This week’s Zozo Championship on the PGA Tour will be held at Narashino Country Club, the Japanese course that hosted the inaugural edition of this event in 2019. We have limited data from the first Zozo, as no strokes gained data was collected that week. We also don’t know a huge amount about how Narashino plays; in 2019, rains rendered the course unusually soft.
So picking players based on course fit is probably not the best approach at the 2021 Zozo Championship. Let’s just target guys who are in good form and seem to be underpriced.
Hideki Matsuyama $10,300
Matsuyama finished 59th at last week’s CJ Cup, but he finished that low only because he had one of his worst short-game performances of his career. If he had putted tour average, he would have placed ninth. Off the tee and on approach, Matsuyama actually gained 2.4 shots on last week’s winner, Rory McIlroy. Short-game performances are relatively volatile week to week, so Matsuyama could very well bounce back on and around the greens at Narashino. Remember, he was runner-up to Tiger Woods here in 2019 and is very familiar with the course.
Rickie Fowler $9,800
Fowler has spent the past few months retooling his swing, and the results are starting to show. He led the field at the CJ Cup in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee. Even though he lost strokes putting, he finished third. In the past, Fowler was a great putter who made a ton of birdies. If he can combine that old ability to hole putts with his newfound ball-striking form, he will more than pay off his $9,800 salary at the Zozo Championship.
Scott Vincent $6,400
Vincent, who has played primarily on the Japan Tour and occasionally on the European Tour, has missed only one cut in the past year worldwide. He has finished 17th or better in each of his past nine starts and has won twice in that span. He also placed 16th in the Tokyo Olympics, which boasted a better field than this week’s.
Keita Nakajima $6,100
Nakajima is the No. 1 amateur in the world and has done well enough in pro events in Japan to rise to 216th in the Official World Golf Ranking. His win on the Japan Tour last month was his third top-three finish of the year in minimal starts.