2018 WGC-HSBC Champions picks, predictions odds: Ranking the field at Sheshan Golf Club
You know a tournament is good if five of the top-nine golfers are in the field
The last tournament of 2018 with elite-level talent takes place this week in Shanghai as we get Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose at the WGC-HSBC Champions. There will be loads of cash handed out, some super awkward pre-tournament photo ops and (probably) some awesome golf.
Let's take a look at this week's contest.
What: WGC-HSBC Champions | When: October 24-28
Where: Sheshan Golf Club -- Shanghai, China
Ranking the field (odds)
- Justin Rose (8-1): Rose won here last season, and all the evidence we have of his play over the past few months is that he's either the best player in the world or in the top three. An easy No. 1 spot.
- Dustin Johnson (8-1): D.J. won here in 2013, and should have won last year before firing an inexplicable 77 in the final round.
- Brooks Koepka (9-1): The new world No. 1 also finished second here last year. Trending in two different arenas.
- Tommy Fleetwood (18-1): He's Rose lite for me right now. Finished in the top 20 last year, and has remained on fire since the Ryder Cup a few weeks ago.
- Jason Day (16-1): More converging trends. Top five last week after a 67 in the final round, and he finished T11 at this tournament last season.
- Rory McIlroy (10-1): I'm not in love with him here, but the talent demands that I stick him this high. He finished top five here when Hideki Matsuyama galloped back in 2016.
- Hideki Matsuyama (18-1): Speaking of Matsuyama, he seems to be finding his game once again. After a mostly shaky 2018 in which he battled injuries, he's rebounded to finish in the top 20 in each of his last six starts. Won here in 2016.
- Paul Casey (25-1): He's sort of like the guy who follows him in that I'm not sure I'm getting a win out of you, but I'm pretty sure I'm getting a terrific performance. Grabbed a T11 at this event last season.
- Rafa Cabrera Bello (40-1): Come at me! Cabrera Bello finished top five last week and top five at this tournament last year. He might not win very much, but he's consistently competitive.
- Ian Poulter (55-1): He's won here before -- maybe the biggest stroke play event victory of his career -- and he contended at the CJ Cup until the final day when he slid a little to a T10 finish.
Field strength -- A: It's a really good field that only lacks Tiger Woods, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler in terms of global star power. I'm excited for some late night -- or early, early morning -- golf!
Three stories to watch
1. Brooks as No. 1: Right after he won the CJ Cup last week, Koepka was already talking about holding onto his No. 1 ranking and how important this week is in terms of going into the offseason (if you can call it that) on a high note.
"I've got next week, and ... coming out the first week as No. 1, I'd like to really play well," said Koepka. "Really kind of focus in and make sure my game is in a good place so this offseason I can really get to it and be prepared and stay healthy."
2. No Henrik? This week's tournament is actually somewhat notable for who's not in attendance. After finishing second in the last two WGC-HSBC Champions events, Henrik Stenson will miss this one after having surgery on his elbow. At least there's no chance of injuring himself in those absurd pre-event photo shoots this time around.
3. Euro reunion: Of the winning 2018 European Ryder Cup team, 10 of the 12 golfers will play this week (only Stenson and Sergio Garcia are not in the field). That will be fun for a number of reasons, mostly because eight of them are among the top 14 favorites. Also because we might get a Fleetwood-Francesco Molinari redux in Shanghai, which I'm not sure anyone (least of all Tiger Woods) is ready for.
- 2017: Justin Rose
- 2016: Hideki Matsuyama
- 2015: Russell Knox
- 2014: Bubba Watson
- 2013: Dustin Johnson
So who will win the 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions, and what massive long shot can stun the golfing world? Visit SportsLine now to find out and see the full projected leaderboard from the model that's nailed four of the last six majors heading into the weekend.
WGC-HSBC Champions picks
|Winner: The year of Fleetwood continues in China as he bookends his Abu Dhabi win to start the calendar with a China win to end it (yes, I know he still has the Race to Dubai left to play). Odds: 18-1 |
|Top 10: Top eight in his last four events, and top 10 in nine of his last 11. The easiest pick on the board. Odds: 8-1 |
Hao Tong Li
|Sleeper: My dude! Li took down Rory McIlroy at the Dubai Desert Classic at the start of 2018, and he played well at this tournament a few years ago when he finished T7 behind Knox. Top 10 in his last two starts. I need it! Odds: 75-1 |
McIlroy has never played here before, but Woods has and has won (a lot)
Are you strapped in for the next eight months? It's almost time to rock
SportsLine simulated the Desert Classic 10,000 times and came up with some surprises
Woods is joined by Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and others
SportsLine simulated the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship 10,000 times and came up with some su...
The PGA Tour heads back for the continental U.S. this week for a lengthy west coast swing