Cory Connors, Cam Davis, and Matthew Nesmith, the Shriners’ co-runner-up, will be among the highlights reviewed for Draws and Fades.
The ZOZO Championship opens a week reserved for 78 men. CJ Cup in South Carolina on deck. Both are bonuses to the top 60 in the FedExCup rankings for the previous season and neither was reduced. (Each field reserves a space for the top 60 qualifiers among those who qualified for the play-off matches.)
The event’s location in Japan is a boon that the ZOZO Championship is held in conjunction with the Japanese Tour, although it is not an official event for the latter. There are fifteen members of the JGTO in the field, and the majority of them can be found at the top of their money list. Another is Keita Nakajima, who only started for his third time as a pro after a long spell at the top of the amateur golf world rankings.
Narashino equals 70 with five equivalent 3s and three par 5s. The nines are parts of 34 and 36 respectively. After debuting in 2019 averaging about half a hit under the bar, it returned in 2021 to be longer at 70.484. (Due to the pandemic, the 2020 edition was held at Sherwood Country Club in California.) After Matsuyama grabbed the 36-hole lead, he sprinted across the finish line and scored 15 under 265 to win five.
The compound track for the King and Queen courses is 38 yards longer this year at 7,079 yards. Extensions occurred in the fifth of the third degree which can now be played for up to 205 yards after a 14-yard increase, and at the level 4 this is 400 yards with 24 yards of extra length.
Thursday’s opening round will almost certainly be wet, but dry conditions are expected for most of the rest. Wind won’t cause much trouble and daytime temperatures will rise to the mid-70s, eventually, so scoring projects won’t be any harder than it was a year ago, but asking for another field average that’s a red number can be aggressive.
Weather permitting, the greens of the pentagram are poised to deflect 12 feet on the Stimpmeter. The first two versions were set up for a distance of 11 degrees and 12 feet, respectively. JGTO members are not usually tested at this kind of pace. Also, since the tournament is scheduled two weeks before its first two rounds in Japan, the thickest 3-inch approximate numbers will be thinner than returning participants can remember.
Path management is a priority, but now that there is competition experience, the ball strikers have not benefited as much from a new path. They’ll need to throw some punches, too. Matsuyama will not be denied, so citing the fact that he led the field in the greens in regulation and second in the gift trot and the unrealistic standard for all. (ShotLink is not used in Narashino.)
Speaking of hitting the greens, the design at Narashino is a living history of golf in Japan. Each of the 18 holes has two greens. It was designed in this way to expand playability across the seasons of the year. The local rule is that when a golfer lands on the wrong green, he is allowed to spill free from the shortest grass and not near the hole. For more details on the possibilities this week, Riad this.
Last year’s ZOZO Championship began at 8:30 a.m. local time on Thursday. Chiba is 13 hours ahead of Eastern Time in the US, so it started at 7:30 PM EST on Wednesday. Consider this modification of how you monitor the action.
Rob Bolton’s schedule
Rob Bolton of PGATOUR.com summarizes and previews each tournament from many perspectives. Look for his next contributions as scheduled.
Monday: strength ratings
Tuesday*: They sleep, draw and fade away
Wednesday: Choose ‘Em Preview
Friday: medical accessories, cabinet reshuffle
* – Rob is a member of the PGATOUR.COM Expert Selection Committee for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.