Zozo Championship outrights and matchups preview

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For the second week in a row the tour takes a strong field of golfers to a course that we haven’t seen recently on the normal PGA rotation. The last time that an event was held at Sherwood CC was in 2013 for the Hero World Challenge; an annual event hosted by Tiger Woods. For what it’s worth, it was won in a playoff when Zach Johnson defeated Tiger at his own tournament. Due to the Covid pandemic, this year’s Zozo Championship will take place in Southern California at this country club instead of its usual location, South Korea. Although it may feel as though it is still Tiger’s tournament, he isn’t associated with the hosting, he is just the defending champion. 

The field

Once again we will see a stacked field at a no-cut event. There are 78 golfers that will take on Sherwood Country Club with many of them traveling from Las Vegas to Thousand Oaks, which is about 30 miles north of Los Angeles. A few key names making that trip are Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, and Jon Rahm

New golfers in the field who we did not see tee it up last week are Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott, and the defending champ, Tiger Woods. Phil Mickelson will be back on the PGA Tour as well this week after capturing another victory on the Champions Tour

Dustin Johnson has withdrawn for the second straight week after testing positive for Covid. Tony Finau should be back competing after being cleared of his previous Covid illness that held him out of the CJ Cup.

The course

Sherwood Country Club is in the city of Thousand Oaks which is located just north of Los Angeles. As mentioned prior, it had played host to the Hero World Challenge for many years but has not seen a PGA tournament since 2013. The course is a par-72 that plays at roughly 7,100 yards and will offer up a unique variety of holes with five par-3s and five par-5s. The length of the course is definitely one of the shorter we have seen on paper in some time but being back at sea level, the ball won’t be traveling as far as it was in the Vegas desert. 

A rough idea of the scorecard is below:

Short par-4s and reachable par-5s will be the theme of the week.

The course wraps between a number of gorgeous mansions in a very exclusive gated community. Some notable members of this prestigious golf course are Will Smith, Wayne Gretzky, Sylvester Stallone, Jack Nicholson, and Mel Gibson. It was designed by Hall of Famer Jack Nicklaus and prior to Tiger Woods holding an annual event, it played host to the Shark Shootout hosted by Greg Norman in the 80s and 90s

The fairways are more narrow than the average course on the tour which will place an extra emphasis on Driving Accuracy. Just off the fairways isn’t too much trouble with medium-length rough but a little further from the short grass is either a mansion’s backyard or thick areas of trees and rocky waste areas that will make attacking the greens almost impossible. Speaking of the greens, they are made with a combination of Poa and Bentgress and are relatively small. This will make hitting the greens challenging and put an extra bit of importance on a golfer’s ability to get up and down from bunkers and greenside rough. 

When looking at past results of the events hosting at Sherwood, we find a similar type of golfer in the winner’s circle. Prior to Zach Johnson, other winners included the likes of Graeme McDowell, Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Matt Kuchar, and Steve Sticker. Every one of those golfers made a career off of finding fairways and hitting greens. None of them are flashy or drive the ball a mile. We’ll be looking for consistent golfers who maintain a solid all-around game for this coming week.

Notable stats

  • Strokes Gained: Approach
  • Fairways Gained
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
  • Strokes Gained: Around the Green
  • Par-4s: 400-450 yards

Outrights value

Webb Simpson +1800

SG: APPFwys GainedSG: T2GSG: ARGP4: 400-450
Webb Simpson stats

When it comes to short length courses where all-around game is crucial, Webb Simpson tends to be the prototype golfer to look for. We usually like to target Webb on par-70s but short par-72 courses can fit into his wheelhouse as well. He didn’t play in the CJ Cup last week but did play in the Shriners the week before that where he finished 13th. That was coming off the heels of a top-10 finish at the challenging US Open. Webb finds himself inside the top-20 in four of the five notable stats this week including Approach and Tee-to-Green. He has made 7 straight cuts and of those, six were top 13 or better. The form is strong and the stats line up well. He is the exact type of golfer to start the betting card with this week at 18/1. 

