This week we have the World Golf Championships—HSBC Champions on the plate. Played once again on the Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai, China, all the top-ranked players in the world will be there. They are selected from the PGA Tour, the European Tour, the Japan Golf Tour, the Sunshine Tour in South Africa, the Australasian Tour and the Asian Tour. It will include the winners of all four majors and all four WGC events together with players off of the World Rankings not otherwise included.
In short, it’s a collage of all the best players in the world off the best tours in the world and is the capstone to the first three WGC events: the Accenture Match Play in Tucson, the Cadillac Championship at Doral in Miami and the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone in Akron, Ohio. It’s a very big deal.
The field is only 78 players, but they’re the hottest in the world; the primary exemptions are for tournaments won this year. So you have Charl Schwartzel from the Masters, Rory McIlroy from the U.S. Open, Darren Clark from the British Open, Keegan Bradley from the PGA Championship and K.J. Choi from the Players Championship (the “fifth” major).
We have Luke Donald from the Match Play (although he’s staying home to await the birth of his second child), Nick Watney from Doral, Adam Scott from Firestone and from last year’s HSBC Champions, Francesco Molinari (do remember how he and Lee Westwood ran away from the field by miles?).
Some of the winners on the PGA Tour who are exempt into the field include: Webb Simpson, Dustin Johnson, Aaron Baddeley, Justin Rose, Steve Stricker, Lucas Glover, David Toms, Bill Haas, Phil Mickelson, Brandt Snedeker, Bubba Watson and Fredrik Jacobson.
European Tour winners include: Robert Karlsson, Martin Kaymer, Thomas Bjorn, Alvaro Quiros and Paul Casey among the most notable.
Other notables from other forms of exempt status include: Stuart Appleby, Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Hunter Mahan, Matteo Manassero, Graeme McDowell, Geoff Ogilvy, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Bo Van Pelt, Jhonattan Vegas, Lee Westwood and Mark Wilson just to provide the flavor of the quality of the other exemptions.
The only downside is that it’s in Shanghai and those of us in the states will have to settle for a tape-delay broadcast. It’ll be interesting to see if the gallery patterns will be the same this year. Last year nobody showed up for the first two rounds, but the grounds turned into a zoo for Saturday and Sunday.
Also, last year there was a lot of overcast, most memorably on Sunday. It’ll be interesting to see the course with the sun shining on it. The overcast added a sort of mystique to the event, but sun would be the best ambassador for new days in China.
This will also be very interesting because the best always want to play the best. So will they be thinking about becoming king of this mountain, or will they be able to just shut it all out and play as they all know how?