ZOZO Championship

Accordia Golf, Chiba, Japan

The ZOZO Championship returns to Japan following the Covid-related U.S. detour in 2020. Tiger Woods won the inaugural event in 2019 and Patrick Cantlay prevailed last season. Neither will be in the 78-man field starting October 21.

The class of the field begins and ends with Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Hideki Matsuyama. All three played in the CJ Cup last week with Morikawa coming up one stroke short of Rory McIlroy. Schauffele had a strong week with a T18 and Matsuyama had a decent start but ended up 15 strokes behind and a T59.

The golf course is not long at just over 7000 yards with a premium on accuracy off the tee. It has bentgrass greens so there will be birdies to be had but the winning score will likely be south of -20 unlike the previous two weeks in the Vegas area.

Who should win? – Collin Morikawa (7.5/1)

I placed him in the same category last week and – until further notice – will continue to be one of the top 5 picks regardless of field strength. Accurate and long enough off the tee with a great approach game and good to very good putting, Morikawa has it all.

Who could win? – Schauffele (7.5/1), Matsuyama (11/1)

Schauffele should absolutely contend this week. He always seems to be in the hunt and had a top-10 last time the event was played on this course. Matsuyama does not seem to get fazed playing in his home country and despite playing mediocre golf lately, he should be in the picture this week.

Longshots to consider – Alex Noren (35/1), C.T. Pan (40/1)

These two are not classic longshots but their odds to win are attractive given they have both posted good results recently. The course probably suits Noren’s game better than Pan’s but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see both contend this week.

Who will win? – Rickie Fowler (30/1)

Fowler has had two down years in a row with few bright spots before last week’s T3. His performance will either be a one week blip or could be similar to what Jordan Spieth experienced last season when his game came storming back. In a limited field, with no cut and the confidence of his recent success, I think Fowler is a good bet to get back to the winner’s circle.

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