Russell Henley +4000

SG: APPFwys GainedSG: T2GSG: ARGP4: 400-450
Russell Henley stats

Russell Henley has been a man of consistency lately. This past week he posted another top-10 finish making that three in his last five starts. He enters this week leading the field in approach and inside the top 5 for hitting hairways and par 4 scoring on holes that fall between 400 – 450 yards. During his past 10 tournaments played, Henley has gained 5.3 strokes tee-to-green which is practically lapping the field. In this very deep field of premier names, Russell Henley stands out at 40/1 as great value to walk away with the title. Look for top-5 odds as well that should come in around +800.

Harris English +4000

SG: APPFwys GainedSG: T2GSG: ARGP4: 400-450
Harris English stats

I love a lot of the golfers around 40/1 this week and Harris English is definitely part of that group. Outside of a random missed cut two weeks ago at the Shriners, his form has been great. Prior to that event, it had been since June that he missed a cut. He finished inside the top-5 at the US Open and 12th at the Tour Championship. When looking at notable stats and previous results, this course plays pretty similarly to Muirfield Village, the host of the Memorial. This past summer, Harris English finished 13th at that event. He leads this field in strokes gained: around the green so if his irons do get a little shaky he should be able to make up for it with his elite short game. English has been spending a ton of time on the top leaderboards lately and a win shouldn’t be too far away.

Scottie Scheffler
Sep 4, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Scottie Scheffler hits his tee shot on the 3rd hole during the first round of the Tour Championship golf tournament at East Lake Golf Club. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hagy-USA TODAY Sports

Tournament matchups

Russell Henley +103 vs Scottie Scheffler -123

I’ve already touched on why I like Russell Henley for this weekend. Feel free to scroll up to read the full breakdown on him. When looking at this specific matchup, Scheffler fits the mold for someone I am looking to attack with another golfer for the time being. Just looking at stats from the past 50 rounds it appears that he lines up well. However, his last three starts have resulted in finishes of 37th / MC / 52nd. His stats are skewed based on how good his August was but it definitely appears that he has lost a step entering the fall season. Until we can see some return of good form, I am more than happy to bet against him; especially with someone poised to make a deep run this week.

The pick: Russell Henley +103

Daniel Berger -125 vs Sungjae Im +105

Outside of the three golfers written up in the outrights section of this article, Daniel Berger may be my favorite coming into this week. His stats tell the story about why:

SG: APPFwys GainedSG: T2GSG: ARGP4: 400-450
Daniel Berger notable stats

He sits inside the top-10 in three of the five key categories for attacking Sherwood CC. He has also gone since early July without missing a cut. A run that has included four top-20 finishes. He was able to win an event in early summer at the Charles Schwab and I feel he is on the verge of winning another soon.

Sungjae Im on the other hand has been streaky as of late. The once consistent golfer appeared to lose his solid form this summer when he failed to finish inside the top-30 in seven straight events and then missed another cut two weeks later. He seems to have turned it around slightly but he still only managed a 45th place finish out of the 78 golfers in the field last week. He really struggles to get up and down from around the greens and that is an important factor this week. Give me all the Daniel Berger in this matchup.

The pick: Daniel Berger -125

Harris English -120 vs Bubba Watson +100

I think Bubba Watson is getting a little too much hype heading into this event. He has been playing some solid golf as of late which topped off with a finish of 7th last week in the desert. But much of this is due to how well he has been off-the-tee. For notable stats this weekend, it doesn’t pan out as well:

SG: APPFwys GainedSG: T2GSG: ARGP4: 400-450
Bubba Watson stats

Ranking 47th out of 78 for fairways gained is just not going to cut it around the course they are up against in Thousand Oaks. His approach game has been getting consistently better but if he is unable to keep it in the fairway, it will be a very challenging week for the two time Masters champ. Not the mention that bentgrass is by far his worst putting surface. I’ll side with Harris English.

The pick: Harris English -120

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