Thursday, September 30, 2010

WGC-HSBC Champions – Caddies share how to finish strong at Sheshan (18 hole version)

The WGC-HSBC Champions, which takes place this month (Nov), has rapidly built itself a global reputation, not just as one of the world’s leading events, but for both the quality of the Sheshan International Golf Club course and the excitement and drama that every tournament has created. 

Reigning HSBC Caddie of the Year Billy “Foz” Foster, who has guided Lee Westwood through his rise to superstar status sat down with Tim Maitland to explain how to plot your way around the Shanghai course. He was joined by fellow-Yorkshireman Phil “Wobbly” Morbey, Ross Fisher’s caddie whose 30 years on tour include long spells with legends Ian Woosnam and Jose Maria Olazabal.

Tiger Woods at Sheshan  
Tiger Woods on the 8th hole at Sheshan International Golf Club

Sheshan International Golf Club - Hole by Hole

for Sheshan's 14-18 exciting finishing holes only, click here
Hole 1 Par 4 459 yards 420 metres
Foz: It’s a fairly straightforward tee shot. Most guys will hit driver and nine iron to an elevated green. You’re probably looking to hit the middle of the green because it’s so undulating. 
Wobbly: There are lots of run offs and into the wind it can be as much as driver/five iron! It becomes quite tough because you also have to keep the ball flight down a little bit. 

Hole 2 Par 5 550 yards 503 metres
Foz: A good tee shot. It’s a dog-leg right-to-left and it’s easy to get sucked in down the left; it’s a 295/300 yard carry and if you try to bite off more than you can chew you end up in the hazard. You’re looking to give yourself probably a five wood for the second shot. If you get your tee shot away you’d be disappointed not to make a birdie even though your second is over water. There’s a lot of room on the right half of the green, so a lot of the guys will be aiming to the middle/right with their second shot.
Wobbly: The second and third are your birdie holes.

Hole 3 Par 4 362 yards 331 metres
Foz: Three iron to a five wood off the tee. Some players will try and get a bit clever and feed it down the right to leave themselves a wedge, but basically you’re looking at 250 yards off the tee, short of the bunker, and leave yourself a wedge; that’s the percentage shot. It’s an elevated green. It’s a possible birdie hole really, but again you’re looking at the middle of the green because there’s a lot of run offs and slopes.
Wobbly: You can get too cute with driver off the tee and put it into the trees on the right or push it into the bunkers on the left, so I don’t see the point. It’s about eight yards uphill to the green, so it’s quite an elevation.

Hole 4 Par 3 200 yards 183 metres
Foz: I never even noticed the (thousand-year-old) trees around the green. It plays around a five iron and you’re aiming to hit the right half of the green, because the left side of the green is only 15 yards deep and it’s quite easy to go into the back bunker. Make your three and get out of there!
Wobbly: It’s quite a firm green and when the pin’s on the top right if you over-fade it the front bunker will gobble it up. It’s a tough trap shot from there.

Hole 5 Par 4 456 yards 417 metres
Foz: It’s a good, tight driving hole and it’s easy to leak it into the right-hand bunkers off the tee. You’re really struggling to get the ball onto the green if you’re in those bunkers. It’s 300 yards to carry them so they’re right in range for driver for 95% of the guys. The second shot is again elevated, uphill, and again a lot of runs offs.  Middle of the green is a good place to be again, but the emphasis is on the tee shot.
Wobbly: You don’t want to be through the green. You’ve got the trees and the out of bounds left (by the green) if you just tug it a little bit you’re out of bounds into that mucky little river.

Hole 6 Par 3 200 yards 183 metres
Wobbly: This is tough especially when the pin’s back left. You haven’t got much room at all and the green is pretty firm. It’s really another middle-of-the-green shot.
Foz: If you’re on the right-hand side everything feeds away from you and runs into a swale and then you’ve got a tricky chip up and over onto the green or a long putt.
Wobbly: And it all feeds into the water if you’re on the left.
Foz:  Make your three and escape. It’s one of the toughest holes on the course. You can quote me on that!

Hole 7 Par 4 346 yards 316 metres
Foz: It’s a tricky little hole really considering how short it is, but if you’re “on your numbers” it’s a definite birdie chance.
A lot of guys will hit a four iron short of the fairway bunkers, and a pitching wedge in. But it’s a tight green and it’s not very deep; it’s quite easy to go over the green and down into the really big swale to the left. And you’ve got to carry a bunker to get to the right half of the green and if you only just carry it the ball will shoot away from you.
Wobbly: If the pin is back-right it’s worth having a go with the driver, but if it is front left, getting at the pin with a driver is a really tricky shot and it can come back to bite you if you get it wrong.

