Teeing Off: The Coral Golf Blog
The year’s final World Golf Championship takes place this week with most of the leading golfers compete in Shanghai. Tiger Woods has opted not to compete but a whole host of stars such as Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson are taking part at Sheshan International. The 7,266-yard par 72 course was last used two years ago when Martin Kaymer surged through the field to win. Relatively calm conditions should ensure plenty of low scoring in China.
Ryan Moore comes into the event as one of the form players on the PGA Tour and looks worth backing this week. The American landed a third title after his play-off win over Gary Woodland in Malaysia on Monday. This was a continuation of an excellent run of form in recent weeks. Moore tied for 11th at the BMW Championship last month and started the new season with a top ten in Las Vegas. His victory at the CIMB Classic is further evidence he is at the top of his game.
The 30-year-old can also draw on positive memories from his only start at the China course. Moore shot 15-under-par back in 2009 when he finished third so will undoubtedly be relishing his return to the track. He is currently fourth in total driving and sixth in scoring average in the early standings for the new season so it is well worth backing this form horse. Moore will come in full of confidence after his latest win and can contend again in Shanghai at 28/1 each way.
Paul Casey has a tremendously consistent record at the course and this could be the time where the Englishman underlines his ability as a world class player. He has finished in the top ten no fewer than five times in seven starts here with a best showing of joint fourth two years ago. The 36-year-old, who won the 2005 China Open, is supremely comfortable in this part of the world and should flourish here once more.
Casey suffered a dramatic fall down the rankings through injury and loss of form but the former world number three has started his climb back to the top after an encouraging season. He returned to the winner’s circle in the summer with his victory at the Irish Open which was his 12th title on the European Tour. Casey was swinging the ball sweetly at the BMW Masters, where he was first in greens in regulation, as he posted a top ten finish. If he can just hole a few more putts, then Casey could easily clinch a second win of 2013 at 28/1 each way.
Peter Uihlein finished in a tie for fifth when carrying our money last weekend and I make no apology for picking the American ace again. Only a disappointing second round scuppered his chances of victory at the BMW Masters but eight-under par on the weekend pushed him into another excellent finish. With a couple of runner-up spots in his last four European Tour events, there are few others playing as consistently as him.
This is Uihlein’s World Golf Championship debut but the big hitter looks ready for this level and will not feel intimidated by this company. A superb first season has seen him claim a maiden win at the Madeira Islands Open and his form has pushed him into the top ten of the Race to Dubai rankings and eighth on tour in stroke average. His power off the tee will allow him to attack the par fives and benign conditions will favour a confident golfer suited to low scoring, as shown when shooting 23-under-par in Scotland last month. Uihlein looks well worth backing again at 33/1 each way.
Thomas Bjorn looks a big priced runner this week after warming up with a fine effort in China. The Dane got progressively better as the week went on, shooting a final round 66 to earn a tie for fifth in Shanghai. This was no surprise as Bjorn has enjoyed another strong season which included victory at the European Masters last month. Back-to-back second places in June are examples of the excellent form of the veteran who would love to qualify for next year’s Ryder Cup.
Bjorn has previous form at Sheshan as he finished in a tie for fifth on his first visit to the course back in 2005. The 42-year-old was runner-up in the China Open during the same year so the Scandinavian has enjoyed success in Asia. Bjorn, who is recognised as one of the best wedge players around, is tenth this year in putts per green in regulation. With this touch on the greens and a recent win in the bank, Bjorn looks real value at 66/1 each way.
Follow Simon’s bets on Twitter @watfordtipster