Expert Picks: 2014 WGC-HSBC Champions


This week marks the fifth event of the 2014-15 PGA Tour season, as players head to China for the WGC-HSBC Champions. Each week, a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players, based on Golf Channel's fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel includes: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and John Antonini; editorial director Jay Coffin; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; host Charlie Rymer and defending fantasy champion Ryan Lavner.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Justin Rose: The Englishman finished tied for fourth last week at the BMW Masters, picking up where he left off last season with his tie for fourth at the Tour Championship.

Group 2: Graeme McDowell: Also was solid last week at the BMW Masters (T-16), and the Northern Irishman has come close in China before with third-place finishes at the WGC-HSBC Champions in 2011 and last season.

Group 3: Ryan Palmer: The American will have an advantage over many in the field having played last week’s BMW Masters and already beaten the inevitable jetlag, and he has finished inside the top 10 in three of his last four starts.

Group 4: Alexander Levy: Although he fell short last week at the BMW Masters (T-2), he already has one victory in China this year at April’s Volvo China Open and may be the European Tour’s hottest player at the moment.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Sergio Garcia: Coming off a T-2 finish last week in Malaysia, Sergio seems primed to contend once again in China.

Group 2: Keegan Bradley: Despite playing very well at times, Bradley’s 2013-14 campaign didn’t materialize as he’d envisioned. This one will be better.

Group 3: Ian Poulter: He’s made enough cash at the last two HSBC events to buy a fleet of cars – which knowing him, he undoubtedly did.

Group 4: Anirban Lahiri: I’m legitimately excited about this big hitter playing the big boys in his first career WGC start.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Sergio Garcia: Coming off a tie for second at the CIMB, with a fourth-place finish in this event in China a year ago. The Spaniard's having a lot of fun again.

Group 2: Martin Kaymer: His win among three top 10s at Sheshan International bodes well.

Group 3: Ryan Palmer: The guy's been on a solid run since the PGA Championship with four top 10s.

Group 4:Alexander Levy: Won the Volvo China Open in April, won in Portugal a few weeks ago.

John Antonini

Group 1: Sergio Garcia: Although he hasn't won, Garcia is perhaps the most consistent player on the planet in the last six months. No matter where he plays, the Spaniard can be counted on to post a top-five finish. This week should be no exception.

Group 2: Martin Kaymer: I'm going with a foursome of Europeans this week because the tournament means more to them as a part of the Tour's Race to Dubai than it does to Americans who are playing for 2015 FedEx Cup points. Kaymer won in China in 2011.

Group 3: Ian Poulter: He's really a no-brainer in this group. The winner in 2012 and runner-up a year ago, Poulter is a combined 42-under-par at the HSBC Champions the last two years.

Group 4: Pablo Larrazabal: A solid T-5 in last month's Volvo World Match Play has him ranked 27th on the European Tour money list. He's no one-year wonder, either, having been in the top 40 since 2011. Larrazabal began his year with a win in Abu Dhabi.