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Horses for Courses: ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP

4 Min Read

Horses For Courses

    Written by Mike Glasscott @MikeGlasscott

    The first of three international destinations in four weeks this fall takes the PGA TOUR to Japan and Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club outside Tokyo. Local hero Hideki Matsuyama leads the field of 78 as he returns to defend his championship.

    This will be the fourth edition of the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP but just the third in the land of the rising sun. The 2020 edition was played at the Sherwood Country Club in Los Angeles (due to COVID-19) but that won't be included in our focus this week.

    Tiger Woods won the inaugural edition in 2019 on 19-under by three shots over Matsuyama as the top nine posted rounds of 10-under or better. The return in 2021 saw the native son Matsuyama cruise to a five-shot win on 15-under and only three players reached 10-under or lower.

    The classic layout was built in 1968 and has a traditional two-green system. Those who have played the previous two events here will have head start on the small-ish, slow-ish Bentgrass surfaces. Off the tee Accordia Golf ranked in the top seven last season in toughest fairways to hit. Well protected green complexes will require up and downs to grind out pars. Elevation changes will require proper iron distances. The course has been stretched from 7,049 yards in the first two editions to 7,091 yards for this season.

    The Par-70 (34-36; 7,091 yards) includes five par 3’s,only one of which stretches over 183 yards. The three par 5’s provides two solid scoring opportunities, accounting for 31 percent of birdies last season. The other is a 608-yard beast. With five par 4’s at 480 yards or better, par will be a solid score this week.

    As always, when contemplating your picks, get full value by reading Power Rankings, Adam Stanley's The First Look and Statistically Speaking.

    Here are your Horses for Courses!

    Horses for Courses High Five

    - Players listed only if they are in the field for 2022 -

    Hideki Matsuyama (Win: +1300; Top 5: +250; Top 10: +120; Top 20: -200; Top 30: -450)

    Two starts yielded a WIN and solo second, 31-under aggregate. Opened 64, closed 65 last year. Led field in GIR and Sand Saves last year. Worst round from eight is 68 with half 64 or 65. True home court advantage as no language or cultural barriers to overcome. Scoring average 66.125.

    Keegan Bradley (Win: +2800; Top 5: +450; Top 10: +220; Top 20: +100; Top 30: -200)

    Two starts, T7 and T13, 13-under aggregate. Shares tournament course record of 63 (Hiroshi Iwata, Round 1 2022). Closed with 65 last year. Six of eight rounds par or better. Scoring average 68.38.

    Brendan Steele (Win: +8000; Top 5: +1100; Top 10: +500; Top 20: +225; Top 30: -125)

    T2 on debut last year as one of three to post 10-under or better. Opened and closed with 66 in first visit. All four rounds 70 or better. Circled 18 birdies (T2) and an eagle. Perfect from the sand from three tries. Ranked third in Putting Average.

    Sungjae Im (Win: +1000; Top 5: +190; Top 10: -125; Top 20: -250; Top 30: -500)

    Shared third in 2019 posting 14-under over the final 54 holes (64-67-65). His 107 putts led the field. Only winner Tiger Woods (27) made more birdies than his 20. DNS last year.

    Sebastian Munoz (Win: +4000; Top 5: +750; Top 10: +350; Top 20: +140; Top 30: -165)

    T4 on debut with all four rounds 70 or better. Round 2 66 best of the bunch. Led the field in Birdies (19). Top 15 in both Fairways and GIR.

    Odds sourced on Tuesday, October 11th at 2 p.m. ET.For live odds visit betmgm.

    Pipped at the Post

    Matt Wallace(Win: +10000; Top 5: +1400; Top 10: +650; Top 20: +275; Top 30: +110) - Opened 65-69 before 70-70 weekend for T4 last year. T4 Putting.

    Mackenzie Hughes(Win: +5000; Top 5: +750; Top 10: +350; Top 20: +150; Top 30: -145) - Posted final three rounds in the 60s for T4 last year. T2 Fairways, seventh Putting.

    Corey Conners(Win: +2800; Top 5: +450; Top 10: +250; Top 20: -110; Top 30: -250) - T6 in 2019. Sat 11-under thru 54 holes. Low round 64. Just six bogeys.

    Collin Morikawa(Win: +1400; Top 5: +250; Top 10: +120; Top 20: -190; Top 30: -400) - T7 followed T22. 11-under aggregate. A 64 in second round in 2019. Closed with three rounds in the 60s last year.

    Tommy Fleetwood(Win: +3000; Top 5: +450; Top 10: +220; Top 20: -110; Top 30: -250) - Opened 67-68 before T7 last year. Ranked second in Putting. Made two eagles in Round 1. 2019 debut T22 included 67-67 close.

    Luke List(Win: +8000; Top 5: +1200; Top 10: +550; Top 20: +225; Top 30: -125) - Closed with 67 with all four rounds 70 or better for T7. T2 Birdies (18) and T4 GIR.

    Xander Schauffele(Win: +850; Top 5: +160; Top 10: -145; Top 20: -300; Top 30: -600) - Sat 11-under after 54 holes in 2019 before 72 in final round. Posted 66-65 in middle two rounds. Had 20 tournament birdies in 2019, 14 more in 2021. T28 last year closing 68-68.

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