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BlogZoZo Championship Preview and Picks

Zozo Championship

October 24th – 27th, 2019

Accordia Narashino Country Club

Chiba, Japan

Par: 70 / Yardage: 7,041

Purse: $9.75 million

with $1,755,000 to the winner

Inaugural Event

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

Of the field of 78 players, 56 of them are in the top 100 in the latest Official World Rankings, which is a remarkable number for a first-year event.  Of those 56 players, 31 of them are in the top-50 of the ranking, they are: #2 Rory McIlroy, #4 Justin Thomas, #8 Xander Schauffele, #10 Tiger Woods, #13 Tony Finau, #14 Paul Casey, #15 Adam Scott, #16 Tommy Fleetwood, #17 Patrick Reed, #18 Gary Woodland, #19 Shane Lowry, #23 Kevin Na, #24 Louis Oosthuizen, #25 Marc Leishman, #26 Matthew Fitzpatrick, #27 Hideki Matsuyama, #28 Jason Day, #31 Kevin Kisner, #32 Chez Reavie, #33 Bubba Watson, #34 Sergio Garcia, #35 Billy Horschel, #36 Rafa Cabrera Bello, #37 Jordan Spieth, #39 Ian Poulter, #41 Abraham Ancer, #42 Adam Hadwin, #43 Sungjae Im, #44 Andrew Putnam, #47 Byeong Hun An and #48 Keegan Bradley.

The field includes 10 of the Top 25 on last year’s final FedEx point standings for 2020.  Those players include #3 Justin Thomas, #4 Kevin Na, #5 Joaquin Niemann, #7 Adam Hadwin, #9 Sungjae Im, #11 Danny Lee, #15 Byeong Hun An, #T20 Pat Perez, #22 Marc Leishman and #23 Hideki Matsuyama.

This is the first time this event is being played.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the Zozo Championship

Player Nine Bridges Houston Open Italian Open Shriners Hospitals Spanish Open Safeway Open Dunhill Links Champ. Sanderson Farms Champ. BMW PGA Champ. The Greenbrier KLM Open Porsche European Open European Masters
Justin Thomas
(185.33 pts)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Na
(179.33 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP DNP Win
(132)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(177.33 pts)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(100)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T6
(60)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Sergio Garcia
(152 pts)
T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP T23
(9)
Adam Hadwin
(146.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Matthew Fitzpatrick
(120 pts)
DNP DNP 2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP T26
(16)
DNP T46
(4)
DNP DNP DNP T69
(0)
Hideki Matsuyama
(117.33 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP DNP T16
(34)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Joaquin Niemann
(116 pts)
T12
(38)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T54
(0)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP
Patrick Reed
(108 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP T15
(23.33)
T36
(4.67)
DNP
Byeong Hun An
(105.33 pts)
T6
(60)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP 3
(60)
DNP T47
(2)
DNP DNP DNP
Danny Lee
(102.67 pts)
2
(100)
DNP DNP T71
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Pat Perez
(102.33 pts)
T31
(19)
DNP DNP 3
(90)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Sungjae Im
(99 pts)
T39
(11)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T49
(0.67)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Rory McIlroy
(94.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T26
(16)
DNP T9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
Tommy Fleetwood
(93.33 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(46.67)
DNP T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
Andrew Putnam
(91 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP DNP T18
(32)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T21
(29)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Gary Woodland
(90 pts)
T3
(90)
DNP DNP T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Viktor Hovland
(84.67 pts)
T31
(19)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(39)
T10
(26.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Charles Howell III
(83.33 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP DNP T68
(0)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Nate Lashley
(83.33 pts)
T20
(30)
DNP DNP 62
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP
Ryan Moore
(80.33 pts)
T8
(50)
DNP DNP T13
(37)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Billy Horschel
(80 pts)
64
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T4
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Dylan Frittelli
(73.67 pts)
T43
(7)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T7
(36.67)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Paul Casey
(73 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
DNP
Tony Finau
(71.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP DNP T10
(26.67)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Harold Varner III
(68.67 pts)
T26
(24)
DNP DNP T48
(2)
DNP T17
(22)
DNP DNP DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Streelman
(68 pts)
T12
(38)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Adam Long
(64 pts)
T46
(4)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T23
(18)
DNP T23
(18)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP DNP
Marc Leishman
(63.67 pts)
T43
(7)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 3
(60)
DNP DNP DNP WD
(-3.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Graeme McDowell
(62.33 pts)
T16
(34)
DNP T15
(35)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Corey Conners
(56 pts)
T12
(38)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T13
(24.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Joel Dahmen
(54.67 pts)
T43
(7)
DNP DNP T9
(45)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T36
(9.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Shane Lowry
(52.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T15
(23.33)
DNP T11
(39)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Ryan Palmer
(51 pts)
T12
(38)
DNP DNP T37
(13)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Rory Sabbatini
(50.33 pts)
T31
(19)
DNP T10
(40)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T46
(1.33)
T63
(0)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the Zozo Championship

