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2014 World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions Preview/ Pre-Tournament Notes

Quick review of tournament history:

The HSBC Champions was created in November 2005 and became an official European Tour and Asian Tour event beginning in 2006. Event champions during that timeframe: 2005 – David Howell; 2006 – Y.E. Yang; 2007 – Phil Mickelson; 2008 – Sergio Garcia.

In 2009, the HSBC Champions was granted World Golf Championships status but was an unofficial event on the PGA TOUR. Phil Mickelson’s win in 2009 is not considered an official PGA TOUR victory.

Beginning in 2010, the HSBC Champions counted as an official PGA TOUR victory and offered a three-year exemption on the PGA TOUR—provided the tournament was won by a PGA TOUR member. Prize money, however, did not count toward the official PGA TOUR money list, even in a PGA TOUR member won the tournament. Tournament winners during this timeframe include: 2010 – Francesco Molinari (unofficial PGA TOUR win); 2011 – Martin Kaymer (unofficial PGA TOUR win); 2012 – Ian Poulter (official PGA TOUR win).

On the final day of the 2012 event, HSBC announced renewal of its title sponsorship through 2015, along with the announcement that the event would become a part of the PGA TOUR’s FedExCup schedule, awarding official money and FedExCup points (and a three-year exemption) beginning in 2013.

A look back at 2014

Dustin Johnson ran away from the field on the final nine holes of the HSBC Champions by going 5-under in a five-hole stretch highlighted by a chip-in for eagle at the par-4 16th. Johnson fired a final-round 66 and posted a tournament record 24-under-par 264 for a three stroke triumph over Ian Poulter. This was Johnson’s first World Golf Championships victory, and he became the first player since Tiger Woods to record at least one win in each of his first seven years on TOUR.

Tournament notes:

Major championship winners: Ernie Els (4), Martin Kaymer (2), Bubba Watson (2), Keegan Bradley (1), Jason Dufner (1), Graeme McDowell (1), Louis Oosthuizen (1), Justin Rose (1), Charl Schwartzel (1), Adam Scott (1)

Four FedExCup champions are teeing it up this week: Bill Haas (2011), Brandt Snedeker (2012), Henrik Stenson (2013) and Billy Horschel (2014).

Three past HSBC Champions are in the field: Sergio Garcia (2008), Martin Kaymer (2011) and Ian Poulter (2012).
There are 10 past winners of World Golf Championships events in the field: Martin Kaymer (2011 HSBC Champions); Ernie Els (2004, 2010 Cadillac Championship); Hunter Mahan (2010 Bridgestone Invitational, 2012 Cadillac Match Play); Ian Poulter (2012 HSBC Champions, 2010 Cadillac Match Play); Keegan Bradley (2010 Bridgestone Invitational); Luke Donald (2011 Cadillac Match Play); Patrick Reed (2014 Cadillac Championship); Justin Rose (2012 Cadillac Championship); Adam Scott (2011 Bridgestone Invitational); Henrik Stenson (2007 Cadillac Match Play).

The only two-time winner of the HSBC Champions is Phil Mickelson, who won in 2007 in a playoff over Ross Fisher and Lee Westwood. He won again in 2009, edging Ernie Els by a stroke.

Eleven of the 12 members of the victorious 2014 European Ryder Cup team are in the field. This includes Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson, Stephen Gallacher, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood. Only Rory McIlory is not playing.

The lowest-ranked player in the Official World Golf Ranking to win the HSBC Champions was Y.E. Yang, who was No. 77 when he won the event in 2006. The lowest-ranked player to win a World Golf Championships title was Steve Stricker, who was ranked No. 91 when he won the 2001 Accenture Match Play Championship.

HSBC Champions, OWGR rank prior to victory

2013, Dustin Johnson, No. 23
2012, Ian Poulter, No. 26
2011, Martin Kaymer No. 6
2010, Francesco Molinari No. 30
2009, Phil Mickelson No. 2
2008, Sergio Garcia No. 3
2007, Phil Mickelson No. 2
2006, Y.E. Yang No. 77
2005, David Howell No. 19

The youngest winner of the HSBC Champions is Sergio Garcia, who was 28 years, 10 months, 1 day when he won in 2008, although the HSBC Champions wasn’t yet a part of the World Golf Championships series.

Graeme McDowell is the only player to record a top 10 in all three World Golf Championships so far this year (T5 at Accenture Match Play Championship; T9 at Cadillac Championship; T8 at Bridgestone Invitational). Five players have top-10 finishes in two of three World Golf Championships in 2013, and all are in the field this week:

Charl Swartzel – T9 at Cadillac Championship; T4 at Bridgestone Invitational
Rickie Fowler – 3rd at Accenture Match Play Championship; T8 at Bridgestone Invitational
Jason Dufner – T9 at Accenture Match Play Championship; T9 at Cadillac Championship
Keegan Bradley – 7th at Cadillac Championship; 2nd at Bridgestone Invitational
Sergio Garcia – T9 at Accenture Match Play Championship; 2nd at Bridgestone Invitational

Seven players make their World Golf Championships debut this week. Aside from Jeff Maggert, who won the very first World Golf Championships at the 1999 Accenture Match Play Championship, no player has won a World Golf Championships in his first start in the series.

