PGA Tour Picks: World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions Odds and Predictions
The first-ever PGA Tour event in Japan will certainly be remembered for many years to come because Tiger Woods won the Zozo Championship on Sunday to tie Sam Snead with a record 82 career Tour victories. Shoot, just a couple of years ago it seemed a long shot that Tiger would catch Snead. Now it's almost a sure thing - barring severe injury, which I suppose you can't rule out regarding Tiger -- he gets past him. Woods got to 82 wins in 66 fewer tournaments than it took Snead.
Woods led wire-to-wire and finished at 19 under, three shots ahead of Japan's Hideki Matsuyama at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club. Tiger is now 25-for-25 converting 54-hole leads of three or more strokes in his PGA Tour career. His 27 birdies led the field on the week, and he finished in the Top 10 in fairways and greens hit and putts made per green in regulation.
I didn't expect much from Woods in Japan because he really hadn't played very well since undergoing knee surgery in August. Yet he became just the fifth player ever to win a major and a second PGA Tour event in the same calendar year at age 43 or older. Julius Boros did it in 1963, Ray Floyd in 1986, Hale Irwin in 1990 and Phil Mickelson in 2013. We got Matsuyama for a Top 10 in Japan but our winning pick was Tony Finau and he was T59.
This week, the Asia Swing concludes with the big-money World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions tournament in China. Woods has won 18 total WGC events in his career but not this one and isn't playing this week. Five of the last six winners of the tournament are playing but Dustin Johnson (2013) and Russell Knox (2015) aren't. Neither is world No. 1 Brooks Koepka because he aggravated a knee issue a couple of weeks ago in South Korea.
Shenshan International Golf Course is the host with the West course a par 72 measuring 7,261 yards. It has hosted this tournament every year but in 2012. Might want to expect 14-under 274 to win the event because it has the past two years. Xander Schauffele beat Finau in a playoff last year. No player has ever repeated here and in fact only Mickelson has won it twice, doing so in 2007 (before it was a WGC event) and 2009 (the first year it was).
Players have to "qualify" for WGC events via world ranking of by winning certain big tournaments, etc. Kevin Kisner is the lone 2019 World Golf Championships winner who will be in the field. He won the WGC-Match Play in late March. It's a limited-field event and thus no cut - there is an opposite-field tournament as well this weekend in Bermuda.
Golf Odds: WGC-HSBC Champions Favorites
Rory McIlroy is the +600 favorite at Bovada. He finished T3 in Japan, six shots behind Tiger. Rory hasn't won here but has a handful of Top 6 finishes in China. He was 54th last year.
Matsuyama is +1200 with Schauffele at +1400. Playing in Asia clearly suits Hideki as in addition to his runner-up last week, he was T3 the week before in Korea. He won this tournament in a rout in 2016 at 23 under. Schauffele comes off a Top 10 last week and was 46th in his only other visit to the WGC-HSBC Champions.
Justin Rose is +1600 with Paul Casey at +2200. Rose won by two shots at 14 under in 2017, was third last year and has a couple of other Top 10s here. It's his season debut on the PGA Tour. Casey has a best finish of fourth here and was T16 a year ago. He was T17 at the Zozo.
Golf Odds: WGC-HSBC Champions Picks
We'll go Henrik Stenson at +1200 as top European and like him for a Top 10 at +250. He was runner-up here in 2016 & '17. Also like Matsuyama (+130) and Rose (+175) for Top 10s but our winner is Patrick Reed at +2800. Reed has been seventh here twice, including last year. He comes off a solid T17 in Japan.
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