The World Golf Championship's final event of the year, the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament, is fast approaching. It's set to be a gripping competition, with a number of well-established and up-and-coming players taking to the greens (and online bookies taking to the golf markets) for a shot (under par, of course) at the title of Champion.
Now in its 9th year, the tournament is very attractive for the pros. Prize money is high, and the winners can gain Official World Golf Ranking Points for a win – an amount second only to one of the major championships. That means there's a lot to play for, which means players will be bringing their A game!
Long-time golf fans will already be familiar with Sheshan Golf Course, where the tournament has been held since 2005 – although the HSBC Champions only officially became part of the WGC in 2009. Despite its location, the course design is heavily influenced by Tuscan architecture, and also features 1,000-year-old Gingko trees.
It's not just the sights that make this course so special, however – it's the challenge. There are a few tricky pars, and the water hazards add an extra complication. The placement of bunkers and overall hole layout gives golfers plenty of strategy to consider. The par four green, for example, is reachable from the tee, but it's a big gamble for long hitters – miss and the ball will end up in the surrounding hazards.
There's a great lineup in this year's competition, as you might expect. Given the wide range of odds on offer for a golfing tournament, knowing as much as you can about players and their preferences, strengths and weaknesses gives you much more to work with when the odds go live. Here's a selection of some of the hot players to watch:
Dustin Johnson: The current world number one, as of this year. Dustin Johnson has already reached the vaunted heights of Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus, in that he's one of the few players to reach a title in their first ten seasons. He always tends to finish at least one stroke under par, and is a solid choice for top US player, as well as outright winner. He's won four WGC championships in the course of his career.
Hideki Matsuyama: Having won the PGA Tour five times, and the Japan Golf Tour eight times, Hideki Matsuyama is likely to be a bookies’ favourite for this event. He's the current champion of this very tournament, and ranked number two in the world. It's worth noting his last win on this course had him ahead by a staggering seven strokes. There's a very good chance he'll repeat that performance this year, given his impressive 2017 record so far.
There are a number of other great players to keep an eye on, especially if you're looking at placing stakes on the top ten, or top players by nationality:
Sergio Garcia: A solid player with over 31 international professional wins, Sergio Garcia also won the HSBC championship in 2008, before it became a WGC event. He's good with irons and an accurate swinger, which given the treacherous nature of this course is certain to give him an edge.
Justin Thomas: Although he's still a relative newcomer to the pro scene, Justin Thomas has already made some serious waves. He's on a roll this year too, so far winning the PGA Championship and FedEx Cup. He's generally strong at keeping under par.
Jordan Spieth: Another strong U.S contender, and former world number one. He won the 2017 Open. He's a talented and capable player, but his performance can be erratic – when he shines he's absolutely legendary, however it's hard to predict his performance. This could affect his odds, potentially a high-risk, high-return choice.
Kim Si-woo: A quickly rising star, Kim Si-woo is the youngest ever player to win the Players Championship at only 21. He's also the youngest player to graduate from the PGA Tour Qualifying School. Although there's not much data to go on given he's still at the start of his career, what is there is impressive. There's every possibility he could breeze past the favourites and clinch the title.
Brooks Koepka: Despite being American, Koepka perfected his technique on the European circuit rather than the U.S one. And he’s certainly one to watch in this tournament, for one very important reason: he's beaten Matsuyama twice, once earlier this year at the U.S. Open by four strokes. While there are a lot of variables to consider, it's not impossible he could repeat that performance at Sheshan.
Outright bets have some interesting odds – Paddy Power puts Dustin Johnson at 13/2, while Matsuyama is 100/1. It could be a risky proposition going with Matsuyama on an outright bet with these odds, but potentially worth it given his past strong performance, especially on this course.
Si Woo Kim could be an interesting pick for a top five finish. Although he lacks experience, his record is stellar – something punters might be able to make a win on thanks to his 35/1 odds on Paddy Power. Johnson is a safe option for a top five finish if you're considering a lower risk stake, with odds of 7/5.
There's lots of options for big wins in the niche categories too, like the each-way market or two-ball betting. Not all the bookmakers covering the tournament will offer the more obscure markets but it's worth searching for one that does. Check out Paddy Power today for all the latest markets and odds!