Fantasy Golf Picks, Odds, and Predictions for the WGC-HSBC Champions
2018 WGC-HSBC Champions Fantasy Preview
For what feels like the umpteenth time this year, we have a new number one player in the world.
Brooks Koepka took the spoils at the CJ Cup in South Korea, and in doing so took the top spot in the OWGR.
It was perhaps fitting that the two-time US Open champion became the ‘official’ best player in the world as the year starts to wind down; he’s not the most consistent by any means, but the 28-year-old certainly brings his best when it matters the most.
Mind you, he didn’t have things his own way on Jeju Island. Starting the final round four shots clear, most expected Koepka to stroll to a fifth PGA TOUR win – three of which are majors, don’t forget.
But a spirited effort from Gary Woodland made things interesting. He birdied six of his opening seven holes to pull level with the leader, and finished with eleven reds on his card in a sublime last ditch attempt.
Koepka held firm, however, playing the back nine at -7.
We’re into the final week of the Asian Swing, with the WGC-HSBC Champions also the last World Golf Championship event of the year. It’s a high-quality field that will tee up in Shanghai, China, in what will be the final time we’ll get to see the world’s best go to-to-toe in 2018.
It’s also worth noting that there’s an alternate event this week, the Sanderson Farms Championship, in Mississippi.
Last Event’s Fantasy Results
It was nice to grab our first win of the year with Sergio as our Top-Dog on the European TOUR. Despite the rough 2018, we opted to have him lead the way. Here’s what we had to say about Garcia going into last week:
There’s course form, and then there’s Sergio Garcia at Valderrama.
He’s a two-time winner at his spiritual golfing home, has finished second on three separate occasions and was also third here in 2016. Given the complexity of the layout, that really is no mean feat.
It just goes to show how comfy Garcia is at the course, and those feelings of bliss will be aided by the fact that his beloved wife, Angela, has also made the trip with him to the south of Spain this week. It’s no coincidence that the former Masters champion plays his best when his other half is in close proximity!
Is the Spaniard playing well enough to triumph this week? You’d certainly say so, because alongside his Ryder Cup exploits there has been a top-10 in his last European Tour start (T7 at the Portugal Masters) and a top-25 on the PGA TOUR at the Wyndham Championship, where he opened up 66-65-67.
In an event where quality is almost completely absent in the field, Garcia is as close as a no-brainer pick as you are ever likely to see in DFS circles.
We didn’t fair as well on the PGA TOUR this week in Korea as we did in Malaysia last week, so we live to see another week with some bigger name stars on a bigger stage.
The 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions Field
Koepka will look to go back-to-back in Asia, and in this no cut event with a field of roughly 80-men he will have to see off the likes of former world number one (and defending champion) Justin Rose, former world number one Dustin Johnson, former world number one Rory McIlroy….and so on.
British Open champion Francesco Molinari will rekindle his ‘Moliwood’ bromance with Tommy Fleetwood, while Jon Rahm, Paul Casey, Alex Noren, Ian Poulter, Tyrrell Hatton and Thorbjorn Olesen complete the Ryder Cup contingent from Europe.
The stars & stripes are represented by Patrick Reed and Tony Finau, while the stars of the sub-continent include Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day and Cameron Smith.
Dustin Johnson of the United States plays his shot from the third tee during the second round of the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club on September 21, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
This Week’s Course Preview
Set in the shadows of the Sheshan mountain, the West course at Sheshan International remains one of China’s most exclusive golfing properties.
Designed by Nelson & Haworth, who were also responsible for TPC Kuala Lumpar, which hosted the CIMB Classic a couple of weeks ago.
Weighing in at 7,261 yards for its Par 72, this is a gently undulating parklands layout with tree-lined, average width Seashore Paspalum fairways and raised Bentgrass greens.
Water is in play on eleven holes, but really there is very little for players to worry about when the wind doesn’t blow. Russell Knox (-20) and Hideki Matsuyama (-23) both won in serene fashion here in 2015 and ’16, and while Rose’s winning mark of -14 was less impressive, the reality is that this is a fairly forgiving track.
They tried to make it more difficult in 2014 by adding new bunkers, re-shaping fairways and greens and adding length, in places, but as many architects have found simply adding yardage does not really add to the complexity.
