His PGA articles have been featured here on RotoCurve for the past year. Ryan is a former PGA professional, so his golf course and player insights are second to none. Ryan is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, but now resides in South Florida with his wife and son.
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This week, players travel to Shanghai, China for the WGC-HSBC Champions. This is always a fun event, and is held at a fantastic venue in Sheshan International Golf Club. It’s been the longtime host of this event, so we have plenty of course history to draw upon.
The course is a par-72 that plays just under 7,300 yards. It’s an interesting layout because it seems like the length would favor the long hitters (as do the four par-5s), but it’s very playable for everyone in the field. We’ve seen the elite bombers like DJ and Bubba Watson win here, but also players like Francesco Molinari, Russell Knox, and Paul Casey have great course histories. Ultimately, it’s a ball-striker’s paradise, and putting won’t be as much of a predictor as it is at other events.
Hitting fairways and greens is key, and that’s why two of my favorites this week are Hideki Matsuyama and Paul Casey. If you miss greens at Sheshan International, you’re likely finding a water hazard. That bodes poorly for erratic players like Brooks Koepka, who is a fade for me.
As I mentioned, this is a unique event. Like the past two weeks, it’s a no-cut, 78-man field, which is going to increase the variance. We have plenty of elite players at the top of this field, so hopefully the leaderboard will be more predictable. In these no-cut events, it’s usually optimal to go with a stars and scrubs roster construction.
The course breakdown is also going to depend heavily on the weather. In Malaysia, rain-soaked days gave the players the ability to lift-clean-and place the ball in the fairways, putting a premium on accuracy. Last week, it was the extreme winds and firm and fast conditions that kept scores on the higher side. This week, the weather is forecast to be much cooler, and that usually puts an emphasis on iron play and scrambling. The ball won’t fly as far as it does in warm conditions, so that knocks the bombers down a bit. The par-5s here play short, and three of them will be reachable for every player in the field. The par-4s are also manageable.
Now, onto my sleeper picks of the week for the WGC-HSBC Champions.
DraftKings High-End Sleepers
Hideki Matsuyama ($11,400)
Matsuyama should probably be the favorite this week. He’s the defending champion, after shooting 23-under-par last season en route to a seven-shot victory. Matsuyama had a poor FedEx Cup playoff run, especially on the greens, but seems to have sorted out those issues. He posted a top-5 in Malaysia in his last start, which included a 63 on Saturday. This course was designed by the same architect who built TPC Kuala Lumpur, so there’s a strong connection there. He is a rock star every time the Tour stops in Asia, so he should be extremely motivated to defend his title.