The PGA Tour is skipping its Asian Swing in 2020, meaning the second edition of the Zozo Championship moves from Japan to California
The PGA Tour is usually on the west coast at the beginning of the year. In 2020, we’re back in the Golden State later than normal for the Zozo Championship.
Tiger Woods won the inaugural event in 2019 at Narashino Country Club in Japan where the event is supposed to be held annually. The pandemic prompted the PGA Tour to move the event stateside to Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California near Los Angeles.
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Golf fans will recognize this venue for hosting a smattering of events over the past three decades. It hosted the Shark Shootout from 1989-1999, Tiger Woods’ exhibition event, now known as the Hero World Challenge, from 2000-2013, the Showdown at Sherwood in 1998 between Tiger and David Duval and, since 2016, the PGA Tour Champions’ PowerShares QQQ Championship.
You may also know this land from the silver or big screen.
Sherwood Forest, the setting for the fictional “Robin Hood” and “The Adventures of Robin Hood” films, was recreated here. It was also featured in TV in the “M.A.S.H.” opening helicopter scene and was where “Dukes of Hazard” was shot.
The course opened in 1989 and is a Jack Nicklaus design. The fairways are bentgrass, rough is ryegrass and greens are a mix of bent and poa annua.
The par-72 layout measures around 7,100 yards.
It’s a parkland style track that offers a good variety of hole lengths in shot shapes. A lot of Nicklaus designs tend to favor a righty fade/lefty draw and this is more of the same.
The fairways are relatively generous and are important to hit given Sherwood’s tiered, undulating greens. Tall, majestic trees and water on several holes also provide a challenge.
There are plenty of eye-catching views of the adjacent mountains and of waterfalls.
I’m expecting scores similar to last week (20-under winner) given a benign weather forecast. No rain, temperatures in the 50s-70s and winds gusting to about 10 miles per hour should be managable for at least a few guys to take it really low.
Like last week’s CJ Cup, the field at the Zozo Championship is 78 players. There’s no 36-hole cut and the purse is $8 million.
Eight Japanese pros are exempted into the event that is otherwise stacked with big names.
Everyone in the Official World Golf Rankings top 10 is in the field except for No. 5 Bryson DeChambeau. At time of writing, No. 1 Dustin Johnson is committed to play, but he had to withdraw from last week’s CJ Cup due to a positive COVID-19 test.
I’ve left him out of this week’s power rankings due to his uncertain status. If I was assured that he’s a go, I’d have him in my top three this week.
Best of luck to DJ with his recovery. The poor guy just can’t catch a break around Masters time.
One way to describe the strength of field was to mention who is playing. Another is to mention who couldn’t even qualify for the dang tournament.
Here are the first 10 alternates per the PGA Tour as of 9 p.m. EST Sunday night:
- Matt Kuchar
- Jim Herman
- Louis Oosthuizen
- Robby Shelton
- J.T. Poston
- Maverick McNealy
- Charles Howell III
- Max Homa
- Doc Redman
- Sung Kang
Whatever red tape is keeping world No. q8 Oosthuizen out of the field is ridiculous. I considered him for my top 10 until I realized he wasn’t able to play!
Not to mention any of the other nine would make for reasonable flyer bets to win if they were in the field.
But I digress.
Sherwood CC features who’s who of celebrities as members. Jack Nicholson, Wayne Gretzy and (gulp) OJ Simpson are just a few.
Let’s see which players will boost their own star power at the Zozo Championship: