2021 ZOZO Championship Odds: Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa Lead The Field
2021 ZOZO Championship Odds: Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa Lead The Field
After a two-week stint in Vegas, the PGA Tour heads to Japan for the ZOZO Championship. Due to COVID-19, the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club will host the first PGA Tour event in Asia since the 2019 renewal of this event.
This event has provided two world-class winners so far, with Tiger Woods winning the first renewal at this golf course before Patrick Cantlay won the 2020 edition at Sherwood Country Club in California. Unlike last week, where the field was stacked with over 50 PGA Tour winners, the ZOZO Championship has taken a hit in terms of field strength, largely due to the uncertainty of travel during COVID-19. With that said, there is still a trio of the very best here, in Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele and Hideki Matsuyama, so there’s still a chance for a hat-trick of world-class winners on this roll of honor.
ZOZO Championship Odds
How to watch the ZOZO Championship
Television: Wednesday (into Thursday)-Thursday (into Friday): 11:30 p.m.-2:30 a.m. ET (Golf Channel). Friday (into Saturday)-Saturday (into Sunday): 11:30 p.m.-2:45 a.m.
Qualifying Criteria for ZOZO Championship Field
Winner Bridgestone Open (Japanese Tour)
Next available finishers from Bridgestone Open
Top 7 available from Current Year Japanese Tour Order of Merit
Top 60 Available on Prior Season's FedEx Cup Points list
Last Year's ZOZO Championship
Last year, we saw Patrick Cantlay overcome a four-shot deficit on the final day, to beat nearest challengers, Jon Rahm and Justin Thomas by one. This was the first of Cantlay’s four wins on the 2020/21 PGA Tour season, and he took full advantage of the event moving to his home state.
On the back nine, Cantlay birdied four of his first six holes, thanks to a hot putter and posted a number when a few groups ahead of favorites, Rahm and Thomas. Rahm and Thomas played some pretty messy golf on the closing stretch to allow Cantlay victory, but the American didn’t mind one bit.
As we return to the same course this event debuted on back in 2019, it may pay to look back at the 2019 renewal, which Tiger Woods won. Woods won his 82nd PGA Tour title in fine fashion. He opened with a pair of 64’s and backed them up with rounds of 66-67 over the weekend to ensure a wire-to-wire victory to beat home favorite, Hideki Matsuyama by three strokes in a Monday finish.
The ZOZO Championship Favorites
Collin Morikawa - Collin Morikawa is making his third start in this event, and will look to improve on his record at the ZOZO. 22nd here on debut when still finding his way on the PGA Tour, he now returns as one of the best in the world, and fresh off a 2nd place finish at this home club last week in Vegas. A second-round 64 here two years ago saw him temporarily climb into the top-10 and he stayed inside the top-15 after round three as well, so it looks like he could enjoy this course.
It’s hard to suggest that Morikawa should have won yesterday when he shot a 62 and still come up short, but anyone that watched the back-nine coverage will certainly have seen him pass up a couple of golden opportunities.
Xander Schauffele - Xander didn’t quite live up to his hype last week, as he was one of the group being mentioned as a home favorite due to his recent relocation to Las Vegas. The Olympic gold medalist and four-time PGA Tour champion is one of the favorites almost every time he tees it up, and he loves these short field events. We spoke about the fact that he enjoys knowing he’ll play four rounds regardless last week, and he proved that to be the case, waiting until Sunday to shoot his best score (63). That final round was five shots better than he’d shot any other day and vaulted him into the top-20. With momentum going into this week, and a 10th place finish on his course debut in 2019, where he was 4th going into the final round, much will be expected of him again.
Hideki Matsuyama – The reigning Masters Champion will return to Japan to play in a tournament for the first time since becoming a major winner, and he is in for quite the hero’s welcome. He was 2nd here to Tiger Woods in 2009, so he will be expected to play well again in his home country.
Paul Casey – T17 here in 2019, Paul Casey will look to take advantage of a weaker field this time around. He has played well at correlating courses and events in the past and I suspect he will perform to a decent level once again, after a reasonably positive week at the CJ Cup (T25).