Hole 8 Par 5 603 yards 551 metres
Foz: It’s a massive advantage if you’re big bomber because you can go 290 yards over the left-hand fairway bunker, can get it onto the flat and get home in two. For a lot of the guys it’s just out of range and to be going into that green with a three wood is a very dangerous shot. Most guys will play it as a three-shotter.
Wobbly: I think Alvaro Quiros hit seven iron for his second shot there last year! Some guys will just hit three wood, a long iron and wedge. Even with a wedge it’s still a tricky par five.
Foz: And it’s one of the firmest greens on the course. For the real long hitters they can be looking for birdies, but even as a three-shotter it’s still a pretty dangerous hole.

Hole 9 Par 4 486 yards 444 metres
Wobbly:  Caddying for “Goose” (Retief Goosen) last year he hit driver over the bunker every day. I was thinking to myself “this is some play”, but he had such a good, high flight. We played with Ishikawa one day and he hit driver after we did and he hit the down slope after the bunker and ended up in the water. It’s a brave play with driver on that hole. That’s why most guys will hit three wood.
Foz: The thing with hitting three wood right is that the angle on the second shot is much more difficult because you’re hitting across the green and coming more across the water. That’s why you see guys taking the risk with driver and going more down the left.

Hole 10 Par 4 401 yards 367 metres
Foz: Most guys will hit three iron off the tee and leave themselves probably an eight iron in to an elevated green. It’s a three-tiered green and it’s obviously very important to get it on the right level. It’s quite tricky to get it close to the hole: it’s quite easy to go through the back into the swale back-right and it’s quite easy to pitch it at the front and spin it back off the front and it runs quite a way off into a bowl short left.

Hole 11 Par 4 456 yards 417 metres
Foz: It’s a driver for most guys – 270 yards to carry a bunker on the right half of the fairway – a comfortable drive for most guys. It’s a fairly wide fairway, so it’s driver and a wedge and a birdie opportunity really. It’s a genuine birdie chance.
Wobbly: Yeah, yeah, yeah! It’s a fairly flat-ish green; there’s not too much to that hole.

Hole 12 Par 3 217 yards 198 metres
Foz: It’s a fairly difficult long par three with a narrow green which you’re hitting across a little bit with a five or six iron to a front pin and a three iron to a back pin. It’s a pretty tricky par three. You’re quite happy with a three all day long there. If you make the mistake of getting on the wrong side of the hump across the middle of the green you’re struggling to make a three from both sides.
Wobbly: It’s probably the hardest green to get close on.

Hole 13 Par 4 411 yards 376 metres
Foz: You’re hitting up, over the hill, dogleg left to right. Some guys will try and hit it down the left with a two iron or maybe a three wood, but most guys will try and carry the corner. It’s 270 yards to carry the right side. You might try and hit a cut here with the driver and try and get it to the bottom of the hill leaving yourself with a pitching wedge in. There are a couple of different tiers to the green, especially at the back, but if you get your tee shot away it’s definitely a birdie chance.

Hole 14 Par 5 594 yards 543 metres
Foz: You’re trying to thread your driver up the right hand side, but it’s very easy to hit it into the big bunker on the left. If there’s not much wind you can get home in two, but again you’re coming on over the water and across the angle of the green. It’s easy to hit it over the back on the left side of the green. You can also hit it to finish just short left of the green, but most guys at this level, if they’ve got a chance to “flag” a three wood or five wood, they’re going to go straight at it and try and make eagle.
Wobbly: If you’re on the fairway you’d have to go for it. If you just overcut you’re second shot though, it will take the bank and go back into the water, so it needs a good shot to get it on the green.

Hole 15 Par 4 487 yards 445 metres
Foz: It’s a horrible hole.
Wobbly: The green is really tough here.
Foz: Most guys will go straight over the bunker on the left side of the fairway and try and get it right to the bottom of the hill, leaving a seven or eight iron. The green is a minefield.  If you don’t hit this fairway you ain’t hitting this green in two. There are three or four different levels to this green and it’s very important to be on the right level. It’s probably the toughest hole on the golf course.
Wobbly: If you don’t get in the right position on the green with your second shot it’s a definite three putt… unless you hole a 10-footer for par.

