The Sheshan International steps up as host once again for this years renewal of the HSBC Champions. This is one of my favourite WGC's of the calendar and a top class field has assembled. The course down the years has featured all types of contenders. Matsuyama won last year with the straight hitting Knox winning the year before and another straight hitter Tim Clark just pipped to the post the year before that by slugger Bubba. Dustin, Kaymer and Molinari highlight that both types of games can be successful around here.
Conditions look set to be fair and once again a score towards 20 under par will be needed to be in the mix come Sunday afternoon. Dustin Johnson and Hideki Matsuyama lead the way in the betting but both have failed to sparkle recently as much as they were doing a year or so ago. Both former champions here so have to be respected but personally I feel there's a lot more value further down the field.
Solid tee to green merchants do well here and if you can throw in a long ball off the tee that certainly won't hinder you around Sheshan so I think Rafa Cabrera Bello is worthy of small investment. Bello finished inside the top 20 here on debut last year and with two top 15 finishes under his belt in the last two weeks he must have an outside chance of going well here. The 55/1 doesn't quite reflect his chances for me and granted a reasonable putting week (sometimes a lot to ask for Rafa) I think he could contend here over the weekend. He excels at these types of tests and has tasted success before in the Far East so I think he will quietly fancy this with some of the main contenders not quite firing on all cylinders.
Finally Thomas Pieters hasn't exactly set the world alight lately but it appears to me there has been an overreaction in the market to his questionable attitude. His talent remains palpable but hit a bad shoot here and there and his head explodes and the man becomes a shadow of what he could be. Nevertheless he has produced some sparkling golf down the last few years and it would be foolish to write him off winning a title of this stature. 14th and 23rd here in two appearances certainly is no disgrace and although his recent performances have not been up to scratch they certainly have not been embarrassing. At a top price of 70/1 and general 66s it certainly represents value to me.