With the top of the market resembling a major, the WGC HSBC Champions can hardly be described as fertile outsider-hunting territory. Russell Knox did produce a shock two years ago but, as Steve Rawlings explains in his comprehensive preview, that result was out of the ordinary at a venue where the cream invariably rises to the top.
As in the majors, it will be hard to get win-only trades on outsiders matched at low odds. On the flipside, there are only 78 players in the field, 16 of whom appear to be no-hopers, trading at the maximum exchange odds of 1000.0. The places are therefore more accessible than in most other elite events. Each-way, for my money, is a better way forward.
Sheshan should be a nice fit for consistent Sullivan
Back Andy Sullivan 1u each-way @ 125/1
Andy Sullivan is a perfect case in point. It is a really big ask for him to win in this grade, three years since his last victory, but his chance of challenging for a place is high. Take out a spell of three straight missed cuts in the summer, that included two majors, and he hasn't missed another in over a year. He arrives off a pair of top-tens, taking his tally to eight for 2018.
Plus, he looks just the right type for Sheshan. Reliably long and straight off the tee, Sullivan's birdie and par-five averages are elite standard and he's good in the wind. Failure on his sole previous visit is forgivable, because it came directly after another poor result, perhaps a reaction to winning before that.
Fox capable of stepping up in grade
Back Ryan Fox 1u each-way @ 160.0159/1 (1/5 odds, five places)
Similarly, it would be hard to make a confident case for Fox winning a WGC event when he hasn't done so on a main tour yet. He does, however, have the ability and more pertinently, the power to contend at this level and course. As Steve points out, power offers a big advantage at Sheshan and Fox is one of the longest hitters in the world, usually backing it up with smart iron play, hitting over 72% of greens in regulation over the past year.
Ryan is a player who has underperformed my expectations but he's contended several times in strong events since breezing through the Challenge Tour and, at 31, could just be a late developer by modern standards. He made the cut in the last four majors, which is usually a good sign.
Poston's putting skills bode well for the Sandersons
I should really delegate this week's column to Dave Tindall so he could focus entirely on the Sandersons Farm Championship. Incredibly, Dave has picked the last two winners there at odds of 100.099/1 or more!
Sadly I can't copy him either because his three picks are just below our price range, as annoyingly is Sam Burns at 95.094/1. His form on both the Web.com and during the Florida swing was really eyecatching and he finished sixth when putting on these particular variety of Bermuda greens at the 2017 Barbasol.
Back J.T. Poston 2u @ 130.0129/1
Place order to lay 20u @ 10.09/1
The Barbasol might be a useful guide, as the field is a similar standard and between 2015 and 2017 the greens used were the same strand of Bermuda grass. Poston produced his best of the season at the latest renewal, albeit at a different venue, but previously proved his worth on similar surfaces when finishing 18th at Southwind.
Statistically, Poston has a decent case in this company, ranking ninth for putting average and 20th for greens in regulation over the past 12 months. A birdie average of 3.8 per round is superior to numerous world-class types and bodes very well for what is always a low-scoring contest.
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