ZOZO Championship Betting Tips and Preview: Schauffele and Morikawa lead the field
By Bryan NicholsonLatest Golf Odds
17 October 2023
It’s back to Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club this week – scene of Keegan Bradley’s (28.0) resurgence in form last year. How the Americans could have done with some more form players in Italy! This is sacred ground for Hideki Matsuyama where he’ll be worshipped by the home crowd. There’s a strong trend of total driving here on a track where the holes have two greens. Several of the bigger names return to the lineup this week and the US guys will be looking to shake off their Ryder Cup disappointment.
Xander Schauffele slots in at the head of the market at 9.2 with Collin Morikawa tucked in behind at 14.0. A couple of recent lesser-event winners Sungjae Im and Min Woo Lee are also in the top echelon of the market, while former no.1 ranked amateurs Takumi Kanaya and Keita Nakajima are worth keeping an eye on. Home hero Hideki is 4th favourite at 20.0 in the betting. Adam Scott should be given respect at 32.0 while Rickie Fowler led after 54 holes here last year. The ZOZO Championship is a 78-man field, no-cut event with 500 FedEx Cup points on offer for the winner.
Accordia Narashino is a Par 70, 7,079 yards parklands style course that I call Asia’s Firestone. Long straight fairways are framed by a tall treeline and the target player profile is distance combined with accuracy from the tees. Approach proximity is the premium here with elevation changes into plateaued greens. Rough is usually penal but fair, and deep greenside bunkering will gather wayward approaches. There are five par 3s and three par 5s. Greens are Bentgrass and the rough is a Zoysia strain. Hit it long and straight, dial in those irons and circle a lot of par breakers or you’ll be lapped.
Emilliano Grillo (75.0 or 6.6) was 4th here last year going 65-64 over the weekend and he is the epitome of course fit. The Argentine player ranked 12th in total driving efficiency and 17th in approaches from 150-175 yards in 2023. Grillo returned to top form in the latter half of this year finishing t6 at The Open Championship and winning the Charles Schwab Challenge in a playoff.
Cameron Champ (55.0 or 5.9) has shown a mini resurgence in form after becoming a father a few months ago. Those who believe in the “Nappy Factor” might think it’s no coincidence Champ was leading at halfway last week in Vegas. The American eventually finished t18 after a poor third round, but he bounced back on Sunday, shooting -6.
This followed a top 10 at the Sanderson Farms for the multiple tour winner and his numbers fall under the category of strong progressive form. Champ has also demonstrated course fit at Accordia Narashino CC, finishing t8 here last season. He excels on courses where mid-to-long irons are a premium, and he can leave the driver in the bag on a lot of holes here to get more accuracy off the markers.
Quick mention for Alex Noren 55.0 or 5.4 who was back on song at the Shriners Children's Open last week shooting an average round of 66.5 over the four days for a t3 finish. What I like about Noren for this course – where he recorded a top 20 in 2021 – is his iron play and the height he comes in with approaches. It’s very similar to Hideki Matsuyama and Keegan Bradley – two former winners on the track. Noren ranked 35th in approaches from 150-175 yards on the PGA Tour in 2023.