WGC-HSBC Champions: Finau best of the rest

Tony Finau
Tony Finau can have another big week in China

We're off to China for the final WGC event of the season and Dave Tindall has three picks for the action in Sheshan...

"It's common knowledge that he has a frustrating habit of finding one or a few too good each week and had we played him in this market last year we'd have been celebrating a winner as he lost to Schauffele in a play-off."

Tony Finau (W/O Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele) each-way @ 16/1

Main Bet: Tony Finau (W/O Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele) each-way @ 16/1

It isn't always the case, but I fully, fully (that's two fullys) respect the front end of the market this week.

Rory McIlroy outscored ZOZO winner Tiger Woods by two shots over the final 54 holes in Japan last week and has a bunch of top six finishes at this week's venue, Sheshan International GC.

With four par fives and a couple of short par fours, it's right up his street and a first HSBC win for the Northern Irishman would come as no surprise. He's 11/2.

Hideki Matsuyama has fired a few blanks here but the year he arrived in hot form, the Japanese star won by seven.

Hot is his status right now after third place at the CJ Cup followed by second place to Tiger (three ahead of the duo in third) at his home ZOZO Championship.

He's putting well and wins usually follow from there. I have to say I'm tempted by the 11/1.

The other pair in the front four in the betting are the last two winners of this tournament - Xander Schauffele and Justin Rose. Again, maximum respect is given at 14 and 16s.

With serious threats from all four, I'm happy to take them out of the equation and play this week's 'without McIlroy, Matsuyama, Rose and Schauffele' market.

This looks the best way to get Tony Finau confidently into the staking plan without having to resort to crossed fingers and a few prayers.

It's common knowledge that he has a frustrating habit of finding one or a few too good each week and had we played him in this market last year we'd have been celebrating a winner as he lost to Schauffele in a play-off.

Finau's second place followed T11 on debut in 2017 so he clearly enjoys this course and follows in the tradition of big-hitting Americans who have thrived and won on the par 72.

He's been active of late, playing on the European Tour at Wentworth and the Alfred Dunhill Links as well as the Shriners in Vegas and the ZOZO Championship in Japan.

Finau secured top 10s at two of those - Alfred Dunhill and Shriners - so I'm happy to ignore his modest week in Japan on a course that didn't suit (even then, he shot a pair of middle 69s).

So, Finau at 22/1 to beat the whole field or 16/1 (five each-way places) with the four market leaders taken out. I know which I prefer.

Plus, if he does lift the trophy, you're hardly beating yourself up too much that you only took 16s in the 'without' market rather than the full 22s.

Next Best: Sergio Garcia (W/O Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele) each-way @ 40/1

In the same market, I'm going to play Sergio Garcia at an appealing 40/1.

It's a little tricky to assess where he's at right now as his last four starts show a win at the KLM Open, T7 at the Open de Espana, T60 in the CJ Cup and T33 in the ZOZO Championship.

A fairly obvious conclusion is that he's happy showing his class in modest European Tour events but not getting it done in elite fields.

He'll need to snap that pattern to be competitive here but there could be some encouraging signs.

While the Spaniard hasn't been a factor in Asia for the last two weeks, it's typically a place where he's thrived and his final two rounds of 67 and 69 in Japan were decent.

Garcia improved his greens in regulation number each today (14 in R4) and finished the week ranked T9 for Putts Per GIR.

Now he gets another crack at a course where he won in 2008. Since then, the 2017 US Masters winner has added fourth, 11th and 9th, the latter coming on his most recent visit in 2016.

Again, his game may not be quite sharp enough to get the win but he could still finish solo ninth and we'd get a full each-way return at 40s and that seems achievable.

Final Bet: Kurt Kitayama (W/O Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele) each-way @ 85/1

First, a reminder that past winners here include Phil Mickelson (twice) and Bubba Watson.

With that in mind, and it can be backed up with plenty of other examples from those who finished in the places, it's clear that any big-hitting American is worth a look.

So, even though he plies his trade on the European Tour, why not Kurt Kitayama at 85/1 (again, with McIlroy, Matsuyama, Schauffele and Rose taken out)?

The American is sixth in Driving Distance (311.56 yards) this year and 17th for Strokes Gained: Off The Tee.

Those talents have helped him to two victories and, following a mid-season dip, he's bounced back with solo third place at the Italian Open followed by fourth in the Open de France.

He's ranked seventh and fifth for GIR respectively in those two events and scrambled superbly in both.

With all that on his CV and his ranking of 12th on the Race to Dubai, he needs to be given a little more respect and 85/1 without the top four looks dismissive.

It's actually one of those curiosities where he's a shorter price (80/1) in the outright market although the extra place terms partly (though not fully!) explain it.

This is his first start at the course and it's obviously a step up in class but he's played plenty of golf in China and he has a habit of surprising us.

Others I considered this week were Francesco Molinari, Shane Lowry and Keegan Bradley but I'm happy to take Finau, Garcia and Kitayama into battle in this alternative market and not stress if Rory wins by six.

Dave's 2019/20 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 ew per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £210
Returned: £97.60
P/L: -£112.40

2018/2019 P/L: -£338.25
2017/2018 P/L: +£362.84
2016/2017 P/L: +£1179.89

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