There's a strong but small field assembled in China where the BB golf team will be playing the following five players in search of winnings...
"A stiff breeze is set to blow across the course all week but the Inverness-born Knox thrives in those conditions, as evidenced by numerous high finishes in wind-affected Florida events."
*Each-Way 1/4 odds, 5 places
There can now be little doubt that Thomas Pieters is heading right to the top and it's only a matter of time before he dramatically improves his world ranking of 41st. Pieters has previously spoken of his desire to test his game against the best the PGA Tour has to offer and this week he gets that chance, in just his third WGC start. He was 23rd on his debut in this event last year and given his recent performance on arguably the toughest stage of all at the Ryder Cup, I think 50/1 is more than fair this week. The Belgian has never been short on self-confidence but those levels must be at an all-time high right now. A WGC event that takes the PGA Tour players out of their comfort zone (in China), is the perfect opportunity for Pieters to take his game to the next level.
Coming in off the back of a great run in Europe, Alexander Levy looks a cracking each-way bet. Granted this is a higher level than the European Open he won and on a different continent, but the Frenchman has pedigree in both respects. Levy's form in China is outstanding, yielding a win at the 2014 China Open and nearly another in the same season's BMW Masters - which was of a similar grade to this. He is also my sole pick for this week's Find Me a 100 Winner column.
A victory at this event kickstarted a fantastic season for Russell Knox that yielded another win and two runner-up finishes on the PGA Tour and I'm surprised he isn't further up the betting. I'll happily take the 40/1 on the defending champion in a small field with conditions set to suit. There's no one strength that players need to conquer Sheshan International and Knox's strong all-round game - which we know is in decent nick thanks to last week's 10th place finish at the CIMB Classic - should ensure he goes close. A stiff breeze is set to blow across the course all week but the Inverness-born Knox thrives in those conditions, as evidenced by numerous high finishes in wind-affected Florida events.
I'm going to take a chance that Ross Fisher's poor performance in the British Masters a fortnight ago was merely a blip and not a sign his good run has petered out. Although entered for last week's Portugal Masters, his name was missing from the list as early as Monday and I suspect that was so he could rest and recuperate for this much bigger tournament. Prior to his lacklustre effort at The Grove, Fisher had finished second at the European Open and at the Alfred Dunhill Links and he's twice come close to glory here too. He was beaten in a playoff by Phil Mickelson in 2007 and he was tied for the lead last year at the turn on Sunday before eventually finishing third. His form figures coming into the tournament 12 months ago read MC-MC-MC-5-MC-MC-MC-68 so given how much better he's playing this time around, the industry-wide best price of 66/1 makes plenty of appeal.
Assuming Henrik Stenson has fully recovered from the knee injury that hindered his progress in the final few Fedex Cup events (he's since played in the Ryder Cup and had three weeks off) then it's impossible not see him go well in China this week. His Open Championship performance - the best I've seen by any golfer for a long time - is still very fresh in the memory and it came in the middle of a golden run of form that also saw him win the BMW International Open, finish seventh in another major, and win a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. The popular Swede has form in China too, not least when winning the World Cup of Golf in 2008 and when finishing top five in the 2014 China Open, and just 12 months ago he finished in a tie for 11th in this very tournament. If he's in similar form to what he was two months ago then Stenson looks sure to improve on last year's finish and challenge for the title come the weekend.
2016 Season P/L to date: + £57.58
- British Masters, Graeme McDowell @ 33/1 - PLACE (Joe)
- European Open, Bernd Wiesberger @ 14/1 - PLACE (Steve)
- European Masters, Andrew Johnston @ 40/1 - PLACE (Steve)
- Made In Denmark, David Lipsky @ 55/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- The Open, Sergio Garcia @ 25/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- Scottish Open, Nicolas Colsaerts @ 40/1 - PLACE (Luke)
- Open de France, Thongchai Jaidee @ 60/1 - WIN (Joe)
- BMW International Open, Kiradech Aphibarnrat @ 80/1 - PLACE (Joe)
- US Open, Branden Grace @ 50/1 - PLACE (Mike)
- Nordea Masters, Nicolas Colsaerts @ 33/1 - PLACE (Dan T)
- BMW PGA Championship, Thomas Aiken @ 100/1 - PLACE (Dan G)
- Mauritius Open, Jeunghun Wang @ 16/1 - WIN (Dan G)
- Mauritius Open, Nicolas Colsaerts @ 28/1 - PLACE (Joe)
- Shenzhen International, Scott Hend @ 50/1 - PLACE (Joe)
- True Thailand Classic, Scott Hend @ 40/1 - WIN (Dan T)
- True Thailand Classic, Thomas Pieters @ 22/1 - PLACE (Dan G)
- WGC Cadillac Championship, Danny Willett @ 66/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- Perth International, Peter Uihlein @ 33/1 - PLACE (Steve)
- Tshwane Open, Dean Burmester @ 28/1 - PLACE (Paul)
- Dubai Desert Classic, Andy Sullivan @ 33/1 - PLACE (Mike)
- Abu Dhabi Championship, Thomas Pieters @ 50/1 - PLACE (Steve)
- Abu Dhabi Championship, Joost Luiten @ 66/1 - PLACE (Joe)
- South African Open, Christiaan Bezuidenhout @ 250/1 - PLACE (Dan G)
- Alfred Dunhill Championship, Joost Luiten @ 40/1 - PLACE (Joe)
* Total P/L for 2015 Season: +£958.37
* Total P/L for 2014 Season: +£251.75