The PGA TOUR heads west to California for the ZOZO Championship at Sherwood Country Club. The course will play as a par 72, measuring 7,073 yards and be played on bentgrass greens this week. The tournament is another no-cut event.
Like last week, the ZOZO Championship moved from its original post last season (Japan) to the United States due to COVID-19. The 78-man star-studded field makes their way to Tinseltown and features the tournament host, Tiger Woods ($9,000), the first time he’ll be playing since the U.S. Open. Both California natives Collin Morikawa ($9,800) and Matthew Wolff ($9,100) are making their ZOZO debut appearance this week. Wolff, who attended high school very close to the course, will join golfers like Jon Rahm ($11,000) and Rory McIlroy ($10,400) on this Jack Nicklaus design.
Like most Nicklaus courses, the devil is in the details. With strategically placed bunkers, water hazards that come into play on eight holes and risk/reward shots, golfers will need to be precise with their ball-striking, especially off-the-tee. Rock formations in the middle of a fairway, ravines, waterfalls and natural elevations may feel slightly similar to last week at Shadow Creek. A significant difference, though, will be an extra par 5. Sherwood CC will have five par 5s, each presenting a risk if the golfers decide to go for it in two, potentially bringing higher scores in play. The course offers birdie opportunities on those par 5s and gives shorter hitters who are elite with distance control and top-notch with their wedges a viable shot at success with the course being under 7,100 yards. The course record was set back in 2014 by Dustin Johnson (61), who’s withdrawn this week.
Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee with more weight on driving accuracy should be factored into our key statistics this week, along with approach. Nicklaus is one of the best irons players the game has seen and designs his courses to reward the elite iron players who play from the ‘correct angles’. These green complexes will be challenging, with fast bentgrass greens. Last season’s Memorial Tournament featured some of the most challenging pin placements in the final round, which we may see this week. Even though we need to roster golfers with a great approach game, they’ll also need to have success around-the-greens, especially with how fast the putting surfaces will play.
Justin Thomas ($10,600)
Thomas makes the article again this week, and our rosters should follow. His putter let him down once again, and you could see how much it bothered him when he couldn’t convert multiple scoring opportunities ranking top 15 in overall proximity at Shadow Creek last week. Thomas lost close to two strokes tee-to-green on Sunday but still finished the tournament gaining six strokes total tee-to-green. JT can also quickly improve his putting going from losing 3.2 strokes one week to gaining over four the following tournament. Thomas plays Jack Nicklaus courses well with a top 5 at the Memorial Tournament back in 2017 and a second-place at the Workday Charity Open this past season, losing in a playoff to Collin Morikawa. Like last week, Harris English ($8,800) is someone to consider, but he’ll be a favorite play with how well he scored last weekend.
Adam Scott ($7,900)
Editor’e note: Adam Scott has withdrawn from the ZOZO Championship after testing positive for COVID-19.
Scott hasn’t played since the U.S. Open, but he’s one of a few who can parachute into a tournament and play well. With minimal course history at Sherwood CC, we should be looking at how golfers fared on other Nicklaus designs, and no one is better than Scott tee-to-green over the past 24 rounds. He’s got a top 15 at Valhalla in the 2014 PGA Championship, a runner up in 2019 at Muirfield Village for the Memorial Tournament and a win at PGA National (Honda Classic) back in 2016. Scott hasn’t played a lot this season, and hopefully, it keeps his ownership percentage down. Already with a win in California this calendar year (Genesis Invitational), Scott should feel comfortable and confident this week. Paul Casey ($7,500) is a dart throw in this range and someone who could fly under the radar this week. He’s been bad, losing a total of 8.5 strokes tee-to-green in his last two events, but his success putting on bentgrass far outweighs his splits on Bermuda and poa annua. Casey has also won the Valspar twice at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, a course potentially resembling Sherwood CC this week.
Marc Leishman ($6,600)
Leishman hasn’t been good at all since the restart losing an average of just under five strokes tee-to-green over his last five tournaments, but his game showed some life last week, gaining 1.03 strokes in approach on the weekend. He’ll tee it up again in California, knowing he gets another four competitive rounds, and that’s only going to help Leishman’s confidence this week. He’s made each of his cuts at the Memorial Tournament and has two top 5s at Muirfield Village back in 2019 and 2015.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is reidtfowler) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.