PGA Preview: WGC-HSBC Champions
After playing in South Korea and Japan the last two weeks, the golfers head to China for the WGC-HSBC Champions this week (remember that lock time is Wednesday night). For the third straight week, we’ll see a no-cut format. Rory McIlroy is the only golfer with single-digit betting odds. McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele, Justin Rose, and Paul Casey are the consensus top five on DraftKings, FanDuel, and in the betting markets. DraftKings gives you $50,000 to select six golfers (average roster spot of $8,333), whereas FanDuel provides you with $60,000 to select six golfers for an average roster spot of $10,000.
- The tournament is played at the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China. This course has hosted the tournament since 2006 (with the exception of 2012). The par-72 course measures 7,261 yards.
- There are only 78 players in the field this week in this no-cut event.
- The bentgrass greens are smaller than average and are typically around 12.5 on the Stimpmeter.
- The fairways are slightly smaller than tour average and most of them are tree lined with plenty of fairway bunkers. The course is typically one of the tougher courses in Driving Accuracy.
- Rory McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, and Byeong Hun An are the only golfers coming into this event with back-to-back top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour.
- Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson are the only two golfers that have back-to-back top-five finishes at this event in the last five years. Rose has done it each of the last two years. Stenson took last year off but had back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2017 and 2016.
- The four golfers that have multiple top-10 finishes in the last five years are Matthew Fitzpatrick (2017, 2015), Patrick Reed (2018, 2015), Henrik Stenson (2017, 2016), and Justin Rose (2018, 2017).
Favorite Core Play
Ian Poulter ($7,700-DK // $9,000-FD)
He has four top-20 finishes in his last five PGA Tour events, including a T13 last week and a T16 at the CJ Cup. He is somebody who has performed well in no-cut events. At the end of the summer, he finished T31 at the BMW and eighth at the WGC-St. Jude. In the Spring, he finished T17 at the WGC-Match Play and T3 at the WGC-Mexico. He started off 2019 with an 18th-place finish at the Tournament of Champions. He has played this course three times in the last five years, and he’s finished 21st, 30th, and sixth. Overall, in the last 24 rounds played he is 11th in fantasy scoring and 20th in total strokes gained.
Favorite High-Tier Play
Rory McIlroy ($11,700 // $12,400)
He is the overwhelming favorite, but I will be playing him no matter what his ownership is. We saw this two weeks ago when JT was the overwhelming favorite and was highly owned, but you needed him to finish high in tournaments. All of the attention was on Tiger last week, but Rory quietly finished T3 for his fourth top-10 finish in his last five events. He led the field last week in Par 5 scoring. Rory struggled a little bit last year here but was fourth in 2016 and 11th in 2015.
Favorite Mid-Tier Play
Corey Conners ($8,200-DK // $9,300-FD)
He is much more expensive than we are used to seeing him, but he just finished T6 last week after finishing T12 at the CJ Cup. This now gives him three top-15 finishes in his last four no-cut events. In the last 8 rounds, he is seventh in fantasy scoring and 12th in Birdies or Better Percentage. He is one of the better ball-strikers on tour. He is in great form, and you should remember that he won last Spring at the Valero Texas Open, so he does have that kind of upside.
Favorite Low-Tier Play
J.T. Poston ($6,700-DK // $7,900-FD)
In the last 24 rounds played, he is eighth in fantasy scoring and 11th in Birdies or Better Percentage. Those are two key stats for a no-cut event. Last week he finished T27 in a similar no-cut event. He has four top-16 finishes (including a win at the Wyndham) in his last eight starts. He is a solid player that is not really a traditional punt play. I would not be surprised if he had a top-20 finish, which smashes value at this price.
Favorite Punt Play
Xinjun Zhang ($6,900-DK // $8,000-FD)
I am putting him as my punt play, even though he is more expensive than J.T. Poston. Overall, I trust Poston more to be consistent and to compete. If I need another low-priced player, I really like Zhang, but I also could see him struggling against this field and finishing in the bottom half. He does have some upside to his game after finishing last year as the Korn Ferry Tour regular-season points leader. He hasn’t played since his T4 at the Houston Open but that was the culmination of a nice three-week stretch of golf. He also finished T16 at the Shriners and T7 at the Safeway. As one of China’s most famous (or infamous golfers due to a major suspension a few years ago), he has played this event each of the last four years. His best finish was a T21 in 2016. In the last 12 rounds played, only Hideki and Rory have scored more fantasy points. He is also first in Birdie or Better Percentage and third in total strokes gained.
Jamy Bechler is a regular contributor to FantasyPros for NBA, NFL, and PGA. You can follow him on his DFS twitter @WinningDFS101. When he is not playing DFS, Jamy is an author, host of the “Success is a Choice” podcast, and a leadership consultant, working with businesses and teams across the country (including the NBA). Even though he offers his advice on players and contests, after additional information and consideration, he may end up using different players and strategies than what he recommended in this article.