It was a very nice week for us last week with three of our picks across the two tours bringing full each-way returns.
So with our spirits high we move on this week to China as the PGA Tour and the European Tour converge for the final WGC of the calendar year, the WGC HSBC-Champions event.
As well as offering an opportunity to bag a prestigious trophy the event holds a different meaning for the players on display from the two tours.
For the European tour players in action, there are valuable Race to Dubai points on offer, while for many of the PGA Tour stars and international players it is a final opportunity to impress their respective Presidents Cup Captains for a wildcard pick.
The course, which will see the drama unfold and, which has hosted this event for every year bar one since 2005, is the Sheshan International GC, situated about 25 miles west of Shanghai.
A par 72 track measuring 7266yds, if you find fairways and greens here there are plenty of birdie opportunities and as we have seen over the years all four par 5s are there for the taking.
Once again we have a limited field in play with 78 players competing who will play all four rounds, and the player who sits clearly at the top of the market is Rory McIlroy.
Arriving here on the back of a fast-finishing third place in Japan, Rory is sure to be a warm order and, at odds of 6-1, he will do for many. My concern with Rory this week though is that while he has posted several high finishes here he is yet to lift the trophy and while he will most likely be thereabouts again come Sunday it may well be that he comes up just shy again.
Of the others at the top of the market, former champion here Hideki Matsuyama, who played superbly on home soil, makes some appeal, as does defending champion Xander Schauffele who also warmed up nicely last week.
To me though, due to its timing in the calendar and the fact that several big names often choose to skip it, this has always been the WGC most likely to throw up a relative surprise and, buoyed by our e/w successes last week in Japan with Woodland and Conners, I will continue this week in the same vein and start our hunt for value further down the market with Billy Horschel (35/1).
Horschel, like Matsuyama and Schauffele, played very solidly in Japan last week finishing in sixth place to post his fifth top ten finish this calendar year. Billy is a player who history tells us is a man to follow when he ‘gets hot’ so any top ten finish from him is worth noting.
11th here last year the Florida native has been a model of consistency throughout 2019 and with a victory the only thing lacking from this years campaign he will be motivated to put that right.
Talking of motivation and one fascinating link between recent winners of this event is that nine of the past ten had not won for at least six months and in some cases not at all that year, and what that tells me is that the trophy here tends to go to a player hungry still for victory before the year ends.
Yorkshireman Fitzpatrick has posted five second-place finishes so far this year and he will be desperate to add a victory to his great efforts.
Second again in Italy a few weeks back Matt has two top-ten finishes here in four starts and he strikes me as exactly the sort of player who could step up to the next level this week.
Bradley meanwhile was sixth here last year and an eye-catching 13th last week and he is also fancied to go well.
Finally, I will round off my team by including Kurt Kitayama (80/1).
A two-time winner on the European Tour this season Kitayama’s length off the tee will allow him to eat up the par 5s and with confidence no doubt soaring on the back of two top-five finishes in his last two starts he could just spring a surprise.
WGC-HSBC Champions Best Bets
*All odds correct at time of posting