The inaugural Zozo Championship begins the PGA Tour’s first foray into Japan, as 78 players will take part at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, just east of Tokyo. The tournament also marks the return of Tiger Woods, who will make his first Tour start since the BMW Championship in August, and after another surgery on his knee. Woods will seeks his 82nd Tour win, which would equal Sam Snead for first all time.
On Monday, Woods, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama played in the MGM Resorts The Challenge: Japan Skins on the same grounds, and Day took top honors. We shall see if these four gained the needed experience in the skins event, during which they mostly joked around and took everything in stride.
Is Tiger ready physically?
It’s important for Woods to see if his body is ready to make himself a Presidents Cup pick for early December in Australia. The fact he won the Masters earlier this year is evidence enough that it would be justified for him to do so. He sells tickets and draws attention to the game like nobody else. It will be interesting to see how he plays here.
— Reuters (@Reuters) October 21, 2019
Presidents Cup spots on the line
Numerous others needing to be picked for the Presidents Cup are here, as well, as they didn’t qualify automatically in the cutoff. Among those hoping to impress Woods or International captain Ernie Els are Jordan Spieth, Gary Woodland, Patrick Reed, Kevin Na and Collin Morikawa for the U.S. side and Jason Day on the International side. Both captains will have four picks to make early next month.
As for the Zozo itself, it will play a composite 18 holes, with nine coming from both courses on the 36-hole complex. The listed yardage is a relatively modest 7,041 yards and a par 70. Just like last week in South Korea, the television coverage in this country will be late in the U.S.
Spieth is the play in Japan
Looking for some value in the field, I’ll promote the chances of Spieth to get back to the winner’s circle. Strange as it might seem, Spieth hasn’t won on Tour since he captured the Open Championship in 2017. Formerly the world’s top-ranked player, Spieth has plummeted to No. 37 in the world rankings after a couple years of struggling.
On the plus side, however, Spieth comes to Japan off a solid tie for eighth last week in South Korea, indicating a reversal in form is possible. He offers +2200 odds to win the tournament, which probably would’ve been unheard of just a few years ago. We already know he’s as good a putter as there is (second on Tour in shots gained putting last season), and the only thing that has held him back are his wild tee shots. To succeed on this course, he will need to stay in play and not get into trouble on this majestic, tree-lined course. He has been a member of the last three Presidents Cup teams and certainly won’t want to miss out this time.