GOLF

PGA Betting Guide for the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP

Hideki Matsuyama tees it up at the first official PGA Tour event in his native Japan this week. Who else is a good bet to win the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP?

Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. But finding value is something all bettors must practice in order to give themselves the best chance to make hay when the day finally comes that they ping a champion.

Below, we will cover the best bets for The ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP based on current form, course fit, and -- of course -- the value of their odds over at FanDuel Sportsbook.

We have another no-cut event this week, with the major difference from the CJ CUP being the massive difference in field strength. We usually see these types of fields at the WGC events, and the key there is usually to identify the betting values at the top of the market for both outright and finishing position. Simply put, golf is extremely variant in the sample of a single golfer, but get most of the best golfers in the same field and the chances are massive that one of them is going to be on his game.

Loading up on the studs who fit the course and sprinkling some flyers on the deep long shots is the most profitable -- and fun -- way to bet these events.

For more info on Accordia Golf Narashino CC along with this week's key stats and comparable courses, check out the course primer.

At the Top

Rory McIlroy (+800) - You can't go wrong with either McIlroy or Justin Thomas (+700), but as we are looking for outright winners I give the lean to Rory. It is just a difficult feat, in a vacuum, to win back-to-back events on the PGA Tour, which Thomas would have to do. McIlroy just wrapped up a historically great season, and with all due respect to Thomas and in consideration of his injury in the spring, the Northern Ireland native was far and away the better player in 2018-19. Check any ballstriking statistic over any timeframe over the last year, and McIlroy is likely to be near the top if not the leader. Getting him at slightly better odds than Thomas is just gravy.

Hideki Matsuyama (+1800) - Finally a home game for 'Deki! It's been quite a while since Matsuyama found the winner's circle -- over 26 months and counting -- but he has been remarkably consistent even in strong fields since then. It's notable that the win came at a WGC event with a shorter field, as did prior wins at the Hero World Challenge and HSBC-Champions in late 2016. We saw how draining it could be for a world class player to carry the weight of his home country on his back with McIlroy at the Open Championship, but Hideki has had some time to soak it all in since the Skins game last week. His long iron game is among the best in the world, and with an extra par 3, a few long par 4s, and doglegs galore that could set up awkward yardages for most players, Matsuyama can shine this week.

Value Spots

Tony Finau (+2800) - Finau is still looking for that first "real" win on Tour, and despite coming up short a number of times, he has shown well in majors and other strong fields. He was runner-up in China last year and T11 the year before, and Sheshan International GC pops up as a comparable course and field. A guaranteed pay day can let these golfers be aggressive, and Finau is one of the best in the world at piling up birdies. His record in majors is proof enough that he can navigate a thinker's golf course, and his brute strength makes him a prime bomb and gouge candidate if that turns out to be the preferred path. We don't quite know how the field will attack this course, but Finau is one of the few players who sets up well either way.

Marc Leishman (+4500) - Leishman has put together some of his best finishes in the fall, including a win and another top 5 at the CIMB Classic in Malaysia and a T3 at the CJ CUP in 2017. His ballstriking doesn't quite measure up to the world's elite, so it can be easy to forget that he actually strikes it quite well with his long irons. He was tied for fourth on the entire Tour last year in proximity from the fairway between 175-200 yards out. Only McIlroy in this field ranked better. Leishman's short game is his specialty, however, and if this course turns out to play on the difficult side, or if the wind picks up, Leishman gains a huge advantage. At this price he is one of the best values on the board.

Long Shots

Ian Poulter (+6600) - Another golfer who gains an advantage if the big guns can't pull driver on every hole, Poulter has solid history in Asia, not just in the fall swing but also in European Tour events in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He is certainly not afraid of a strong field, and as his record at Harbour Town (RBC Heritage) shows he has a big advantage on short, difficult tracks. His T16 finish last week at the CJ CUP included a fiery 66 on Saturday, one of the best rounds of the day. If he is able to duplicate that type of performance this week, he will find himself very much in the mix come Sunday.

Graeme McDowell (+10000) - One final plodder to round out the card, McDowell found some solid form last year after being left for dead and outside the top 250 in the Official World Golf Ranking around February. He's put together consecutive quality finishes with a T15 at the Italian Open and T16 at the CJ CUP. He's fairly priced at triple digits, but he is by far the best of the long shots and has a major championship (far) in the rearview to give him confidence against the world's best.