2021 ZOZO Championship Odds, Preview & Picks: Tommy Fleetwood & Rickie Fowler Fit Narashino Country Club Well
Mark Runnacles/Getty Images. Pictured: Tommy Fleetwood
The PGA TOUR will head to Japan this week for just the second time in history to play the ZOZO Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club. The event was played at the course in 2019 but had to move to Las Vegas in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club is a par 70 measuring 7,041 yards and features bentgrass greens. The course has a unique design with five par 3’s and three par 5’s.
The ZOZO Championship is a no-cut event and will feature 78 golfers. The field is fairly strong this week, with a handful of PGA TOUR stars making the long trip to Japan. Those golfers include Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, Hideki Matsuyama, Tommy Fleetwood, Paul Casey, Rickie Fowler, Joaquin Niemann, Will Zalatoris, and Kevin Na.
Click to see the ZOZO Championship oddsboard.
|Si Woo Kim||+3500|
|Erik Van Rooyen||+4000|
|Kyoung Hoon Lee||+5000|
Past Winners at The ZOZO Championship
- 2020: Patrick Cantlay (-23 at Sherwood Country Club)
- 2019: Tiger Woods (-19 at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club)
Let’s take a look at several key metrics for Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.
Strokes Gained: Approach
Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club isn’t a very long course. It is a positional track where finding the right spots to land the golf ball will create birdie opportunities. Accuracy with the irons will be crucial this week.
Total Strokes Gained: Approach in past 24 rounds:
- Keegan Bradley (+18.8) (+4000)
- Xander Schauffele (+18.3) (+650)
- Kyle Stanley (+16.2) (+15000)
- Matthew NeSmith (+15.9) (+12500)
- Sam Ryder (+15.9) (+20000)
Good Drives Gained
Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club is a tree-lined golf course that is pretty tight off the tee. Last time here, we saw Tiger Woods win the event by keeping the ball in the fairway and intelligently plotting along the golf course.
The course can’t be overpowered and good driver’s of the golf ball should have the advantage.
Total Good Drives Gained in past 24 rounds:
- Alex Noren (+21.0) (+3500)
- Kramer Hickok (+20.1) (+25000)
- Brendon Todd (+19.5) (+8000)
- K.H. Lee (+17.6) (+5000)
- Collin Morikawa (+16.3) (+600)
SG: Putting (bentgrass)
An interesting aspect of the course is it’s double greens. The course has two greens on each hole to enable golfers to use the course year round as different seasons require different grass types.
The green complexes themselves are quite tricky, and good bentgrass putters should have an advantage.
SG: Putting (bentgrass) past 24 rounds:
- Alex Noren (+20.4) (+3500)
- Troy Merritt (+20.2) (+11000)
- Mackenzie Hughes (+16.4) (+5500)
- Adam Schenk (+15.3) (+6000)
- Lanto Griffin (+14.9) (+6600)
Strokes Gained: Par 3
With five par 3’s on the course, it is even more important than usual for golfers to play them efficiently.
Total SG: Par 3 in past 24 rounds:
- Alex Noren (+13.8) (+3500)
- Rickie Fowler (+13.2) (+3000)
- Lanto Griffin (+12.3 (+6600)
- Will Zalatoris (+11.6) (+1800)
- Doc Redman (+8.8) (+16000)
Birdie or Better: Gained
While I don’t anticipate the scores in Japan this week to be as low as last week in Las Vegas, I still anticipate a winner in the -20 range. To win the tournament, a golfer will likely need to make an excess of 25 birdies for the week.
Total Birdie or Better: Gained in past 24 rounds:
- Sam Ryder (+24.5)(+2800)
- Erik Van Rooyen (+24.4)(+2200)
- Jhonattan Vegas (+24.3)(+1600)
- Troy Merritt (+21.5)(+1000)
- Si Woo Kim (+20.8)(+4000)
Below, I’ve reported overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed.
These rankings are comprised of SG:APP (25%) Good Drives Gained: (23%), Birdie or Better Gained (21%), SG: Par 3 (16%), SG: Putting (Bentgrass) (15%).
- Adam Schenk (+6000)
- Jhonattan Vegas (+4000)
- Sam Ryder (+20000)
- Alex Noren (+3500)
- Erik Van Rooyen (+4500)
- Will Zalatoris (+1800)
- K.H. Lee (+5000)
- Pat Perez (+10000)
- Troy Merritt (+11000)
- Henrik Norlander (+8000)
ZOZO Championship Best Bets
Tommy Fleetwood (+2500, DraftKings): It is common knowledge among PGA TOUR fans that Tommy Fleetwood has never won a professional tournament on American soil to this point in his career. Luckily for Tommy, this week’s event will take place in Japan.
The statistics for Fleetwood aren’t extraordinarily impressive of late, but he has had some solid finishes and seems to be playing better golf. I thought he played very well at the Ryder Cup from tee to green and followed that performance up with a 7th place finish at the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship.
When the Englishman is at his best, he is a golfer who can get very hot with the irons and make birdies in bunches. This is a shorter course where he should be able to club down and keep the ball in the fairway. Fleetwood also has familiarity with the course, which most of the field does not and should provide a clear advantage. In 2019, Fleetwood finished in 22nd place at Narashino Country Club.
Statistics can be extremely helpful when making decisions about which golfers to bet, but at times it pays to go with your gut. I have an inkling that Tommy will have a great week in Japan and have a chance to win this week.
Rickie Fowler (+3000, bet365): There is no denying that Rickie Fowler has been extremely inconsistent since his last PGA TOUR victory in January of 2019. Last week we saw a glimpse of vintage Rickie en route to his third place finish at THE CJ CUP. It is absolutely fair to expect him to come back down to earth this week and show more of the inconsistency we have grown accustomed to. However, I do think we saw some signs last week that show he may be figuring his golf swing out and making a resurgence.
The most substantial reason why Fowler’s performance may not have been a fluke was his statistical performance from tee to green. An absolutely stacked field made the trip to Las Vegas last week, and Fowler ranked first among the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green gaining a whopping 8.9 strokes. He also gained 8.3 strokes on the field in “Fairways Gained” which should translate quite nicely to what he will need to do this week in Japan. Narashino Country Club is a tight tree-lined golf course that makes accuracy off of the tee essential. Fowler was in total control of the golf ball last week and I expect that to carry over to the ZOZO Championship.
There will be skepticism about his ability to actually win when he hasn’t done so in so long, but if there were ever a time to take a chance on Rickie, it is a week after he played his best golf in years and at a course that should perfectly complement his skill set.
Carlos Ortiz (+6600, DraftKings): Carlos Ortiz really struggled on Thursday last week in Las Vegas, but was excellent in the following three rounds and bounced back to finish in 25th place. The turnaround was due to a superb week statistically from tee to green.
The 30-year-old gained 6.1 strokes on the field in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green for the week. Additionally, he gained 4.6 strokes on approach which was good for fourth in the field.The only part of his game that was subpar on the week was his putting, where he struggled and lost 3.4 strokes on the field with the flat stick.
A strong reason to believe in Ortiz’ chances at Narashino Country Club this week is his recent performance in the Japan Olympics. Representing Mexico, Ortiz was in 1st place after round two of the event and looked like a strong challenger for the Gold medal. Although he fell apart on Sunday, he certainly showed enough comfortability playing in Japan to believe he could be a threat once again this week at Narashino Country Club.