Tommy Fleetwood – Fleetwood played incredibly well over a three-event stretch on the European Tour either side of the Ryder Cup (T2-T12-T7) and with a weaker PGA Tour field than he’s used to, he will be keen to impress this week. With a 2nd in the China Open and T7 at the WGC China alongside 3rd place finishes in Hong Kong and Thailand, Fleetwood has fond memories in this region and will look to improve on his record in this event.
ZOZO Championship: Course Guide and Breakdown
Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, Chiba Japan
Length: 7,120 Yards
Designer: Shinya Fujita
Greens: Bentgrass – Typical of Japanese golf courses, there are two greens for each hole here at Narashino Country Club, with just the one being used on any given day.
Course Record: 63 (Keegan Bradley and Rory McIlroy, 2019)
Keegan Bradley and Rory McIlroy hold the course record here, as they both shot rounds of 63 in 2019, and Tiger Woods opened up with pair of 64’s to start his winning week which suggests the course is gettable.
While the front-nine more often than not encourages less-than-driver off-the-tee, the back nine demands you use it often, so while it is hot iron play that is going to be the order of the day on this tight and fiddly layout, typical of courses in Japan, a good, accurate driver of the ball is required for much of the course.
This is an unusual layout, with the five par-3’s all 190 yards or less, while five of the par-4’s stretch over 480 yards and five are less than 425, so it’s a real mixed bag on this course. Two of the three par-5’s will be easily reachable in two if you get a good drive away and while this heavily tree-lined course can see you get yourself in trouble, it’s still generous enough to yield scores heading toward the -20 mark at the end of the week, if the conditions are right.
ZOZO Championship - Correlating Courses & Events
CJ Cup (2017-2019 @ Nine Bridges) - Looking at the top-10 at this course two years ago, multiple names stand out as having played some of their best PGA Tour golf at the CJ Cup when in Korea.
Gary Woodland who finished 5th here two years ago had 2nd and 3rd place finishes at Nine Bridges before coming here.
Corey Conners who was T6 here in 2019 finished T12 at Nine Bridges the week before.
Byeong Hun-An was T8 here a week after finishing T6 at Nine Bridges.
Danny Lee who was T10 here in 2019 was 2nd the week before at Nine Bridges.
Ryan Palmer was T3 at the 2018 CJ Cup before finishing T10 here in 2019.
Justin Thomas who didn’t quite crack the top-10 (T17) here in 2019 is also a two-time winner at Nine Bridges.
Now of course the first thing you could say is that when this event was played here in 2019, they were playing a week after the CJ Cup, so those that played well at both could well have just been in good form, but looking at some of the players who have played well at Nine Bridges in 2017 and 2018 and then well here gives me enough confidence in the correlation between the two. A lot of the field may not have had the chance to play Nine Bridges, given the two-year hiatus from the course but if they have, it is worth considering their results there.
2021 Olympics @ Kasumigasecki Country Club – With the same original designer responsible and the close proximity between the two courses, this looks like a good comparison. Of those that played at the Olympics and will play this week, the following finished inside the top-20. Xander Schauffele won Olympic gold, C.T. Pan won bronze and Collin Morikawa, Hideki Matsuyama, Paul Casey and Sebastian Munoz all tied for 4th. Joaquin Niemann and Sepp Straka tied for 10th, while Jhonattan Vegas tied for 16th with Alex Noren, Scott Vincent and Tommy Fleetwood.
Any other Asian Golf – Tiger Woods had won three times in Thailand and twice in Japan before winning here in 2019, and generally played very well in Asia, but to use the best to play the game to highlight a correlation seems a moot point.
Hideki Matsuyama won eight times in his home country from 2011-2016 and also won the WGC in China back in 2016 as well. He finished 2nd here behind Tiger.
Xander Schauffele won the WGC in China, went on to win the Olympics and has top-3 finishes at the Dunlop Phoenix in Japan (T2) and CIMB Classic in Malaysia (T3). He finished T10 here two years ago.
Sungjae Im had a host of decent finishes in Japan and Korea before playing full-time in America and also finished T11 at the WGC in China in his rookie year. He finished T3 here in 2019.
Rory McIlroy finished T3 here with Sungjae two years ago and has a good record himself in Asia. He won the WGC in China and the Hong Kong Open and also lost the latter in a play-off as well to prevent him from becoming a two-time champion.
