If it’s still hard to wrap your head around there being a big-time golf event in late October, consider this: 40 of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are playing this week in Shanghai. Yep, the WGC-HSBC Champions is certainly worthy of your attention. And while the World Series, the start of the NBA season, and of course, football, take center stage, the time difference of this event actually might work in its favor. Joel Beall and I discuss that, the return of Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, and hoisting a special trophy of our own in this week’s podcast. Have a listen:
And if you’re more old-school and would rather just read my normal weekly picks, here’s who I’m taking on my PGA Tour Fantasy Golf team in Shanghai:
Rory McIlroy: Yes, he’s got a new driver in the bag this week, but the recent FedEx Cup champ is also going to want to show it off. And besides, McIlroy is so good he could probably use a kid’s club off the tee and still contend. Speaking of which, he’s finished no worse than T-11 in five starts in this event.
Justin Thomas: “Swoll Monkey” (Please let this catch on as a nickname) is coming off another win in Malaysia and a T-8 at the Safeway Open. My only problem with JT is that he didn’t win when I picked him and then he beat last week’s pick, Anirban Lahiri with a final-round 64. But there’s no reason not to ride Thomas in our lineup for a third consecutive week. He’s already adjusted to the jet lag and he’s rolling.
Bubba Watson: Dubbed “The Magician” in this event’s promos, he certainly lived up to that name when he holed a bunker shot for eagle on the final hole of regulation in 2014 before winning in a playoff. He didn’t display much magic after a win at Riviera last year, but he closed out the season with three top 20s in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, and wet and windy conditions similar to what he won in two years ago are again predicted in Shanghai this week.
Alexander Noren: The hottest golfer no one seems to be paying attention to, Noren’s only problem is that two of his three wins in his past nine starts came after the European Ryder Cup team was finalized. Now ranked inside the top 20 in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time, this is a great opportunity for the Swede to strike at a big event while he’s in top form.
Bench: Branden Grace and Hideki Matsuyama.
And for those of you playing other fantasy golf formats:
Yahoo! lineup: There’s no Yahoo! fantasy golf until January, so if you’re playing fantasy golf right now, well, you’re really into it.
Knockout/One-and-done pick: Bubba Watson.
And here’s the podcast link again, if you want to hear Joel and I jabber: