Betting Analysis
October 21, 2020

Zozo Championship 2020 picks: The bet on Tiger Woods our undercover caddie is willing to make

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Keyur Khamar

Tiger Woods smiles during a practice round for the 2020 ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP @ SHERWOOD at Sherwood Country Club on Oct. 20.

Last week was, how do we put this … not great for our experts. It happens to the best of them. That said, if you tailed a few of our experts’ top-10 and matchup bets, maybe you came out OK. The outright winners are coming, don’t you worry.

This week, there’s plenty to feel good about at the Zozo Championship, which will be held at Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, Calif. Avid golf fans might recall that Sherwood played host to Tiger Woods’ World Challenge from 2000 to 2013, and it provided a ton of exciting finishes, many of which ended in a Tiger victory. But those 16-player fields never had the feel that the Zozo will this week, with a much larger field and entirely different course conditions.

Our guest on our weekly betting podcast, “Be Right,” this week was staff writer Daniel Rapaport, who has played Sherwood dozens of times (even as recently as two weeks ago), and he believes it’ll be another birdie fest this week. Wedge play will be key, Rapaport says, as Sherwood is one of the shorter par-72 courses these players will face. That should make it a wide-open affair that brings the shorter hitters into play. The bombers will still feast though, like always.

Our expert picks, as usual, are powered by an anonymous tour caddie giving his picks from on-site (he really likes a particular bet on Tiger this week … scroll down to find out); Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network and DraftKings; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel; Rick Gehman, one of golf’s leading data scientists and founder of RickRunGood.com; Lee Alldrick of FanShareSports.com (Lee is 6 of 6 in his match-up picks this season … make sure to hop on board) and us “experts.” Scroll down for all of our best bets on the 2020 Zozo Championship.

Zozo Championship 2020 expert picks to win (Odds from William Hill)

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Matthew Wolff (30-1) — I’m still reeling from last week’s calls. JT, wrong. Fade Tyrrell Hatton, wrong. I need to redeem myself. I’ll go with one of the hometown kids in the field. Wolff has been knocking on the door, and you’re getting some value on this number because he really struggled last week. He’s played Sherwood so many times, he should be one of the heavier favorites.

Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Daniel Berger (30-1) — Berger won at Colonial and came back with a top five the next week at Heritage earlier this summer, two courses where past champs at this venue have also popped. Over the past 50 rounds, Berger is just one of two players, along with Xander Schauffele, to sit inside the top 10 in strokes gained/tee to green and putting.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Patrick Cantlay (30-1) — I’m mostly just price shopping in a field like this with so many realistic winners. The odds at the top of the board offer little leverage, so I’m fine dropping down a bit. Cantlay’s odds have drifted after a mostly non-descript restart. Cantlay, however, is showing signs of life, primarily with 3.4 strokes gained/off the tee in two of the past four starts. The irons have been cold overall, but for him, that actually means they’re field-neutral at the past three events when you look at the round-by-round data. He’s a good bentgrass putter, and if you’re not backing someone like Schauffele or Rahm at the top, I’m inclined to take the value on Cantlay’s name and look to guys such as Daniel Berger (30-1) and Viktor Hovland (30-1) to start the card.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Patrick Reed (22-1) — There’s always something about Patrick Reed when a group of the world’s best players get together. He always seems to find a way to assert himself. Remember that of his eight PGA Tour victories, two of them are World Golf Championship events, two are playoff events and one is the Masters. That’s a solid résumé that proves he can compete in any field on any course. He opted to skip Las Vegas this year and played the BMW PGA Championship on the European Tour instead. He finished T-3 in a field that had plenty of the top pros. Combine that with his T-13 at the U.S. Open and his T-7 (without strokes) at the Tour Championship, and you’ll find that Patrick Reed is on a really impressive stretch of golf.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Justin Thomas (12-1) — The “Be Right” podcast boys went all-in on JT in Vegas, and it didn’t end well. But scared money don’t make money. As mentioned, we had Daniel Rapaport, one of our colleagues, on the podcast this week (scroll down to listen), and he has a great sense of the course. Rapaport estimates he’s played Sherwood 50 times. Like most Nicklaus courses, a cut off the tee plays really well. And it’s short, so these guys will be faced with a lot of wedges. JT is the only player in the top five of proximity stats from 75-100 yards; 100-125 yards and 125-150 yards. That’s incredible—and reason why you shouldn’t get off the JT heater just yet.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Collin Morikawa (20-1) — You probably shouldn’t attempt to glean too much from the past winners at Sherwood, but I’m going to go ahead and do that anyway. Tiger, Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk are among the past winners. Bunch of ball strikers, if you ask me. This week just screams Collin Morikawa to me. There is literally no better iron player in the world right now. Last week he had his best strokes-gained: approach performance since the Workday Charity Open, which he won. After a pair of uncharacteristic missed cuts, he’s rounding back into form.

Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jason Kokrak (40-1) — I think there’s a little value left here, as Kokrak has what it takes to go back to back. He ranks sixth in strokes gained/tee-to-green over the past two months and fourth in strokes gained/putting on bentgrass over the past 12 months.

Results from last season: Golf Digest's betting panel predicted 14 winners correctly last season, and collectively on outright winners, top-10 bets and matchups won and lost, our panel went up 225.30 units (the equivalent of being up $2,253 if you wagered $10 on all of our bets) last season. We correctly picked Bryson DeChambeau (28-1) to win the U.S. Open in this space. Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!

Zozo Championship 2020 expert picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win (odds from William Hill)

Caddie: Brian Harman (80-1) — Brian Harman is the Little Engine That Could (key word, little). But he’s a great putter (he’s gained strokes putting in seven straight events) and a strong wedge player. That’s the recipe for success at Sherwood. He was close at the Shriners, too, so I’d expect him to be hungry for his first win since 2017.

Mayo: Kevin Na (90-1) — The off-the-tee numbers are sad, but he’s still been accurate. That’s a huge advantage at Sherwood. Plus, he’s one of the best wedge players in the field. This should be a wedge fest. He’s lost putting in three straight, which seems insane for someone who generally rolls it so well.

Gdula: Brendon Todd (70-1) — Based on past winners here—including Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk—I think we can perhaps de-emphasize distance a little bit, and few golfers benefit from that quite like Todd. Todd leads the field in fairways gained over the past 50 rounds, via FantasyNational.com, and he is sixth in strokes gained/putting on bentgrass over the past 100 rounds.

Gehman: Joaquin Niemann (33-1) — Niemann opened with a disappointing 72 at Shadow Creek last week, but was phenomenal over the final three rounds. In fact, his rounds of 68-69-66 was the fourth-best total from Friday through Sunday en route to a sixth-place finish. We’ve seen him flash brilliance at times in his young career, including his T-3 at the BMW Championship and his scorching Sunday at the RBC Heritage to notch a T-5. He is as talented as almost anyone on tour and possesses all the upside to be able to contend in this field.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Cameron Smith (60-1) — This will not be a sexy pick. But it’s a big wedge and approach week, which screams Cam Smith. The Aussie has been positive on approach in seven straight events and is coming off an 11th place last week. He should contend this week—I love a top-20 bet on him, too.

Powers, Golf Digest: Kevin Kisner (100-1) — Our boots on the ground guy this week, Daniel Rapaport, is high on Kevin Kisner. Rapa has played Sherwood north of 50 times and claims this week is going to be a wedge fest. From 100-125 yards and in, Kisner ranks 10th on tour in proximity to the hole, averaging 11 feet. Kisner makes almost everything he sees from 10 feet or less, so if the putter gets hot and the wedges are dialed in, you have to love him at this juicy number.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Cameron Champ (100-1) — Champ’s strong off-the-tee and around-the-green game means he ranks 14th in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking this week. He is also playing some good golf at the minute too, ranking third in the field for Opportunities Gained over the past two months.

Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)

Caddie: Rory McIlroy (12-1) — The top guys should really have their minds on Augusta—if they win, it’d almost be an accident. The course suits Rory the least out of the top guys, so I’d fade him.

Mayo: Rory McIlroy (12-1) — The driving has been there, but the irons are all over the place at the moment. That’s a lot to ask of him to reverse that trend.

Gdula: Bubba Watson (33-1) — Bubba is trending up overall tee-to-green, but it’s specifically the ball-striking that’s on point. What’s not quite there for how I’m approaching this course? The accuracy, the wedges and the putting. I don’t mind Watson as a daily-fantasy play, but it doesn’t seem like the right spot for him to put it all together, and the odds are borderline top-10 this week.

