We return to Sheshan International this week for the 2013 co-sanctioned edition of WGC HSBC Champions. For the first time PGA tour pros will be playing for 550 Fedex Cup points in this part of the world and all the extras that go with it, not to mention the size of the purse. It's the final WGC event of the golf calender year 2013 and a very strong field will descend on Sheshan. Things on the blog havn't been going too well of late - especially on recent Sundays - but just a quick mention that it's always worth reading my full outright previews on my Unibet golf column (link in nav bar), where both Ryan Moore and Aphibarnrat featured as headline tips last week at the CIMB.....
With only one event this week and the season drawing to a close I'm previewing the WGC HSBC Champions in full on Nicspicks and you'll notice I'm targeting a particular type player this week: My biggest memories of Sheshan International come from the 2010 event where two players blitzed the field; two players in Lee Westwood and Francesco Molinari who both excel from tee to green. Premium at Sheshan is on approach shot accuracy to undulating greens - many of which include false fronts. It's vital to be playing from the fairways for maximum control so top ball strikers and drivers are the focus of attention for the HSBC Champions. Add to this distance control on a course featuring elevation changes and iron approaches become even more important on a track playing 7,266 yards to a par of 72.
Bet365 are offering £200 in free bets on this week's golf for new clients
Given what I've said already there's one man who stands out towards the top of the market. Usually 25s wouldn't interest me but Keegan Bradley - one of the best drivers of the ball in the business - is the perfect fit for the Sheshan course. Bradley ranked 2nd for total driving on the PGA Tour in 2013 and given he comes here off the back of atop 10 last week where he led the tournament by 4 and traded odds on at one stage, he's a must pick and the man to beat for me this week. The American also has course experience having posted a 16th place finish here two years back and 25/1 EW on Keegan represents value for me.
I'm quite surprised at the 40s on offer this week about Francesco Molinari. As mentioned above, the Italian showed just how much the course suited his game when he pipped Lee Westwood for the win in 2010 and when it comes to the tee to green game, and distance control from approaches, there are not many better. Molinari's problems are with the putter but we heard last week that he's been getting help in that area from a well respected coach, and a closing 64 for a T2 at the BMW Masters may have been from the benefits of that.
The one player that probably doesn't fit my theme this week is Paul Casey at *33/1 with Spreadex. More of a bomber than a tee to green specialist, Casey's form here and in this part of the world in general can't be ignored for me when he is in full flow and high in confidence. With a string of top tens at Sheshan, Casey comes to the WGC HSBC Champions event off the back of a T8 at the BMW and with conditions forecasted to be benign, I think this will add to the Englishman's prospects as opposed to Perth a few weeks back.
Back to the theme of excellent drivers and Peter Hanson, and even more so, Bill Haas are the big HSBC Champions value men at a general 50/1 for me. Haas ranked 22nd for total driving in 2012 and 21st for GIR% in 2013 and the former Fedex Cup winner warmed up his 2014 PGA season with a T16 last week. The American has two previous appearances at Sheshan averaging around the 30th spot and I expect him to go well this week. Peter Hanson is returning from a two month injury lay off but talked about a closing 63 - that propelled him into the top ten last week, as well as into the top 60 on the RTD - as being a big confidence boost, and while he's still not 100%, he says he feels like he's playing without any pressure.
First round leader - Gregory Bourdy ew @ 90/1 with Boyles. Bourdy may have let us down last week being one of the only players to shoot over par and fall down the leaderboard on Sunday but he's still in some of the best form of his life and a notorious fast starter. 90s ew is a fabulous bet in this market.
As always, follow me on twitter: @Nicspicks for more thoughts and insight. All prices from members email.
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