Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: PGA Tour/ Japan Tour: The ZOZO Championship Preview

PGA Tour/ Japan Tour: The ZOZO Championship Preview

Golfer lines up iron shot

The inaugural staging of this highly lucrative new addition to the PGA Tour will actually be the first full PGA Tour event hosted in Japan. As such, it will co-sanction the event alongside the Japan Tour. 

US PGA Tour/ Japan Tour 2019/2020 | The ZOZO Championship
Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, Izhai, Chiba, Japan
Thursday 24 October 2019 - Sunday 27 October 2019

Last week’s CJ Cup saw Justin Thomas once again underline his growing authority during the Asian Swing. The inaugural staging of this highly lucrative new addition to the PGA Tour will actually be the first full PGA Tour event hosted in Japan. As such, it will co-sanction the event alongside the Japan Tour. Clearly the presence of Tiger Woods is sure to capture the imagination. His performance is telling this week as it may go a long way to finalizing Tiger’s mind in regards to his participation at the President’s Cup. The event was preceded by a four-man skins event to get the taste-buds tingling.  Jason Day held on to win ahead of power duo Woods and McIlroy, while local hero Hideki Matsuyama had to settle for 4th. 

Narashino was opened in 1965 and is a fairly small, tree-lined test. Some of the fairways are quite narrow while the smaller than average greens are extremely unique. Narahsino is actually a 36-hole facility. Every hole finishes with two greens complexes, a feature deployed to maximize efficiency in altering seasons. If a player finds the incorrect green on his approach, he will be allowed relief off the green but no closer to the hole. There has been quite a deluge of rain in Japan and the first two days look set to be miserable. That will likely make the weekend a birdie extravaganza, with soft conditions and virtually no wind. Finding fairways will be advisable while approach play will be crucial. That was even evident in the Skins event, with proximity to the hole critical on difficult greens.

Justin Thomas unsurprisingly leads the markets this week. I’m inclined to swerve him this week after last week’s exertions. Rory grew into his Skins round, playing some glorious iron shots as the day progressed. Tiger and Hideki Matsuyama will monopolize crowd sympathies this week. Jordan Spieth showed some encouraging sings in South Korea while the exceptional Xander Schauffele gets his season under way this week. It is an excellent limited field this week, with the likes of Patrick Reed and Paul Casey lurking menacingly outside the favourites circle. 

Outright Betting (To Win)
Justin Thomas (7/1)
Rory McIlroy (8/1)
Hideki Matsuyama (18/1)
Xander Schauffele (22/1)
Jordan Spieth (25/1)

Value Bets

Adam Hadwin
To Win (50/1), To Place (11/1)

Canadian Adam Hadwin has always been a precocious talent, with a 59 on the PGA Tour bearing testament to that. But he has really hit the ground running this year, with a pair of top 4 finishes in his only two starts. Last time out at TPC Summerlin he only registered three bogeys the entire week. He sat 1st in greens in regulation that week, which will be a vital statistic this week. He currently sits 4th in shots gained tee to green on tour, which is a further endorsement of his exacting approach play. Add that to a putter that seems to be behaving - he currently sits 12th in strokes gained putting- and you have a potent recipe for success. 

Ryan Moore
To Win (66/1), To Place (14/1)

I’m looking towards Ryan Moore to perhaps surprise a few people this week.  The burly American has certainly been on an upward trend of late. He started the season with a missed cut at the Safeway Open but improved with a T13 at the Shriners. He went even better at Nine Bridges where he eventually settled for a T8. Though Moore pummels the ball considerably, he is actually fairly accurate from the tee-box. He currently sits 10th on tour for driving accuracy. That should keep him in good shape on these slightly narrow fairways. 

The Man to Beat

Hideki Matsuyama
To Win (18/1), To Place (39/10)

Opting to steer clear of Thomas and McIlroy, I have instead set my sights on crowd favourite Hideki Matsuyama. Hideki Matsuyama will be the first to tell you that he hasn’t quite delivered on the promise that saw him become a WGC champion. But things have been trending in the right direction for some time now. He finished 3rd last week for his 2nd top 10 finish in five starts. During that run he also picked up a T12 at the Tour Championship and a T16 at the Shriners. Yes, he finished 4th in the Skins event. But I wouldn’t read too much into that exhibition. His stats just demand attention for this week’s test.  He currently sits 3rd in shots gained tee to green. He also sits 5th in shots gained approach. This could just be the week to really reignite Matsuyama.

Written by Damien Kayat for Hollywoodbets

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