The HSBC Champions is the first elite tournament of the 2016-17 PGA Tour season, and the third on the new season’s schedule.
With a purse of over $9 million, eight of the world’s Top 10 players will be competing in Shanghai, including three of the Top 5: #2 Dustin Johnson, #3 Rory McIlroy, and #5 Henrik Stenson.
Its defending champ, Russell Knox, enters the tournament with 4 straight Top 25 finishes, including three coming in the highly-competitive FedEx Cup playoffs (T15 Deutsche, T17 BMW Championship, 23 Tour Championship, T10 CIMB Classic).
Here are 10 things to know about the first World Golf Championship event of the season.
1. Launched in 2005
The HSBC Champions was created in November 2005 as an off-season (“silly season”) event that offered big money to an elite field. In 2006, it became an official European Tour and Asian Tour event.
It was not, however, an official PGA Tour event, and didn’t count as an official win or earned money. Champions during this timeframe included: David Howell (2005), Y.E. Yang (2006), Phil Mickelson (2007, 2009), and Sergio Garcia (2008).
2. Official PGA Tour Event in 2010
In 2009, the HSBC became an official WGC event, and in 2010, the HSBC Champions counted as an official PGA TOUR victory — provided the tournament was won by a Tour member.
Oddly, prize money did not count toward the official PGA Tour money list, even if a Tour member won the event. Tournament winners during this timeframe included: Francesco Molinari (2010, unofficial PGA Tour win), Martin Kaymer (2011, unofficial PGA Tour win), Ian Poulter (2012, official PGA Tour win).
3. Official FedEx Cup Event in 2013
After eight years of not counting, and/or sort of counting, HSBC announced as part of its title sponsorship renewal, starting with the 2013 event, the HSBC would become a part of the PGA Tour’s FedExCup schedule, awarding official money and FedExCup points (and a three-year exemption).
Dustin Johnson won the first “official” PGA Tour WGC-HSBC Champions event in 2013, while Bubba Watson (2014), and Russell Knox (2015) are the two other “official” winners.
4. Lots of World’s Best in Field
There are eight of the top 10 players from the Official World Golf Ranking in the field, including Dustin Johnson (2), Rory McIlroy (3), Henrik Stenson (5), Adam Scott (6), Patrick Reed (7), Bubba Watson (8), Danny Willett (9), and Rickie Fowler (10).
5. And Lots of Major Winners in Field
The field in Shaghai includes 10 major championship winners: Rory McIlroy (4), Martin Kaymer (2), Bubba Watson (2), Dustin Johnson (1), Louis Oosthuizen (1), Charl Schwartzel (1), Adam Scott (1), Henrik Stenson (1), Jimmy Walker (1) and Danny Willett (1).
6. Sheshan International Golf Club
Sheshan International Golf Club, an 18-hole, par-72 golf course, was designed by renowned golf course designers, Nelson & Haworth. Featuring well-placed bunkers throughout the golf course along with, deep collection areas, beautiful water features, and undulating greens, Sheshan provides a beautiful and challenging golf course.
As the venue for the WGC-HSBC Champions, Sheshan has played host to the best PGA Tour players in the world.
7. Winning… Big League
The winner in Shanghai will walk away with $1.6M in earnings, 550 FedEx Cup points, and a three-year PGA Tour exemption. He will also get a ticket to Kapalua for the 2017 Tournament of Champions, along with two major championships in 2017 (Masters Tournament and PGA Championship), as well as THE PLAYERS Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
The winner also earns exemptions into six additional invitational events on the PGA Tour such as the Memorial and Arnold Palmer Invitational.
8. Real Old Ginko Trees and Lots More
Sheshan International Golf Club features the oldest trees you will find on a PGA Tour golf course. On Hole No. 4 there are two 1,000 year-old Ginko trees. Overall, there are reportedly 60,000 trees scattered throughout the grounds of Sheshan.
9. United Nations of Golf
The field at the first World Golf Championship of the season showcases a truly international field.
Of the 78 players teeing it up at the HSBC Championship, 58 are from outside the United States.
10. Phil Mickelson’s Two Wins… That Didn’t (“Officially”) Count
Phil Mickelson has won twice at the HSBC Champions, and neither counted as official Tour win for his career. In 2007, Mickelson won the event when it was only an official event on the European Tour.
Two years later, in 2009, Mickelson won again in Shanghai. And even though it had become an official World Golf Championship event, it was still not sanctioned as an official PGA Tour event.