After moving to Sherwood Country Club in California in 2020 due to Covid-19, the ZOZO Championship returns to the site of the inaugural event, Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan, where Tiger Woods collected his 82nd win on the PGA Tour to tie Sam Snead for the most career victories. It’s the first Tour event to be held in Asia since the pandemic, with last week’s CJ Cup remaining in Las Vegas before an expected return to South Korea in 2022.
The ZOZO Championship, like last week’s tournament, is limited to the top 60 finishers in the 2021 FedEx Cup along with qualifiers from the co-sanctioning organization Japan Golf Tour Organization and a number of sponsor’s exemptions to complete the 78 player field. The defending champion is Patrick Cantlay at Sherwood, but the reigning FedEx Cup winner will not be playing, nor will Woods, leaving the ZOZO without either of its prior victors.
Accordia plays to a par 70 at 7,041 yards, on which Tiger Woods won with a 19 under a total of 261 over 72 holes. Many of the golfers who competed in the Olympics will return to play again in Japan, including gold medalist Xander Schauffele, bronze medalist C.T. Pan, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, Open Championship winner Collin Morikawa and Tommy Fleetwood, among others.
Schauffele at +600 and Morikawa at +750, coming off a sizzling final round 62 that left him one shot behind winner Rory McIlroy at the CJ Cup, are the two clear wagering favorites in the ZOZO Championship. Two players who lost out to Pan in the bronze medal playoff, Paul Casey at +1400 and Japan star Matsuyama at +1600 are next, just ahead of PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Will Zalatoris, who has odds of +1800 and is playing on one of the handful of sponsor’s exemptions.
Englishman Fleetwood is at +2200 and Rickie Fowler, who was unable to convert his two shot third-round lead into a win last week to end a two-and-a-half-year drought, is at +2500, a big improvement on his +8000 odds in the CJ Cup. Further down the odds list are former PGA champions Keegan Bradley at +4000, Pan with odds of +4500, and PGA Tour winner from Japan Satoshi Kodaira at +20000.
Very few of the top finishers from 2019 are back for another try at Accordia, but Adam Schenk finished in a tie for 22nd and is coming off a third-place finish in the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas two weeks ago. At odds of +5000, his recent success and familiarity with the course make him a good choice to make a serious run this week.
Ryan Palmer missed the cut at the Shriners in his only 2021-2022 season appearance, but he recorded a top ten finish in the 2019 ZOZO Championship and is currently ranked 41st in the Official World Golf Rankings and made it into the second 2021 playoff event but failed to make into the Tour Championship. The four-time Tour winner has odds of +5500 and is worth the wager to return a serious payout.
Popular Harry Higgs, the former Latin American Tour player who has found a way to stick it out on the big Tour, finished in a ninth-place tie last week at the CJ Cup and has odds of +6500 to capture his first event on the PGA Tour. He is currently in 31st in the FedEx Cup standings in the young season after finishing 66th following two top 16 finishes and three made cuts to finish in his final three events of 2021.