2017 is drawing to a close but the 2018 golfing season has only just begun.
With the start of the new season a couple of weeks ago, you may think that its a chance for every golfer who secured their tour card for the upcoming year to start on a clean slate . Unfortunately, it began as a continuation from last season. Justin Thomas managed to win again, adding another trophy to an already illustrious year for the american. A week earlier, Pat Perez picked up where he left off to win in Malaysia.
This weekend sees the WGC-HSBC Champions take place in Shanghai and the field is stacked once again. 15 out of the worlds top 20 are teeing off this weekend in the hope to try and dethrone Hideki Matsuyama. Matsuyama walked away with the title last year, winning by a total of 7 shots but his form on this course otherwise, along with recent weeks, has had a lot to be desired.
World No.1 Dustin Johnson famously claimed this title back in 2013 from a 40/1 starting position. Since then, Johnson has climbed up the rankings and has held the No.1 spot for over half a year. Johnson is a very fair price to win the title once more but one thing stands out when it comes to his three visits here. Twice, he’s been able to prepare in Hong Kong and he’s finished first and fifth on the back of it. Once, last year, he’s arrived following an absence and things did not go to plan, two rounds of 74 leaving him with far too much to do and ultimately unable to crack the top 30. Johnson is paired with both Matsuyama and Rahm in the final pairings on Thursday.
To Look out for
With no Thomas, no Jordan Spieth, no Rickie Fowler, no Rory McIlroy makes for an opportunity for a number of others in the field. Tommy Fleetwood will be looking to extend his lead once again in The Race to Dubai after Garcia managed to gain some points after his win last weekend. From tee-to-green there are few who get close, to be frank, and that means whenever the putter behaves he’s a huge threat under any conditions.
Others to look out for would be the likes of Brooks Koepka who has had a very solid year including his win at the US Open earlier this year. He has proven numerous times now he has the ability to contend at major events, it will be interesting to see what game he brings this weekend. With McIlroy taking a long due rest, Irish eyes will be on Paul Dunne who has been in marvelous form of late. Capturing his first European title a few weeks ago at the British Masters, edging out fellow countryman McIlroy, will certainly still be fresh in the young Irishman’s mind.
Tyrell Hatton retained his Dunhill Links title a couple of weeks ago and has managed some fine performances leading up to this tournament. If his form is anything to go on, he will not be far off a high finish.