The first World Golf Championship (WGC) event of the 2019-2020 PGA Tour has arrived in the form of the WGC-HSBC Champions taking place this week in China. WGC events are staged by the International Federation of PGA Tours, and are official events on the PGA Tour, European Tour, Asian Tour, Japan Golf Tour, South Africa’s Sunshine Tour, and the PGA Tour of Australasia. They are seen as the most prestigious events outside of the majors, and offer some of the most lucrative payouts in golf. The WGC-HSBC Champions is hosted by Shanghai’s notoriously difficult Sheshan International Golf Course, and the event is also the final event before the PGA Tour’s new 3 week fall break.
2018 Champion Xander Schauffele
Last year, Xander Schauffele claimed his first WGC title, winning the title despite never outright leading at the end of any round. Schauffele started strong with a 66, putting him into an early tie for second with Tony Finau, 2 strokes behind Patrick Reed. Finau jumped to first at the end of the second round, boasting -11 while Schauffele sat in fifth with a -7. The waters were further muddied after the 3rd round when Schauffele’s 69 put him into a 3-way tie for second with Reed and 2017 champions Justin Rose, 3 strokes behind leader Finau. Schauffele then shot the low score of the final round with a 68, memorably sinking birdies on his final 2 holes, to force a playoff with Finau. Schauffele’s momentum carried to the playoff where a birdie on the first hole was enough to beat Finau and claim the title. The win was Schauffele's first WGC title and third on the PGA Tour.
Schauffele returns to defend his title after a T10 performance at last week’s ZOZO Championship. Justin Rose will make his season debut at the event he won 2 years ago. Also in the field is Phil Mickelson, teeing off for the second time in Asia this year after skipping the ZOZO Championship. 2019 FedEx Cup winner Rory McIlroy is also in the field, along with Kevin Kisner and Presidents Cup hopeful Jazz Janewattananond. Tony Finau returns to see if he can get over the line this year and claim what would be just his second PGA Tour win. The Korn Ferry Tour’s regular season points leader Xinjun Zhang is the highest profile Chinese golfer in the field, and his home country will hope for a strong showing from Zhang and the 5 other Chinese golfers in the field.
Rory McIlroy tees off again this year. Photo credit: PGA Tour
Television coverage of the WGC-HSBC Champions is provided by the Golf Channel. Coverage starts late on Wednesday and Thursday, 10pm-4am ET. Coverage Friday and Saturday begins at 10:30pm-4am ET with the tournament ending early Sunday morning. There will be no streaming coverage from PGA Tour Live or radion coverage through PGA Tour Radio of the event.