Hideki Matsuyama returns to Shanghai to defend the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions at Sheshan International Golf Club this week. A prize purse of $9.75 million has attracted some of golf’s leading names, including world number one Dustin Johnson, who won it in 2013. The star-studded field also includes major winners Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka and Henrik Stenson, along with Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose and several of the world’s top 30 players. But Matsuyama will be the main draw after his superb showing here last year.
It was the first time an Asian had won a World Golf Championships event since the series began in 1999, and it was fitting that it came in what is billed as “Asia’s major”. Matsuyama finished on -23, beating Stenson and Daniel Berger by seven shots and finishing just one short of Johnson’s all-time course record. It was the most dominant win the sport of golf had seen in years and set Matsuyama on the road to greatness. It became a breakout year for the Japanese as he rose as high as number two in the world following his second place finish at the US Open this year and won three Tour titles in total.
He is now relishing the chance to return to Sheshan International Golf Club, where his remarkable streak began. “To win the HSBC was probably my biggest achievement,” Matsuyama said. “I was the first Asian to win that event, and to me that was a big deal.” He was roundly praised by his peers for his dominant performance, and he loves the course so he will be the one to beat this year. Review Bovada if looking to wager on event and you will see his name among the favorites, and deservedly so.
But the field is full of danger and it is shaping up to be an extremely competitive and exciting tournament. Johnson failed to win a major in 2017 but cemented his status as world number one by topping the prize money charts and winning four Tour titles, a feat nobody in the game could match. “It is great that Hideki and I hold all the 2017 WGC titles between us, so we will both be gunning to win the final WGC of the year,” he said. “I really look forward to returning to Shanghai and it always helps to be returning to a course where you have won before. The Chinese fans are awesome and bring a real energy and enthusiasm that always makes it really fun to play there.”Embed from Getty Images
World No.5 Jon Rahm has announced he will make his WGC-HSBC Champions debut in the tournament, which takes place on October 26-29. Day will also be making his maiden appearance here, along with 2017 PGA Tour Championship Winner Xander Schauffele. Rahm said: “This is by far the strongest field we will play against for the rest of the year and I would love to make a really strong debut in Shanghai. Majors and World Golf Championships are the titles you want to add to your resume and I would love to be on the leaderboard Sunday afternoon.”
Tommy Fleetwood, Alex Noren, Rafa Cabrera Bello, Paul Casey, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott and Francesco Molinari, who won here in 2013, are also among the big guns lining up for the event. It gives China’s leading lights a chance to put their wits against the best players in the business as the quality of field is exceptional, and it should prove to be a hugely exciting few days played out on Asia’s premier course in front of adoring fans.