The best betting props for the 2021 Zozo Championship

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October 20th, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic robbed the PGA Tour of a trip to Japan 12 months ago, but now we’re back as the 78-strong field head out to the Narashino Country Club in Chiba to contest the 2021 Zozo Championship. Japan has a wonderfully colorful culture, but for the next few days we’re more interested in putting averages and ball striking than kimonos, geishas, and cat cafes!

In the first ever Zozo Championship, Tiger Woods won comfortably by three strokes to deny local hero Hideki Matsuyama a special win. Woods finished 19-under-par, but only nine other players made it to double-figures under-par in a tournament that was decimated by bad weather.

Luckily, this week it is set to be cool and calm, which could lead to plenty of low scores. The rough is sparse, so inaccurate driving shouldn’t be too much of a factor, and there are three par 5s to take aim at.

Early reports suggest the course is in immaculate condition and putting well on the perfect Bentgrass greens will be key to success. The first three on the leaderboard in 2019 were ranked second, first, and fourth for putting average so a red-hot flat stick is mightily important.

Zozo Championship 2021

Sun, October 24 2021, 7:00 AM

Schauffele, Xander


Morikawa, Collin


Matsuyama, Hideki


Fleetwood, Tommy


Zalatoris, Will


Bradley, Keegan


Niemann, Joaquin


Fowler, Rickie


Si Woo Kim


Tringale, Cameron


Matchbet: Hideki Matsuyama to beat Will Zalatoris (-125)

Everybody loves a hometown hero, so let’s start with Matsuyama. As he walked off the course as a runner-up two years ago, he vowed to come back and win this tournament, and I’m fully behind him to beat Will Zalatoris.

While Matsuyama has failed to trouble the leaders in the last two weeks, he did finish sixth in the Fortinet Championship to begin the new season, and that coupled with an excellent four rounds at this course in 2019 provides a solid base of form.

The pressure of playing at home should not phase Matsuyama, who shouldered the country’s hopes in the Olympics earlier this year to finish fourth, and showed no signs of pressure when he became the first Japanese man to win a major in this year’s Masters.

Zalatoris put in two top 15 finishes to start the season, but missed the cut last week, and I fancy Matsuyama’s home field advantage to be more than enough this week.

Top South American Player: Joaquin Niemann (+175)

Niemann is another player who contested this event in 2019 and his performance caught the eye, even if his final form figure does not. He finished 33rd two years ago, but that doesn’t paint the whole picture. Niemann’s form was beginning to tail off then and he has likely burnt out from a huge breakthrough season as a pro which included four top 10 finishes.

He was 11th through 54 holes here in 2019, but a final round of 74 saw him tumble down the leaderboard.

Like Morikawa, Niemann hasn’t inspired much confidence in the last two weeks, finishing 40th at the Shriners Children’s Open and then 45th in the CJ Cup, but this course should be far better suited to his game. His ball-striking has improved drastically from 2019, and that could be enough for another strong week.

Matchbet: Maverick McNealy to beat Cameron Tringale (-110)

While heaping praise on Matsuyama for being a hometown hero, Maverick McNealy is a prime example of when it can go completely the other way. There was huge expectation on him last week after it was revealed he was a course member of the Summit Club and had shot a 61 there previously.

The hype ramped up, but McNealy couldn’t match the expectation, and finished a disappointing 38th.

But now without the added pressure McNealy can rediscover the form that led him to finish second in the Fortinet Championship last month. He ranked first in the field for putting average that week and a similar performance on the dancefloor here should put him in good shape.

Tringale finished 11th in the Sanderson Farms Championship at the start of October, but has followed that up by finishing outside the top 50 in his last two tournaments.

Top 40 Finish: Yuki Inamori (+110)

Finally, it is worth looking past Matsuyama at another local challenger who could help pocket us a nice prop win on home soil. Lots of the PGA Tour players are coming into this event having played in the CJ Cup in South Korea, and having to travel from there to Chiba is hardly ideal prep. There’s a chance a few may struggle to adjust.

That makes some of the local players more appealing, and none more so than Yuki Inamori, who is a two-time winner of the Japan Open and contended in that tournament last week, finishing seventh. He now has three top 10s in his last four tournaments on the Japan Golf Tour.

The field is only 78-strong, so Inamori just has to beat half the field here to click this prop bet. His iron game is strong and he’s one of the most accurate players on the Japanese Tour off the tee, putting him in prime position to break the top 40.