Daily Fantasy Golf Course Primer: WGC-HSBC Champions
Coming off the tremendous performance by Tiger Woods at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP to secure his record tying 82nd victory, the PGA Tour hops from Japan to China for the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Course. While the Tiger win in primetime right in the lull between the football games is about everything the Tour could ask for, they'll take better cooperation from mother nature in a heartbeat this week.
The rain-soaked ZOZO featured a dream finish with the sport's most famous athlete closing the door on Japan's top player in the country's first ever official PGA event. Many of the same golfers will be on display this week for the World Golf Championships, perennially one of the toughest tests golfers will face all year.
Last year's contest ended in a playoff between Xander Schauffele and Tony Finau, two well-rounded golfers who have a knack for playing their best in strong fields. Like the last two events on the Asian swing, we have no cut and no ShotLink data, which means we need to focus more on what our eyes tell us than what the numbers say. We can still project overall performance based on key indicators like ballstriking and scrambling, and all-around talents like X and Finau are exactly the type of golfers we can hone in on this week.
Despite the small field, Sheshan produced the fifth-most double bogeys of any course last year. If golfers find themselves in trouble off the tee, limiting the big numbers will be a win this week.
The early forecast looks clear and calm for the most part. For the sake of the golfers, caddies, and spectators, let's hope it stays that way.
Let's dig into the course and see what stats we can use to build our daily fantasy lineups this week.
Course and Tournament Info
Course: Sheshan International Golf Course
Distance: 7,261 yards
|Season||Par||Yardage||Avg Score||Avg O/U Par||Rank|
The yardage is not so intimidating, but this course consistently challenges the world's best. Any par 72 that plays the field to an average over par is not to be trifled with, and last year only the PGA Championship (Bethpage Black) and U.S. Open (Pebble Beach) played harder than Sheshan International.
While we don't have strokes gained data, we can get at least some understanding of the course through more traditional statistics. The WGC-HSBC Champions had the fourth-lowest greens in regulation percentage last year, and over the past few years that stat has mirrored the scoring average -- the prior years were 23rd, 26th, 33rd, and 4th. Distance helps here, as both Finau and Schauffele ranked inside the top 25 last year, but overall ballstriking is the true indicator. Bombers like Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, and Rory McIlroy have contended or won here over the past few years, as have ace iron players like Hideki Matsuyama and Henrik Stenson.
Comparable courses include Asian venues like Nine Bridges, TPC Kuala Lumpur, and last week's Accordia Golf Narashino CC, though bentgrass greens, tons of bunkers, and sloped greens bring to mind a few courses stateside. Augusta National makes sense given the undulation and bentgrass, and looking through prior winners at Sheshan reveals few accidents. The cream of the crop win at both events. Other courses that emphasize ballstriking and scrambling include Muirfield Village, Innisbrook, and Bay Hill.
These stats will be key to success in the WGC-HSBC Champions.
|Key Stats for the WGC-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International GC|
|Strokes Gained: Tee to Green|
|Strokes Gained: Approach|
|Birdies or Better Gained|
|Strokes Gained: Par 5s|
Simple enough -- tee to green with an emphasis on approach play, scrambling, and birdie-making. Sign up for this every week! As covered above, we want well-rounded golfers and will be looking for golfers who either check all the boxes or are so dominant at one aspect that it makes up for everything else. After all, Keegan Bradley was in the mix here last year!
Greens in regulation is worth looking at, but strokes gained: approach balances the metric after a few swing season events where the greens are massive and everyone is putting for birdie 65% of the time. That certainly won't be the case here and gaining even a half to full stroke per round via approach shots could make a huge difference this week. It is extremely important not to squander those chances this week.
But since those chances will be limited, identifying golfers who save more shots than the field will be just as important. Birdies are king in DFS but getting up and down will preserve placement on the leaderboard and solidify those finishing points.
Finally, par 5s are always going to be a target on par 72 courses, especially where the eagles are few and far between. The field made only 16 eagles last year and finding one or two of them over the course of the week is a massive advantage.
Course History Studs
Rose and Stenson have multiple top-5s in the past couple years, and Rafael Cabrera-Bello stands out with finishes of T14, T5, and T19 the last three years.
McIlroy was T54 last year but prior to that had never finished worse than 11th in six tries dating back to 2009.
Mike Rodden is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Mike Rodden also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mike_rodden. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.