The Zozo Championship is back on Japanese soil after COVID-19 kept the tournament stateside in 2020.
Collin Morikawa is the top golfer in the field next week with Xander Schauffele, Paul Casey, and Tommy Fleetwood also teeing it up.
Meanwhile, Japan’s hometown hero Hideki Matsuyama will also be in the field with 5,000 fans per day being allowed to watch from the galleries.
Narashino CC is a tight treelined course with a lot of doglegs.
The par 4s are on one or the other side of the spectrum with not even one of them falling between 425-490 yards which leads to a few wedges but also some mid and long irons on approaches.
The par 70 course has three par 5s and five par 3s while the most unique thing with the course is that every hole has two greens and if you hit it on the wrong one the players will get a free drop.
The greens are Bentgrass and tricky to put on because of the heavy undulations.
The sample size is small, but the fairways were hard to hit but green in regulation numbers still above average hinting at soft greens and not to gnarly rough.
When we look at the leaderboard here from 2019 there seems to be a distinct correlation between stellar iron play and performing well here.
Not only did the best iron player to ever live win (please come back soon Tiger) we also saw the likes of Matsuyama, Sungjae Im and Corey Connors contend all of whom could be characterized as pristine ball strikers.
Here are some of the things I will be looking at/for:
- Par 3 scoring
- Strokes gained around the green
- Fairways gained
- Proximity 175-200 yards
- Bentgrass putting
- Strokes gained approach
Wagered: +35.61 units
Wagered: +170.92 units
2021-2022 season so far
Wagered: 10.5 units
Won: 23.68 units
Result: 13.18 units
The South African finished near the bottom of the field in his season debut last week but when you lose seven strokes putting through three rounds on a course that shouldn’t suit you at all, I wouldn’t put too much into that, and he did have a nice final round 66 gaining substantially on approaches and with the putter.
Now in a weak field on a course and with scoring conditions that suits him, he certainly grabs my attention. The fact that it’s also is several time zones away should also hand the guy who is used to cross oceans on his travels the upper hand on at least most of the Americans.
After a couple of slim years, Grace really found his game again last season winning for the first time since 2016 at the Puerto Rico Open and he followed that up with a T4 in a stacked field at the Memorial, a T7 at the US Open and ended the regular season with a runner up at the Wyndham.
All in all, he is just miss priced in a weak field and we have a really profitable value bet here in my opinion.
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