Lowdown:
The final World Golf Championship event of 2013 takes place this week in Shanghai, China. England’s Ian Poulter defends the title in the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International GC.

The tournament is, for the first time, part of the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup schedule, it is also the second event of the European Tour’s inaugural “Final Series.” As such its significance has grown and an increased prize fund of $8.5 million reflects that.

The HSBC Champions began life in 2005 as a regular European Tour event but, in 2009, it was elevated to World Golf Championship status. As a result, the event now attracts an exceptionally strong field.

78 players from 21 countries will tee it up at Sheshan, battling for the coveted first prize. No less than 18 Major champions are on the start sheet, so too six former winners of this event.

Ian Poulter took the title in 2012 when he finished two clear of a group of four players that included Phil Mickelson and Ernie Els. Mickelson is a two-time winner of the HSBC Champions( in 2007 and 2009.) Other past champions in the field are Sergio Garcia, Francesco Molinari, Martin Kaymer and David Howell.

The Englishman won the event in 2005 and has made a welcome return to form in recent months, culminating with an impressive victory in the Dunhill Links Championship at St Andrews in September.

“I’m really looking forward to returning to the Sheshan International Golf Club,” he said. “It really hurt me to miss out these past few years as I’ve watched the event grow into ‘Asia’s Major.’ When I qualified, it really felt like an important landmark, hopefully symbolising my return to the top flight of world golf. Winning in 2005 remains one of the highlights of my career and it would be a dream come true if I could get myself in contention on Sunday afternoon against this world-class field.”

The tournament returns to Sheshan International GC after a year at Mission Hills. Designed by Neil Haworth of Nelson & Haworth, the course at Sheshan International makes use of the natural terrain as it winds through valleys and across a deep, water-filled, rock quarry that comes into play on the 16th and 17th holes.

Weather looks set to be reasonable with only a small chance of rain disrupting play.

Venue: Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai, China
Date: Oct 31 – Nov 3
Course stats: par 72, 7,607 yards
Purse: $8,500,000 Winner: $1,400,000
Defending Champion: Ian Poulter (-21)

TV Coverage:
Thursday 31 – Sky Sports 4 from 3am
Friday 1 – Sky Sports 4 from 3am
Saturday 2 – Sky Sports 4 from 3am
Sunday 3 – Sky Sports 4 from 3am

Player Watch:
Jason Dufner – The USPGA champion is one of the most consistent and versatile players in world golf. He has top-10 finishes in five of his last nine starts. He was also tied second in this event last year.

Francesco Molinari – A former winner of this event (back in 2010,) Molinari was tied second last week in the BMW Masters – look for him to go one better this time out.

Thongchai Jaidee – Also tied second last week, Jaidee is currently sixth on this year’s Race to Dubai. If he stays there, it will be his best ever position on the circuit. The only thing he’s missing this year is a big win. It could come this week.

Key hole: 16th. At just 288 yards, you’d think this was a great birdie chance, but going from the green from the tee is extremely risky with a ravine waiting to the right hand side of the challenging green. The best play is to lay-up and leave a sand wedge in, but the pros always find it hard to turn down the chance of an eagle putt.