GOLF

PGA Betting Guide for the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP

Hideki Matsuyama returns to Japan for the second ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP to be held at Narashino Country Club. Who else is worth backing in this short field?

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 FanDuel Sportsbook.

Collin Morikawa nearly bailed us out last week with a dazzling 62 on Sunday but still ultimately fell one stroke shy of champion Rory McIlroy. We have another short field to attack this week with just 74 golfers heading to Japan. The field is decidedly weaker than last week's, and 27 of this crew also teed it up at THE CJ CUP @ SUMMIT.

Morikawa (+650) is among them, and his name is rightly at the top of the market this week. In a very thin field, he's still somewhat intriguing along with co-favorite Xander Schauffele (also +650), but it's another name we have highlighted to lead our card. The field falls off a cliff even in the mid-range, and it's a good week either to back a horse and go all in or sprinkle on some names far down the board.

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

At the Top

Hideki Matsuyama (+1200) - Matsuyama was runner-up to Tiger Woods in the inaugural ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in 2019, finishing three strokes behind Woods but three strokes clear himself from the rest of the field. He has been inconsistent to start the season, striking it well at the Fortinet Championship en route to a 6th place finish before middling finishes -- 67th and 59th -- in his next two events. He lost 9.6 strokes putting at The Summit Club, a laughable number that is among the worst of Matsuyama's career. Sheer luck will bring him closer to the field this week, and it's a good sign that he gained off the tee, on approach, and around the green. The flat stick is always a thorn in Hideki's side, but a rare home game will hopefully jar a good-enough performance to keep Matsuyama in play.

Value Spots

Cameron Tringale (+3500) - Tringale looked primed for his breakout win at the Sanderson Farms Championship before stumbling on Sunday with a 71 that knocked him into 11th place. He managed four top-10 finishes last season after just one each in the prior two years, and a bogey on the 72nd hole in Mississippi was all that kept him from one to start the new season. He was all over the place last week at THE CJ CUP, and his approaches in particular were uncharacteristically poor. He lost 3.4 strokes on approaches last week, his worst performance since the Travelers Championship in June (via Fantasy National Golf Club). The long-term form over the past year is enough to justify a bounce back at the 35/1 price, and in a short field, we can see him booking another solid finish. In addition to the outright, we'll back him for a Top 10 Finish (+320).

Long Shots

Ryan Palmer (+6000) - It gets dicey really quick down here, with Palmer somewhat appealing strictly based on past performance. He's fallen off a cliff over the last six months and has missed the cut in half of his events. He's played just once this new season, a missed cut at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open where he lost 4.7 strokes putting. He's still class in this field, currently 41st in the Official World Golf Ranking, and offered at the same odds as the likes of Luke List (182nd), Adam Schenk (148th), and Lanto Griffin (98th). Palmer was 10th in 2019, firing rounds of 67, 68, 69, and 67. The only other golfers who broke par in all four rounds were Woods (1st), Matsuyama (2nd), and Paul Casey (17th).

Chan Kim (+9500) - A winner on the Japan Golf Tour earlier this month, Kim boasts lead in form of T15, T46, 1st, T6, T11, and T5. He held his own in strong PGA fields last year, finishing T23 at the PGA Championship and T35 at the WGC- Workday Championship. He was in the field and finished T41 at the first ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP, and his experience on Japanese courses will serve him well this week. He leads the Japan Golf Tour in birdie average, and he's currently in the top five in money earned, scoring average, greens in regulation percentage, and driving distance.

Sepp Straka (+14000) - Straka is in the midst of an interesting stretch: he's teed it up 13 times since the end of May, including at the Olympics, and his finishes are 10 missed cuts, a T15, and two T10's. Since there is no cut this week, he's basically guaranteed to finish top 15! One of those 10th-place finishes came at the Olympics in Japan, where he shot out to the first-round lead with a blistering 63. Straka has a great ball-striking profile, but over the course of his career, even when he gets hot, the flame that tends to burn out by Sunday. For that reason we'll also fire some cash on him to be Leader After Round 1 (+6500).