ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP Odds & Best Bets: Will Zalatoris Headlines 3 Picks at Narashino
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Will Zalatoris.
The PGA TOUR heads back to Japan for the first time since 2019 this week for the ZOZO Championship. Narashino Country Club will host this no-cut event for the second time after seeing Tiger Woods’ most recent win on TOUR at this event’s debut two years ago.
Unfortunately, this year there will obviously be no Tiger, but it will also be missing many of the sport’s top names. The field is headlined by native Hideki Matsuyama, and Americans Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa. Those three players lead the odds market with the American duo battling for the top spot at the books around +600 in most places.
As I dug in to find my favorite plays for the week, I found that there wasn’t much data available due to it only being played one year, and Strokes Gained data is unavailable.
Using more traditional stats, the one thing that jumped out to me was the importance of par-3 scoring. Narashino is a par-70, but that is with three par-5s and five par-3s, making the short holes play a more important role this week.
In Tiger’s win he was the best in the field on the par 3s with a scoring average of 2.55, which was 0.2 shots better than the rest of the field. He was able to not only manage them, but also score on those holes, which will factor into my targets this week.
Lastly, there was a huge storm that rolled through this course when they played in 2019, bringing nearly 10 inches of rain mid-tournament. It resulted in a Monday finish and also soft course conditions that likely produced lower scores than may be expected this week.
Overall, though, we just don’t have enough information to rely entirely on one rain soaked tournament, so my picks will look to attack the course as a whole.
Click here to see the full odds board, courtesy of DraftKings.
|Si Woo Kim||+3500|
|Erik Van Rooyen||+4000|
|Kyoung Hoon Lee||+5000|
Will Zalatoris +2000 (PointsBet)
I really came into this week not expecting to go anywhere near the top of the leaderboard. As I started putting everything together, though, Will Zalatoris continued to check all of the boxes. I always want a better number, but in this field it’s really not that bad considering all of the factors.
Zalatoris has the right combination of ball striking and elite iron play to win this event. We also saw in 2019, albeit on soft putting surfaces, that some of the lesser putters on TOUR had success during the week. Zalatoris certainly fits that description with his short game.
In my eyes it’s a matter of when Zalatoris wins, not if, and this is lining up to be a good opportunity where he is one of the best players in this small field.
Luke List +6000 (FanDuel)
When I looked at the leaderboard from 2019, it was littered with players like Corey Conners, Keegan Bradley and Emiliano Grillo, all of whom are known for their elite ball striking and poor putters. Luke List is that exact mold, and ranked as one of the best players on par 3s last season.
List is still seeking his first win on TOUR, though he has come close a number of times including three top-10 finishes last season. He seems to have found his game again, and I really like him in this no-cut format where he can be aggressive to score throughout the week.
Pat Perez Top 10 +600 (BetMGM)
Pat Perez is in a similar mold to List in that we can generally expect him to come out with a sharp tee-to-green game. He is also an underrated putter, which is a nice change from the rest of my picks this week, as Perez ranked 37th in Strokes Gained: Putting last season.
The biggest concern for Perez is off the tee, which appears to be mitigated to some extent around this course. Many players found success in 2019 despite missing fairways since at just over 7,000 yards, length isn’t a huge factor.
I like the value we are getting for a top-10 finish in a short field, no-cut event on a guy like Perez that can be streaky on the course.
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