EW Terms: 1/5 Odds | 7 Places
When Francesco Molinari won the HSBC Champions in 2010, we got a window into the future. Molinari, so often let down by the flatstick, putted superbly that week to show what sort of player he might become if finding a way to back up his tee-to-green prowess. That future has turned to reality over the last few years with the Italian now an Open champion and star of the Ryder Cup and, although he's had a dip in the last six months, a return to Sheshan could spark him to life. Molinari says he always putts these greens well and he has three other top 10s in this event. There were some positive signs (T11 Royal Portrush, T14 Wentworth) before a hugely surprising missed cut in his home Italian Open but that early exit may just shock him back into action.
Take out rounds of 80 and 81 last year and Matt Fitzpatrick has a very promising record at Sheshan International. His first three appearances yielded no finish worse than 16th - impressive given the strength of this field and his relative inexperience at the time. Three times a runner-up in 2019, I get the impression that Matthew's career is moving forward and victory at this elite level would represent a serious move up the golfing hierachy. It is notable that fourth place at the St Jude was his best result yet in a World Golf Championship.
This is Justin Rose's sixth visit to the Sheshan International Golf Club and his course form figures to date read an impressive 7-5-48-1-3. His third place when defending 12 months ago was particularly impressive, given it came after a busy run that included hosting the British Masters just two weeks prior. The venue clearly suits and he's rewarded each-way backers in four of his five previous visits so in an event that tends to go to one of the market leaders, the world number eight looks a very solid proposition at 16/1 with seven places up for grabs.
For a WGC, this isn't a deep field by any means and I fancy Keegan Bradley can continue a good record at the venue to reward an each-way wager and soothe the pain of Dean Burmester's final round blowout last week. Bradley has been to the course four times, finishing sixth last year to accompany a pair of top 20s (let's forget about the 64th in 2014). The 33-year-old's strength has always been his long driving but he is accompanying that with some sweet scrambling and, surprisingly, putting. A tie for 13th last week, and an eight under par total, looks like a nice warm-up for this week's event.
Glancing down the betting market for this week's WGC event I was starting to wonder if Sergio Garcia had withdrawn given his non-appearance at the top end of the market. But there he was, priced at 50/1, with around 25 players priced-up shorter than him. I find that very surprising. True, Garcia hasn't performed brilliantly in his two recent PGA Tour events, finishing T60 and T33, but just prior to that he won the KLM Open on the European Tour and finished T7 when a lot of media attention on him at the Open de Espana. Not too shabby form at all. And his record in WGC events isn't too bad either, his last six appearances producing finishes of 7-9-39-6-5-40, while in this particular event at Sheshan he has a win to his name in 2008, while his last four appearances have produced three finishes inside the top 11. Another factor for backing Garcia is the Spaniard's superb form at this time of the year 12 months ago. The 39-year-old finished T7 at the Portugal Masters last September before going on to finish 1-2-9-6-7-3 in his next six events. All in all, I think 50/1 is a price well worth taking this week in a 78-man field with seven places on offer for each-way bettors.