PGA DFS Primer: ZOZO Championship (2022)
The PGA Tour wrapped up its two-week stint in Las Vegas at the CJ Cup @ Summit this past weekend, with Rory McIlroy taking home the purse after carding an incredible 10-under-par during the third round of the tournament. McIlroy was one of my recommended plays due to the impressive finish he rattled off last season in the FedExCup playoffs, using a combination of a strong driver and an impressive iron game to put himself into premium scoring positions. Collin Morikawa and Sam Burns also finished inside of the top-five, with Morikawa producing 10-under-par during the final round to climb into sole possession of second place. Sungjae Im also managed to finish T9 (-20) with an eight-under-par at The Summit Club on Sunday.
This week will see the PGA travel overseas to Chiba, Japan to play at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club, which formed a partnership with the Japan Golf Tour Organization (JGTO) back in 2019. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament was relocated to Sherwood Country Club in California last year but overseas travel has resumed, allowing Accordia to host its second official event. Just like the CJ Cup last weekend, the ZOZO Championship does not have a cut-line, meaning golfers can afford to get off to a slow start and improve throughout the weekend, while others who start fast will need to maintain their stamina and pace.
Here are players who should compete at a high level throughout the weekend in the third official ZOZO Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino CC.
- 2020 – Patrick Cantlay (-23)
- 2019 – Tiger Woods (-19)
Narashino Country Club lays on a beautiful expanse of zoysiagrass with bentgrass greens. A unique trait of the course is that there are two greens on each hole but only one will be used per round. If a player winds up landing on the non-active green, they receive a free drop onto the active green as long as it isn’t any closer to the hole. A nice layered mix of par 3s and par 5s creates a lot of opportunities for players to either ascend or fall down the leaderboards, meaning four days without any cut will become very interesting. It is a stock par-70 that is markedly shorter than The Summit Club in Las Vegas this past weekend, spanning up to 7,041 yards.
There are a few dog-leg fairways that will require accuracy off-the-tee, however, the majority of the holes contain long, straight lines to attack with a powerful driver and accurate irons. Landing on the bentgrass greens will force players to adapt quickly from the zoysiagrass fairways and rough, meaning those who can figure it out the fastest will jump ahead of the rest of the field in the first couple of rounds. The usual smattering of sand bunkers flanking the greens, as well as a few bodies of water, present similar hazards to navigate at Narashino this weekend.
Relevant Betting Stats
- Driving Distance
- Greens in Regulation (GIR) percentage
- Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
- Birdie average
- Strokes Gained: Putting
Recommended Plays: DraftKings
DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000
Collin Morikawa ($11,200)
The 24-year old American is surging at the moment, coming off of a second-place finish (-24) at the CJ Cup and boasting one of the best iron games on the PGA Tour. He is phenomenal with hitting greens in regulation at 80.56 percent, ranking fifth, and is averaging 6.5 birdies per round this season. His first year as a professional resulted in a trip to Narashino that yielded a T22 finish back in 2019. With the experience and skill set that he has developed since this trip, expect Morikawa to return massive value in lineups this weekend, even as the highest-priced player to acquire on the slate.
Jhonattan Vegas ($8,900)
A much cheaper play this weekend that carries a huge ceiling and a safe floor is Jhonattan Vegas. The 37-year old Venezuelan looked good in his 2022 PGA debut, finishing T14 (-19) last weekend at the CJ Cup, leaning on his greens in regulation percentage and a strong, accurate driver, Vegas overcame a few putting woes to stay at least three-under-par in each round. His driver and irons will keep him right in the mix down the stretch at another tournament that does not feature a cut, although he will need to improve his bunker play and putting to stay atop the leaderboards this weekend at Narashino. At such a discounted rate, Vegas is a good salary-saving option to target who can produce enough points to help cash lineups this weekend.
C.T. Pan ($8,800)
A couple of weeks off will aid C.T. Pan in his return at Narashino this weekend, as he has finished inside of the top-12 in both events he’s competed in to begin the young 2022 PGA season. Equipped with an impressive putting ability that ranks 12th in strokes gained, paired with elite irons in strokes gained tee-to-green and approaching the green, the 29-year old from Taipei is a phenomenal prospect to get into lineups due to his cheap salary and top-tier production. A shaky driver could cause some trouble if Pan cannot replicate his elite iron and putting skills, however, there are no signs that this will be the case. Plug Pan into lineups and watch the points pile up.
Recommended Plays: FanDuel
FanDuel maximum salary is set at $60,000
Keegan Bradley ($10,500)
The most valuable metric for PGA DFS is the number of birdies a player can accrue. This is the primary reason why 35-year old American, Keegan Bradley, makes the recommended list at Narashino this weekend. He has not finished higher than T32 in either of his appearances this season and missed the cut at Sanderson Farms, however, Bradley is averaging 5.17 birdies, which ranks 32nd amongst PGA golfers this season. He is also very effective at hitting greens, ranking 29th with a 75.93 percentage rate. His T13 finish at Narashino is also a very appealing aspect to justify paying up for Bradley in lineups this weekend.
Chris Kirk ($9,500)
Possessing an accurate driver and a 4.88 birdie average, 36-year old American Chris Kirk is riding momentum from a T14 (-19) finish at the CJ Cup this past weekend. There isn’t a ton to fall in love with beyond the driver and his birdie average, however, Kirk is a prime buy-low candidate that will return solid value in lineups at Narashino. He has yet to card an event higher than 12-under-par, meaning his consistency is the key to unlocking the boost needed when exploring salary-saving options that won’t tank. Kirk should be a safe high-floor play this weekend.
Si Woo Kim ($10,900)
A strong start to the 2022 PGA season has faded fast in the last two weeks, with 26-year old Si Woo Kim missing the cut at TPC Sumerlin and placing 76th (E) at the CJ Cup this past weekend. His wild variance between excellent and poor outings is a bit alarming, especially as the eighth-most expensive player on the slate this weekend. Fortunately, Kim is averaging five birdies per round and is solid in strokes gained off-the-tee, meaning he could remain competitive this weekend, especially with the design of the course. Chasing the birdies and the plethora of par 3s that play into Kim’s skill set is worth his higher salary.
Whether you’re new to daily fantasy golf or a seasoned professional, be sure to check out our Daily Fantasy Golf Glossary. You can get started with The Stats That Matter Most or head to a more advanced strategy — like How To Use Vegas Odds To Generate Your Lineup — to learn more.