This week’s ZOZO Championship odds at Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Inzai marks the PGA Tour’s yearly return to Japan.
Despite having a few bad seasons, Mackenzie Hughes is back and is off to a winning start this year. All indications point to the Canadian having another successful week in Japan after positive feelings from a T4 result here a year ago and even stronger form.
Tom Kim will be the main attraction after winning the Shriners Children’s Open last week for the second time in his young career, but this week’s betting card will also include a few course horses hoping to keep their momentum going during the Fall schedule, including recent Tour winner Mackenzie Hughes.
I explain everything in the list of our top ZOZO Championship predictions and selections below.
Picks for ZOZO Championship
- Bradley | -110 over Fleetwood
- NeSmith | -115 over Spaun
- Mackenzie Hughes Top 20 | +200
- Matt Wallace Top 20 | +310
Pick selections made on October 11, 2022, at 12:30 PM ET.
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Matchup Predictions for ZOZO Championship
Keegan Bradley over Tommy Fleetwood | -110 at OKBET
Despite placing T39 in a field of amateurs in Spain last week while dropping strokes with his approach and putter, OKBET has Fleetwood ranked as a -125 favorite.
Bradley, on the other hand, began his campaign with a Top-5 showing at Sanderson Farms. He also has a great record at this course, having recorded T7 and T13 results in his previous two attempts at Accordia Golf Narashino CC, as well as a co-course record 63 in 2019.
Since his back-to-back T4 finishes at the Scottish Open and Open Championship in July, Fleetwood hasn’t played particularly well. Bradley is now playing excellent golf and has a stronger track record in Japan.
Matthew NeSmith over J.J. Spaun | -115 at DraftKings
At the Shriners last week, I predicted that NeSmith would place inside the Top 20, and he more than delivered by placing second to Tom Kim. He is playing excellent golf, so it only makes sense to return to him. However, because his matchup with J.J. Spaun offers less value as a Top-20 play, we are focusing on it.
This play contrasts what NeSmith appears to be developing into with what Spaun has shown himself to be over the previous year because these two players have only made one career start at the ZOZO, with NeSmith finishing T48 last year.
Spaun won the Valero last year, but despite that, he hasn’t been able to establish himself as a reliable performer. His strong or average finishes last year were frequently followed by bad ones or missed cuts, and I don’t see why that should change this year.
His ball-striking doesn’t even come close to what NeSmith has been providing us the previous two weeks, despite finishing T15 and having a hot putter at the Shriners. This line has to be much longer.
Top Finisher Predictions for ZOZO Championship
Mackenzie Hughes Top 20 | +200
Mackenzie Hughes was formerly a promising Canadian player who finished inside the Top 15 in each of the three FedEx Cup Playoff events on his way to East Lake in 2020. However, he hasn’t competed since and went through a slump in 2022 with only a few standout results in an otherwise forgettable season.
He has, however, firmly left that in the past. He finished 25th at the Fortinet to begin the new season, but two weeks ago, he broke a six-year losing streak by winning at Sanderson Farms. He gained 1.34 strokes on the approach (sixth) and 2.05 from the tee to the green, combining a stellar putting performance (+0.92 strokes gained) with an even stronger ball-striking week (third).
Oh, and one of his uncommonly strong performances from last year was a T4 at the ZOZO. Returning to form, it appears like another successful outcome is in order.
Matt Wallace Top 20 | +310
Matt Wallace, who was fourth at the ZOZO last year, is entering after playing some more respectable golf in the Tour’s Fall schedule (T21 at the Fortinet and T28 at the Shriners).
Given his inconsistent ball-striking, this is a bit more of a gamble, but he is a dominant force on and around the greens. In 11 of his last 15 starts internationally, he has gained strokes with his putter in addition to gaining more than a shot on the course around the greens in both the Fortinet and Shriners to start the year.
His putting and scrambling abilities should do the heavy lifting required to get back into the mix in Japan if he has even an average ball-striking week relative to the field.