Selectabet: WGC – HSBC Champions
November 2, 2011 Leave a comment
Date: 3rd – 6th November 2011
Competition: WGC – HSBC Champions
Shanghai huan ying ni! Welcome to Shanghai – and by the way, you are welcome to it! A city where every one of its 23,000,000 inhabitants will be at the airport when you arrive! Or at least, it will seem like it after the 12 hour flight!
And so, another European Tour year meanders towards its end and with this week’s Asian event, a star studded and global field that represent over 20 Nationalities for the $7 million prize pot of the World Golf Championships – Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Champions Tournament – unsurprisingly shortened to WGC – HSBC. (Which for all your grammar Nazis and repetitive human rights activists’ avoids repeating the same words in the one short soy sauce infused breath).
Venue: Sheshan International GC, Shanghai, China
Sheshan International Golf Club is Shanghai’s first and most exclusive private golf club where in truth both of its members are too busy trying to only have one child (or pay a fine) to find time to play the wonderful game that is golf. That said, I’ve played this on the Wii many a time and it’s a fantastic golf course where my personal best is a 57!
Back in real life, many of the holes play along the existing canal, around manmade lakes or over the spectacular quarry which is the major feature of Sheshan. Beyond the lakes, scenic landscaped streams don’t forget to add a stunning mountain forest backdrop to the picture and you have pretty much got one of the most aesthetically pleasing lush golf courses anywhere on planet golf. Holes 16 and 17 play around and over the quarry, giving golfers both a stern test of golf but also a wonderful vista, if you were not focused on your A-game.
As you can imagine, as a course, it is more American than Chinese. Otherwise it would be short. And yellow.
Yards: 7,233 yards
Par: Par 72
The 7 million Yuan first prize has appealed to every one of the Worlds’ most in-form golfers including Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel (28/1), Open Champion Darren Clarke (370/1) and US PGA Champion Keegan Bradley (48/1) who will all look to add the final World Golf Championship event to their 2011 Major success. They are joined by Cadillac Championship winner Nick Watney (23/1) and WGC – Bridgestone Invitational champion Adam Scott (88/5 – all BetDaq) alongside 23 of both the European and PGA Tours event winners and victors of other piddley-little events in Asia.
All, that is, except one Lucas Donald, who is rubbing salt into hard working Chinese wounds by staying at home while his live-in-baby-maker pops out yet another money-grabbing-sleep-stealer to push the population tally well over the 7 billion mark. Which appears to be a similar figure to that of his combined season’s winnings this year!
Consider only the quality of the field – it’s a really open 78 horse race! Anyone of these finally honed athletes could take the Old Tom Morris Cup come Sunday evening. It will be humid, it will rain and there may be thunderstorms and so obviously the likely performers, able to cope, will be those based in Florida or who are from the region.
Ones to watch:
With two wins in 2011 – including one, bizarrely, for his own tournament (The CJ Invitational hosted (and won!) by KJ Choi) – it is World Number 13 Choi (33/1 with Paddy Power and Bwin) who is my one to watch this week. The Korean son of a rice farmer made history as the first of his Nation to win on both sides of the Atlantic and has kept a consistent form at the top level since. With 8 top tens and a victory in the 5th major in 2011 he shows no signs of throwing the golfing equivalent of a “paddy” and should be contender rice up to the bitter end!
Second in 2010, and enjoying playing on the best conditioned golf course that he has seen all year, the Chinese tinged Lee “Woksop” Westwood (8/1 with Bet365 and SkyBet) hopes to follow in Luke Donald’s pedicured footsteps by vying for his first WGC title. Westwood’s fifth in the Shanghai Master last week included a hole in one and comes at the end of a quality five week spell where he has had 4 top ten finishes in 5 starts. He is certainly one to watch given recent form and sitting in a lowly 5th position in the Race to Dubai, a top finish will see him likely rise towards the top once again.
Ones to win:
Never the first to do anything of note, but will always eventually follow suit, it Rory McIlroy (11/2 with Victor Chandler) who will fire himself into the footsteps of Sergio and Bjorn with back to back win on the European Tour this year. With fire in his belly after the shambles that was the Masters, his form has been nothing short of phenomenal and you can see it in his eyes he believes that he can catch Luke for the European Crown. With the World Number 1 in absentia this week, it’s as good a chance as he will get to significantly close the gap!
However, this week it’s all about a player with 7 top tens this year including a victory and a six in the other WGC events; it is the six foot good looking Aussie love machine Adam Scott (88/5 with BetDaq) that excites me this week. It’s a rarity that he plays outside the USA and his homeland but after sticking the fingers up at the “Has Been” Tiger Woods by employing his caddie and subsequently winning; Scott has been back to the form of old since returning from a dip in form in 2009 and reentered the World’s top ten. In particular watch for his crisp swing, accurate ball striking and some trophy broad of the quality of Ana Ivanovic, Kate Hudson or Marie Kojzar on his arm.