Player Nine Bridges Houston Open Italian Open Shriners Hospitals Spanish Open Safeway Open Dunhill Links Champ. Sanderson Farms Champ. BMW PGA Champ. The Greenbrier KLM Open Porsche European Open European Masters
C.T. Pan
(-16.67 pts)
56
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Abraham Ancer
(-16.67 pts)
T57
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Satoshi Kodaira
(-16.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Max Homa
(-10 pts)
T65
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T62
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Bubba Watson
(-8 pts)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T47
(2)
DNP DNP DNP
Jason Kokrak
(-6.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP T63
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Vaughn Taylor
(-6.67 pts)
T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T60
(0)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Keith Mitchell
(-6 pts)
T46
(4)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Jazz Janewattananond
(0 pts)
T65
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Sanghyun Park
(0 pts)
T60
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

So it’s off to Japan in an event that not only has a lot of FedEx Cup points (500) but a purse of $9.75 million with the winner getting $1.75 million.  This event replaces the CIMB Classic which was played in Malaysia for nine years but never achieved the popularity of not only player interest but for the folks in the country, the tournament was played in.  But with the PGA Tour going to Japan for the first time, the interest has been incredible.  Not only by the interest of the folks in Tokyo in which every day will see a sellout but the fact that so many marquee names have shown up.  14 of the top-25 World Rank players are in the field and the fact that 56 of the top-100 is mind-bogging.  Now making this even more remarkable, players will show up to a tournament because they like playing a certain golf course or in a tournament, other than those Japanese and Asian players that are members of the Japan Golf Tour the other players have never seen Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.  Now the Zozo Championship will be a part of the PGA Tour until at least 2025, a lot of interest in going to Japan from some of the players is probably scooping out Tokyo which will host the 2020 Summer Olympics which golf will be a part of.  The event is co-sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour Organization (JGTO) and 10 players from the JGTO will be part of the 78-golfer field.  Eight players received sponsor exemptions including former Japanese teen phenom Ryo Ishikawa and rookie sensations Viktor Hovland and Matthew Wolff.  In addition, 2019 major champions Tiger Woods (Masters), Gary Woodland (U.S. Open) and Shane Lowry (The Open Championship) are in the field.

Talking about Tiger

This will be Woods’s first event since he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on August 21st.  He told media that the knee was bothering him last year and he was close to having it done after his Hero Tournament in the Bahamas, but it meant he wouldn’t be about to play at Torrey Pines the end of January.  Even with the win at the Masters, things got worst and by the summer the knee was really bad, probably the reason for his poor summer.  It has always struck me as sad that Tiger just can’t be honest on some of these things, in the back of my mind I knew by the number of tournaments he was playing something was up and when he didn’t play well at Bethpage, Pebble and Liberty National I feared the worst.  So now that we see it was an easy fix, we are hopeful to see if Tiger can regain some of that magic that helps him win the Tour Championship and Masters.  It will also be interesting to see how he does this week because he isn’t in the field next week in China so this is the last we see of him before he decides on his choices for the Presidents Cup.  Tiger did play in the Japan Skins Game and won $60,000 (Jason Day won with $210,000) and despite not playing bad to start hit some good shots over his last 12 holes.  The one thing, Tiger showed a lot of confidence and with 4 picks, there is some room for him on the team.  As of right now, you have to think that Kevin Na has earned a spot on the team, but after that, it’s pretty wide open as Woods will have to consider himself, Gary Woodland, Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler, Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, and Phil Mickelson.

