Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 09:49 AM
ZOZO Championship Picks and Predictions
- October 20, 2020
- By Matt Blunt
It's the second straight week for a no-cut, small field event on Tour, and it's one where we actually get the great Tiger Woods looking to defend a title for the first time in awhile.
Not only that, it's at Tiger's course here at Sherwood Country Club, a place Tiger used to host a small sub-20 entrant event in past winter months, winning it 5 times from 2001 through 2011.
It can't get much more in favor for a repeat winner than that, although Tiger's recent form is still something of a question mark right now.
Maybe it's a guaranteed four rounds at a comfortable venue that helps Tiger's form round into shape and trend upwards into that much bigger title defense in a few weeks (Masters), but in a loaded field like this one is again, it's going to be the wait-and-see approach for any Tiger consideration this week.
PGA Tour Betting Resources
- Tour: PGA
- Date: Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020 to Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020
- Venue: Sherwood Country Club
- Location: Thousand Oaks, California
- Par-Yardage: 72, 7,073 yards
- TV: Golf Channel
- Vegas Expert Picks
- Betting Odds
That's because there are some great players basically from top to bottom in this field, and like we saw with Jason Kokrak's 1st career win in a similar format last week, it's not unheard of for guys further down the board to take one of these events down. These no-cut events are a guaranteed payday with nice purses involved, so it's hard not for some of those long shot tier guys not to play loose and let the chips fall where they may.
I'm not sure we don't see one of the more established names on Tour take this event down this week, but a lot can happen over the course of 72 holes, and it's not like many of the names in the +7500 and slightly above range don't all have multiple PGA Tour wins in their careers.
So after a nice showing last week by Lanto Griffin to at least salvage that Top 20 play, here's hoping this week's card does a little better, in results and not having guys withdraw for testing results.
Expect to see some low scores here as this is a very short Par 72 course that plays right into the hands of those that can take full advantage of Par 5's. There are five of them on this course, as well as five Par 3's, going the unconventional route to get to a Par 72. With the length these guys got right now, all five of those Par 5's are going to be easily reachable for this field, and with a driveable Par 4 thrown in there as well, just making birdies on those holes probably isn't going to cut it.
The usual defenses of a bit of water and trees aren't going to cause too much concern for most either, but if you aren't dialing in your proximity to the hole numbers with your second shots, these massive greens with the speeds they'll be kept at will leave many opportunities to three-putt available.
Stick to your irons, go low on the Par 5's, and get a little streaky with the putter. The recipe for success every week on Tour.
ZOZO Championship Odds to Win
Sticking your irons, scoring well on Par 5's and getting streaky with the putter is a lot easier said than done though, and with the depth of the field this week, there are plenty of cases to be made for a wide variety of names.
The strategy to the top may be somewhat generic, but it's still all about executing for these guys and right now there are four names at the top that are expected to do better than most in that regard.
- Jon Rahm: +1000
- Xander Schauffele: +1100
- Rory McIlroy: +1200
- Justin Thomas: +1200
- Tyrell Hatton: +1800
- Webb Simpson: +1800
- Collin Morikawa: +2000
- Patrick Reed: +2500
- More Golfers
- (Odds Subject to Change)
World #2 Jon Rahm leads the way at +1000, while World # 7 Xander Schauffele sits right behind him at +1100. Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy (World #3 and 5 respectively) come in next at +1200 each, with Tyrell Hatton (+1800) and Webb Simpson( +1800) currently sitting as the only other names below the +2000 mark.
It's that next group that includes names such as Morikawa, Reed, Berger, Cantlay, Woods, Wolff, Hovland, Matsuyama, and on and on, so some pre-tournament action is out there for those that really connect on what they are seeing in backing some of these names.
Can't strongly refute the arguments for nearly all of those names, but also can't pick them all, so hopefully it is one of these names that does end up connecting.
Golfers to Watch - PGA
Top Picks and Predictions
Contender to Back
Collin Morikawa +2000
It's already been a huge year for Morikawa, and he's one of a handful of guys at the top of the odds board that has teed it up the past two weeks on Tour. I do think that is a minor edge in terms of the rest/rust argument that guys are trying to be on the right side of with a Major coming up in a few weeks. It was a missed cut for Morikawa in his return after a couple of weeks off, but it was a T12 last week and there was a lot to like in his game.
Throughout the week at the CJ Cup, Morikawa finished with the 3rd best Strokes Gained: Approach numbers (+1.42) for the event. He was on the plus side of everything else except on the greens, as putting continues to still be a hit or miss thing with Morikawa. We've seen what he can do when he's on the right side of that equation though.
