ZOZO Championship: Preview and Picks to win at Sherwood Country Club

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 09: Collin Morikawa of the United States celebrates with a thumbs-up after winning during the final round of the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park on August 09, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 09: Collin Morikawa of the United States celebrates with a thumbs-up after winning during the final round of the 2020 PGA Championship at TPC Harding Park on August 09, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The ZOZO Championship takes center stage this week at Sherwood Country Club in California as the PGA Tour continues with it’s revamped COVID-19 era schedule.

The second edition of the ZOZO Championship will take place this week at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California as part of the PGA Tour’s reworked schedule.  This will be the second edition of the event after the initial playing took place last year in Japan.  The Tour will return this week to Sherwood Country Club for the first time since The Hero World Challenge was played here back in 2013.

This week’s event plays host to another strong field, including the return of Tiger Woods for the first time since last month’s U.S. Open.  Woods, a five-time Hero World Challenge champion and tournament host for that event will return this week to a course he has had great success at.  Tiger will be joined by a 78 man field this week in California that includes a number of the world’s highest-ranked players.

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World number two Jon Rahm leads the way and he will be joined by Adam Scott as he returns to play for the first time since the U.S. Open. Fellow top-ranked contenders Justin Thomas, Rory Mcllroy, Xander Schauffele, and PGA Champion and California local Colin Morikawa, will also tee off this week on the West coast.

The Course

Sherwood Country Club is a Par 72 that plays at just over 7,000 yards. It was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is a beautiful course that weaves throughout the local valley and is enveloped by trees and scenic views of the nearby Santa Monica Mountains. The course was revamped in 2016 and this week will include five Par 5’s and Par 3’s, and eight Par 4’s several of which will play at less than 425 yards.

The course, former host to the Hero World Challenge, has played host to the Champions Tour in recent years and features bentgrass fairways and greens. Overall the course should present numerous scoring opportunities to the competitors this week and I would guess we see similar scoring to that of last week at the CJ Cup with a winning score somewhere in the 18-22 under range.

Overall I’ll be looking for golfers who come into the event showing great recent form and who have excelled in recent months from tee to green and show a propensity to score especially on Par 5’s.

Favorites and Picks at the ZOZO Championship

In order to help me make well thought out selections each week, I incorporate a combination of recent form, some course history when available and specifically stroke gained metrics and stats that I feel will be important at a specific course.  If you are unfamiliar with how strokes gained metrics work or simply want to read more about it, I would encourage you to check out Bryan Mear’s excellent article on the matter over on The Action Network.

The odds used in this article can be found on popular betting sites, for information on where to find golf odds and more local to you check out The Action Network.

Jon Rahm comes into this week as the favorite at +900 after world number one Dustin Johnson will miss out for the second week in a row.  Rahm is followed closely by Justin Thomas +1100, last week’s runner-up Xander Schauffele +1100, and Rory Mcllroy +1200.  If I was to make a selection from the top of the board this week I would lean Rahm who excelled in every statistical category apart from putting at last week’s CJ Cup.

Instead, I will start my card this week with the man who won his first major in this state just a couple of months ago Colin Morikawa +2000, I discussed in my article last week that should the California local show any signs of life at the CJ Cup I would be looking his way come this week.

Colin gained over five strokes from both tee to green and approach last week in Las Vegas on his way to a top 15 finish. The PGA Champion rates out as 5th best in my model for the week as well.  Morikawa looks to have found something last week and on return to a part of the country that he is very comfortable I will back Colin to succeed this week in California.

Bubba Watson +3500 will be the next addition to the card this week. Bubba is one of a handful of players competing this week to have seen the course before, and though the course went through some renovations since the last time he played it, I do believe there to be an advantage for Watson at a course that figures to emphasize the importance of shaping your shots.

Watson has had success at nearby Riviera Country Club and enters this week having struck the ball superbly of late gaining over six shots on approach in his previous two starts on Tour.  In addition, Bubba rates out fourth overall in my model for the week including second in the field in Par 5 Scoring over his previous twelve rounds.

I’ll take a shot that the putter heats up for Watson this week on a course that should suit him with him coming into the week in excellent form.

I’ll make one last addition to this week’s card in the form of Cameron Champ +15000, Cameron has struggled a bit of late but could be rounding into some form just in time for this week’s event.  Camerons finish last week would not have done much to catch the eye, what did however was the fact that was amongst the best in the field last week with his approach shots gaining over six strokes.

The long-hitting Golfer has had some nice finishes on the West Coast as well including a 10th at the PGA Championship and a 16th at the Farmers earlier in the year.  Champ ranks inside the top 30 in my stats model for the week, this includes ranking inside the top ten in both tee to green and scoring over his past twelve rounds.

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Best of luck with all your outright bets at the ZOZO Championship this week!

Be sure to check out the excellent Q&A article by Cam Cobey as he goes one on one with the PGA Champion Colin Morikawa