English duo to contend at Sheshan

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The Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai takes centre stage this week as 33 of the world’s top 50 golfers arrive in China for the WGC-HSBC Champions event.

It is a co-sanctioned event by the PGA and European Tours and will have world number one Dustin Johnson, a past winner and the favourite this week at 31/4, as its headline attraction.

As a former winner and the world’s best, Johnson should be in the mix for glory, but the American hasn’t fired on all cylinders lately and finished outside the top 30 a year ago, ensuring he’s an opposable market leader now.

Justin Thomas and Sergio Garcia, last week’s victors on the PGA and European Tours respectively, are also absent. Rickie Fowler, twice in the top ten and tied-17th in the previous three years, is another notable absentee.

So who is likely to make a run for this title? Garcia’s triumph in Spain last week ensured he closed the gap on Race To Dubai leader Tommy Fleetwood, who was not in Andalucia. The Englishman – 33/1 to win the HSBC Champions – is fancied to reciprocate this week by taking advantage of Garcia’s absence to bolster his lead.

Fleetwood has finished inside the top 30 on all three visits to Sheshan International before and his long game ensures he’s well equipped to take advantage of the par-fives, a real advantage at this layout.

Now 26 and with the maturity of his three European Tour wins and top-20 world ranking, Fleetwood is surely a stronger candidate than on previous journeys here. He therefore is a solid proposition for a top-ten finish at 14/5 – or 6/5 for a top-20 finish for the less adventurous.

Justin Rose is also worth considering at Sheshan. Three-times a runner-up in 2017, Rose just hasn’t managed to complete the job, going closest at the Masters in April.

He has, however, displayed real consistency and comes to a layout that has been good for him in the past. Rose hasn’t played this tournament since a disappointing show in 2014. Previously, he had posted top-ten finishes in two of his three attempts.

Given his ultra-consistent 2017 efforts, it looks safe to assume Rose – 21/1 to win the HSBC Champions – will bring that sort of form on his return to China.

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