The last WGC event of the season comes from Sheshan International GC in China. This has been the venue of the HSBC Champions as a WGC event since 2009, barring one season where Mission Hills took over in 2012. There's a common tee to green efficiency theme through the years here and longer hitters have the advantage at Sheshan International GC. Big names flood the betting and for me this is one of those events where there is a championship within a championship and I fully expect a marquee name to take this down.
In the last five editions at Sheshan, Martin Kaymer - 41.00 - and Francesco Molinari, along with bombers Bubba Watson - 15.00 - Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson - 15.00 - have lifted the trophy, taking advantage of the par fives and a triumvirate of short par fours in the process. Rory McIlroy - 7.00 - and Jordan Spieth - 8.50 - lead the charge this year while Rickie Fowler - 21.00 - will be looking to grab the limelight from the two men battling for the no. 1 spot in the world golf rankings. Adam Scott may emerge as the real one to beat though.
The course - Sheshan International GC
Elevated, undulating and usually firm greens with false fronts are the main feature at Sheshan International. Many are protected by deep bunkering to add to the big premium on greens in regulation here.
If we look at last year's stats, scoring was higher than usual and emphasis shifted more toward driving accuracy over distance. The semi and intermediate cuts of rough were grown thicker than normal on the par 72, 7,261 yard layout, but finding fairways is always vital regardless to be able to go pin hunting.
In 2010, Lee Westwood - 67.00 - and Francesco Molinari finished nine and 10 shots respectively ahead of the field. Both players are tee to green experts (and were flushing it that week), who generally struggle with the putter. Sheshan is built through tree-lined terrain around a quarry, and water features on a number of holes. Long par 3s are also a theme so this re-emphasises the strong iron play theme.
Three from the pack
I mentioned Adam Scott - 21.00 or 5.00 - as the potential danger man and for me he should be vying for favouritism this week on the back of a runner-up at the CIMB Classic. Scott hit every fairway in round three at Kuala Lumpur G&CC ending the tournament overall T2 in driving accuracy. One eagle and seven birdies on Sunday signed him off for a 63 and -25 total - T4 in birdies for the week. Notably, Scott was also T5 for putts per GIR with the new putting style. Adam ranked fifth in driving accuracy, driving distance and GIR here last year in the first event of his season finale, finishing 12th. He plays the home events in Australia pre Christmas and he's two weeks ahead in prep this year following his appearances in Japan (T7) and Malaysia. Scott has the perfect tee to green game for Sheshan International.
Branden Grace - 41.00 or 8.00 - is arguably the biggest value of the mainstream contenders this week. The South African has proven himself on the biggest stage now with a top 20 in the Open Championship sandwiched by top four finishes at both the US Open and PGA Championship; he had a real chance to win at Chambers Bay. Grace is a proven winner known for blitzing fields and isn't scared of big names or holding leads. He's won three times this season - Alfred Dunhill (last Dec), Dimension Data and Qatar maters. The 27-year-old looks to be just rounding into top gear with progressive T30 - T17 finishes. Grace averages over 300 yards from the markers and sits 11th in GIR% on the European Tour. He finished 39th here a few years ago but fought back from an opening 77 with three under par rounds.
There is one outsider I have my eye on this week and he's the man lighting up the Asian golf circuit in 2015. A name not unfamiliar to golf aficionados, KT Kim - 81.00 or 16.00 - has made a number of respectable appearances in the majors and now looks to be fulfilling his massive potential with no less than five wins in his last 14 events. The latest of those came at the weekend in the Mynavi ABC Championship on the Japan Tour following progressive form of 10-7-2. He took down the One Asia Thailand Open earlier in the year to kick start the amazing run of form. KT is still very much under the radar despite now being ranked no. 61 in the world but this week he has the stage to showcase his talents.