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PGA DraftKings and FanDuel DFS Primer: ZOZO Championship (2023)

by Matthew MacKay | @Matt_MacKay_ | Featured Writer
Oct 12, 2022
Hideki Matsuyama

The PGA Tour heads overseas this week for the fourth consecutive ZOZO Championship at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan. It’s a bit of a prestigious event because only players who finished 60th or higher in the 2022 FedExCup rankings are allowed to compete, alongside several other players from the Japan Golf Tour Organization (JGTO). This means there will be no enforced cuts, affording players the rare ability to start slow without added pressure. Previous winners include Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Cantlay, and Tiger Woods. It’s a difficult course that has some unique aspects to it that will be explored in the course review. It will be exciting to see which player joins this legendary trio as the fourth winner of the ZOZO Championship after the event this weekend.

Let’s briefly review how my Shriners Children’s Open recommendations fared. None of my recommended players missed the cut in Vegas, but Aaron Wise (T64) and Taylor Pendrith (T44) fell short and were disappointing in DFS lineups. The good news is that the remaining four players finished inside of the top 20, including three inside of the top ten. Tom Kim was one of my favorite selections based on his incredible body of work late last season and it paid off, as the 20-year-old Korean won by three strokes (-24) over Patrick Cantlay and Matthew NeSmith. Sungjae Im and Adam Hadwin were the other notable players I recommended who finished with a T10 or better. Overall, it was a great weekend of picks, so I hope you tailed!

Due to the 13-hour time difference between the United States and Japan, the opening round at the ZOZO Championship will begin on Wednesday night around 7:30 p.m. ET. It’s imperative to construct and submit lineups before Wednesday evening. Without further ado, here are my favorite players to target to cash your PGA DFS lineups by the end of an exciting overseas event.

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Previous Winners

  • 2022 – Hideki Matsuyama (-15)
  • 2021 – Patrick Cantlay (-23)
  • 2020 – Tiger Woods (-19)

Relevant Betting Stats

  • Greens in Regulation percentage
  • Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee
  • Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green
  • Strokes Gained: Putting
  • Scrambling

Course Overview

Accordia Golf Narashino CC is a stock par 70 that runs approximately 7,041 yards. It’s comprised of bentgrass greens that will measure up to 12.5 feet via the Stimpmeter, which measures the velocity on a particular putting surface. Only one par 5 is offered up on the front nine but the back nine features two more par 5s, including on the 18th hole, where a blind tee shot and a heavily guarded green will inevitably alter players’ scorecards for better or worse. The difficult tests start early, as precision and ball-striking will be rewarded on five par 3s at Accordia. Most of them run south of 200 yards, so it’s not a matter of strength and distance. Accuracy will be imperative, although the ability to scramble will be important, as there will be some multi-level greens with bunkers and water hazards flanking them.

The unique design of Accordia Golf Narashino CC has to be the fact that each hole has two greens. That’s right. These exist to allow golfers to continue playing in colder conditions to extend playability on the course. If a player does land on the wrong green this weekend, he will be allowed to drop the ball without penalization off of the shortest grass and without moving the ball closer to the hole. Primary rough may stand over three inches, which will be difficult to navigate with errant tee shots or approach shots.

Recommended Plays: DraftKings

DraftKings maximum salary is set at $50,000

Hideki Matsuyama ($10,400)
Japan’s most prominent and prolific golfer, Hideki Matsuyama, returns to Narashino as the defending champion. The 30-year-old won the 2022 ZOZO Championship with a 15-under-par performance. A strong start and finish kept Matsuyama comfortably ahead of the rest of the field a year ago, where he won by five strokes after the four-day event. He finished 11th in the FedExCup standings last season and will attempt to be the first player to defend his title at Narashino. Matsuyama managed a T25 finish at the Fortinet Championship a couple of weeks ago and possesses impeccable touch with his irons, which is why he converted over 68 percent of his greens in regulation last year. Matsuyama is expensive for a reason. Pay up to acquire his talent in DFS lineups to build a sturdy foundation.