Felipe Aguilar
Hiroshi Iwata
Jason Knutson
Anirban Lahiri
Antonio Lascuna
Brody Ninyette
Marc Warren

There are 24 players from the 78-man field at the CIMB Classic who are competing in this week’s HSBC Champions, including tournament champion Ryan Moore who defended his 2013 CIMB Classic title with a three-stroke victory over Gary Woodland, Sergio Garcia and Kevin Na.

Name CIMB Classic finish
Jonas Blixt T13
Tim Clark T56
Graham DeLaet WD
Jason Dufner T26
Matt Every T49
Sergio Garcia T2
J.B. Holmes T49
Billy Horschel T37
Matt Jones T52
Jason Knutzon T46
Anirban Lahiri T52
Antonio Lascuna T71
Marc Leishman T39
David Lipsky 75
Hideki Matsuyama T21
Ryan Moore 1
Kevin Na T2
Patrick Reed T26
Charl Schwartzel T19
John Senden 7
Scott Stallings T19
Kevin Streelman T26
Lee Westwood T13
Gary Woodland T2

Select player notes:
IAN POULTER

At the 2012 HSBC Champions (played at Mission Hills), Ian Poulter entered the day four shots behind 54-hole leaders Lee Westwood and Louis Oosthuizen. Poulter carded a final-round 65 to defeat Jason Dufner, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Scott Piercy by two strokes and win his second career World Golf Championships title.

Poulter became only the second player to record his first two PGA TOUR wins at World Golf Championships events, joining Darren Clarke (2000 Accenture Match Play Championship; 2003 Bridgestone Invitational).

Poulter’s 21-under-par total set the new tournament low score in relation to par. It was the third-lowest total by a winner in World Golf Championships history.

World Golf Championships record–low totals

Year Tournament Score Winner Course
2002 Cadillac Championship -25 Tiger Woods Mount Juliet Conrad
2006 Cadillac Championship -23 Tiger Woods The Grove
2000 Bridgestone Invitational -21 Tiger Woods Firestone Golf Club
2012 HSBC Champions -21 Ian Poulter Mission Hills – Olazabal Course

With two World Golf Championships titles, Poulter became the seventh player with multiple World Golf Championships victories, joining: Tiger Woods (18), Geoff Ogilvy (3), Darren Clarke (2), Ernie Els (2), Phil Mickelson (2), Hunter Mahan (2). Poulter is the only Englishman on that list.

LEE WESTWOOD

Lee Westwood is playing in his 45th career World Golf Championships event, the most of any player in World Golf Championships history. He remains winless in World Golf Championships events but has several strong performances at the HSBC Champions since it became part of the World Golf Championships series in 2009: T8 (2009), 2 (2010), T13 (2011) and T6 (2012).

Most World Golf Championships Appearances (Accenture, Cadillac, Bridgestone, Official HSBC)

Lee Westwood 45*
Ernie Els 43*
Tiger Woods 41
Jim Furyk 40*
Phil Mickelson 40
Padraig Harrington 40
*includes start this week

Westwood carded a 61 in round three of the 2012 HSBC Champions, his lowest round in a World Golf Championships event and personal-best in a PGA TOUR or PGA TOUR co-sanctioned event, but shot 72 on Sunday to finish T6.

BUBBA WATSON

Two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is still in search of his first World Golf Championships victory. Watson has recorded two runner-up finishes at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship (2012, 2014).

Watson’s 2013-14 PGA TOUR season ranks as his best in his nine years on the PGA TOUR. He won the 2014 Northern Trust Open in February, thanks to a pair of stellar 64s on the weekend at The Riviera Country Club. Then he followed up that impressive showing by claiming his second green jacket at the Masters Tournament; his final-round 69 was the lowest score among the contenders. In addition, Watson posted three runner-up finishes (Waste Management Phoenix Open, World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, BMW Championship) and a third-place finish (the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance).

ERNIE ELS

At the 2012 HSBC Champions at Mission Hills Golf Club Guandong, Ernie Els played the front nine in 8-under-par and the back nine in 1-under-par en route to his second-career runner-up finish at the HSBC Champions. Els also finished runner-up at this event in 2009.

Els is one of seven players with multiple World Golf Championships victories. His two wins in the series came at the 2004 and 2010 Cadillac Championship.

BILLY HORSCHEL

The reigning FedExCup champion will make second appearance in the HSBC Champions (Finished T34 in 2013). He entered the 2013-14 FedExCup Playoff No. 69 in the standings. After missing the cut at The Barclays, finished T2 at the Deutsche Bank Championship after a disappointing shot on the 72nd hole with a chance at victory. Showed his resilience the following two weeks with back-to-back victories at the BMW Championship and the TOUR Championship presented by Coca-Cola to win the FedExCup.

Source: PGA TOUR

Author

Graham J Gordon, The Editor and Owner, GolfblogspotUK

The GolfblogspotUK website is owned and run by former Walker Cup player and European Tour card holder, Graham J Gordon, from Scotland, the Home of Golf. The owner is a golf fanatic who had to retire early from competitive tour play due to a back injury that required surgery. Graham wishes to share his knowledge and own experiences of the game with the GolfblogspotUK community and to receive your feedback on all aspects of the sport. Graham has been playing the game for over 20 years and received a great deal of pleasure from the sport. He has met several friends and visited many different places around the world, thanks to playing the great game of golf. Time to put a little back into the game to help others.

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