Gehman: Tiger Woods (33-1) — It hurts to type Tiger Woods into the fade category, especially at a place where he has had such a rich history. However, we are far removed from the 2014 version of Tiger Woods, and we haven’t seen much momentum for Woods in this calendar year. He doesn’t have a top 35 in any of his past six starts, dating back to the Genesis in February. He’s lost strokes putting in five of this six starts, and his inability to hit fairways negates his elite iron play. Maybe playing as defending champion at a course he’s dominated is the spark he needs, but I see Woods taking a warm-up before he heads to Augusta.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Rory McIlroy (12-1) — Not to pile onto Rory, but you can make a case for any of the four biggest favorites. This number seems way too low for his play right now.

Powers, Golf Digest: Rory McIlroy (12-1) — I faded Xander Schauffele last week, so the person you should be fading is me. But if this is a wedge-fest week, you can count McIlroy out.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Tyrrell Hatton (20-1) — Fatigue has got to kick in at some point for Hatton. Not just from globe trotting but also from constantly competing on a Sunday afternoon. Add to that that he struggles somewhat on bentgrass greens, and there’s enough to avoid him this week.

Zozo Championship 2020 expert picks: Matchups

Caddie: Tiger Woods (+100) over Daniel Berger (FanDuel) — Sure, Tiger’s been inconsistent lately. But this is one of his best courses. I’d expect him to hover around the top 10. Berger has sneakily been regressing. I like the even-money odds here on our defending champion, who will be grinding hard to be ready for Augusta.

Mayo: Tiger Woods (-115) over Rickie Fowler (DraftKings) — Rickie’s been awful, and Tiger has five Ws and five runners-up in 10 of his 12 starts at Sherwood. I get he hasn’t played in a while, but if spent that time fixing his putting, you’d think he should contend this week.

Gdula: Patrick Cantlay (+100) over Viktor Hovland (FanDuel) — I like Hovland plenty for daily fantasy lineups on FanDuel, but if I’m getting these odds on Cantlay to beat Hovland outright, it’s hard to pass up. Cantlay has a big advantage with the wedges and putter over Hovland.

Gehman: Collin Morikawa (-125) over Hideki Matsuyama (DraftKings) — Morikawa missed the cut at the U.S. Open and the Shriners. That was the first time in his young career that he failed to make the weekend in two consecutive events. He bounced-back with a T-12 last week at the CJ Cup, and he did it in typical Morikawa fashion. He was fourth in the field in strokes gained/approach and 8th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green. That’s the type of game we expect from Morikawa that provides a high floor in matchup wagers.

Hennessey: Joaquin Niemann (-118) over Adam Scott (PointsBet) — Niemann has been one of the hottest players on the PGA Tour in the past month. We haven’t seen much of Adam Scott. Give me the sharp, competitive-ready play of Niemann over Scott, who probably has more of an eye toward Augusta.

Powers: Webb Simpson (-110) over Tyrrell Hatton (DraftKings) — I went against Hatton last week, figuring he’d be coming in haggard off his BMW PGA win. How’d that work out for me? That said, he did mention multiple times during the week that he was low on energy and even had a little cough. It might finally catch up to him at Sherwood. Webb is a lock to finish inside the top 25 at the absolute minimum. In 11 starts since the restart, he’s finished worse than T-12 … wait for it … ONE time! That is insane. Ten top 12s in 11 starts. Webb is as safe as it gets.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Patrick Reed (-118) over Daniel Berger (DraftKings) — Berger’s quietly regressing over the past couple events—he’s nearly dead last in Opportunities Gained over the past two months. Reed, meanwhile, hasn’t finished outside the top 13 in his past three events and owns bentgrass greens. This is an easy one.

Matchup Results from the CJ Cup: Mayo: 1 for 1 (Bubba Watson (+120) over Louis Oosthuizen); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Tyrrell Hatton (+100) over Hideki Matsuyama); Hennessey and Alldrick, 1 for 1: (each picked Sungjae Im (-106) over Tommy Fleetwood); Caddie: 0 for 1; Gehman: 0 for 1; Powers: 0 for 1.

Matchup Results this season: Alldrick: 6 for 6 (up 5.37 units); Hennessey: 5 for 6 (up 3.37 units); Mayo: 4 for 6 (up 1.77 units); Gdula: 3 for 6 (down 0.14 units); Powers: 1-2-3 (down 2 units); Gehman: 2 for 6 (down 2.18 units); Caddie: 2 for 6 (down 2.27 units).