Tyrell Hatton ($9,100)
Tyrell Hatton has not competed at Narashino since 2021, where he managed a T28 finish at -13-under-par. The Englishman has certain areas that he needs to improve upon, but putting is his best commodity. Hatton ranked fourth in strokes gained putting last season, which is a massive reason why he could average 3.88 birdies per round. He also possesses a strong driver, averaging over 305 yards per attempt, which will be a nice skill set to have when navigating lengthy par 4s. Hatton also ranked third-best in bounce-back percentage at 30 percent in 2022, meaning he is capable of scoring a birdie or higher immediately after a bogey or worse. He’s a bit volatile off-the-tee but Hatton has one of the best putters and is equipped with a strong mental fortitude, which will be needed at Narashino this weekend.

Mito Pereira ($8,300)
Fresh off of a T4 finish at the Shriners Children’s Open in Las Vegas, 27-year-old Chilean Mito Pereira looks poised to make a run at Narashino this weekend. Whether it’s his irons or driver, Pereira has been a force to reckon with on the course in a small sample size to start the 2023 PGA Tour season. He will make his debut at Accordia Narashino on Wednesday night, so there is a large unknown about how he’ll handle the unique layout, but Periera converted over 69 percent of his greens in regulation last year. He also ranked 11th in total strokes gained, which accounts for all other strokes gained metrics. The putter betrayed him last season, so if he continues cleaning up that aspect of his game on the fast bentgrass greens in Chiba, Pereira has an incredible value at just $8,300 on DraftKings.

Recommended Plays: FanDuel

FanDuel maximum salary is set at $60,000

Tom Kim ($11,100)
We’re seeing a legend in the making right now with Joohyuung “Tom” Kim’s ascension on the PGA Tour. He’s fresh off of a win at Shriners Children’s Open and never strayed above 67 in any round on his scorecard on a par 71. Kim will make his debut at Narashino with a ton of momentum and seemingly no weaknesses in his game right now. The 20-year-old Korean converted a blistering 87.5 percent of his greens in regulations last weekend while ranking seventh in strokes gained putting. It’s not just the irons. Kim’s driver is the fifth most accurate to start this season, meaning he can control the lie and avoid the thick primary rough. Despite the high salary, Tom Kim is a must-start in DFS until further notice.

Tommy Fleetwood ($10,600)
Tommy Fleetwood has experience and success at Narashino. The 31-year-old Englishman finished T7 at five-under-par in 2022, getting off to a hot start but only maintaining par across the final two rounds. Fleetwood will make his season debut this weekend after collecting five T10 finishes last season. He doesn’t do everything as well as other players in this event, but Fleetwood is a maestro in strokes gained around-the-green, ranking fifth last season. Fleetwood’s putter can get red-hot too, which will be a nice asset to have in DFS lineups at a course that will demand good putting to climb the leaderboards. He’s a bit expensive but I like Fleetwood a lot, especially since he has familiarity with Narashino, unlike many of his competitors.

Tom Hoge ($9,700)
There seems to be a theme developing here with golfers named “Tom” but I can assure you that this was not intentional. Tom Hoge is a great value in DFS lineups this weekend following a T4 finish at Shriners Children’s Open. Hoge made his first trip to Narashino in 2022, where he recorded a 17th-place finish at three-under-par. If it wasn’t for the slow start at two-over-par across the first two rounds, Hoge would’ve cracked a T10 finish or better. Now that he has familiarity with the course, combined with momentum from a T4 finish last weekend, Hoge becomes a good investment. His irons were the most impressive strength on the PGA Tour last season, averaging 3.92 birdies due to great accuracy and touch from tee-to-green and approaching the green. At under $10,000 on FanDuel, Hoge is a no-brainer to insert into DFS lineups this weekend.

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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.

Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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