Ahead of the second part of the inaugural ‘Final Series’, the WGC-HSBC Champions, europeantour.com goes inside returning host venue Sheshan International Golf Club with the help of former champion Martin Kaymer…
By Will Pearson, europeantour.com
This year celebrating its tenth since opening, the links at Sheshan International Golf Club in Shanghai were designed by Neil Haworth of Nelson & Haworth and come in at 7,266 yards and a par of 72.
Located just outside the western reaches of the bustling metropolis that is Shanghai’s famous centre, Sheshan delivers a real sense of peace and tranquillity – a remarkable trait given the sheer size of the city and its almost-24-million strong population which live in the surrounding area.
Set in the shadow of the Basilica of our Lady of Sheshan cathedral amidst gently-undulating hills, ancient woodland and serene waterways, this is the eighth time that Sheshan International has hosted the HSBC Champions and fourth since it became a World Golf Championships event in 2009.
Some of the trees which line much of the aesthetically pleasing layout are more than 1,000 years old Gingko and water comes into play on no fewer than 11 holes, while the resort is framed by Italian Tuscan-style villas constructed from the same authentic materials as the ivy-clad clubhouse.
After returning to Shanghai following one year in southerly Shenzhen, where Ian Poulter triumphed in 2012, European Tour stalwarts Sergio Garcia, David Howell and Francesco Molinari will be particularly pleased to be back at Sheshan having won this event here in 2008, 2005 and 2010 respectively.
As will Germany’s Martin Kaymer, who won the WGC-HSBC Champions here two years ago for his tenth and last European Tour victory.
“It’s always nice to come back to somewhere you have done well in the past,” said Kaymer, who came from a record five shots back to win with a blistering final day 63 in 2011. “I think it’s a brilliant course, it gets better every time and the crowds are nice too.
“The last few tournaments I have played I have got into contention but my short game has been letting me down. It is the only weak part of my game at the moment having spent a lot of time on my long game the last couple of years.
“I have been showing good form but perhaps if I need that little bit extra, coming back to somewhere I have won before could be it.”
“It’s a fairly long golf course with a couple of really big holes and you have to hit fairways. There are a lot of holes where you have to hit over the water for your second shot into the par fives so accuracy from the tee is important.
“There are a lot of dog-legs on the golf course so you really have to know the lines and carries but one of the trickiest aspects is when you miss the greens. They have these little fall-off areas and so if you miss the green you need to do a half flop shot, often to the tight pins, and that makes it tough.”
“They are big greens in general with a lot of undulations and a lot of ridges. But that is a good thing because they can use a lot of different pin positions on the course. Over the years we have seen a few new ones crop up so it will be interesting, as always, to see where they put the pins for the four competition days.”
The second – 550-yard par five
The 16th – 288-yard par four
The 18th – 538-yard par five
|shot is a tough one when the pin is on the left side of the green so you really have to have courage to go for the middle of the green because you don’t want to find the water or the bunker. A great, key finish.”
How it played last time out
Kaymer identifies two the most scoreable holes at Sheshan in the second and 16th holes, judging by the statistics from 2011 when the WGC-HSBC Champions was last hosted here.
The second hole ranked the easiest on the course that year at an average of 4.57 as it yielded ten eagles and 145 birdies over the week, while the signature par four 16th gave away six eagles and 105 birdies.
It was the monstrous 486-yard par four ninth which caused the most problems to the world-class field in 2011, averaging at 4.35 as 103 bogeys and 14 double bogeys or worse were posted there during the week.
Kaymer, meanwhile, won with an aggregate total of 20 under par two years ago, averaging 67 during the four competition rounds.