This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Sheshan International GC - West Course (7,261 yards, par 72)
$1,800,000 and 550 FedEx Cup points to the winner
SHANGHAI, CHINA – The third and final event of the PGA Tour's Asian swing concludes with the World Golf Championships – HSBC Champions, hosted by Sheshan International Golf Club. This event has experienced some identity confusion between the PGA and European Tours in recent years but has stood as an event on both since 2013. The club itself is incredibly exclusive and stakes claim as Shanghai's first club. The property meanders elegantly through the foothills of Sheshan Mountain with manmade waterways and a natural quarry that add to the splendor. For a third straight week, a 78-player field will tee it up in a no-cut format, but this week the field quality gets a big boost in quality. Names like Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, and defending champ Justin Rose bring this international event some serious firepower that won't be replicated on the PGA Tour for a while, so enjoy the high-quality competition before many top players retreat for an extended period.
Recent Past Champions
2017 – Justin Rose
2016 – Hideki Matsuyama
2015 – Russell Knox
2014 – Bubba Watson
2013 – Dustin Johnson
2012 – Ian Poulter
2011 – Martin Kaymer
2010 – Francesco Molinari
2009 – Phil Mickelson
Key Stats to Victory
• Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
• Par-5 Scoring Average
• GIR Percentage from 200+ yards
Since 2009, successful players at Sheshan International have displayed elite driving ability as a common trait. This doesn't necessarily mean bombing it off the tee, but hitting it long certainly helps as the course plays longer than its yardage might indicate. Two par-5s are over 590 yards, numerous par-4s stretch over 450, and each of the four par-3s play over 200 yards. This of course favors precision players who hit it relatively long and straight with consistent long iron play, so lean on stats like Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and GIR percentage (especially from 200+ yards) to inform your lineup decisions. Though the field is stacked with highly-ranked players, it's a venue where the truly elite prosper: 10 of the previous 12 HSBC champs were 30th or better in the world rankings entering this event.
FanDuel Value Picks
Dustin Johnson, $12600 – Last year DJ slowly crumbled to a disappointing 77 Sunday, giving away a six-stroke cushion. However, he's won here before and posted two other top-5s in five career starts, so it's clear the course fits his game. Don't let the recency effect from last year deter you from taking this ironclad stud.
Brooks Koepka, $12600 – Fresh off a win at the CJ Cup last week, Koepka's brings momentum and a shiny new World No. 1 tag with him this week. Whether he'll handle his new status well is something to monitor, but there's no doubt about his ability given his runner-up finish last year and current form.
Justin Rose, $12100 – Rose will make his first PGA Tour start of the 2018-19 season this week as he defends last year's title. Though not considered super long off the tee, Rose makes up the difference with elite precision and iron play. There's nothing to dislike about Rose as he enters with both history and great recent form.
Rory McIlroy, $11900 – After missing this event last season to heal up his ribs, McIlroy returns form a one-year hiatus to tee it up at this world class event. As an elite driver of the ball, Rory should hold a great advantage on the field by setting up numerous good birdie looks, particularly on the longer par-5s. His history is stellar with five top-10s in six career starts, making him a great value at this price.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Tony Finau, $10800 – Super long off the tee and entering off a consistently great FedEx Cup playoff stretch, Finau might turn some heads this week as he looks to improve upon his T11 a year ago at this event.
Alex Noren, $10400 – Quietly among the better ball strikers on Tour, Noren is a capable option at this price. He has yet to earn a top-10 at this event in five tries, but that's precisely why he could be a great differentiator in lineups. If he can make a few more putts than normal, he has great potential to earn that first top 10 at Sheshan.
Tyrell Hatton, $10000 – Hatton has improved his finish each year since 2015, collecting a T11 last year. His recent form has seen him nearly win the Alfred Dunhill Links and post a top-15 at the CJ Cup last week. You could do much worse in this price range.
Lucas Bjerregaard, $7900 – The recent winner of the Alfred Dunhill Links, Bjerregaard will make his first WGC start this week and first at Sheshan International. This is a pure momentum play but he's a great guy to take a chance on at a bargain bin price.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
Given an event that favors the best in the world and features 78 players with no cut, it's highly recommended to maximize the number of players ranked inside the world top 30. Names like DJ, Koepka, and Rose will be hard to include in a single lineup, but that type of talent is what you want to target in your lineup. With everyone playing four rounds, it's not that risky to fill in with low-salary options.