-10s in events in this part of the world between October 2008 and November 2012 - including one victory and three runner-up finishes.
Those results include form figures of 4-5-4 in his last three visits to Sheshan GC, a lay-out he has spoken extremely fondly of in the past.
Clearly the worry is his form this season, but the 24-year-old has been making all the right noises recently and is beginning to produce on the course. He may only have finished 27th in Shanghai last week, but his exhibition victory over Tiger Woods earlier in the week was on the back of a flawless 66 that saw him holing plenty of putts - an obvious Achilles heel in recent times.
Likewise Mickelson's claims are readily apparent, they could hardly fail to be as two-time winner of the event! But the American heads to China on the back of performance in Kuala Lumpur last week that he himself admitted was shambolic at times.
Lefty claimed to have virtually no control over parts of his long-game for spells and yet still managed to finish 19th despite a closing 74 so clearly wasn't doing everything badly.
The fact remains Mickelson appears capable of turning his form round almost at the drop of a hat and a return to a venue that has treated him so well could easily lead to another title challenge, regardless of what he may be saying.
But while McIlroy and Mickelson do tempt most of the market leaders, they are passed over in the hunt for a spot more value.
This event has been kind to Europeans in recent years and you do get the feeling it represents the best chance by some distance for those based on this continent to claim one of the otherwise US-based WGC events.
As such, the first two picks are Europeans with favourable history in the tournament.
Paul Casey's record in China is hard to ignore with top-10s galore in the past decade, including five in his seven visits to this week's location.
Paul Casey has a stellar record in China and at Sheshan International GC in particular
More than that you sense Casey is a man on a mission at present. Back to full fitness and with a long overdue win under his belt after all his injury problems, he looks determined to reclaim his place at golf's top table and a W in this esteemed company would certainly help him to that end.
He arrives in good form on the back of an eighth-placed finish in Shanghai last week and undoubtedly has the length to cut this monster track down to size.
Francesco Molinari is by no means a bomber, but the 2010 winner (a hugely impressive one at that as he held off an in-form Lee Westwood) knows what it takes to get the job done at this course.
A superbly-consistent driver of the ball, the Italian's distance control is a key advantage at a venue with so many of the aforementioned elevation changes and, perhaps most importantly of all, he arrives feeling confident with putter in hand.
His fallibility on the greens has long been held up as one of the reasons he has not won more, but after a fantastic 64 saw him storm through the field to finish as runner-up last week, he said: " I've been playing well for a while now. I've been putting better, but, you know, you need a bit of luck at the right time and I got it today."
Let's hope his flatstick stays hot and he is inspired by a return to the scene of the biggest win of his career to date.
Staying on the European theme, I want to get with Jamie Donaldson whose form has taken the eye for a number of weeks now.
The Welshman was hugely impressive at the Seve Trophy at the start of the month and followed that up with a sixth-placed finish at the Portugal Masters (an event where the scoring traditionally goes as low as this week's). Although he finished down in 34th in Shanghai last week, that was largely due to a first round of 79 in the worst of the windy conditions.
While I'm not totally convinced he's this week's winner, he looks to be making birdies for fun and, despite not having played on this course before, I fancy him to enjoy the challenge.
He's a man who has posted rounds of 61 and 62 on Chinese soil in the past so I'll be chancing him in the first-round leader market and hoping he makes the most of an early tee-time on Thursday to post another low one.
Lastly, with so much high-class US talent in the field, you would fancy someone from across the Atlantic to have a big say in proceedings.
As previously mentioned, quality performers tend to rise to the top in WGC events and with that in mind we'll delve for a proven winner at generous odds.
The likes of Dustin Johnson (33/1) and Bubba Watson (66/1) certainly fall into that category, but the one we'll plump for is Nick Watney who already has a WGC title in the five wins on his CV, as well as plenty of previous experience at Sheshan.
Big-hitting Watney ended the FedEx Cup play-offs producing his best form of the season, a top-10 at the The Barclays and a runner-up finish at the BMW Championship preceding a respectable T14 at the Tour Championship.
An unspectacular tie for 35th in Kuala Lumpur last time out might not have set the pulses racing, but it will have got him acclimatised for this week's event at which he finished fifth in 2009 on the back of an opening 64.
2pts e.w. Paul Casey at 28/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
2pts e.w. Francesco Molinari at 28/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
1pt e.w. Nick Watney at 50/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
1pt e.w. Jamie Donaldson to be first round leader at 55/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)