The PGA TOUR travels back to Inzai, Japan, for the ZOZO Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club. The course will play as a par 70, measuring 7,041 yards and the greens this week will be bentgrass. This week is another limited field in a no-cut event.
The TOUR heads back to Japan after a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19 precautions. The course features tree-lined fairways, half-a-dozen dogleg holes and undulating greens. There are four holes where water hazards are in play and many greenside bunkers guarding these small greens that come into play on almost every hole.
The course has some exciting characteristics not usually seen on the PGA TOUR - a lot of the holes have two greens, which is unique to Japanese golf courses. Also, the scorecard isn’t your typical 35 par on the front and back, but instead is 34-36, with three par 3s on the front nine. Even though this is a par 70, the course will have three par 5s, and only the 6th and 18th are reachable from the longest hitters, with the 14th hole measuring 608 yards. There will be 10 par 4s, either of the short or really long variety, with three stepping off at less than 400 yards and four measuring between 480 and 505 yards. The course also features five par 3s, so variety is the theme at Accordia.
When looking at golfers to roster, we should be focusing on SG: Ball-Striking and par 4 scoring. With long par 4s and two behemoth par 5s, short-iron/wedge proximity will also be vital in selecting our golfers this week. Lastly, guys who are efficient with their scrambling from the sand should be considered when building our lineups.
Paul Casey ( +1400 to Win , $10,100 on DraftKings)
The Englishman’s ball-striking is top-notch, ranking first in the field over the previous 24 rounds and no worse than second over the last 50 to 100 rounds. With 16 international victories under his belt, including the 2011 Shinhan Donghae Open in Korea, he should feel confident this wee with his experience winning in Asia. While that was a decade ago and in another country, Casey’s most recent win at the 2021 Omega Dubai Desert Classic was in a relatively strong field. That course also featured an interesting and similar scorecard composition, with the front nine playing out in 35 and the back nine playing in at 37 with three par 5s on the finishing nine. A seventh at the 2017 CIMB Classic (TPC Kuala Lumpur), two top 12s at the WGC - HSBC (Sheshan International) and a 17th here back in 2019 proves he can play great golf in this region of the world.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Paul Casey (undisclosed) has withdrawn from the ZOZO Championship.
Keegan Bradley (+4000 to Win, $9,400 on DraftKings)
Bradley is an Asia Swing veteran who should feel confident this week thanks to a runner-up finish at the 2017 CIMB Classic and a sixth-place finish at the WGC-HSBC in 2018. When you see names like Byeong Hun An, Corey Conners and Gary Woodland finish inside the top eight here last time, it could mean that ball-strikers who usually have issues on the greens can play well. Bradley, who could be the poster-child for this group, finished 13th the last time the tournament was at Accordia and has gained strokes through approach in six-straight tournaments coming into this week.
Branden Grace (+5000 to Win, $7,600 on DraftKings)
The South African is one of a handful of golfers making the trip from Las Vegas to Japan, but this shouldn’t deter us from considering one of the better international players (12 victories worldwide) in the field. His T68 last week should keep his roster percentage low, but a six-under in his final nine holes on Sunday is an excellent way to finish. His putting woes at the Summit Club led to his third-worst tournament in SG: Putting since 2013, which should be treated as an outlier, especially when he ranks 11th in SG: Putting over the previous 50 rounds. Before THE CJ CUP, Grace finished T27 and T12 on the European Tour and could add another international victory to make it a baker’s dozen. For GPP and tournament pivots, consider Luke List (+6000, $7,900). Like Bradley, List is on the ... list ... of players who are good ball-strikers but have issues on the greens. Still, List has some experience and success in Asia, finishing 13th at the 2017 CIMB Classic and fifth at this tournament the last time it was at this course.
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