All-star cast for WGC-HSBC Champions

Russell Knox of Scotland defends the title at Sheshan International GC in China

Russell Knox defends WGC-HSBC Champions
Russell Knox defends WGC-HSBC Champions
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A star-studded field has assembled in Shanghai this week to do battle for the WGC-HSBC Champions. Russell Knox is defending champion at Sheshan International GC.

The WGC-HSBC Champions is the last World Golf Championship event of 2016 and an impressive field has turned out to try and take the title. 42 of the world’s top-50 players will tee it up and all four of the year’s Major winners are set to play.

The HSBC Champions began life in 2005 as a regular European Tour event but, in 2009, it was elevated to World Golf Championship status. As a result, the event now attracts an exceptionally strong field.

2016 Major champions Danny Willett, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Jimmy Walker have all made the journey to Shanghai for the WGC-HSBC Champions, together with Rory McIlroy, Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Adam Scott and defending champion Russell Knox.

Rory McIlroy practice tips:

Phil Mickelson won the first instalment of this competition and, since then, Francesco Molinari, Martin Kaymer, Ian Poulter, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson have been champions. Last year, Scotland’s Russell Knox took the title. The man from Inverness finished two clear of Kevin Kisner.

The tournament is being hosted at Sheshan International GC for a fourth straight season. Designed by Neil Haworth of Nelson & Haworth, the course at Sheshan International makes use of the natural terrain as it winds through valleys and across a deep, water-filled, rock quarry that comes into play on the 16th and 17th holes.

With big money and points up for grabs this week, there’s a great chance for European Tour members to make significant strides on the Race to Dubai standings. Current leader and Masters champion Danny Willett currently leads the way, but Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy and Alex Noren are in hot pursuit and all will look to close the gap on the Englishman this week.

The weather forecast is mixed, particularly for the start of the week. Thunderstorms are predicted for Wednesday with rain lingering for Thursday and Friday. The course could be wet, and that would suit the longer hitters.

Venue: Sheshan International GC, Shanghai, China Date: Oct 27-30 Course stats: par 72, 7,261 yards Purse: $9,500,000 Winner: $1,400,000 Defending Champion: Russell Knox (-20)

TV Coverage: Thursday 27 – Sky Sports 4 from 4am Friday 28 – Sky Sports 4 from 4am Saturday 29 – Sky Sports 4 from 4am Sunday 30 – Sky Sports 4 from 4am

Player watch:

Sergio Garcia – He’s been on solid form since his tied eighth place finish in The Olympics. He played well at the Ryder Cup and has a good record in this event, his best result being a fourth place in 2013.

Paul Casey – Playing some brilliant golf at the moment, Casey has had four top-five finishes in his last six starts. He’s overdue a big win.

Hideki Matsuyama – The Japanese player is one of the best ball-strikers in world golf and the, possibly, soft conditions could suit his game. He’s coming in off the back of a good finish in the CIMB Classic, where he ended the week alone in second.

Key hole: 16th. At just 288 yards, you’d think this was a great birdie chance, but going for the green from the tee is extremely risky with a ravine waiting to the right hand side of the challenging putting surface. The best play is to lay-up and leave a sand wedge in, but the pros always find it hard to turn down the chance of an eagle putt.

Fergus Bisset
Fergus Bisset

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?