Horses for Courses: ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP

For the second time Narashino Country Club will host this event outside Tokyo.

As the pandemic hopefully continues to slow down the TOUR speeds up as it returns to the Tokyo suburbs for the first time since 2019 for the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP. The invitational field of 78 players will navigate Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club for the second time in three years.

The debut event in 2019 was conquered in the wee hours of the morning in the States by Tiger Woods for career win No. 82. Sadly, Woods is still recovering from serious injuries from a February car crash and won’t be able to defend. The 2020 event was played at Sherwood Country Club in Los Angeles and won’t provide any angle for this year’s edition.

Playing to Par-70 and 7,041 yards Narashino Country Club saw only nine players post 10-under or better during the maiden voyage. An interesting mix of FIVE Par-3 holes and THREE Par-5 holes is unusual for Par-70 track.

So are having two greens on EVERY hole.

Rob Bolton does an excellent job of explaining why that is the case.

In the first edition the course played well over par (71.55) on Thursday before lift, clean and replace dropped the average after a deluge on Friday (68.31). Fairways will be difficult to find so approach and recovery shots will be the order of the week. The soft conditions of 2019, 10 inches of rain, won’t be replicated so it will be interesting how firm it will or will not play.

First time contestants won’t have trusty green maps to rely on from the past edition and will have to learn on the fly. There were only 16 bogey-free rounds in the first edition. Summer Olympians returning to the Land of the Rising Sun will know some of the tricks to alleviate jet lag and culture shock.

On the line is a purse of $9.95 million with the winner taking home $1.791 million plus 500 FedExCup points.

Recent Event Winners

Season2020
Year2019
WinnerTiger Woods
Score261 (-19)
MOV3
Runner-upHideki Matsuyama
Age43
  
AccuracyT7
GIRT3
  
Putting: Birdie or Better %1
Birdies27 (1st)
Eagles0
  
Putting Average:1
3 Putts:3 (T47)
  
Scrambling26
Bogey AvoidanceT14
  
Par-3 Scoring1 (-9)
Par-4 ScoringT4
Par-5 ScoringT9

2019: Tiger Woods (-19, 261; not entered)

KEY STAT LEADERS

Top golfers in each statistic on the PGA TOUR (thru 2021 season) are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.

Strokes-Gained: Approach the Green
RankPlayer
  
1Collin Morikawa
4Keegan Bradley
7Will Zalatoris
11Matthew NeSmith
12Emiliano Grillo
14Xander Schauffele
16Charley Hoffman
17Hideki Matsuyama
18Kyle Stanley
21Doug Ghim
27Henrik Norlander
31Matt Wallace
37Lanto Griffin
49Joaquin Niemann
51Chris Kirk
52Tom Hoge
60Luke List
  
Strokes-Gained: Putting
RankPlayer
  
8Brendon Todd
11Chesson Hadley
13Alex Noren
15Mackenzie Hughes
16Xander Schauffele
34Lanto Griffin
41Andrew Putnam
43Charley Hoffman
47Joaquin Niemann
52Troy Merritt
55Matt Jones
56Harry Higgs
64Erik van Rooyen
68Robert Streb
  
Par-3 Scoring Average
RankPlayer
  
6Joaquin Niemann
14Alex Noren
14Charley Hoffman
22Kyle Stanley
22Luke List
22Doug Ghim
22Chris Kirk
33Maverick McNealy
33Will Zalatoris
33Xander Schauffele
33Troy Merritt
33Satoshi Kodaira
33Collin Morikawa
50Sebastian Munoz
50Lanto Griffin
50Emiliano Grillo
50Doc Redman
50Brendan Steele
50James Hahn
64Sepp Straka
64Mackenzie Hughes
64Adam Schenk
64Keegan Bradley
64Hideki Matsuyama
64Andrew Putnam

Horses for Courses – 2019 ZOZO FINISHERS

PlayerFinishScoreNotes
(entered this week)(to par) 
    
Hideki Matsuyama2nd-1620 Birdies (T2); T2 Putts per GIR; only T29 Fairways but T6 GIR
Xander SchauffeleT10-920 Birdies (T2); Only player in the top 10 to post worse than 70 in Round 4
Ryan PalmerT10-9Only squared 5 bogeys (T1); 1 of 4 with all 4 rounds in the 60s
Keegan BradleyT13-8Shared low round of the week (63); T47 Fairways but T6 GIR; 20 Birdies
Sung KangT17-78 Bogeys; all 4 rounds par or better
Tommy FleetwoodT22-66th Fairways; T6 GIR
Collin MorikawaT22-6Second Round 64
Adam Schenk T22 -64 Bogeys, 1 Double
Emiliano GrilloT30-4T13 GIR; 7 Bogeys
Troy MerrittT30-4T12 Putts
Joaquin NiemannT33-37-under thru 54 before 74 Round 4
Si Woo KimT37-2Played final 54 holes 8-under after opening with 76
Satoshi KodairaT37-2Led the field with 38 of 52 Fairways hit
Chan KimT41-1Posted 2 rounds in the 60s
Wyndham ClarkT46EPlayed final 54 holes 4-under after 74 to open
Tomaharu OtsukiT46E3rd Fairways, T13 GIR
Rikuya HoshinoT511-overT68 Putting
Shaun NorrisT511-over18 birdies; #ActiveScorecard
Jinichiro KozumaT572-overT8 Putts
CT PanT593-over74th Putts
Andrew PutnamT593-overOpened with 68
Shugo ImahiraT593-overHalf of his 8 Birdies were in Round 4

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