Hole 16 Par 4 288 yards 263 metres
Foz: This is a great hole… a great hole! Death or glory! This is where you’ve got to (take a deep breath), stand up and hit your shot. You can take the chicken’s way out; a four or five iron down the left side, leaving yourself a little wedge into the green and you’d probably make two birdies out of four. You’d probably score better than what you’d do with a three wood or a driver, but you just can’t help yourself! You see a chance to make a two and an easy three. It’s always a little cutty driver or a massive strong three wood and if you miss the green two yards right you’re in trouble and you’re making bogey.
Wobbly: And the pot bunker on the left of the green… you’re dead there as well. Usually they have the pin pushed front left towards that bunker and if you miss it left you’ve got no shot.
Foz: It’s a fantastic golf hole and it goes to show that length isn’t everything. Some of the best par fours in the world are short par fours. This hole it’s quite easy to make eagle and it’s quite easy to make double-bogey. That’s the beauty of the hole!
Wobbly: They’re great finishing holes. You can win it or lose it on these last three or four holes.

Hole 17 Par 3 212 yards 194 metres
Foz: It’s normally a seven iron off the tee, maybe more this year. It’s a pretty funky green. You’re looking to get it on the right level and if you’re not on the right level it’s a tough two putt. It’s a fairly straight-forward par three although it can run away from you at the back of the green.
Wobbly: It’s a middle of the green shot. You can’t be too fancy here. Just take your par.

Hole 18 Par 5 538 yards 492 metres
Foz: You’re hitting across the fairway a little bit and there’s a big down slope right where most guys will finish so they’re either right on the top of the hill or they’re on the down slope, which makes the second shot very, very difficult.
It’s a very subtle hazard. You’re hitting off a down slope, but you’re trying to get the ball up because you want the ball to be coming in from as high as possible because the green, which has water on three sides, runs away from you and it’s pretty firm. If you’re on that down slope, you’re better off laying up.
Wobbly: We were there one day last year… with a four iron and it still wasn’t even worth it. That’s where Ernie screwed up last year, playing off that down slope he went in the water.
Foz: If you don’t have a flat lie for your second shot you are just asking for trouble. You could do worse than hit it into the left greenside bunker, but even that’s a difficult shot because the green’s rock hard and runs away from you.

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The HSBC Caddie of the Year Awards
The annual caddie Oscars are, with the exception of the HSBC Caddie of the Year title (won by Billy “Foz” Foster in 2009), a light-hearted celebration of the contribution they make to the game. Foz and Wobbly were in the US when they sat down to give their insights to Sheshan, thousands of miles and months removed from the night, yet they were still talking about who won what in 2009 and who will take some of the more unwanted “accolades” this year.
Wobbly: The caddie awards are the highlight of the year!
Andy Prodger, KJ’s caddie who worked with Faldo, he’ll get “best dressed” caddie. You could put him in an Armani suit and he’d still look like a tramp. If he shows up he wins. He’s like Manchester United or Chelsea: if they show up they win.
They had “Boxie” (ex-pro and TV commentator Richard Boxall) up their presenting it one year, he’s very good. “Westie” (World number three Lee Westwood) was up there last year. Before that they had Howler (2005 HSBC Champions winner and former Ryder Cup player David Howell) which was very good. The banter’s great!
“Westie” and “Howler” are very quick. They asked Howler how important is it to have a good caddie. He said “I don’t know. I’ve never had one!”
Foz: It’s a good crack!
Wobbly: The awards are great and it’s a good laugh. Everybody relaxes and has a few beers.
Foz: When I got HSBC Caddie of the Year I was five per cent proud as opposed to 95 per cent embarrassed because I knew they’d all take the mickey. It’s a good family we have and it’s nice to be appreciated by someone like HSBC.

Sheshan – An Overview
The 7,266 yard (6,6643 metre) Nelson & Haworth designed layout is becoming famous for producing some of the best greens the players see anywhere in the world all year and some of the most spectacular, nail-chewing, rollercoaster-ride drama in the closing holes.
Wobbly: It’s a course that makes the caddies think a bit more, because you’ve got options on how to play it. You’ve got to suss out how your player is playing and how he’s swinging it and what the situation is in the tournament because it changes whether you’re winning or losing, especially the last few holes. There’s a few ways of playing the course; depending on where they stick the flags and where they stick the tees, your strategy can change. You can only lose it the first two days so you have to play it a bit more sensibly.
I think it’s a very good course and you’ve got to hit a lot of good shots.
Foz: It does give you a lot of options off the tee. You can be more defensive or if you want to attack it you can get some better lines into the greens.

WGC-HSBC Champions Sheshan International Golf Club 














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