The final World Golf Championships event takes place this week, with a strong field contesting the HSBC Champions at Sheshan International, writes Phil Casey.
Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama is back to defend the title he won in impressive fashion last year, the first of three straight victories and one of the four in five starts which confirmed his arrival as one of the game’s global superstars.
And the good news for fans of the unassuming world number four is that he looks to be rounding into form just in time after a relatively poor end to the PGA Tour season.
Matsuyama’s best finish in the FedEx Cup play-offs was a tie for 23rd and he won just one and a half points from four matches in the Presidents Cup, although that did include a singles victory over Justin Thomas.
The 25-year-old bounced back with a tie for fifth in the CIMB Classic a fortnight ago, obliged for us by defending his title in Phoenix earlier this year and is the first of our HSBC Champions betting tips at 10/1.
Big-hitting Rahm has course to suit
With the cream usually rising to the top in this tournament, we’re not going to stray too far from the head of the market for our next selection, with Jon Rahm available at 16/1.
Rahm is making his first appearance in the event but that is hopefully not too much of a negative given that Dustin Johnson (2013) and Russell Knox (2015) won on debut.
And the venue will certainly suit the big-hitting Spaniard more than Valderrama did last week, where he missed a first halfway cut since June on the notoriously difficult former Ryder Cup course.
Before then, the world number five had finished in the top seven in all four FedEx Cup play-off events and was 15th in the Italian Open.
Our final two selections offer more generous odds, with Sweden’s Alex Noren available at 50/1 and Bill Haas at 66/1.
Noren’s form has been somewhat patchy since his brilliant victory in the BMW PGA Championship, although he was sixth in both the Open and in defence of the European Masters in Switzerland.
A tie for 10th at Sheshan last year suggests the course is to his liking and as his closing 62 at Wentworth proved, he is more than capable of the low scores which will likely be required to win.
Haas was fourth here last year and 17th on his last start in the Safeway Open after being let down by a poor final round of 75.
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Best bets for the HSBC Champions