Zozo Championship 2020 expert picks: Top 10 (odds from DraftKings Sportsbook)

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Drew Hallowell

Caddie: Tiger Woods (+300) — I’m not sure Tiger wins this week, but like I predicted in my matchup, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t hover around the top 10 for most of the tournament. His putter has been substandard, but these are greens he feels comfortable on. Three-to-one on your money is nice.

Mayo: Byeong Hun An (+1000) — Will Benny lose six shots per week on the greens? At this point, it’s entirely possible. But there’s reason for hope. He has done most of his best work on Nicklaus-designed courses, and the ball-striking numbers are trending back to his former elite level.

Gdula: Kevin Kisner (+750) — Kisner fits the narrative I’m going for with shorter hitters being in contention based on the golfers who contended here during the World Challenges from 2000 to 2013. Kisner is fifth in the field in strokes gained/putting on bentgrass greens over the past 100 rounds, via FantasyNational.com. Over the past 50 rounds, he’s 15th in fairways gained. I like the number here.

Gehman: Sebastian Munoz (+600) — If you weren’t paying attention last week, it would have been easy to overlook the fact that Munoz played solid every single day and finish in ninth at the CJ Cup. He was 10th in strokes gained/tee to green and was able to work magic in some tricky greenside situations at Shadow Creek. This is more of the same from Munoz who has three top-10 finishes in his past six starts. This number is seemingly too long for a hot golfer in a short field.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Cameron Smith (+500) — For the reasons I explained in my sleeper write-up, Cam Smith is a good pick. These top-10 odds are quite nice, too.

Powers, Golf Digest: Tony Finau (+275) — Top-10 Tony has finished inside the top 10 five times in his past eight starts. The COVID concerns are legitimate, though. Who knows how he is truly feeling? But, he seemed ready to roll last week when he responded to a Twitter follower saying he “planned on” playing in the CJ Cup. Then, the plug got pulled at the last minute. If he’s feeling good, he should come out firing.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Adam Scott (+400) — We haven’t seen much of Scott this year, but I don’t think that’s a negative. It seems longer, but it was just seven events ago that he recorded back-to-back wins, and this course sets up beautifully for his elite iron game. He’s ranked seventh in FanShare’s course-suitability ranking, so he has picked the right place to return.

Top 10 results from the CJ Cup: Gehman: 1 for 1 (Russell Henley, +650); our caddie: 1 for 1 (Xander Schauffele (+135); Everybody else: 0 for 1.

Top 10 results from this season: Gehman: 1 for 6 (up 1.5 units); Tour caddie: 2 for 6 (down 0.95 units); Mayo, Gdula, Hennessey, Powers: 0 for 6 (down 6 units each).

One and Done pick

Gehman: Bubba Watson — While this week’s structure and field will look similar to the CJ Cup last week, the purse is significantly smaller and doesn’t necessarily require the use of a top player. Normally, I’d want to save Watson for a “Bubba Course,” but he’s in great form right now. He led the field in strokes gained/tee to green last week en route to a T-7 finish, a second straight week that he’s gained at least 10 strokes in that category. This continues a stretch of golf for Watson that has resulted in three top-18 finishes in his past four starts, so firing him up in this no-cut event has plenty of appeal.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele

Hennessey: Jason Kokrak — We need to make some better picks in this space. This seems like the right time to pick Kokrak. He’s back on bentgrass, where he’s been a top-five putter over the past two months. I don’t think he’s content with just one win.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na

Powers: Joaquin Niemann — Despite losing strokes on approach in three of his last five starts, Niemann still has four top 25s in that span. The two times he gained on approach, last week at the CJ Cup and in August at the BMW, he finished sixth and third, respectively. If he has a good week with his irons again at Sherwood, he should contend.

Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger.

By The Numbers:

Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:

5 — The number of par 5s (and par 3s) at Sherwood Country Club, a rarity on the PGA Tour.

11.19 — The number of strokes lost by Gary Woodland off-the-tee last week. That was, by far, the worst of his career and the 8th worst event of any golfer in the last six seasons.

5 — The number of wins for Tiger Woods at Sherwood Country Club between 2000 and 2013. Add five runner-up finishes in that stretch, and it was quite a run for Tiger at this course.

82 — The number of career victories for Tiger Woods on the PGA Tour. He achieved that number at last year’s ZOZO Championship and it ties him with Sam Snead for the most all time.

About our experts

Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.

Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year *(congrats, Brandon!)*. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.

Rick Gehman is the founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.

Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.