Although we only had two fantasy picks last week, the duo did not disappoint. Our must-have selection Smith finished ninth, and Justin Thomas placed in 18th. As advised, if you could fit both players into your lineup, it would have given you a solid basis.
It would appear that the so-called big names of golf have finally woken up and joined the party this week as Rory McIlroy won the CJ Cup and Collin Morikawa placed second.
This week our attention turns to the Zozo Championship, as we look to build on last week. We will begin, as always, by taking a look at the history of the tournament as we start to develop this week’s BeerLife profile.
The PGA Tour heads to Narashino Country Club in Japan for the third annual ZOZO Championship. Tiger Woods won the inaugural ZOZO at Narashino Country Club in 2019, while reigning PGA Tour Player of the Year, Patrick Cantlay, won last year’s edition at Sherwood Country Club in California. Although neither Woods nor Cantlay will be crossing the Pacific this week, there are plenty of other competitors in the country that hosted golf at the Olympics just two months ago.
The ZOZO Championship was initially scheduled as part of the PGA Tour’s wrap-around schedule for 2019-20. As one of three stops on the Asian Swing, it effectively filled the hole left by the defunct CIMB Classic. The event was initially held at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan, but was relocated to California for a year following the COVID fear. In 2021, it will return to its native Japan. In addition to the original ZOZO Championship, Narashino Country Club has held several noteworthy golf tournaments throughout its history, the most prominent of which was the 1972 Japan Airlines Open, which Gary Player won.
Let’s turn our attention to the form of the two winners and the three runners-up, analyze their rounds and see if we can find some crucial links to begin our BeerLife profile.
2021 Winner Patrick Cantlay – 265 – Form 38/8/43/12
2021 Runner-up Jon Rahm – 266 – Form 17/23/4/1
2021 Runner-up Justin Thomas – 266 – Form 12/8/2/25
2020 Winner Tiger Woods – 261 – Form 37/WD/CUT/21
2020 Runner-up Hideki Matsuyama – 264 – Form 3/16/CUT/9
The ZOZO Championship returns to the Accordia Golf Narashino CC in Chiba, Japan, after a one-year absence. The Narashino Country Club first opened its doors in 1965, at the height of Japan’s golf boom. After WWII, Japan looked for ways to rebuild its economy. As a result, golf became quite popular among businessmen as a leisurely round away from the office or as a way to take their clients out on the course. As a result, between 1958 and 1979, nearly 1,300 golf courses were created in Japan.
Almost every urban and suburban golf course in Japan, particularly the Tokyo area, is an extremely narrow, tree-lined course. Narashino CC is no different. As a result, tee-to-green at Narashino is relatively thin. The fairways are incredibly slim and are hemmed in by a thicket of tall trees. The purpose of each hole is to keep players from hitting over the top of them.
From the Championship Tees, it measures little over 7,100 yards and plays as a Par 70. It isn’t, however, a standard Par 70. There are three Par 5s and five Par 3s on the golf course. In the final round of the 2019 ZOZO Championship, two of the par 5s were over 600 yards long. In 2019, four of the par 3s were between 160 and 185 yards. Half of the Par 4s are longer than 480 yards, while none are shorter than 400 yards.
The double green system is another distinctive element of Japanese golf. Architects frequently construct two tiny green complexes instead of one enormous green complex of one grass kind. One green is made up of a summer grass (such as Bermuda or zoysia), and the other is winter grass (i.e., bentgrass). As a result, golf may be played all year round and in a wide range of conditions. It also allows the golf course to be more flexible with pin placements and keeps the greens from being trampled too much by foot activity. The bentgrass winter greens will be used for this competition.
Although relatively mild, the weather seems good this week and will warm up as the competition comes to a climax at the weekend.
The field in Japan is relatively weak due to current COVID travel restrictions and protocols, with only Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, and Hideki Matsuyama ranked inside the top-20. This is a significant reduction in talent from last year’s event, which included 25 of the world’s top-30 players, including eight of the top-10, at Sherwood Country Club in California. Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Will Zalatoris, and Rickie Fowler are among the other notable performers.
We run each player in the field through our BeerLife profile analysis to come up with our selections. This is what we are looking for this week:
Players on Tour – All three runners up here placed inside the top ten of the previous Tour Championship.
Tour Championship 2021
- Patrick Cantlay
- Jon Rahm
- Kevin Na
- Justin Thomas
- Xander Schauffele
- Viktor Hovland
Driving to Victory – With these tight fairways, driving accuracy is going to be key this week. If we look back to 2019, only 54% of fairways were hit, which is way below the PGA Tour average.
Driving Accuracy (2021)
- Brendon Todd
- Chez Reavie
- Brian Stuard
- Ryan Armour
- Abraham Ancer
Eating Those Greens – Ten of the top 12 last year finished inside the top 20 for greens in regulation. With these small greens, playing well with the irons will be essential.
Greens In Regulation Percentage (2021)
- Cameron Percy
- Jon Rahm
- Emiliano Grillo
- Matthew NeSmith
- Michael Gellerman
- Collin Morikawa
Score on Four – With some of the longest par four holes these players will see all season long, playing the par fours well will be vital.
Par 4 Scoring Average (2021)
- Patrick Cantlay
- Seamus Power
- Jon Rahm
- Abraham Ancer
- Daniel Berger
- Emiliano Grillo
- Chris Kirk
- Webb Simpson
After looking at the above data and running the field through our Beerlife profile builder, we have selected the following picks.
Must-Have Players – These players may cost a bit more but are sure to be worth it.
|Odds To Win +4500|
|Grillo finished last week in fine fashion by carding a 61 in the final round of the CJ Cup to take a share of 18th place. I always believe he is a player to catch when he’s hot. He finished 18th at the RSM Classic last season and followed that up with an eighth-place finish at the Mayakoba Golf Classic. Later in the season, he finished sixth at the Corales Club and backed that up by finishing runner-up at the RBC Heritage. He has hit 67% of his fairways this season which is an improvement on his form last season. He has been solid with his approach play so far this season, and although he will need to improve his game in and around the green, the signs are that he will do so as he has made 63 birdies already this season.|
Steady Eddies – These guys should give a good account of themselves but won’t always break the bank to add them to your lineup.
|Odds To Win +6500|
|With his no-frills game, Brendon Todd is the epitome of a steady Eddie player. Many people believe the key to winning here is driving the longer holes well, but I disagree. If you analyze Tiger Woods winning rounds in 2019, he laid up through the tournament, and I believe Todd can do the same this year. Brendon currently ranks sixth from 250 years which could be a vital statistic this week. However, if he does miss these small greens, he is one of the best fringe players in the game and should recover well. In addition, his putting is solid, which makes him a reliable option this week.|