Sobel’s 2019 Zozo Championship Betting Guide: Fade Tiger, Follow Tony in Japan


Thomas J. Russo, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Tony Finau

Oct 22, 2019, 01:10 PM EDT

Welcome to Zozo Championship week, the inaugural Japan-based PGA Tour event whose field list reads simultaneously like a who’s who of elite players and a who’s he of, well, not-so-elite players.

There’s Rory McIlroy and Rikuya Hoshino, Tiger Woods and Adam Schenk, Justin Thomas and Shaun Norris.

Of all the have-and-have-not tournaments in the world, this one immediately ranks amongst the most have-and-have-not-iest, as officials should probably place a literal line of demarcation on the practice range to separate the two factions.

As if the differentiation of names wasn’t mind-boggling enough, let’s check out the alternate list to see which players didn’t make it: In order, there’s Jhonattan Vegas, Branden Grace, Charley Hoffman, Tyrrell Hatton, Chesson Hadley, Brian Stuard, Kiradech Aphibarnrat, Cameron Smith and Danny Willett. That’s a hell of a group of guys who got shut out.

While it’s hard to imagine each of them biding their time on the putting green, waiting for someone to stub a toe, there’s at least something funny (or fishy) about the world’s 49th-ranked player being the fourth alternate in a 78-man field.

Let’s get back to those who are actually competing this week. We were afforded a first glance at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club during Monday’s televised Skins Game. At right around 7,000 yards, this one won’t be confused for a U.S. Open setup anytime soon. Without much length or rough, long hitters should be able to punch their golf balls with less than driver at times, while ball-strikers should thrive.

On the heels of Thomas winning the CJ Cup at 20-under, I can’t foresee this week’s champion not similarly reaching that number, at the very least.

This one is admittedly more of a guessing game than any other week, so I’ll weigh talent, form and motivation a little bit more than any analytics we think might correlate well here.

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Outright Winner

One player to win the tournament.

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