Justin Rose, Peter Hanson and Geoff Ogilvy could prosper in Shenzhen, says Rob Lee
Rose, Hanson and Ogilvy... Rob Lee assesses the contenders for the WGC-HSBC Champions.
Last Updated: 03/11/12 3:51pm
This tournament has been played at Sheshan over the last few years which is a venue I really like; the people enjoyed seeing the big players and there were some decent crowds.
I'm not sure how many spectators we will get at the new location in Mission Hills, Shenzhen but considering the event will be played on the hilly Olazabal course, which was designed by Jose Maria, I'm sure the golf will be of the highest order.
There are plenty of potential winners among the field, including 2012 Major winners Bubba Watson and Ernie Els, but three Englishmen - Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter - top the Sky Bet odds and each one will be confident of taking the title.
Donald finished third - behind Peter Hanson and McIlroy - in the BMW Masters in Shanghai last week, while Justin Rose, who won the WGC-Cadillac in Doral earlier this year, is in terrific form and knows that he needs to keep racking up the cash if he is to finish top of the Race to Dubai standings.
Plus, Poulter finished with a 65 to take fourth place in the BMW - and admitted he had plenty left in the tank - and has won at this time of the year before, claiming the 2009 Singapore Open and the Hong Kong Open in 2010.
Hanson, though, is in a golden patch at the moment and has won two of his last three events, with Sunday's success in Shanghai following on from his win in the KLM Open in the Netherlands in September.
The Swede, who was also part of Europe's Ryder Cup-winning team, is arguably the form player in world golf and having moved up to second spot in the Race to Dubai believes he can overtake McIlroy.
Hanson, 35, is in his golfing prime and doesn't have any obvious weaknesses. He has a very good all-round game which should translate itself into consistency and that is what is happening this autumn. I wouldn't be surprised if he collected another win.
Former world number one Martin Kaymer is the defending champion, which should give him some good vibes, but as this is a different course to last year and he is not in superb fettle, he is rightfully not one of the big favourites.
However, I thought the German played quite well at the BMW Masters, in which he tied for 11th place with Michael Hoey and Graeme McDowell. He is a brilliant player with a superb attitude and I think he will get back amongst the top few spots in the rankings.
Kaymer, who sunk the vital putt for Team Europe in Chicago, could start his ascent this week, while Lee Westwood, who has enjoyed success in the East before, winning three times on the Asian Tour in 2011 and once this term, is more than capable of flourishing.
Keegan Bradley, like Rose, will be hunting for his second WGC triumph of the year, having captured the Bridgestone Invitational in August, while Nick Watney claimed victory at the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic last week with a 10-under par final round and also won The Barclays a couple of months back, so he is another big-time contender.
Australian Geoff Ogilvy is inconsistent - he is either great or you don't see him - but in addition to his 2006 US Open win, he has also picked up three WGC victories before - two Accenture Matchplays and one Cadillac.
He is as brave as a lion and lovely around the greens, so when he has a good tee-to-green week he is very dangerous. This may be his week, but it is really hard to pick a winner.
The selection process for this tournament means players from Asia will be involved and it represents a wonderful chance for these young guys to get experience.
Nothing brings your golf game on like competing against the best and if some of these lads are fortunate enough to play with Donald, Rose and the like this week, they can watch, learn and hopefully improve.
I don't think it will see them making a major impact at the top of the leaderboard this time, but it will ensure that they are more competitive in the years ahead.
ROB'S SKY BET TIP
After much deliberation, I will go for Justin Rose (13/1 with Sky Bet). Peter Hanson has knocked him down to third spot in the Race to Dubai so the Englishman needs a big cheque to keep pace with both the aforentioned Swede and table-topper Rory McIlroy. That's all the incentive he needs.