The idea of the World Golf Championships was to take top class tournament golf around the world and create a series of tournaments that was in many ways on par with the majors but with less of a US focus. The WGC-HSBC Champions fulfils that role for the Far East with every single edition of the tournament taking place in China since its inauguration in 2005.
The biggest names in golf turn up to this event every year to the delight of the golf mad fans always in attendance whether the tournament takes place at Sheshan Golf Club in Shanghai or Mission Hills Golf Club in Shenzhen. The former has hosted this event every year apart from 2012 and in line with other WGC events it offers incredible prize money, with the total fund standing at more than $10m in recent years.
|2019||Sheshan Golf Club||Rory McIlroy|
|2018||Sheshan Golf Club||Xander Schauffele|
|2017||Sheshan Golf Club||Justin Rose|
The 2020 tournament was cancelled.
2019: Rory McIlroy
In some respects playoffs are the golfing equivalents of penalty shootouts. You can practice for them and it is wrong to view them as a lottery, but when it comes down to it luck plays a bigger role than the competitors would like. Xander Schauffele learned that lesson in the 2019 WGC-HSBC Champions. One year after he triumphed on the first hole of a playoff in this event, Schauffele was on the wrong end of a playoff defeat against Rory McIlroy. You can’t win them all.
Just like the 2018 renewal, Schauffele chased down the overnight leader on the final day of play. He had to play some very good golf to do that as McIlroy did not have the look of a shaky leader. The Northern Irishman was bogey-free over the weekend and on a course with a fair amount of birdie chances, that should have been enough.
McIlroy ended up just one birdie short of winning the tournament in regulation play. His final round of 68 came after three successive rounds of 67. Fortunately, that illusive birdie came at the first time of asking in the playoff while Schauffele could only make par having found a bunker off the tee. By finishing off the job, McIlroy earned his fourth win of a highly profitable 2019 and his first World Golf Championship title since the 2015 Matchplay.
2018: Xander Schauffele
Tony Finau is an incredibly talented golfer. By the time he teed it up at the 2018 WGC-HSBC Champions, he had amassed great experience of competing and contending in the biggest tournaments in golf and yet only once had he been able to get over the line. His performances over the first three days at Sheshan Golf Club gave Finau yet another chance to finally earn the second win of his career but it was not to be as he failed to convert a three-shot lead on Sunday, eventually going down to Xander Schauffele in a sudden death playoff.
Schauffele is one of a worryingly large number of players to have burst onto the scene on the PGA Tour and leave Finau in their wake in terms of wins. He won twice in his first season on tour and was disappointed that his second season was winless. That disappointment ended on the first playoff hole here and saw him land the winner’s cheque of a very cool $1.7m.
In Finau’s defence, he wasn’t just hanging on for the win. He actually made four birdies on the final day but three of those were cancelled out by bogeys, while Schauffele’s attacking instincts saw him make birdies on his last two holes to force the playoff. Another birdie on their first extra trip up the 18th was enough for the win as Finau could only make par.
2017: Justin Rose
Justin Rose is typically open in his post round media duties. Therefore, he had no problem admitting that winning the 2017 WGC-HSBC Champions wasn’t even the target at the start of the final round. “The beginning of the day, I was playing for second,” Rose said afterwards. He went one better than that though, overcoming an eight-shot deficit between himself and Dustin Johnson to get his hands on the trophy.
It wasn’t just Rose who Johnson was miles ahead of going into the final round. He was six shots clear at the head of affairs and was a racing certainty to make PGA Tour history by becoming the first player to win three World Golf Championship events in one year. The world number one ended up making a very different piece of history, tying the record for the biggest unconverted 54-hole lead, a rare aberration for a player with so many wins to his name.
Johnson could never get to grips with the windy conditions on the final day at Sheshan and it quickly looked as though something unexpected could happen. Rose was blissfully unaware of Johnson’s struggles until he looked up at the leaderboard behind the 14th green. After a double take, he realised that he was just three shots behind and that the win was suddenly in his grasp. It was an opportunity that he grabbed with both hands. Five birdies on the back nine saw Rose set the clubhouse lead. In contrast, Johnson only got further away on the home stretch to hand the title to the Englishman. In the final analysis Rose’s 67 was an incredible 10 shots better than DJ could manage, the American being forced to settle for a share of second alongside compatriot Brooks Koepka and Swede Henrik Stenson.