Power Rankings: World Golf Championships-HSBC Championstext sizeKeegan Bradley's record in WGCs speaks for itself and he deserves strong consideration this week.October 28, 2013
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM Fantasy Columnist
For the second time in as many weeks, the PGA TOUR is hosting a no-cut event in Asia with a 78-man field on a golf course where last year's edition of the tournament wasn't contested. The World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions is slated to begin on Halloween, but there's nothing scary about Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China, site of what sets up as a pivotal juncture across multiple tours.
Back in the rotation after a one-year hiatus, Shehan International is a par 72 measuring 7,266 yards. David Howell's tournament record of 20-under 268 in the inaugural WGC-HSBC Champions in 2005 was matched by Martin Kaymer the last time it hosted in 2011. It's the kind of scoring you'd expect from a world-class field.
Now chasing their fair share of $8.5 million -- a bump from $7 million in 2012 -- golfers from around the globe will be vying for the Old Tom Morris Cup that has been in Ian Poulter's possession since his two-stroke victory at Mission Hills in Dongguan, China, 12 months ago. The tournament is sanctioned on the European and Asian Tours as well. Both are culminating their 2013 seasons while the PGA TOUR motors on early in its 2013-14 campaign.
The winner will receive 550 FedExCup points, a 10-percent bump from the usual spoil of non-majors. He'll also receive a three-year exemption on the PGA TOUR in addition to the array of invitations distributed to winners on the circuit, including the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Masters, THE PLAYERS Championship and the PGA Championship.
Sheshan International was overseeded with Rye grass for its debut as a World Golf Championship in 2009. Long hitters thrived that week, but as I'll lay out in more detail in "Stats Suggest" in The TOUR Report on Wednesday, the course has matured to serve as an all-around skills test. That said, as proven time and again, expect scores to remain low even with undulating greens. The weather won't furnish much of a challenge as winds are forecast to be moderate at worst. A small chance of rain will shadow primarily sunny skies and high temperatures in the low 70s.
Power Rankings: WGC-HSBC Champions Rank Player Comment Keegan BRADLEY Top 25s in all seven starts in stroke-play WGCs. Tied for 16th at Sheshan in 2011. Solo 10th at CIMB where he was the 36-hole leader. Francesco MOLINARI Wire-to-wire winner at Sheshan International in 2010; needed only 100 putts. Tied for second at last week's BMW Masters. Sergio GARCIA Second appearance (T23, 2009). Tied for 11th at the CIMB, his fourth consecutive top 20. Twenty-four top 25s in his last 30 starts. Justin ROSE First start since a solo sixth at the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola. Tied for seventh in only appearance at Sheshan International (2011). Martin KAYMER The 2011 champ at Sheshan also finished T6 in 2009. Comes in with 15 consecutive cuts made, the last three of which are top 15s. Ryan MOORE Playoff win at CIMB punctuates strong run that includes a T11 at the BMW Championship and a T9 at the Shriners. Solo third at 2009 WGC-HSBC. Jason DUFNER Top 10s in five of his last nine starts, all in lucrative tournaments. Includes PGA victory and T4s at Merion and Firestone. Phil MICKELSON Winner at Sheshan International in 2009. All-time earnings leader in the WGC-HSBC. Top 20s in his last two starts, including T19 at CIMB. Jimmy WALKER Unless alternate Patrick Reed gets in, Walker will be only to play first four 2013-14 events. No worse than T12 in his last four starts. Jordan SPIETH World Golf Championships debut. Hasn't played since the Presidents Cup. Ended the 2013 season with a T2 at East Lake. Graham DeLAET Making his debut in a World Golf Championship. Shared seventh place at the CIMB Classic. Eight top 25s in last 15 starts (six top 10s). Peter UIHLEIN Top sevens in four of five starts with a pair of solo seconds; T5 at the BMW Masters. First appearance in a World Golf Championship. Dustin JOHNSON Four weeks after a solo fifth at East Lake, tied for 12th at the Perth International. First competitive look at Sheshan International. Bill HAAS Began his 2013-14 season with a T16 at the CIMB Classic. No top 15s in his last seven starts, but just one outside the top 30. Kiradech APHIBARNRAT Close call in Malaysia; settled for second straight top five. Knocking on the door for Special Temporary Membership. Third start at Sheshan. Hideki MATSUYAMA Faded to a T25 in Kuala Lumpur with 2-over 72-74 on the weekend. Still, it was his 17th top 25 in 18 starts as a professional. Rory McILROY Mindset could mean everything as he's nearing end of one season (Euro Tour) and beginning another (PGA TOUR). Three top fives at Sheshan. Rickie FOWLER A T19 at the CIMB Classic was his seventh top 25 in 10 starts. Tied for 25th in his only appearance at Sheshan International in 2010. Brandt SNEDEKER First start at Sheshan International. Also his first action since the Presidents Cup. One top 30 in seven starts in stroke-play WGCs. Gonzalo FERNANDEZ-CASTANO Zero top 25s in nine starts in stroke-play WGCs, but he's coming off come-from-behind victory at the BMW Masters. Seven top 10s in 2013. Wild Card Pick Each week, PGATOUR.COM's Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton offers his Power Rankings for the weekly TOUR event as well as his Sleeper picks. But what about the players who don't make the Power Rankings but who can't really be considered Sleepers? Bolton will make one "wild card" selection from the large group of players who fall into that middle range but might rise up to claim the title. This week's pick is ... Henrik Stenson ... Quintessential choice given recent success and injury to right wrist. Holed nine birdies en route to a 65 to close a T34 at the BMW Masters.