After a long spell away from the game post-Ryder Cup, the majority of the top ten are back to contend the first World Golf Championship event of the new season. The WGC-HSBC tournament is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour, the European Tour and the Asian Tour so we have a strong global field ahead of Thursday’s first tee time.
In fact, it is such a world class entry over in Shanghai that the leading offshore sportsbooks are having trouble identifying a clear favorite.
Three golfers are locked on the same win price in places while Dustin Johnson (+800 with Bovada) is just marginally ahead with some bookmakers. Runner up last year, DJ won this event in 2013 and is a regular finisher inside the first five.
Brooks Koepka (+900) may be a more obvious choice for some backers as the new number one and our most recent winner on Tour. Brooks has remained active since the Ryder Cup and tied for second along with Johnson and Henrik Stenson a year ago.
Completing the trio is our defending champion and FedEx winner Justin Rose (+1000, ie: 10/1). The Englishman briefly held the World Number One slot but has just the one win, in the Fort Worth Invitational, since that success twelve months ago.
Behind the market leaders are a clutch of overseas players, led by Rory McIlroy (11/1) who has been consistent on Tour since a horror show last season. Rory is followed in short order by Jason Day (+1800), Hideki Matsuyama (+2200) and Tommy Fleetwood (+2000).
Of those four, Matsuyama is another former winner but his 2016 victory came when the Japanese was in the form of his life and injury has prevented a return to his best. Others to mention in the chasing pack include Tony Finau (25/1) who put together a string of single digit finishes prior to the Ryder Cup. The big hitter remained in Europe to record a tie for tenth at the Dunhill Links last time out.
Elsewhere, Paul Casey (33/1) has maintained his consistency while Tyrrell Hatton (+3500) threatened better than his tie for 14th at the CJ Cup. Both men need watching this week.
In among a clutch of overseas talent, Patrick Cantlay (40/1) just scrapes into the Power Rankings after finishing in the top 15 here last year. Current US Masters Champion Patrick Reed (50/1) is on offer at a similar price along with Xander Schauffele (60/1), Keegan Bradley (80/1) and 2012 Champion Ian Poulter (66/1).
Elsewhere, the man in form as far as European golf is concerned is Eddie Pepperell (80/1). He will be a new name to most but having forced his way into the world’s top 35 with a win at the British Masters, he looks set for a productive season and could be worth a top 10 finish bet here as one of our WGC-HSBC predictions.
Look out too for Matt Wallace (80/1) who has won three tournaments in Europe this year. Other options down the field include the consistent Keegan Bradley (80/1) plus Kevin Na (150/1), Brandt Snedeker (150/1) and Charley Hoffman (125/1) who are all capable of a single digit finish at the very least.
Our Preview’s WGC-HSBC Champions Predictions, Picks & Betting Trends
We are back at the Sheshan Golf Club in Shanghai this week which has been the home of this tournament for all but one year since inception in 2005. It’s a par 72 at a relatively modest 7,261 yards but it contains some genuine par 5s, including the 603 yard eighth so the power hitters can often hold an advantage.
In a sense, the course is a work in progress with remodelled fairways and new bunkers being a constant feature in recent years. Fairways are tree lined but not particularly narrow while the bentgrass greens are an average speed on the stimp.
Phil Mickelson is, to date, the only golfer to have won this event twice and lefty is one of just three Americans to have triumphed since David Howell won the inaugural tournament in 2005 – Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson are the other two.
Based on the course design and on current form, the case for Brooks Koepka looks overwhelming. The three-time Major winner is getting huge distance off the tee and once he saw a lead in South Korea last week the tournament was essentially over.
Koepka for the win may seem an obvious WGC pick but it’s tough to see past the new World Number One. Along with these top 10 finish predictions, we will hopefully have a profitable four days in Shanghai:
- Brooks Koepka to win @ +900 with Bovada or BetOnline.
- For top 10 finishes, bet on Keegan Bradley (best at +500 with BetOnline in their “Golf Futures” section and then “Golf – Top 10”), Paul Casey (best at +225 with BetOnline) and Brandt Snedeker (best @ +650 with Bovada).
Matt Harris is a golf and soccer expert for USA Betting. His other area of specialist knowledge is cricket. He is well known in sports journalism and contributes articles to a plethora of big-name websites and media outlets. Titles that he writes or has written for include: Betfair, BetVictor, Unibet & Just Bookies.