After Tiger Woods claimed victory at the Zozo Championship, his first event since having his fifth knee operation just nine weeks ago, we now head to Shanghai for the HSBC World Golf Championship.
The first official PGA tour event in Japan became as big a success as possible with Tiger Woods tying Sam Snead’s record of 82 wins after besting home favourite Hideki Matsuyama by three shots.
Its hard to put into words just what a momentous achievement this is for the 43-year-old 15-time major champion. He’s now not just the golfer with most PGA wins in history, he is also tied with Rory McIlroy for most wins (three) since last year’s Tour Championship which in turn makes Jack Nicklaus’ record of eighteen major championships more in play than it has been in a decade.
As for the tournament going forward the huge crowds that came out to watch the golfers should set it up to be a highlight on the schedule for many years to come.
Course: Sheshan Internationl
Length: 7264 yards (Par 72)
The first WGC of the season is as usual hosted in China at the Sheshan International Golf Course, just outside of Shanghai. The golfers will face treelined average sized fairways and smallish bentgrass greens. The course is protected by average length rough, big bunkers and a lot of water (water in play on 11 holes).
All the par 3s fall between 200-225 yards, three of the four par 5s are reachable by most in the field. The par 4s are a good blend of short (four holes under 400 yards) and long (five holes over 450 yards) holes.
When we look at previous winners and contenders, being long off the tee is an advantage but with winners like Molinari and Knox you can also get it done around here by being very accurate on your drives. As always approach plays a key role and the long irons especially will be important this week.
Here are some of the things I will be looking at/for:
- Driving distance
- Strokes gained off the tee
- Proximity 200+ yards
- Par 5 scoring
- Strokes gained approach
- Bentgrass putting
I seldom find value in an 11/2 shot, but Rory just sets up so perfect this week that I can’t stay away. He ranks first in strokes gained off the tee, par 3 scoring between 200-225 yards, driving distance and par 5 scoring.
He has played in this tournament six times and finished in the top six for four of those years. He comes off a T3 at the Zozo where he averaged 65 shots over his last three rounds and has finished in the top six in four of his last five PGA tour starts including a win at the Tour Championship.
If you follow the tour closely, you know that Bubba has his favourite courses and that he often wins multiple times at the same course; 10 of his 14 wins has come at just four courses and he won here back in 2014.
He comes off a week where he delivered three under par rounds at a course that doesn’t suit his strengths. He ranks in the top 10 in driving distance (second), strokes gained off the tee (fifth) and par 5 scoring (tenth).
*all odds are subject to change