Rory McIlroy may have the sh*ts in China ahead of the HSBC Champions but that hasn’t stopped Paddy giving the competition the bum’s rush with a knock-out 7 places at the Sanderson Farms Championship Stateside.
A top-class field tee it up at the Sheshan International course where big-booming Yanks Dustin Johnson (2013) and Bubba Watson have won the last two renewals. Punters are starting to feel the love for Bubba again ahead of Thursday’s tee-off but here are the five best-backed pros in Paddy’s book as of noon on Wednesday.
Despite three wins this season it still hasn’t been Rory’s year with a dodgy club sandwich in China adding to his woes ahead of the end-of-term run-in. The former World No 1 blew some of the cobwebs away with a T6 in Turkey last week in his first outing since finishing 17th at the US PGA in August.
Lingered with real intent until a closing-round 71 saw him eventually finish six shots off winner Victor Dubuisson. Can only improve as his game gets sharper as he looks for his third Race to Dubai – or R2D – crown as the cool kids call it.
2. Branden Grace
A break-out year for the South African with two top 5 finishes at the US Open and US PGA Championship proving he’s more than just a one-trick pony on links courses.
His previous visit to the course saw him finish 39th but did win the China Open in 2012. Got back in the game when 17th behind Justin Thomas last week in Kuala Lumpar.
Lies sixth behind McIlroy in the R2D standings and a win here could really have Rory shi**ing himself with just two tournaments left before the oversized cheque is awarded in Dubai.
3. Patrick Reed
One of the world’s best golfers in his own mind – but Reed has performed well on his jaunts outside the States. A T10 at the CIMB Classic last week followed his winning appearance on the American President’s Cup team in South Korea.
Finished T22 here last year and more than capable of a good show but needs to stay away from the dark side if things aren’t going his way.
4. Kiradech Aphibarnrat
One of the few pro-golfers who makes Shane Lowry look like a gym rat – the exotically-named Thai boomer has won twice on Tour this season including a Shenzen International play-off win in April.
A notoriously streaky player he narrowly lost out to Victor Dubuisson in Turkey last weekend and has finished T4-T5-3 in his last three appearances. Aggressive off the tee but needs to let his head rule his heart more on approach shots. Arguably the form pony in the field.
5. Adam Scott
Lost his way a bit this season – despite Top 10s at the US Open and Open Championship but returned to some sort of form when a final-round 63 saw him finish runner-up in the CIMB Championship last weekend.
A ban on anchored putters begins on January 01 and Scott will need to post some solid scores in these final months before having to use the regular flat-stick and the American young guns’ onslaught ahead of the Ryder Cup awaits him next year on the PGA Tour.