A stellar field has assembled in Shanghai, China this week for the WGC-HSBC Champions. Eight of the world’s top 10, including new world number one Lee Westwood, will tee it up at Sheshan International Golf Club.
Westwood is joined on the start sheet by all four of this year’s Major Champions as well as the man he deposed as world number one, Tiger Woods. The 10 leading players in the 2010 Race to Dubai will all play at Sheshan.
The HSBC Champions began life in 2005 as a regular European Tour event but, last year, it was elevated to World Golf Championship status. As a result the event now attracts an exceptionally strong field – 33 of the top-50 players in the world will contest the title this week.
The tournament is open to winners of selected tournaments in 2010 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.
Last year Phil Mickelson held on to take the title by a single stroke from a charging Ernie Els. The South African fired a closing 63 but was left to rue a closing bogey after he found the water in front of the 18th green. Mickelson found the rough twice on his closing hole but managed to scramble a par to take the victory.
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. The greens are likely to be fast – measuring up to 12 on the Stimp-meter. Severe sloping will make putting extremely testing.
Venue: Sheshan International Golf Club, Shanghai, China
Date: Nov 4-7
Course stats: par 72, 7,143 yards
Purse: $7,000,000 Winner: $1,200,000
Defending Champion: Phil Mickelson (-17)
Thursday 4 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 4am
Friday 5 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 4am
Saturday 6 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 3am
Sunday 7 – Live on Sky Sports 3 from 3am
Graeme McDowell – The Northern Irishman won last week at Valderrama – his third European Tour event victory in 2010. He’s moved into the top-10 on the Official World Golf Ranking and will be looking to continue his upward progress with a good result here.
Robert Allenby – The consistent Australian was tied fifth last week in the CIMB Asia Pacific Classic in Malaysia. If he can find his putting touch, he’s likely to be a contender this week.
Martin Kaymer – He failed in his bid to take the World Number 1 ranking last week but he could make it to the top spot if the results pan out in his favour this week. He’s a powerful ball-striker and this course should suit his game. He was tied sixth in last year’s tournament
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: Long driving. In last year’s tournament, six of the top nine finishers were ranked inside the top-10 for driving distance. So it’s a course that suits the power hitters. But, with super-fast greens, a good touch will also be essential for success.