Gary Woodland who was 5th here in 2019 also finished runner-up twice at the CIMB Classic and had another 5th there, while also finishing 2nd and 3rd at the CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Billy Horschel was T6 here and has top-14 finishes at the WGC in China (T11), the CIMB Classic (T11) and the Dunlop Phoenix (T14).
Corey Conners (T6 here), ended 2019 with finishes of T12 (CJ Cup), T6 (ZOZO) and T20 (WGC China) to show a clear liking for this part of the world.
Charles Howell III had three top-10’s at the CIMB Classic, and top-20’s at the WGC China (T15) and the CJ Cup (T19, T20) before finishing T8 here.
Byeong Hun An (T8 here) had won in Korea, finished 4th in Thailand, had two top-11’s at the CJ Cup, a T13 at the CIMB and two top-19 finishes at the WGC in China.
South Korean-born New Zealander, Danny Lee finished 3rd in a Korean event as a 17-year old amateur and has been great in this part of the world since. 2nd at the CJ Cup the week before finishing T10 here, T2 at the Volvo China Open, T5 in Singapore, T9 at the Dunlop Phoenix and 7th and 13th place finishes at the CIMB, he has a good record in this part of the world.
Finally, Ryan Palmer had T3 and T12 finishes at the CJ Cup and a T7 at the CIMB Classic in 2011 to show a liking for this region, before finishing T10 here.
Valspar Championship – Another short, tree-lined course, it makes sense that the Copperhead Course in Tampa would provide some crossover for this event.
Tiger Woods has finished 2nd on the Copperhead Course and won here.
Gary Woodland was 5th here and is a former winner of the Valspar.
Paul Casey is a two-time winner of the Valspar and was T17 and just outside the top-10 here in 2019.
Corey Conners led the Valspar for the first three rounds in 2018 before blowing up on the final day, and finished T21 again there this year.
Keegan Bradley shares the course record here and finished 2nd at the Valspar this year.
Sungjae Im has finished T4 and T29 at Copperhead and T3 here.
Charles Howell III has a great record at Copperhead, with his T2 finish in 2009 the highlight. He was T8 here in 2019.
Danny Lee has a T7 finish at the Valspar and that T10 here.
ZOZO Championship Key Stats
SG Approach - A key stat every week, the old metric of Greens in Regulation is not often enough of an identifier of good play anymore, we must know who’s hitting their irons closer than others, and setting up legitimate birdie chances.
Driving Accuracy - After two weeks in the desert where you could almost fire your driver at will on most holes, there are times on this golf course where you’ll have to play for position. Even when you do have driver in your hand you’ll have to be cautious, as the fairways will pinch in at 280 yards and beyond. Those finding the most fairways this week will give themselves plenty of opportunities to attack these greens.
Par 4 Performance - While scoring will be made on the par-5’s this week, and that will be key to any success, taking advantage of the four par-4’s under 425, and not dropping shots at those nearing the 500-yard mark is going to be key.
Par 3 Birdie or Better - Five Par-3’s is fairly rare on a PGA Tour course, and all of them being 190 yards or less even more so. As a result, the players will need to make sure they get close to the pin on these holes and convert.
Incoming Form (Last 8 weeks)
Top-10 for adjusted score average and their results.
Collin Morikawa – 63-28-2
C.T. Pan – 6-11
Rickie Fowler – MC-3
Xander Schauffele – 49-3-18
Jhonattan Vegas – 14
Harold Varner III – 12-16-11-32
Adam Schenk – 51-MC-3
Harry Higgs – 38-MC-27-9
Tommy Fleetwood – 2-12-7-38
Kyoung-Hoon Lee – 12-MC-14-25
ZOZO Championship Event Form
*This is the second ZOZO Championship at this course (2019, 2021) as last year's renewal was contested at Sherwood Country Club.
Top-10 for adjusted score average in this event.
