Horses for Courses: ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD

The Landlord this week is LARGE CAT.

The first West Coast Swing of the 2020-21 season wraps up this week at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, after two weeks of rolling the bones in Las Vegas. For the second week running, an event that was scheduled to be played in the Far East has been shifted to the continental United States due to travel concerns caused by COVID-19. The ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD will return to Accordia Golf Narashino CC next season for its third edition.



The inaugural ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP made history as Tiger Woods picked up the trophy for the 82nd time, tying Sam Snead for the most wins in TOUR history. He’s back this week to defend his title on a course where he’s won five times and been runner-up five more. A field of 78 will attack the 7,073 par 72 Jack Nicklaus design and won’t have to worry about a cut. On the line is prize pool of $8 million with the winner taking home $1.440 plus 500 FedExCup points.

Sherwood Country Club received a face lift in 2016 as Jack Nicklaus added 1,200 Oak Trees and improved the irrigation system. The facelift in 2016 sand-capped all of the fairways and greens for better drainage but more importantly all the Bermuda was scrapped for Bentgrass minus the ryegrass rough.

The large Bentgrass greens will average 7,200 square feet on average and roll almost to 13 feet on the Stimpmeter. There are 51 bunkers to avoid plus water in play on eight holes. As usual there is plenty of room but big misses equal big penalties when Jack is in charge. Three inches of ryegrass borders the generous fairways and surrounds the greens.

With any Nicklaus design, finding the fairway is the first step and navigating the greens is the second. With FIVE Par-5 holes, including three on the back nine, it’s hardly a surprise why Woods dominated here in his hay day. His track record on Nicklaus courses is quite something!

The Champions TOUR has played the INVESCO QQQ Championship on this track for the last four years. From 2000 thru 2013 Tiger Woods staged his Hero World Challenge at Sherwood so we can also find clues from those events.

Event Winners at Sherwood Country Club

INVESCO QQQ Championship – Champions TOUR, 54 holes

2019: Colin Montgomerie, 14-under

2018: Scott Parel, 11-under

2017: Bernhard Langer, 11-under

2016: Tom Pernice, Jr., 13-under

Hero World Challenge

Recent Winners & Notables Entered This Week

2013: Zach Johnson (not entered) – 13-under defeated Woods by two in the final group and in the playoff. Woods only round in the 60s was 62 in Round 2. … Bubba Watson (T3) was the only player to post all four rounds in the red. … Matt Kuchar (T3) missed the playoff by four shots with 76 on Saturday. … Webb Simpson (5th) started slowly but played the final 54 holes in 8-under. … Jason Day (T9) two best rounds were 68 and 70. … Rory McIlroy (11th) only had one round in the 60s. … Jordan Spieth (T16) best round of the four was 71. … Course record holder Dustin Johnson (61) was dead last. He’s has WD from the event this week (COVID-19).

2012: Graeme McDowell (not entered) – 17-under included the low round of the week (66). … Defeated Keegan Bradley (not entered) by three shots. … Zach Johnson was last and the only player over-par (+5). … Woods and Rickie Fowler shared fourth eight shots adrift. … Webb Simpson (7th) was two further behind. … Bubba Watson (T9) and Jason Day (T15) are entered again this year.

2011: Tiger Woods – 10-under and the only player to reach double digits as he held off Johnson by a shot. … Paul Casey was third four shots further back.

2010: Graeme McDowell – Made up four shots on Woods in the final round to reach 16-under and force a playoff that he won. McDowell was runner-up to Jim Furyk the year before.

The last four events are interesting for gamers. Johnson and McDowell aren’t exactly known for smashing it tee-to-green and inhaling par-5 holes. They specialize in accuracy off the tee, excellent wedge games and even better putting. I’ll also point out the fields in the Hero World Challenges were around 18 people annually but it’s interesting to see who hit the podium in the final days of the event at Sherwood.

The winning score on Bermuda ranged from 22-under to 10-under depending on the weather in late November/early December.

The reduced field is still in play this week with 78 but it’s hardly the time of year for a hit and giggle. This event used to wrap up play before the Christmas Holiday but now will be a final tune-up for some heading to Augusta for the first-ever November Masters. Circumstances are just a bit different this time around and this season!

Key stat leaders

Top golfers in each statistic on the 2019-2020 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week. Players in BOLD below deserve deeper inspection.

Par-5 Scoring

1 Xander Schauffele
2 Jon Rahm
3 Justin Thomas
4 Patrick Cantlay
4 Daniel Berger
6 Webb Simpson
6 Collin Morikawa
10 Hideki Matsuyama
10 Gary Woodland
10 Kevin Streelman
10 Ryan Palmer
10 Tyrrell Hatton
10 Justin Rose
18 Rory McIlroy
18 Alex Noren
21 Paul Casey
21 Sungjae Im
21 Scottie Scheffler
28 Mark Hubbard
28 Tony Finau

Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green

1 Justin Thomas
2 Hideki Matsuyama
3 Jon Rahm
5 Collin Morikawa
6 Rory McIlroy
7 Xander Schauffele
10 Scottie Scheffler
11 Tony Finau
12 Patrick Cantlay
13 Tyrrell Hatton
14 Russell Henley
15 Daniel Berger
16 Webb Simpson
16 Corey Conners
18 Harris English
20 Viktor Hovland
21 Paul Casey
23 Joaquin Niemann
26 Patrick Reed

Strokes Gained: Putting

2 Matthew Fitzpatrick
5 Kevin Na
6 Matt Kuchar
6 Mackenzie Hughes
12 Patrick Reed
13 Webb Simpson
15 Kevin Kisner
17 Daniel Berger
18 Harris English
20 Brendon Todd
21 Richy Werenski
22 Jon Rahm
26 Tommy Fleetwood

Top 25 CJ CUP (entered this week)

CJ CUP at Shadow Creek

1 Jason Kokrak
2 Xander Schauffele
3 Tyrrell Hatton
3 Russell Henley
5 Talor Gooch
6 Joaquin Niemann
7 Lanto Griffin
7 Bubba Watson
9 Sebastian Munoz
10 Harris English
11 Cameron Smith
12 Matthew Fitzpatrick
12 Viktor Hovland
12 Collin Morikawa
17 Mark Hubbard
17 Jon Rahm
17 Ryan Palmer
21 Harry Higgs
21 Danny Lee
21 Hideki Matsuyama
21 Kevin Streelman
21 Rory McIlroy

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