The final WGC event of the year takes place at the Sheshan International Golf Club this week as a star-studded field challenge for the HSBC Champions trophy, and one of Europe’s victorious 2018 Ryder Cup members looks primed to strike.
The majority of the world’s best players will be present in China and reigning US Open and US PGA champion Brooks Koepka, who will be looking for wire-to-wire victories, is the 31/4 favourite to claim all the spoils.
Dustin Johnson, who will be aiming to reclaim his number one world ranking from his fellow American, is priced at 8/1 whilst defending champion Justin Rose is 35/4 to become the first player to defend this title.
However, there are some tempting prices when looking further down the betting and a certain European star can land his maiden World Golf Championship trophy this week.
Back Alex Noren to win @ 34/1
Noren has been making steady progress over the past three or four years and since defending his Nordea Masters title in 2015, he has ended up in the winners’ circle at least once in every year to follow.
The Swede triumphed at the Open de France back in July – coming from behind on the final day to land his 10th European Tour trophy – and a further seven top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour earned him a spot at the 2018 Ryder Cup.
He won two of his three matches at Le Golf National, including the final singles against Bryson DeChambeau, and the 36-year-old showed a real maturity as Europe romped to a 17.5-10.5 victory over the USA.
Making his first appearance of the 2018/19 PGA Tour season last week, the world number 20 finished in a tie for 18th at The CJ Cup in South Korea and his stats over the four days were extremely positive.
The Stockholm-born star, who turned professional in 2005, had a driving accuracy of 73.2percent, averaged 1.783 putts per GIR and had an 83.3 GIR percentage, which all points to a player in good form.
Noren also has previous at Sheshan International, having finished in a share of 12th in 2016, and he has the power to take advantage of the four relatively short par-five holes.
The Swede was 17th on par-five scoring average on the PGA Tour last season – averaging 4.56 – whilst he was fifth in strokes gained: putting, highlighting his all-around consistency over the course of that campaign.
Back Matt Wallace for Top-20 Finish @ 5/2
Wallace may be making his debut in the tournament but his performances this year suggest he can make a big splash in Shanghai. The Englishman landed three European Tour titles this season and only narrowly missed out on a wildcard pick for the 2018 Ryder Cup.
The 28-year-old was victorious at the Hero Indian Open, BMW International Open and Made In Denmark whilst he also recorded his best Major finish when ending up in a tie for 19th at the US PGA Championship.
Now sitting at 62nd in the world rankings, the 28-year-old has also shown he can handle courses in Asia, having finished in a share of third at the Volvo China Open earlier this year.
This week’s event will be a huge step up for Wallace but with two of his three wins this year coming via play-offs, he continues to show he can deal with the pressure and extra expectation thrown his way.
Back Thorbjorn Olesen for 1st Round Leader @ 51/1
The first-round leader market often offers great value, and it is no different for this tournament with Olesen looking a very tempting price at 51/1 to top the leaderboard after the opening 18 holes.
Denmark’s number one, who has climbed to 45th in the OWGR’s, landed his fifth European title at the Italian Open in June and his consistent performances over the season earned him an automatic spot on Europe’s 2018 Ryder Cup team.
The 28-year-old, who thumped Jordan Spieth in Sunday’s singles at Le Golf National, may have missed the cut on his last appearance at the British Masters, but that was his first outing since the Ryder Cup and his performance can be forgiven.
In terms of Olesen’s previous form at Sheshan, he carded a superb eight-under-par 64 in round one of the 2016 edition to sit just one stroke behind the early pacesetter, South African Branden Grace.
With the Danish star’s game improving greatly over the past two years, and his apparent love for this week’s course, it would be no surprise to see him put down an early marker on Thursday.
Back Hideki Matsuyama to win @ 17/1
Matsuyama stormed to the title in 2016 – winning by a massive seven shots – and he was just one birdie away from matching Dustin Johnson’s tournament-record score of -24 that was set in 2013.
The Japanese has endured a frustrating 2018, having failed to enter the winners’ circle, but he has shown signs of life in the past couple of months on the American circuit.
At the back end of last season, the 26-year-old recorded two top-five finishes – at the Dells Technologies Championship and Tour Championship – and that momentum was taken into last week’s CJ Cup.
The world number 22 ended up in a share of 18th place on Jeju Island and he will be confident of showing even more improvement when he returns to a course he has had previous success on.
Matsuyama had a GIR percentage of 75 and if he can improve on his driving accuracy, which was down at 64.3percent, then there is every chance he could be lifting the trophy for the second time.
Of a potential big outsider to land the spoils, South African Brando Stone may be worth an each-way punt at 175/1 after his impressive Scottish Open back in July.
American Chez Reavie is another that looks good value at 125/1. The 36-year-old led after round one of the CJ Cup last week before finishing the tournament in a three-way share of seventh on -11, 10 shots adrift of champion Koepka.
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