Ryan Palmer - 10-4
Keegan Bradley - 13 (2019)
Hideki Matsuyama 2-28
Lanto Griffin - 11 (2020)
Sung-Hoon Kang - 17 (2019)
Xander Schauffele - 10-17
Sebastian Munoz - 14 (2020)
Adam Schenk - 22 (2019)
Alex Noren - 17 (2020)
Sungjae Im - 3-41
ZOZO Championship - Early Leans
Collin Morikawa – Rinse and repeat from last week. He could have easily won the CJ Cup, missing some golden birdie chances on the back-nine yesterday and he returns to a course where he shot a 2nd round 64 two years ago. A better player now and the class in the field, Morikawa can build on last week’s return to form. He is a worthy favorite.
C.T. Pan – The 3rd best iron player in the field over the past eight weeks, C.T. Pan has made a hot start to the 2021/2022 season, finishing T6 and T11 in two starts. A bronze medallist down the road at the Olympics in the summer, Pan will enjoy this short layout as a winner of the RBC Heritage and a 3rd place finisher at Colonial. He was only T59 here in 2019, but Pan has improved significantly since then and is in much better form.
KH Lee – Back-to-back top-25’s to start the season, and a pair of 66’s over the weekend at the CJ Cup, KH Lee looks in good form again. A two-time winner in Korea and once in Japan, Lee clearly likes playing close to home and he can go well on this layout. Lee currently ranks 8th in the field over the last 8 weeks in SG Approach, 4th in Driving Accuracy and 28th in Greens in Regulation, leaving him 4th in Total Accuracy on Tour the past three months, a great sign for this week.
Adam Schenk - Schenk was T22 here on debut, T18 at the Valspar earlier this year and has been a much improved player of late. Three top-4 finishes on the PGA Tour in his last nine events, including when T3 at the Shriners, where he led after 54-holes, Schenk looks in good shape for a maiden PGA Tour victory soon. Given the weaker field compared to the 2019 renewal, there would be no surprise if Schenk significantly improved on his 2019 effort.
Takumi Kanaya – Takumi Kanaya is Japan’s next great hope and he will be looking to follow in the footsteps of compatriot, Hideki Matsuyama and become a major champion. Until then though, he will look to bank some good finishes in these sort of events and secure playing rights on the PGA Tour. A winner in Japan in each of the last three years (once as an Amateur), Kanaya can build on six-straight top-16 finishes in Japan and play well this week in better company.
The ZOZO Championship Full Field
- Keegan Bradley
- Wesley Bryan
- Paul Casey
- Wyndham Clark
- Tommy Fleetwood
- Rickie Fowler
- Doug Ghim
- Branden Grace
- Lanto Griffin
- Emiliano Grillo
- Bill Haas
- Chesson Hadley
- Brandon Hagy
- James Hahn
- Kramer Hickok
- Kazuki Higa
- Garrick Higgo
- Harry Higgs
- Ryo Hisatsune
- Charley Hoffman
- Tom Hoge
- Rikuya Hoshino
- Mackenzie Hughes
- Ryuji Imada
- Shugo Imahira
- Matt Jones
- Takumi Kanaya
- Sung Kang
- Naoyuki Kataoka
- Chan Kim
- Si Woo Kim
- Ryosuke Kinoshita
- Chris Kirk
- Satoshi Kodaira
- Jinichiro Kozuma
- K.H. Lee
- Luke List
- Adam Long
- Peter Malnati
- Hideki Matsuyama
- Tyler McCumber
- Maverick McNealy
- Troy Merritt
- Collin Morikawa
- Sebastián Muñoz
- Kevin Na
- Keita Nakajima
- Naoto Nakanishi
- Matthew NeSmith
- Joaquin Niemann
- Alex Noren
- Henrik Norlander
- Ryuichi Oiwa
- Carlos Ortiz
- Tomoharu Otsuki
- Ryan Palmer
- C.T. Pan
- Pat Perez
- Andrew Putnam
- Doc Redman
- Sam Ryder
- Xander Schauffele
- Adam Schenk
- Roger Sloan
- Kyle Stanley
- Brendan Steele
- Sepp Straka
- Robert Streb
- Tomoyasu Sugiyama
- Brendon Todd
- Cameron Tringale
- Erik van Rooyen
- Jhonattan Vegas
- Scott Vincent
- Jimmy Walker
- Matt Wallace
- Will Zalatoris