The PGA TOUR will head to Japan this week for just the fourth time in history to play the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP at Narashino Country Club. The event was played at the course in 2019 but had to move to Las Vegas in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic before returning to Narashino in 2021 and 2022.
Narashino Country Club is a par 70 measuring 7,079 yards and features Bentgrass greens. The course has a unique design with five par 3s and three par 5s.
The ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP is a no-cut event that features 78 golfers that includes 60 available PGA TOUR players from the 2022-2023 FedExCup Points list, nine special exemptions and nine Japan Golf Tour players. Those golfers include Xander Schauffele, Cameron Young, Min Woo Lee, Keegan Bradley, Collin Morikawa and Rickie Fowler.
For contests on DraftKings, I will be breaking down the key stats (past 24 rounds) and selecting golfers from different price tiers to provide flexibility for a DFS lineup.
And if you missed it, we added two new metrics in our models — Perfect% and SimLeverage. You can find an explainer on those metrics here.
The cliff notes version is that you can use SimLeverage to quickly find leverage plays in tournaments, while Perfect% is excellent for finding the best price-considered plays for cash games.
This analysis may reference Strokes Gained, a set of proprietary metrics generated by the PGA TOUR using millions of data points to calculate how many shots, on average, it takes a player to get the ball in the hole from every distance and situation.
Strokes Gained is now available in the FantasyLabs PGA Models.
Strokes Gained: Approach
Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club isn’t a very long course. It is a positional track and finding the right spots to land the golf ball will create birdie opportunities. With the three winners at the course being Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama and Keegan Bradley, it’s quite clear that accuracy with the irons will be crucial this week.
- High-end target: Xander Schauffele — $11,100 (3rd Strokes Gained: Approach)
- Mid-range target: Adam Schenk — $8,000 (6th Strokes Gained: Approach)
- Value target: Justin Lower — $6,400 (8th Strokes Gained: Approach)
Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club is a tree-lined golf course that is pretty tight off the tee. In 2019, we saw Tiger Woods win the event by keeping the ball in the fairway and intelligently plotting along the golf course.
In 2021 and 2022, hitting fairways was extremely difficult over the weekend. The course can’t be overpowered, and good drivers of the golf ball should have the advantage.
However, long hitters have also fared well at the course. I believe a well-rounded off-the-tee game is required this week.
- High-end target: Min Woo Lee — $9,100 (5th Strokes Gained: Off the Tee)
- Mid-range target: Vincent Norrman — $8,400 (8th Strokes Gained: Off the Tee)
- Value target: Cameron Champ — $7,100 (`4th Strokes Gained: Off the Tee)
SG: Putting (Bentgrass)
An interesting aspect of the course is its double greens. The course has two greens on each hole to enable golfers to use the course year-round, as different seasons require different grass types.
The green complexes themselves are quite tricky, and good Bentgrass putters should have an advantage.
- High-end target: Keegan Bradley — $9,200 (5th SG: Putting (Bentgrass)
- Mid-range target: Eric Cole — $8,900 (2nd SG: Putting (Bentgrass)
- Value target: Aaron Baddeley — $6,500 (7th SG: Putting (Bentgrass)
- High-end target: Hideki Matsuyama — $9,800 (14th Strokes Gained: Par 3)
- Mid-range target: Eric Cole — $8,900 (1st Strokes Gained: Par 3)
- Value target: Dylan Wu — $7,000 (6th Strokes Gained: Par 3)
Greens in Regulation: Gained
Narashino Country Club can play very difficult. Hitting greens in regulation will be incredibly beneficial, and in 2021 Matsuyama did so consistently. He gained 15 strokes on the field in the category, which was six strokes better than the next best. Last year, Bradley gained 6.3 strokes.
- High-end target: Collin Morikawa — $10,800 (1st Greens in Regulation: Gained)
- Mid-range target: Vincent Norrman — $8,400 (13th Greens in Regulation: Gained)
- Value target: Cameron Champ — $7,100— (11th Greens in Regulation: Gained)
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