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WGC-HSBC Champions Preview: Go East, Young Man

Greg Vara

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Golf in Malaysia -- and you thought British Open tee times in the middle of the night were strange. How about tee times just after dinner? I have to admit, it was kind of cool getting updates at night. Although I'm sure it wasn't the intention of the PGA Tour, the fact that it avoided the meat of the weekend football schedule actually worked out well. It's always going to be an uphill, likely unwinable proposition for the PGA Tour during the fall season, but to their credit, the folk at the PGA Tour are doing everything they can to find any kind of stronghold that they can. As for the golf itself, well, it turned out to be quite a finish as Ryan Moore outlasted Gary Woodland in extra holes. For Moore, it's a great start to the new season, one which he entered with high expectations. No matter what you think of these final handful events on the PGA Tour this year, a win is a win and with it come some great spoils, such as more than $1.2 million in earnings and bunch of FedEx points. If nothing else, it gives Moore a leg up on some other players looking to make a jump to the next level this year. As for this week, the PGA Tour stays out east, the far east, so reheat those leftovers, sit down to eat dinner ... and get ready for some golf.

This week:
WGC-HSBC Champions

Course:
Sheshan International G.C., Shanghai, China

Last Year:
Ian Poulter shot a final-round 65 on his way to a two-stroke victory over four players.

Players to Consider:

Lee Westwood

The 2013-2014 season is very important for Westwood as he looks to get that ellusive major title before it's too late. While WGC events are not on the same level as majors, they are still pretty important. Westwood has played this event six times and has finished no worse than 15th.

Phil Mickelson

Mickelson doesn't appear to be in great form coming into this week, but he's won this event twice and finished runner-up here last year. Mickelson appeared to work out some kinks last week in Malaysia, and if that's the case, he should be a factor this week.

Rory McIlroy

McIlroy is going to find his game at some point and this looks like a good place to start. McIlroy has played here three times and finished no worse than fifth. Perhaps being away from U.S. soil and the spotlight will help as well.

Paul Casey

Casey has had his issues the past few years, but he's looked comfortable at this event for some reason. Casey was absent from the field last year, but he finished in the Top 10 in five of his six previous tries at this event.

Jimmy Walker

So much for the first-time-winner's hangover. All Walker has done since his first win on the PGA Tour earlier this month is card a Top-15 and a Top-10. Walker is a first-timer at this event, but he's playing so well that it probably won't matter.

Players to Avoid:

Miguel Angel Jimenez

Jimenez has a knack for playing well anytime the best players in the world get togther, but the possible lone exception is this event where he's never cracked the Top 25. Remember, this isn't a full-field event, so anything outside the Top 25 is a bit of a disappointment.

David Lynn

With a small field this week, there aren't a lot of good options to avoid, but Lynn fits the bill. He's only played here once, and that didn't turn out well as he finished T69 last year. He's also coming off a rough outing last week in Malaysia.

Ken Duke

Duke hasn't played very well since his win last June at the Travelers Championship, and while a Top-15 at the Shriner's a couple weeks back might be a sign that he's coming around, he steps up in class this week, which doesn't bode well.

Bubba Watson

Watson's 2013 season was a bit of a disappointment as he failed to build on his Masters win from the previous season. While he's not off to a poor start this season, he still seems stuck in the mud. Watson finished T31 last week and another mid-30s finish is likely again this week.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Aphibarnrat played well last week on his way to a Top-3 finish in Malaysia, but that was expected at his track record at that event was solid. That's not the case this week, though, as his track record on this course is less than steller. Two attempts and nothing better than a T66.

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