Course information:

Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club
  • 34 – 36 = 70
  • 3,279 – 3,762 = 7,041
  • There are 5 par 3s, 10 par 4s and 3 par 5s
  • All 5 par 3s are under 191 yards
  • There are 3 par 4s under 400 yards, 5 par 4s over 480 yards
  • 1 par 5 over 600 yards

The big question is why this course was picked?  It’s not one of the best courses in Japan and it’s not a brute of a course.  But it’s a good layout and is in a great section outside of Tokyo that will be able to handle spectators.  The original course opened in 1965 and a second 18 was open soon after. Japan course architect Junya Fujita did both and they have held several professional events the biggest being the 1977 Japan Open.  Now the course being played will be a composite of the 36 holes as it will play to a par 70 at 7,041 yards.  Now the first thing for everyone to realize, this is a very short course under the standards of having the best players in the world play it.  With Zoysia fairways, the course will play to its true yardage, but the combination of a lot of mature trees and most of the holes bending to one way or another take the driver out of the hands of the long drivers.  The rough is thick, but since most of the shots will be between a 6 iron to pitching wedge it’s nothing the pros can’t handle.  There are a lot of thick trees that line the fairways and wayward drives will cause problems for those that don’t drive it straight so straight drivers will have a big advantage.

One thing the players will find strange each hole will have two greens, that’s because they have summer and winter greens.  What the PGA Tour did was pick the green that was in the best shape and presented the best challenge.  The greens are big and will be easy to hit from the fairways, they do have some undulations.  The players will find the greens a bit slow for what they are used to so this could be a big advantage for poorer putters.  Bunkers are no problem and are there are more for cosmetic looks and any chip around the green will be easy.

Now the only negative for the week is the weather, each day is going to be in the high 60s with rain on Friday and Sunday.

DraftKings tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

Justin Thomas – $11,800

Rory McIlroy – $11,500

Hideki Matsuyama – $10,700

Xander Schauffele – $10,400

Paul Casey – $10,100

Jordan Spieth – $10,000

Adam Scott – $9,900

Tommy Fleetwood – $9,800

Patrick Reed – $9,600

Gary Woodland – $9,500

Viktor Hovland – $9,400

Tiger Woods – $9,300

Tony Finau – $9,200

Collin Morikawa – $9,100

Matthew Fitzpatrick – $9,000

Another great week in which there won’t be a cut so we can have all six players generating points for 72 holes.  Have to say as much as I like Justin Thomas at $11,800 and think he is playing well right now, I will pass on him.  I just don’t think he has throttled back in his vocabulary and I think that could be a problem with him on this course.  Also, don’t think he is good on slow green.  Remember this course is night and day between the one he won on in Korea last week.  The same with Rory McIlroy at $11,500, the slow greens will be good for him but I saw him struggling off the tee in the skins game on Monday and think it will continue.  Hideki Matsuyama at $10,700 is a very good choice, he can play a course like this and slow greens will be good for him.  This is the way he grew up and learned how to play golf so look for him to win in his home country.  Xander Schauffele at $10,400 is a good pick, great course for him this is a bit like East Lake which he was 2nd on a couple of months ago. Paul Casey at $10,100 is also a great choice, he won a month ago in Europe and always plays well at the Travelers which is played on a course that is a lot like Narashino Country Club. Jordan Spieth at $10,000 could be good if he is smart and leaves his driver in the bag.  If he is looking for a course to say he is ready to break out of this slump and tell Tiger Woods he can play on the Presidents Cup team, this is it.  Adam Scott is $9,900 and many wondered why he didn’t play in Korea, well he was at the Japan Open where he finished T-5th.  I have to say Scott is very high up on my list of guys that will do very, very well this week.  Tommy Fleetwood at $9,800 has not shown us much of late and probably is not a good pick this week.  This same with Patrick Reed at $9,600, yes he played well at the BMW PGA Championship finishing T-4th but just don’t think this is the same type of course.  Gary Woodland is $9,500 and despite finishing T-3rd last week in Korea, I just don’t think this course suits him and doesn’t think he will do well.  Viktor Hovland at $9,400 is a tough choice, I think the course will be good for him but hasn’t shown any form so have to say no to him.  But for Tiger Woods at $9,300 I say yes, he showed in the Skins Game that he can play the course and I can see him winning this week.  Tony Finau at $9,200 is a tough question, this course is a lot like Colonial on the PGA Tour and Finau was 2nd at the Charles Schwab at Colonial so he can play courses like this.  Collin Morikawa at $9,100 is not a good choice, his game has not gone the right direction and doesn’t see it getting any better.  Last of our elite group is Matthew Fitzpatrick at $9,000 he is a tough choice considering he was 2nd in his last start in Italy so I leave it up to you, I have so many others that I just don’t need him.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Jason Day is $8,900 and showed some good form in the Skins Game, still, I am going to wait on him.  Sungjae Im at $8,800 is a choice on this course, yes I liked him last week and he let me down finishing T-39th but I see him bouncing back this week.  I also like Joaquin Niemann at $8,200, this is the type, of course, I can see him do very well on.  Shane Lowery is $8,000 and is a question mark.  Yes, he is good but hasn’t reached the level we thought he should reach after winning the British Open, but he is still a work in progress.  But you want your true bargain of the week, it’s Kevin Na at $7,900.  Not only is he playing well, but this course is also a lot like Colonial which he won on.  I could easily see him in the top-three this week.  Billy Horschel is at $7,700 which is a great price for a guy that plays this kind of courses well.  The same with Kevin Kisner at $7,600 and Ian Poulter at $7,500.

