The PGA Tour makes its way out of Las Vegas after a two-week stint in the desert of Nevada. With Rory McIlroy coming through at The CJ Cup, yet another high-caliber player found his way into the winner’s circle by the end of the week. Taking the charter flight across the Pacific Ocean, a similar event will take place this week in Japan at the ZOZO Championship.
As it did in 2019 when Tiger Woods captured his 82nd PGA Tour title. After opening his ZOZO Championship with three consecutive bogeys, Woods found hardly any trouble the rest of the way. On the shoulders of precise iron-play – Woods’ bread and butter – he was able to finally catch Sam Snead for the most wins in PGA Tour history. Still sitting alongside Snead at the top of the list, Woods has not been able to surpass his counterpart up to this point in his career.
Hosting 78 players and featuring no-cut at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, the ZOZO Championship was unfortunately relocated last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unable to play in Japan, the PGA Tour opted to play at Sherwood Country Club just outside of Los Angeles in Thousand Oaks, California.
In what was a tightly contested battle throughout the week, Patrick Cantlay found his name at the top of the leaderboard come Sunday. Courtesy of a final round 7-under 65 at last year’s ZOZO Championship, the eventual FedEx Cup champion got the better of Justin Thomas by one-stroke and world No. 1 Jon Rahm by two-strokes.
This year, it is world No. 3, Collin Morikawa, leading the way in the 2021 ZOZO Championship odds. On the heels of a runner-up performance at The CJ Cup, closing with a bogey-free 10-under 62, the 24-year-old returns to Japan for the first-time since narrowly missing out on the bronze medal in the 2020 Olympic Games.
Listed at +750 on the ZOZO Championship odds board at BetOnline Sportsbook, our odds calculator gives Morikawa an 11.76 percent chance to win. A bit further down the ZOZO Championship betting odds, you’ll find Hideki Matsuyama at +1200. The fan-favorite and runner-up in the 2019 ZOZO Championship, Matsuyama is set to make his fourth start this season.
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2021 ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS
Odds as of October 20 at BetOnline Sportsbook
How Will Players Fare In Their Return To Japan?
Plenty of Olympians will tee it up this week at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club. Two hours east of Kasumigaseki Country Club, some will hope their success in the Olympic Games can translate to success in the ZOZO Championship. While gold medalist Xander Schauffele and bronze medalist C.T. Pan will make appearances this week, Hideki Matsuyama will as well.
Playing in front of his home country’s fans for the first time since his historic Masters victory, Matsuyama will have all eyes on him. No fans were permitted on the grounds of Kasumigaseki Country Club a few short months ago, as 5,000 fans per day will be allowed on the grounds this week.
Opening his season with a top-10 finish at the Fortinet Championship, Matsuyama has struggled to find his touch on the greens in this young season. Perhaps a jolt from his fellow countrymen and women can aid him in such as he finished runner-up to Tiger Woods at this very course two years ago.
Course And Analysis
Seeing Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club for only the second time, there are some unnerving questions ahead of the ZOZO Championship. Stretching to nearly 7,100 yards and playing to a par-70, the property boasts an unconventional five par-3's to offset the three par-5's. Looking to the 2019 ZOZO Championship, we can decipher what it takes to succeed in Chiba, Japan.
While Woods and Matsuyama were the top two names on the leaderboard in 2019, it was Gary Woodland and Keegan Bradley who played alongside Woods in the final group on Sunday. With their names plus Rory McIlroy and Sungjae Im mixed into the fold, ball-striking immediately comes to mind.
Especially iron-play as Woods has long been proclaimed the best iron player of all time, with Morikawa hoping to change that by the end of his career. Ranking inside the top five in the following categories in 2019 – greens in regulation, birdies made, par-3 scoring and par-4 scoring – Woods eventually won by three-strokes.
With double greens throughout the course, precision will be paramount this week. Iron-play will take the lead at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, meaning par-3 scoring will also be making a rare appearance in our analysis. Coupled with keeping the ball in the fairway as the majority of holes are tree-lined and a complete ball-striker with a propensity to find from on bent grass greens is our profile for this year’s ZOZO Championship winner.
ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP Expert Picks
C.T. Pan (+4000 To Win)
One of the hotter golfers on the PGA Tour this season has been Pan. Having gone to the well with him at the Sanderson Farms Championship, I feel comfortable going back to him in this limited field setting. Seeing him as long as +6600 at various sportsbooks, the way the bronze medalist has played since the Olympics has been inspiring.
Beginning his season with a tie for sixth at the Fortinet Championship and a tie for 11th at Country Club of Jackson, perhaps a return to Japan can push him across the finish line. Gaining strokes from tee-to-green in four consecutive starts now, Pan has done most of his damage on shorter, point A to point B type golf courses.
That is what he should get this week at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club. With past success on tighter golf courses such as Harbour Town Golf Links, he should feel comfortable on this par-70. Despite finishing in a tie for 59th in 2019, Pan mustered together two rounds of under-par golf and should be able to put all four in the red at this year’s ZOZO Championship given his current run of form.
Carlos Ortiz (+5000 To Win)
Much like Pan, there are larger numbers floating around for Ortiz in the +6600 range. Playing last week at The Summit Club, the Mexican was finally able to get past his woes from around-the-green. Posting 6.10 Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Ortiz rode his hot iron play to a top-25 finish. Gaining more than 4.56 strokes with his scoring clubs, the Olympian was just a better putting performance away from well, a better result.
Posting –4.07 SG: Putting in the first-round, his numbers on the greens look a bit skewed due to such an outlier performance. Willing to forgive such an effort, the Olympian found his touch down the road at Kasumigaseki Country Club not too long ago. With rounds of 65-67-69 to kick off his Olympics, Ortiz was well-positioned amongst the likes of Schauffele, Matsuyama, and Morikawa before falling off the eventual pace.
With strong ball-striking figures in each of his three starts this season, I am hoping it too catches the charter flight to Japan. Coming up on the one-year anniversary of his maiden victory on the PGA Tour, Ortiz has always had an affinity for golf during the fall months. Making his debut at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, if Ortiz’s short-game can hold up, he could make it a ZOZO Championship to remember.
Pat Perez (+12500 To Win)
Rounding out our ZOZO Championship outright selections is Perez who will be making his second appearance at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club. Having a strong finish to his 2020-2021 PGA Tour season – capturing four top-20 finishes in his last six starts – Perez unfortunately began his new campaign on the wrong foot in Napa.
Playing poorly in the second round of the Fortinet Championship, I am willing forgive his play at Silverado Resort and Spa. Instead, I’ll attempt to take a long-term view on the 45-year-old as he is always worthy of consideration when playing on a tight, tree-lined courses. Hitting fairways at a higher clip than the competition in 11 of his last 13 outings on the PGA Tour, I expect more of the same this week in Japan.
With two of his three career victories coming outside the United States, Perez is comfortable in the international landscape. Coincidentally getting the better of Gary Woodland in the 2016 OHL Classic and Keegan Bradley in the 2017 CIMB Classic, their success in the 2019 ZOZO Championship could be an indication of Perez’s chances this week.
Here’s a helpful guide to some of the different betting options for the Zozo Championship to help you put some extra cash in your pocket while wagering on golf.
Golf is unique for many reasons, but one of them is the significant number of betting props available at weekly tournaments. The Zozo Championship is no different.
Sportsbooks are offering odds on things like whether there will be a hole-in-one, OVER/UNDERs on the winning score for the eventual champion and odds on which players from specific countries will have the lowest score, to name a few.
Like other sports, betting on props is a fun and unique way to enhance your golf gambling experience.
Live Betting is arguably one of the most exciting ways to bet on golf. If the player you placed a pre-tournament bet on is out of the running at any point during the Zozo Championship, you can bet on another golfer as the days go by and have another stake in the game.
If there are only a few men in the hunt on the final day, the odds likely won’t be significantly high, but your chances of winning are. We’ve seen this happen multiple times in the PGA Tour’s Return to Golf, as multiple tournaments have gone to a playoff.
These helpful pages will assist you in handicapping your golf wagers:
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