WGC-HSBC Champions 2018 Betting Tips, Odds & Analysis
- Back Ian Poulter To Win at 66/1 with Unibet
- Bet Alex Levy To Finish Top 10 at 12/1 with Ladbrokes
- Bet Hao Tong Li at 11/1 in Coral's Top Rest of the World Market
The final World Golf Championship event of the season, and one which many of the planet's finest golfers find excuses to miss. That's unfortunate, but the field is still strong, including the new world number one Brooks Koepka, defending champion Justin Rose, former winner Dustin Johnson and also Rory McIlroy.
It's also true that the tournament has witnessed high drama in recent years, not least 12 months ago when Rose dismantled Johnson's apparently impregnable six-shot final round back nine lead.
Europeans have a strong record in the event since it joined the WGC stable with five victories in nine runnings (eight of them on this week's host course Sheshan International GC in Shanghai) and eight of the nine winners were also classy enough to have played Ryder or Presidents Cup golf.
The Fall Factor
Ian Poulter will be stung by his final round performance last week. Admittedly he was four shots back of Brooks Koepka heading into the final round, but he was also tied second and eyeing another win. Alas he could only manage a 71 and slipped back into tenth.
But sometimes getting close and failing is not the burden some imagine it to be. Instead it lights a fire in the belly and if the golfer can immediately get back into contention, they'll have been given the perfect primer on how to get the job done properly.
In the Englishman's case there are extra reasons to be hopeful that the form run can not only continue, but actually improve. The first is his tournament and course record: he won the event at Mission Hills in 2012, was runner-up at this week's venue in 2013 and second at halfway in 2014 ahead of finishing sixth.
Even more persuasive is the 42-year-old's remarkable record in the final three months of the year. From January to September he has won eight times in 439 starts on all tours; from October to December he has another eight wins in just 85 starts.
His top five finishing rate climbs from 10% in the first nine months of the year to 26%, and his top ten rate from 20% to 38%. Unibet make him a 66/1 shot in the outright market and it looks too big.
It's possible that 23-year-old Hao Tong Li could prompt a real upsurge in the popularity of golf in China because he's not only a fine player, he also possesses a winning personality and a flair for the big stage.
He proved as much when thrashing a final round 63 in the 2017 Open Championship, good enough for solo third on his debut in the event (and in just his second major start). He backed it up when he went head-to-head with Rory McIlroy in this year's Dubai Desert Classic and snatched the win.
We'd seen a hint of his potential back in 2015 when he shot 66-69-66 to lie just one back of the 54-hole lead in this event before eventually finishing tied seventh. He's also in the process of emerging from a summer form slump. He gave early notice of that when lying in the top five at halfway in both the KLM Open and Portugal Masters.
He confirmed it when fifth in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship and ninth in the British Masters. Back on very familiar ground, he makes a really interesting prospect in the Top Rest of the World market and Coral's 11/1 is tempting.
China in his hands
The pressure of being the Frenchman-most-likely-to-play-in-the-Ryder-Cup slowly suffocated the golf of Alex Levy through the middle months of 2018. When he followed three top sevens in the Middle East with victory in the Trophee Hassan II, there was brief hope he could make it to Paris, but even during the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth he looked drained by the constant questions and in the end his summer form disintegrated.
However an opening round of 68 in the British Masters at Walton Heath last time out was good enough for a share of the early lead and it might be worth taking the hint because few golfers boast a record in China quite as formidable as his.
He's a two-time winner of the China Open, but above and beyond that he has 11 top 30 finishes in just 14 starts in the country. Eight of them were top 20s and six top tens. He has made three starts on the course with a best of T14 in 2014 and is on record as preferring target/resort golf, which is exactly what modern venues offer in this part of the world. Ladbrokes make him 12/1 to tick yet another Chinese top ten.
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