A superb field including Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson travels to Shanghai in China this week to contest the WGC-HSBC Champions at the Sheshan International Golf Club.
This is the first time the HSBC Champions has been played as a WGC event and the increased status and prize money has attracted seven of the World’s top-10 players and 14 of the top 15 in the Race to Dubai to compete.
Woods has an amazing record in the WGC events. Since claiming his first title at the NEC Invitational at Firestone in 1999, he’s won 15 more. He’s competed in the HSBC Champions twice before (05 and 06) and is looking forward to making a return to the tournament. “It’s an event that symbolises the amazing progress of golf in Asia,” he said.
As further evidence of Asian golfing progress, Yong-Eun Yang the 2007 HSBC Champions winner and 2009 USPGA champion will be in the field. “Winning this tournament in 2007 set the foundation for bigger things to come,” he said.
The HSBC Champions is open to winners of selected tournaments in 2009 from the PGA, European, Asian, Japan, Sunshine and Australasian Tours plus players who have been close to the top of their respective rankings and have not otherwise qualified.
Designed by Nelson & Haworth, the course at Sheshan International makes use of the natural terrain as it winds through valleys and across a deep rock quarry that comes into play on the 16th and 17th holes.
Last season Sergio Garcia took the title after a playoff against Oliver Wilson. Currently ninth on the Race to Dubai, the Spaniard will be hoping for success here. If he were to successfully defend it would be the first time he’s achieved that feat during his professional career.
Venue: Sheshan International GC, Shanghai, China
Date: Nov 5-8
Course stats: par 72, 7,199 yards
Defending Champion: Sergio Garcia (-14)
Thursday 5 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 4am
Friday 6 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 4am
Saturday 7 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 3am
Sunday 8 – Live on Sky Sports 1 from 3am
Tiger Woods – He’s failed to win this event in his last two attempts and he’ll look to make it third time lucky this time round. Now the competition has been elevated to one of the WGC tournaments, he’ll be aiming to keep up his impressive record in the series.
Oliver Wilson – He played well at Finca Cortesin last week and narrowly lost out in a playoff here last season. It’s about time he took a tournament victory.
Simon Dyson – In the early part of his career he built up something of a reputation as a specialist when the European Tour visited Asia. He’s moved his career to the next level in 2009.
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.
Skills required: Putting. The greens at Sheshan are always in immaculate condition and can be extremely quick. Some testing slopes led Vijay Singh to compare the surfaces here to Augusta.