There are four scoreable Par 5s, as well as the driveable Par 4 sixteenth. There are four Par 3s as well, and a trio of those are 190 yards or longer.
Justin Rose of England celebrates on the 18th green during the final round of the WGC – HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club on October 29, 2017 in Shanghai, China. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Weather Forecast for Shanghai, China
There’s a typically autumnal feel to the weather in Shanghai at the moment.
Switching from rain to cool, sunny days, the temperatures aren’t getting very high at the moment in this part of china!
There’s some rain around early in the week which will clear on Tuesday and Wednesday, before returning late on Thursday and hanging around overnight and into Friday.
That clears in time for a sunny and steady weekend, although keep an eye out for those wind speeds: they could peak at 18 mph on Friday.
Last Year’s Results from the WGC-HSBC Champions
It’s a long time ago now, but you suspect Dustin Johnson remembers last year’s WGC-HSBC Champions vividly.
After playing some sublime golf during the opening 54 holes, DJ opened up a commanding six-shot lead, and at that point it just seemed a formality that he will add another trophy to his collection.
But then….well, it all went wrong.
He bogeyed the opening two holes on Sunday, and then as if to compound the misery went on a nine-hole run of making par.
Johnson played the back nine in +3, and his title dreams were over.
Others jockeyed for position, including Koepka and Henrik Stenson, but in the end it was Justin Rose who finished the strongest. The Englishman went through the back nine in -5 to claim what was, at the time, his eighth PGA TOUR win.
Stenson, Koepka and DJ were tied at T2 two shots behind, while the trio of Kyle Stanley, Peter Uihlein and Rafa Cabrera-Bello were six back at T5.
Where to Play Fantasy Golf for the WGC-HSBC Champions this Week
This is the third and final no-cut, shortened field events in Asia, and so next week it’s back to usual as far as DFS is concerned. Let’s make sure we’ve got a nice bankroll to take with us!
- PGA $5k Caddie: The annoying thing about no cut DFS is that the skill element is diminished somewhat; there’s no leverage to be gained by getting six guys through to the weekend. So we have to maximize our edge in other ways….single entry contests like this are a good place to start!
- PGA $555 Signature Hole Satellite: This week, let’s try something a little bit different. If you’ve built up a war chest of $70 or more, why not enter this nine-team contest. The prize is a ticket to the $100k Signature Hole contest.
This Week’s Fantasy Notes for the WGC-HSBC Champions
Fire up a Google image search about Sheshan International, and you could be forgiven for thinking you’re looking at a lush parklands track in the US.
That perhaps explains why of the first eight players home last year, five were American and two were PGA TOUR regulars.
The myth of Asian home-field advantage is exactly that – a myth – but three players who did feature in the top-20 – Daisuke Kataoka, Hideto Tanihara and Ashun Wu – aren’t what we might expect. So, some semblance of balance in our draft is required this week.
This is one of those courses where being accurate off the tee doesn’t seem to make much difference. Rose found just 50% of fairways last year and just 58% of greens in regulation, so one angle is to scramble well with a tidy short game.
Then there’s the other take: Henrik Stenson found 77% of fairways and 78% of greens in his T2 finish.
So, there’s no obvious template for success at Sheshan, but it does appear as though length can be an advantage. There are four beatable Par 5s, of course, as well as a couple of long Par 3s that you’d rather be hitting short irons into than long.
And then the rest of the factors we can file under ‘the obvious’. You’re not going to beat a quality field like this unless you putt well on Bentgrass greens, and some history of winning big tournaments helps: the last five winners here are Rose, Matsuyama, Knox (an anomaly, arguably), Bubba and DJ, while the other WGC winners this year have been Bubba, Phil Mickelson and Justin Thomas.
It’s a week where we expect the cream to rise to the top!
Our Top 5 (and Top 2 Sleeper) Fantasy Picks and Odds to Win the WGC-HSBC Champions
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Fantasy Golf Predictions This Season (2018-2019)
Total Top 3s
Total Top 10s
Total Top 25s
Total Winners Picked
Total Runners-Up Picked
Total Made Cuts (Includes Sleepers)
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