Haotong Li set to carry China's hopes at WGC-HSBC Champions

Ruben Hill
October 31, 2019

The World No.59 is under no illusion it will be an easy task with the star-studded field glittered by 10 of the world's top-20 players at the Sheshan International Golf Club this week.

Shanghai: China's Li Haotong is ready to carry the hopes of the country as he spearheads its charge at the WGC HSBC Champions which starts on Thursday. "We just need more exposure to the various golf courses around the world", Li said. McIlroy has played this tournament four times since 2013.

Schauffele joined World No. 2 McIlroy, Hampshire's US Open victor Justin Rose, and Woburn's Ryder Cup legend Ian Poulter met stars of the CGA-HSBC China Junior Golf Program. Conners once again displayed solid ball striking and above average putting en route to a Top 10 finish last week at the ZOZO.

First of all, I love the fact that Rory has illustrated previously that he can perform at a high level at the Sheshan International Golf Club.

I should also note that this will be the seventh consecutive year that the WGC-HSBC Champions has been played at Sheshan. McIlroy, Hideki Matsuyama, Xander Schauffele, Justin Rose, and Paul Casey are the consensus top five on DraftKings, FanDuel, and in the betting markets. He returns this week with a whole host of former champions, including Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, Ian Poulter and Sergio Garica.

The elite, 78-player field includes 15 major champions, all trying to win what has become known as "Asia's Major".

Harding posted a tied-12th result in his debut at the Masters Tournament. Schauffele got sick during the ZoZo Championship in Japan last week and withdrew from the pro-am Wednesday to try to be in fighting shape.

EVR ranks fifth in the stat model with top-10 field ranks in all but Proximity and trails only McIlroy in Birdies Gained. van Rooyen finished eighth at last year's PGA Championship and 20th at The Open to prove he can hang with the PGA Tour's best in the marquee tournaments.

Justin Rose, England - The 2017 WGC-HSBC Champions victor finished two shots ahead of Brooks Koepka, Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson.

Poulter claimed the title here in 2012 before finishing as the runner-up to Dustin Johnson the following year, and also has a further T6 in this event. Horschel finished second, first, and first in the last three playoff events in 2014 to win the season's championship, and the healthy payday that came with it. Stenson took a year ago off but had back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2017 and 2016.

Schauffele, an American whose Chinese-speaking mother witnessed his victory in Shanghai last year, said: "WGC-HSBC Champions will always hold a special place in my heart having won last year in front of my family". He makes his first PGA Tour start of the year this week after going 8-T34-T15 in three European Tour starts (the BMW PGA Championship, Alfred Dunhill Links and Italian Open).

Kevin Na, United States - With victories in each of the last three years on the PGA Tour and four in all, Na is looking for his first WGC title. He also tied for second in the 2018 British Open at Carnoustie and in the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. Na won the Shriners this month and is fourth in the early FedEx Cup standings. Lowry, who tied for 13th in the Zozo Championship last week, has played in the WGC-HSBC Champions on five occasions and his best result was a tie for 23rd in 2016.

Koepka will not play another official event the rest of the year.

After playing in South Korea and Japan the last two weeks, the golfers head to China for the WGC-HSBC Champions this week (remember that lock time is Wednesday night). Last week he finished T27 in a similar no-cut event. Pavan has three consecutive top 12 finishes on the European Tour.

The HSBC Champions is the last chance for players to audition as wild-card picks for the Presidents Cup, and most everyone on the bubble is here - Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Kevin Kisner and Chez Reavie for the Americans, a longer list of worldwide players from Sungjae Im and Byeong Hun An of South Korea, Adam Hadwin and Corey Conners of South Africa, Justin Harding and Erik van Rooyen of South Africa. He won in Shanghai, he won the following week in Turkey and almost pulled it off in Dubai. Is 23rd in the Euro Tour's Race to Dubai this season.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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