2021 ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP Betting Picks: 5 To Target as First-Round Leader
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Rickie Fowler.
After a brief stint at Los Angeles’ famed Sherwood Country Club, the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP returns to its rightful home in Japan. Players will once again tee it up at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.
The course has a bit of a strange layout. The par-70 track measures just over 7,200 yards with three par-5s and five par-3s. To do well here, players need to be accurate with the driver, as hitting fairways was a little below the TOUR average here in 2019.
Here’s a look at my favorite bets to be the first-round leader at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP.
Rickie Fowler | +3000
It warms my ice-cold heart to see Rickie Fowler playing better. He is one of the nicest and hardest working guys in golf, so it’s not easy to watch him struggle.
Fowler had a great showing last week at the CJ CUP, tying for third after starting the final round in the last group with Rory McIlroy.
I love how Rickie’s game is trending right now. He opened last week in Vegas with a 66 before bettering that on Saturday with a 63. He comes into this week 25th in Strokes Gained: Ball Striking and first in SG: Off-the-Tee, two huge metrics for this week.
Jhonattan Vegas | +3700
I don’t understand how Jhonny Vegas is still relatively flying under the radar. He leads the field in SG:TOT coming into this event; and across the board, his SG stats are incredible.
Vegas finished T-14 last week at the CJ CUP, where he gained nearly five strokes on the field. The only area where he lost strokes was putting, but that’s pretty consistent with his putting throughout his career.
Adam Schenk | +5000
After a career best T-3 finish at the Shriners, Adam Schenk is primed for another good start. He started out that week with a 63 and was able to keep that momentum going.
Also good news for Schenk: His best putting stats come from bentgrass and lucky for him, there will be plenty of it this week in Japan.
Henrik Norlander | +6600
I once putted next to Norlander at Champions Retreat warming up for my round of golf back in 2019 and didn’t recognize him. It is always very rare I don’t recognize a player (whether at the course or a Publix), so that one really stuck with me. I don’t think I’ll ever forget what he looks like again.
With that pressing information out of the way, I would also like to note that the large Swede (I’m talking height, not width) has been pretty consistent in the latter half of this year. Norlander has played two events in this wraparound season, with his best finish a tie for fourth at the Sanderson.
His game is trending in the right direction. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Norlander potentially win one of these fall events before we say goodbye to 2021.
Sung Kang | +8000
I usually try to differ from my FRL pick on “The Gimme” in this article, but this week I didn’t really want to. Sung Kang is the most random name I have picked in a long time, but I have good reason.
Over the last eight Thursday rounds, Kang is third in the field in Strokes Gained: Total and Ball-Striking; as well as 15th Off-the-Tee. It’s not too surprising that Kang managed to shoot a 61 to open his week at the Shriners a fortnight ago.