*Some of the “bargains” this week at the Zozo Championship

Can’t get any better than Charles Howell III and Pat Perez at just $7,300.  Both play well on these short courses and will do well.  Shugo Imahira at $7,100 is a great local choice, he was T-12th last week, winner the week before, T-7th the week before that and 2nd at the Panasonic.  He hasn’t been out of the top-12 in his last seven starts.  Hard to believe that you can get Ryan Palmer at $6,900.  He plays well on these short, tree line courses and you know this could be a great week for him.  Remember Jazz Janewattananond and how well he played at the PGA Championship.  This week he is at $6,400 and well worth the price considering he finished 4th two times in his last three starts on the Japan Tour.  Ryo Ishikawa at $6,400 is also a good bargain, he had two wins in Japan over the summer and has played well since.

Here are some more key stats to look to for this week:

The key stat for the winner:
  • Of the field of 78 players, only a handful have seen the course.  So for each player, it will be a new adventure learning the course.
  • The course will be in perfect condition and the greens will be easy for the players.  But with doglegs and plenty of trees, players must find the players and stay out of the trees
  • So those that think they can bomb away and run away with the tournament will have a big problem.  Finesse and strategy will be very important in doing well for the week.
  • Have to think that players that like slow greens will do better, those that scramble well will also have a good week.
  • One last thing, look for players that have done well of late.

Who to watch for at the Zozo Tour Championship

Best Bets:

Kevin Na

He is the best for tree line courses and since nobody has a real advantage due to local knowledge I can see him playing better than anyone else.

Adam Scott

I have been saying for weeks he is on the verge of winning, this is a great place for him.  Hit’s it straight, he is great on slow greens and played well last week in the Japan Open finishing T-5th.

Paul Casey

He is good at these short, tree-lined courses in which man striking is a big advantage.

Best of the rest:

Justin Thomas

He is playing the best but I am a bit worried about his driving which could find him in the trees.

Rory McIlroy

I have the same worries for Rory as I have with Justin, could spend too much time in the trees.  But if he is really smart he could do great this week.

Xander Schauffele

This is the type of course that he shines on, is very good into the greens

Jordan Spieth

He has been George of the Jungle with his driver, but if he is forced not to use it could be very good and break out of his slump this week.

Joaquin Niemann

Played well at the Travelers which is on a course a lot like this one.

Solid contenders

Tiger Woods

Now that his physical problem is solved I can see him doing very well this week, the course is good for him because he thinks so well.

Sungjae Im

This guy has really played great and I can see him doing the same this week

Shugo Imahira

Best player in Japan right now, he hasn’t been out of the top-12 in his last seven starts.

Jason Day

Played solidly in Skins game, a good sign for him to play well this week.

Billy Horschel

Plays well on these tree-line, shortest courses

Long shots that could come through:

Charles Howell III

Likes playing this time of year, also like short tree-lined courses

Jazz Janewattananond

Has finished 4th  in two of his last three starts on the Japan Tour

Ryo Ishikawa

Has had a great summer, winning twice on the Japan Golf Tour.

 

Comments

  1. howister12@verizon.net says:

    odds never come up . are we having a problem or is it on ur end . thanks

  2. If it’s the Las Vegas Odds, fixed it.

  3. howister12@verizon.net says:

    Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

  4. howister12@verizon.net says:

    u really like kevin na this week?

  5. howister12@verizon.net says:

    no home town hideki.

  6. Yes, this is a strange course for these guys and the type of course that Na plays well on.

  7. Odds comes up fine for me
    http://golfodds.com/weekly-odds.html

  8. Guess your saying I didn’t pick Hideki, that’s right. Don’t like him this week.

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