The PGA Tour visits Japan this week for the 5th edition of the ZOZO Championship and our man John Pentin has reviewed the lowdown ahead of Thursday’s early start here. Read on to find out the latest tips and analysis, and also make sure to take advantage of the best betting offers selected for you by our experts.
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The ZOZO Championship Betting
The ZOZO Championship Betting Tips | Thursday 19th October to Sunday 22nd October 2023
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Main Bet: Sahith Theegala To Win
With only four previous stagings, the ZOZO Championship still retains an air of novelty. Though rooted in Japan, the PGA Tour’s collaboration with the Japan Tour saw the 2020 edition displaced to California due to pandemic challenges. Fans of the sport remember Tiger Woods’ memorable win in the inaugural event, marking his 82nd victory. However, subsequent years saw local hero Hideki Matsuyama and Keegan Bradley elevate their statuses with respective victories. Intriguingly, the ZOZO Championship has a select participant list, featuring a mix of global and local talents.
Glimpsing the Venue – Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club
Located in Inzai, Chiba, Japan, the Narashino Country Club spans a vast 7,079 yards with a par score of 70. Notably, last year’s average stroke stood at 69.15. This unique club, inaugurated in 1965, is built on a blend of the King and Queen courses, boasting five par threes and five par fives. Trivia enthusiasts may note that older Japanese golf courses featured two greens for year-round playability. Though Narashino originally adopted this two-green system, its adoption of bentgrass has rendered this obsolete. Speed enthusiasts would relish the greens’ increasing speed over the years, now touching 12.5 on the Stimpmeter. In a nod to tradition, two greens are still employed during the ZOZO Championship.
Deciphering Success at the ZOZO
Analysing Hideki Matsuyama’s win reveals an emphasis on Greens In Regulation (GIR) as a crucial performance metric. Furthermore, available statistics for 2019 and 2022 winners highlight the significance of GIR and Putting Average (PA) in determining victory margins.
Drawing Parallels to Boost Predictions
Keegan Bradley’s lukewarm performance at the US Masters contrasts sharply with runner-up Rickie Fowler’s impressive history. Augusta National, boasting similarities to Narashino, has witnessed notable performances from Rory McIlroy, Sungjae Im, and course champions Woods and Matsuyama. The Kasumigaseki Country Club in Saitama, another tree-lined venue which hosted the 2021 Olympics, offers additional insights. Furthermore, given the 20 short holes in the ZOZO Championship, scrutinising Par 3 performance statistics becomes pivotal.
Spotlight on Sahith Theegala
Launching his PGA Tour with back-to-back titles, Sahith Theegala is undeniably in excellent form. His affinity for tree-lined courses, as demonstrated at the Travelers and the Valspar, makes him a strong contender for the ZOZO Championship. Keegan Bradley, last year’s victor, further fortifies Theegala’s suitability for this event. Moreover, the young Californian’s recent win on a similar tree-lined layout, coupled with his active acclimatisation in Japan, underscores his determination.
Cameron Champ: A Dark Horse?
Despite initial reservations, Cameron Champ’s 8th place finish in the previous ZOZO Championship attests to his adaptability. Recent performances at the Sanderson’s and Shriners reflect a resurgence in Champ’s form. His win trajectory indicates that he peaks after a promising performance. Additionally, the autumn season, with two of his three victories, resonates with Champ.
Predicting the Winner
Merging the data and recent performance trends, Sahith Theegala emerges as a frontrunner for this year’s title. His demonstrated prowess on tree-lined courses, coupled with his fresh victory and current form, positions him favourably. Furthermore, his early arrival in Japan signifies a serious commitment to acing the Narashino Country Club. However, the unpredictability of golf reminds us that Cameron Champ, with his current resurgence and history of capitalising on form, cannot be disregarded. Nonetheless, placing bets on Theegala seems a rational choice, given the alignment of circumstances in his favour.