Morikawa also finished last season 6th in Par 5 scoring average overall, and he played at least 10 more rounds of golf than any of the five players who were better than him. So Par 5 scoring shouldn't be an issue for him this week, and if you can start there you are doing fine.
And big picture wise, I do think there are more wins in Morikawa's immediate future, but I don't want any part of him at the Masters as a debutant that would be looking for his 2nd career Major victory in just his 4th Major start. Don't like the sound of that situation at all, so if there is a prominent showing in the next few weeks from Morikawa, I'm expecting it to be here.
Cameron Smith +8000
Smith has been nothing but a workhorse on Tour the past few months, and it's really been nothing but positive results for him. He's got finishes of 11th and 24th on his resume from the past two weeks alone, and in his previous six starts prior to that he finished 38th, 22nd, 20th, 18th, 43rd, and 59th.
If that's not the solid form of someone knocking on the door for a win, I'm not sure what is, especially when he was in the positives for every Strokes Gained category last week outside of a -0.24 Off-the-Tee.
Three starts in tournaments of the 2020-21 season is far from a reliable number to strongly support, but Smith has put up a scoring average of 4.39 on Par 5's through his three starts, a number that's helped him turn around his finishing results. Only one of his last eight rounds has been over par these past two weeks, as he's seemingly figured out something in his long game with driving and GIR accuracy as well.
At this price, I'll ride the guy I believe to be riding a hot hand right now, as he hopefully keeps his spray chart at bay and let's his short game do all the talking.
Long Shot Pick
Gary Woodland +11000
Now this is a number I don't agree with in the slightest, even if it has been a tough year on the whole for Woodland. He was a guy who was Top 20 in Par 3 scoring average on Tour in the 2019-20 season, Top 10 in Par 5 scoring average for that year, and does have course history here having played here in 2011.
Yes, Woodland's game was abysmal last week from top to bottom – and it plays into this price – but you give a guy like him who prefers to bomb it and can dial in his irons in a heartbeat, five Par 5's and five Par 3's to deal with and I'll take my chances at this price that Woodland finds a way to get his game back enough to pose a significant threat this week.
ZOZO Championship Props
72 Hole Matchup to Take - ZOZO Championship
- Webb Simpson (-125) over Tyrell Hatton
There is no denying the great run of golf Hatton has been on with last week's 3rd, a win in Europe the week before, and a great result at the Tour Championship as well. There was a missed cut at the US Open where everyone struggled, but eventually a run like that catches up to a guy and leads to a dud of a week, and I only want a part of fading Hatton in that role against a guy in Webb who's one of the best ball strikers around, and typically a great scorer on Par 3's and Par 5's as well.
Webb's mixed in week off here and there, but his last five starts have all been Top 17 finishes, three three of them being Top 10's. That's the model of consistency that I've got no problem laying 25 cents with in a spot where I'm not sure Hatton's gas tank has a whole lot left.
Top 20 Finish - ZOZO Championship
- Gary Woodland +300
- Kevin Kisner +300
Woodland I already discussed up top and this Top 20 bet is one where I do believe the bulk of the dollars committed to any Woodland play should go. The recent form is the only thing that's really harming his profile right now (and it is severe), but that's also considered in the price and I'm willing to take that chance.
Kisner is another guy who's known for his ball striking, as he's long been a strong Par 3 player as well. His game was just a little bit off last week in a ho-hum week that finished with a -2 score, but he's another guy that was on quite the run for the past 10 weeks or so. In Kisner's last eight starts he's had one missed cut, and six Top 25 finishes, three of which were inside the Top 20.
If Kisner regains that form then we might not see these 3/1 prices on Top 20's for him for a while.
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How to Bet on Golf
Golf betting has gained much more exposure and interest in the past few years, and with plenty of plus-money prices littered throughout the various forms of golf wagers, the chance for bigger scores is part of the reason behind that increased popularity.
Sportsbooks ensure that there are no shortage of wagering options on golf tournaments every week, and it isn't all about picking the winner. Grabbing the outright winner of a golf tournament is the best way to get that 'big score' but it's also the hardest wager to cash. After all, a typical professional golf tournament has a field of 140+ different players to consider.
Understanding Golf Odds and Bets
Most golf odds are listed in the fractional format – 10/1 on Dustin Johnson for example – and in that particular case you would multiply the amount bet by that first number to project your winnings. So a $100 bet on DJ to win that particular event would win you $1000.
If you are more comfortable with the American version of odds listings that you typically see across the other major North American sports – ie +1000 – these numbers are easily convertible. Online and app based books may already have that option built in, but the easiest way to do it yourself is to add two zeros to the first number in the fraction. So a 10/1 price on DJ converts to +1000 in that format.
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