PGA Tour Picks: Zozo Championship Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
American Justin Thomas moved up to No. 4 in the world rankings this week following Sunday's victory at the CJ Cup in Korea - his second time winning in the tournament that debuted in 2017. That year, he finished at 9-under 279 and beat Aussie Marc Leishman in a playoff. This time, Thomas shot a final-round 5-under 67 to finish at 20-under 268 to beat Danny Lee by two shots.
It was Thomas' 11th career PGA Tour victory and 10th since the start of the 2016-17 season, more than anyone else. The 26-year-old has now converted eight of 11 54-hole lead/co leads into victory. Defending champion Brooks Koepka withdrew from the tournament with a knee injury following rounds of 69-75. We did get Thomas at -110 for a Top 10 at the CJ Cup. Our winning choice was longer shot Aussie Cameron Smith, and he finished tied for third at 15 under.
This week, the Tour plays its first-ever official event in Japan with the inaugural Zozo Championship -- Zozo, Inc. operates the largest Japanese online fashion website "Zozotown." Not too long ago, it debuted in the USA and there's an app for it. The tournament is co-sponsored by the Japan Golf Tour Organization so there are a handful of spots in the field reserved for members of the Japan Golf Tour. This event, which has a six-year deal with the Tour, basically replaces the CIMB Classic in Malaysia, which is no longer.
The PGA Tour obviously has a vested interested in golf-crazy Japan, with the Tour opening an office in Tokyo three years ago. Frankly, I'm surprised it took this long to get an official tournament over there. The World Cup of Golf has been played in Japan a few times; the 2020 Olympics are in Japan, but the golf competition will be held at the Kasumigaseki Club.
This week's host is the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, located in Inzai, Chiba Prefecture, which is basically a suburb of Tokyo. It's a par 70 measuring about 7,000 yards. Clearly the crowed favorite this week will be the best Japanese player ever on the PGA Tour in Hideki Matsuyama. Since 1993, there has always been at least one Japanese player on the PGA Tour and they have combined for 11 victories - five by Matsuyama.
It's easily the best field of the season so far to compete for a purse of nearly $10 million. A total of 14 major championship winners are set to tee it up and 10 members who already have qualified for the upcoming Presidents Cup teams. Captains Tiger Woods (who has said qualifying for Team USA in the 2020 Games is a huge goal) and Ernie Els will make their final choices for that early next month. On Monday, Woods, Rory McIlroy, Matsuyama and Jason Day competed in "The Challenge: Japan Skins" at this course so they are all playing the tournament. Day "won" that with the most money.
With a limited field of 78 players at the Zozo Championship, there will be no cut. Recently, Typhoon Hagibis hit Japan and caused widespread damage, but this course suffered only minimal problems so it's all systems go.
Golf Odds: Zozo Championship Favorites
Thomas is the +750 favorite to go back-to-back, and if you read these stories weekly you know I will never recommend betting on someone to win in that scenario because it's just too tough.
McIlroy (+800) tees it up on the PGA Tour for the first time since winning the 2018-19 season-ending Tour Championship and $15 million FedEx Cup prize - while also being named PGA Tour Player of the Year.
Local favorite Matsuyama is +1800 - he was last in the Skins Game with just $20,000 (must be rough). Jordan Spieth, Paul Casey and Xander Schauffele are all +2000. Tiger is +3300 as he looks to tie Sam Snead's record of 82 PGA Tour wins. No. 81 for Tiger was of course back in April at the Masters. Woods recently had an arthroscopic procedure performed on his left knee.
Golf Odds: Zozo Championship Picks
Somewhat flying blind here with no tournament/course history to go by. I'd imagine Matsuyama knows the track better than any other PGA Tour pro and that it did help Tiger, Rory and Day to play there Monday before anyone else could.
We'll go with Matsuyama (+175) and Tommy Fleetwood (+300) for Top 10s. Our winner, though, is Tony Finau at +2800. He last played in Vegas at the Shriners and was T9. He was also T7 the start before that at the Tour Championship.
Three of our top experts, Doc's Sports , Indian Cowboy and Raphael Esparza offer their expert golf picks every week of the season. Doc's Sports is offering $60 worth of member's picks absolutely free - no obligation, no sales people - you don't even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please for any handicapper and any sport on Doc's Sports list of expert sports handicappers. Get $60 worth of premium members' picks free .
Read more articles by Alan Matthews