The PGA Tour makes its only visit to Asia this year with the Zozo Championship, held for the third time at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club. This course demands precise approach play, so it’s no surprise that two of the world’s best iron players, Tiger Woods and Hideki Matsuyama, won at Narashino in 2019 and 2021.
I expect to see more variance in this year’s results, however, because more than half of the field traveled to Japan straight from the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas. This kind of turnaround is tough, and for that reason, I’d shy away from the players who made the trip.
Here are some top ball-strikers who will come into the Zozo Championship with less jet lag and a better chance at contending:
Hideki Matsuyama $10,400
Yes, I know Matsuyama will be a popular play, but I can’t help myself. He has finished second and first in two appearances at Narashino, and year in and year out he has been one of the best iron players in golf. The Zozo, as his home-country tournament, is of the utmost importance to him. So I expect to see a healthy and focused Hideki who is ready to carry over his solid play from the Presidents Cup.
Keegan Bradley $8,900
Keegan finished fifth at the Sanderson Farms Championship two weeks ago and smartly took last week off. He finished seventh and 13th in the two Zozo Championships held at Narashino, and when you think of great iron players, Bradley is on the short list. Look for another top-15 finish this week.
Sebastián Muñoz $8,100
Muñoz played well at the Presidents Cup, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him contend in his first start since then. Every year we see players gain confidence from team events and go on a run in the next few events. Muñoz has played in the Zozo Championship just once, but he finished fourth at Narashino in 2021. Throughout his career, his greatest strength in comparison to the field has been approach play. $8,100 seems awfully cheap for someone who might just pull a Tom Kim this week.