PGA Betting Guide to the ZOZO Championship
Picking winners of a golf tournament is hard. Doing it consistently is downright impossible. However, 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 select 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 Golf odds.
The first two installments of the ZOZO Championship in Japan have been a rousing success, with Tiger Woods winning the debut installment and Hideki Matsuyama avenging his runner up with a victory of his own last year. The 2020 edition was of course held in California due to travel limitations from the COVID-19 pandemic and should be disregarded from a course and event history standpoint.
Tiger and Hideki duking it out means strokes gained: approach will be the key stat to lean on once again this week, and in a short field with no cut and a steep dropoff in talent in the midrange, we don't have much margin for error this week. Flushers only at the Zozo, even if that means a top-heavy card.
For more info on Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, along with this week's key stats and comparable courses, check out Brandon Gdula's article.
At the Top
Xander Schauffele (+850) - Schauffele put the narrative to rest last season by actually winning events against a full field, but we still like him as the favorite this week. He has generally played some of his best golf in Asia, placing 28th and 10th here but having won the Olympic golf competition in Tokyo and the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai. His run to end the season was as solid as anyone outside FedEx Champion Rory McIlroy's, though without all the fanfare or cash.
He has been incredible since missing the cut at The Masters, a stretch that included two wins and T13, T14, and T15 at the other three majors. He was a standout once again at the Presidents Cup, going 3-1 with his lone loss at the hands of arguably the greatest golfer of all time in Joohyung Kim (+1400). We'll leave Kim off our card this week lest we presume that (half) joking distinction won't actually come to fruition, but the theme of Presidents Cup participants won't stop with Xander.
Collin Morikawa (+1400) - Morikawa has made the trip to Japan for both events at Accordia, finishing T22 and T7. If we're looking for ballstrikers and approach play, Morikawa's best may well be the best in the world. He's a bit off from his peaks in 2020 and 2021, a stretch that saw him win four times including two major championships.
He was a co-favorite here last year at +650, but some questions about consistency hover over Morikawa as he kicks off the 2022-23 season fourth in the market. He has finished second, first, and third in strokes gained: approach in his three full seasons on Tour, and the longest winless stretch of his young career will soon be at an end.
Corey Conners (+2900) - If Hideki can putt well enough to win here, maybe Conners can as well. He was sixth in 2019 and did not play here last year, though he was also 13th in Japan at the Olympics. The smooth-swinging Canadian was on the receiving end of some dominant performances at the Presidents Cup, but in single match play, he gave Schauffele all he could handle.
Winning three straight holes on the back nine to bring their match to all square only for Xander to hold 1-Up after 18. He is a fixture at the top of the strokes gained: approach figures, finishing 16th, 9th, 12th, and 9th in the last four years. He's due to get back into the winner's circle, and if Accordia holds a contest of irons, Conners should be in the mix all week.
Mito Pereira (+3100) - Pereira leads the young season in strokes gained: approach, but it's no fluke -- he was ninth on Tour last year in his first PGA Tour season. Pereira was in prime position to earn his first PGA Tour win at no less than a major championship, when he coughed up a big lead on Sunday to finish T3, missing out not only on a win but even on the playoff with a double bogey on his 72nd hole.
He bounced back with a T7 at Colonial and T13 at Memorial before fading in the summer. His T4 last week at the Shriners Children's Open was a return to form, holding the halfway lead but fading yet again to finish T4. It was the first time he'd been in the top 40 since June, but he's shown he can string some finishes together and is owed a win.
Joel Dahmen (+12000) - Our lone longshot this week is Dahmen, who in the vein of Matsuyama and Conners can strike it well enough when he's on but really gives it up on and around the greens. Dahmen is not nearly as consistent as we'd like, but he does not necessarily need to be in form to contend.
He was T10 at the U.S. Open despite just one top-30 finish in the preceding four months, and his career-making win in Puntacana came on the back of three straight missed cuts. He does reliably pop up on leaderboards though, and in a short field at a course where putting deficiencies count less, we'll take a flyer on Dahmen this week.