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Phil Mickelson of the United States watches his shot on the 10th hole during the first round of the CJ Cup PGA golf tournament at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. In China this week, Mickelson is trying to finish in the Top 50 for the 26th straight year. (Park Ji-ho/Yonhap via AP)
Phil Mickelson of the United States watches his shot on the 10th hole during the first round of the CJ Cup PGA golf tournament at Nine Bridges on Jeju Island, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019. In China this week, Mickelson is trying to finish in the Top 50 for the 26th straight year. (Park Ji-ho/Yonhap via AP)|Associated Press
Golf

PGA: Mike Kern picks Rose, Casey, Im and longshots at the WGC HSBC event in China and likes Alex Noren in Bermuda

The tournaments start Thursday.

Mike Kern

Mike Kern

Three weeks ago I had Patrick Cantlay as one of my picks, and he lost in a playoff. A week ago I had Hideki Matsuyama and Cameron Smith, the first at 16-1 and the other at 33, and they tied for third. Last week I had Matsuyama again, again at 16-1, and he came in second behind some guy named Tiger Woods. Who, as I had also duly noted, might have been worth at least a little bet mostly because he went off at 33-1.

Anyway, I don’t know what all that means, except it’s better than many of my college and pro football picks. But we have had six winners since we started doing this back in January, and more than a few close calls, so that ain’t too bad. I just hope that one of these guys can get us back over the hump again, hopefully soon. And I hope you’re also backing some of them to just finish in the top five or 10, as a hedge on your investment.

Now it’s on to the World Golf Championship HSBC Champions in China, the last of a three-leg Asian swing, which features another limited field of 78 players. So many of the top folks will be there, although two of them aren’t Brooks Koepka or Justin Thomas. Or even Tiger Woods, which is really never such a good thing.

World No. 2 Rory McIlroy is 6-1, followed by 2016 winner Matsuyama at 12-1 and defending champion Xander Schauffele at 14-1. Justin Rose, who won this in 2017, is 16-1. Paul Casey is 20-1, with Tommy Fleetwood and Tony Finau checking in at 25-1.

There are a half-dozen at 30-1: Adam Scott, Patrick Reed, Sungjae Im, Jordan Spieth, Henrik Stenson and Bernd Wiesberger.

Seven are at 40-1: Matt Wallace, Tyrell Hatton, Byeong Hun An, Shane Lowry, Billy Horschel, Rafael Cabrera Bello and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

Seven more are 50-1: Corey Connors, past champ Sergio Garcia (2008), Louis Oosthuizen, 2012 champ Ian Poulter, Adam Hadwin, 2010 winner Francesco Molinari and Danny Willett.

Some other names of note include Kevin Na, who just won a few weeks back, at 60-1. Phil Mickelson, a two-time winner here (albeit a long time ago), and 2014 winner Bubba Watson, are both 100-1. As is Christian Bezuidenhout, a South African who has a win this year and just finished third in a European event.

For whatever it’s worth Chez Reavie, Keegan Bradley and Kevin Kisner are each 80-1. Just in case you thought maybe I had a brain cramp.

So what’s it going to be? I probably should take Matsuyama again, just because. Just know that since I’m not, it might be a good idea to throw a little on him. It’s called the Mush Factor. I just have a problem with playing someone three straight weeks. It’s more or less a character flaw.

That being said, let’s try to get somebody all the way home this time.

Justin Rose, 16-1

He’s obviously won here, and has a really good record otherwise. Always seems to be there, so I’m backing that he will be in the hunt late once more.

Paul Casey, 20-1

Has a win recently, and that’s enough for me to think he has a legit chance in this spot.

Sungjae Im, 33-1

Has a win this season and tied for third last week. It might be asking too much for him to add a second title so quickly, but what the heck. It’s happened before, sometimes when you don’t expect it.

For a longshot I’ll take Bezuidenhout on the premise that anybody at those odds is pretty much a guess anyway. So tread lightly at best.

As a bonus hunch, I’ll throw just a taste on Ian Poulter at 50-1. You could do worse. Yo, if you like Sergio Garcia instead at the same number, go for it. I’m just sticking to a non-American card. Why ask why.

There’s another tournament going on this week, the inaugural Bermuda Championship, which is being held on Port Royal, a course I just happened to play in August. Imagine that.

Anyway, I won’t tell you I know everyone in the field, but rookie Scottie Scheffler is the favorite at 12-1. Alex Noren is 14-1, Beau Hossler 18-1. They’re some of the bigger names in the field. But Robby Shelton, who a lot of observers think highly of, is 40-1. Branden Grace, who’s had a few moments in his career, is 28-1. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend anyone, but it could be fun to have a horse or two in the race.

Lanto Griffin, who won recently in Houston, is 14-1. And Sepp Straka, at 25-1, is a bloke who seems to do well in these kind of secondary events, for whatever reasons.

If I just needed a rooting interest I would take Noren if only because he appears on paper at least to be the class of the field. Nothing wrong with that.

We’re off after this until the Mayakoba Golf Classic in Mexico, which tees off Nov. 14. Enjoy the break. Hopefully you’ll be a little richer entering it. And we will be back in a few days with our college and pro football picks, where we will try to do better. That’s all I can promise.

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