The WGC China preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
The 3RD leg of the PGA Tour Asia stop off heads to China for the first of the WGC events at Sheshan International. Let’s be clear this is a great event and should make for exciting golf but as a World Golf Championship it’s by far the weakest of the series. No Jordan, Justin, Rory nor Ricky – big stars all top ten ranked clearly mark this event down.
Held at the Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai, in 7 of last 8 years – the 2012 event won by Poulter was at Mission Hills, the course is a regulation par 72 with 4 gettable par 5’s and a drivable par 4 in the 16th. At 7,260 yards its not overly long producing a mix of winners with power (Milky, Dustbin and Bubba) and accuracy (Molinari and Knox) amongst them. Throw in Tim Clark chasing home Bubba in 2014 and you get the picture. The profile of the winner is fairly consistent – hit greens and make putts. With dry, warmish, and low wind conditions, expect a score nearer to -20+ than -10.
Dustbin heads the market despite being less than his best over the playoffs with Day, Rahm, Leishman and Hideki all up there. Surprise, I’m not having any of them despite some great form and class on tap. We death rode the favourites again last week and while Thomas won I can rarely see 9/2 as value in a golf event of this nature.
Rose and Casey have good records around here and are in form but as mentioned previously their consistency serves only to compress their price and who knows which version they’ll serve up this week? Stenson has form here as does Ross Fisher with a 3rd and a 6th over the last two runnings and consecutive runners up’s this season but as with his fellow Englishman it’s the price that puts me off. Milky can’t be ruled out but he’s not been here for a while. Koepka a stable favourite makes his debut and looks to have all the tools needed here but again it’s the price.
Thomas Pieters 1pt win at $75
Kyle Stanley 1pt win at $100
Daniel Burger 1pt win at $38
all with Betfair
Thomas Pieters is starting to sound like a broken record here but as with last week we’ll send him out for another run. He fared better at the CJ Cup than the CIBM Classic while never being in contention in the latter as opposed to being -9 through 36 in the former. What we do know is that Sheshan with its wide fairways, four par fives and the drivable par four 16th should afford the big Pieters 20+ birdie opportunities – he averages a tad over 69.5 in 8 rounds here. If he can tighten his overall game up then the bogeys and worse will stay of his card. After two weeks in Asia this event is clearly the goal for this leg of his 2017/18 season so far. Heading into a Ryder Cup season this is Pieter’s career turning point when he goes from potential start to actual star and winning a WGC event would take him some way on the journey.
1pt win at $75
Daniel Berger is another stable runner who’ll carry ours this week. A proven winner with a run under his belt last week – his first outing since the Presidents Cup – Berger has serious form around here with a course average of 68.25 and a first up 11th followed by a 2nd last year. Plus he’s stated he loves the place which has to help. A class player with a unique action a killer form around here we have to be on.
1pt win at $38
Kyle Stanley makes his debut for us this week and at Sheshan International which seems the driving force behind his triple figure price. Ranked 53rd in the world this 2 time PGA Tour winner has made the trip to Asia and performed credibly over the first two legs with 21st and 19th placed finishes. So why now? One of the best drivers on tour last season Stanley should thrive at Sheshan given his long straight driving and strong fairway to green game. Since arriving in Asia he’s made 33 birdies in 8 rounds by hitting 83% of the fairways and 79% of greens. He struggled last week when the wind blew but won’t have any such issues at Sheshan with 5-10mph predicted. A quality player making a bunch of birdies from the short stuff he looks primed to deliver.
1pt win at $100