The PGA TOUR travels to Japan for the second tournament in Asia and first installment of the ZoZo Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Inzai, Japan. The field will consist of 60 golfers from the PGA TOUR along with players from the Japanese Golf Tour Organization as well as sponsor exemptions. Players like Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods will make their season debut in another no-cut event this week.
Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club will play as a par 70 measuring 7,041 yards and again be putt on bentgrass greens. The course features tree-lined fairways, half-a-dozen dogleg holes and undulating greens, which should be moderately easy to hit this week. We shouldn’t expect a ton of big numbers unless the golfers get in trouble on one of the four holes where water hazards are in play. A ton of distance won’t be needed, but like last week, the course may be vulnerable to windy conditions with it being close in proximity to the ocean. We’ll also see a lot of green-side bunkers guarding these small greens, which come into play on almost every hole. This course will also have two greens per hole, which is something we don’t regularly see on TOUR; players will get a free drop if their ball lands on the incorrect green.
Even though this is a par 70, the course will have three par-5s, which all measure over 550 yards. There will also be five par-4s measuring over 450 yards, so key statistics we should be focusing on when looking at golfers to roster is Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee with an emphasis on accuracy and Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green. Similar to last week, golfers who are efficient with their scrambling from the sand as well as par-4 scoring average should be considered when building our lineups.
Adam Scott ($9,900)Hopefully his 42nd place at The Shriners Hospital for Children Open moves his ownership down from where it should be this week. Even though he didn’t win last season, Scott recorded eight top-10s, which included two runner-up finishes at The Memorial Tournament and The Farmers Insurance Open. He’s been struggling with his off-the-tee game ranking 62nd in the field over his last 24 rounds, but his irons and his putting have been great over the same timeframe, ranking seventh in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green and has gained strokes on the greens in his last five straight tournaments.
Xander Schauffele ($10,400)Schauffele will tee it up for the first time this season in a no-cut event, a format he excels in. Xander has already registered wins in a World Golf Championship (WGC), the Tournament of Champions and the Tour Championship in his short career. Schauffele ranks inside the top-12 in Strokes Gained: Off-the-tee and inside the top-25 in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-green over his last six tournaments. Another interesting fact is Xander’s mother is from Taiwan, but grew up in Japan. Take it for what it’s worth.
Joaquin Niemann ($8,200)Niemann continues his solid ball-striking by gaining strokes off-the-tee as well as with his irons since winning a few weeks ago. Over the last three tournaments, Niemann has lost strokes around the greens, but is first in the field in sand save percentage. He also ranks inside the top-20 in Par-4 scoring average and should be traveling to Japan with momentum on his side after a top-12 finish at The CJ Cup last week.
Ryan Palmer ($6,900)Similar to Niemann, Palmer finished inside the top-12 at the CJ Cup and brings his solid ball-striking to Japan ranking 25th in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-green over his last three tournaments. He’s struggling with his par-4 scoring average, but ranks first in par-5 efficiency from 550 to 600 yards over his last 12 rounds. With solid finishes at course corollaries like the Honda Classic and The Valspar Championship, Palmer should be a solid value play at his price this week.
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