Wednesday, September 27, 2023

ZOZO Championship 2022 – Event Preview


A select field of 80 makes the journey to Japan for this week’s Zozo Championship taking place at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club.

Hideki Matsuyama heads over to his homeland to defend his title from last year. Matsuyama also finished runner-up in this course in 2020 and it was notable that year when the field was extremely strong that the best ball strikers in the world held the top 5 places.

Rory McIlroy,Tiger Woods, IMSung-Jaeand Gary Woodland, and Matsuyama himself. We can perhaps expect wewill see something similar this week on a course that reward sworld-class iron play.

The Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, which first opened its doors in1965 is a small course with forgiving tree-lined fairways. Two greensper hole are a Japanese practice that arose from a requirement to maintain diverse grasses for changeable weather many years before developments in agrostology.

Individual greens on the other hand are small and require precision short irons and approach shots to set up birdie possibilities. Lines off the tee appear to be rather claustrophobic in this tree-lined layout.There are six doglegs to offer variation but the rough this week appears to be rather light so could driving distance be more important than accuracy?

There are five Par-3 holes and three Par-5 holes on the course. The par 4’son the course also vary massively. Some par 4’s measure up over 500yards and others under 400 yards. Bentgrass is used on the putting surfaces which will be a delight for many of the world’s bestball-strikers. They are however tiny in size and well-defended by bunkers, so short-game expertise will play its part.

Expect to see another low-scoring birdie fest this fall season. This could be another week where the scores are better than 18 under par.

zozo championship 2022 event preview novibet 1

Event & Course Details

  • Course: Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club
  • Location: Japan, Chiba.
  • Date: Oct. 13 – 16, 2022
  • Par: 70/ Yardage 7,024
  • Purse: $9.95 Million / Winner $1.75 million
  • Fairways/Rough: Bentgrass
  • Greens: Bentgrass
  • Previous Winner: Hideki Matsuyama

Key Skill Sets Required

SGT2G – On a course with little or no data to go off it makes sense to start the key skill set required outline with the ball striking metric ofT2G performance. The fall season is now in its fourth week and you may want players in your portfolio who have shown each club in the bag is working to a solid standard. Looking at the 2020 leaderboard it appears that ball striking is the overriding attribute required to thrive at this track.

SG Approach play – The top 10 in 2020 included Tiger, Rory, Sungjea, Conners, Woodland, Xander, and Billy Ho, all of whom are associated with being great ball strikers.

GIR – 4 of the top 8 players ranked in the top for GIR gained in 2020and we may expect similar results this week. In addition, given the importance of putting this week, it makes sense to consider players who are hitting plenty of greens in regulation and therefore giving themselves plenty of outside birdie looks and the chance to roll in plenty of putts.

PAR3 Scoring – 20 Par 3 holes from 72 face the players this week that’s a whopping 28% of all holes played. It makes sense that the focus is on this key skill set. This ties into the overall narrative that iron play is the single most important factor this week.

Putting – This week you may want to look for players that show a tendency to putt well on the Bentgrass greens, and when making your final picks you should pay close attention to putting performance.

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Best Outsiders

1. Andrew Putnam 66/1

  • Arrived on the back of a top 15 finish last week. Playing consistent golf right now with all 9 cuts made in his last 9 events.
  • Gained strokes over the field with T2G performance in 8 of his last 9 events and this shows that the whole bag of clubs is working.
  • Ranked in the top 10 for GIR gained last week and hitting GIR this week will be a crucial factor.
  • Gained strokes putting in each of his last 9 event.
  • A player who is high on confidence and can outrun his odds.

2. Matthew Nesmith 50/1

  • Arrived on the back of a second-placed finish last week.
  • This is a ball striking test and that is what Nesmith does best.
  • Ranked 9TH for SG Approach play over the past 24 rounds on tour.
  • Ranked 10th for SG T2G over the past 24 rounds on tour.
  • His putting is his weakness for sure. However, he has gained strokes putting in each of his last 5 events, and last week he achieved this on his least favorite surface which he encounters again this week. Can he keep the momentum going? At potentially attractive odds it may be worth betting that he can do so.

Best Outright Picks

1. Collin Morikawa 14/1

  • A Player who fits the bill perfectly for the test ahead. If this week is about Iron play then Collin is the man.
  • Ranked 2nd for SG Approach play over the past 50 rounds on tour.
  • Ranked 4th for proximity to the hole over the last 50 rounds.
  • Ranked 7th for par 3 scoring over the past 50 rounds on tour.
  • Ranked 8th for SG Ball striking over the past 50 rounds.
  • On courses with difficult fairways, Morikawa Ranks No 1 SG T2G.

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2. Sung-Jea IM 10/1

  • 3rd at this track on debut in 2020.
  • A superb T2G player, the bedrock of his game.
  • Ranked in the Top 10 for Ball Striking and Proximity to the hole over the last 24 rounds. Ranked No 1 for T2G Performance over the past 24 rounds on tour.
  • Ranked 7th for SG Par 3 scoring over the past 24 rounds on tour, 20 of them in play this week.
  • He putts well on the Bentgrass surfaces he faces. Expect to see him in the mix come the back nine on Sunday.

3. Keegan Bradley 30/1

  • Best placed 7th here in 2020.
  • This course puts a huge emphasis on ball striking where Bradley excels.
  • Ranked 2nd for Proximity to the hole over the past 50 round on tour.
  • Ranked 6th for SG Approach play over the past 50 rounds on tour.
  • Ranked 8th for SG T2G over the past 50 rounds on tour.

4. Si Woo Kim 30/1

  • Arrived off the back of a top 10 last week.
  • One of the best drivers on tour and ranked in the top 20 for fairways gained over the past 36 rounds.
  • In one of the most underrated short games on tour, he has gained strokes vs the field around the green in each of his last 7 events.
  • Has a top-class iron game and hits plenty of GIR.
    The one drawback is his putting, however, he ranked in the top 20 last week for SG Putting.

Top 20 picks this week 21/20

Si Woo Kim

  • Attributes as listed above.