124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

Betting Analysis

Zozo Championship picks 2022: Why Collin Morikawa has a huge advantage this week

October 11, 2022
MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE - AUGUST 12: Collin Morikawa watches his ball at the 17th tee during the second round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind on August 12, 2022 in Memphis, Tennessee. (Photo by Tracy Wilcox/PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

Our experts went all in on Sungjae Im last week. He wound up finishing solo seventh. In our longshots section, we even touted Matthew NeSmith (T-2), Tom Hoge (T-4) and Mito Pereira (T-4). You couldn’t possibly have had the board more covered.

Well, you could have by picking 20-year-old Tom Kim, who picked up his second PGA Tour win in remarkable fashion, going bogey-free over 72 holes at the Shriners Children’s Open. We’re now 0-for-2 as a group in correctly predicting Tom Kim wins, which won’t be the case for long if he keeps winning at this Tiger Woods-ian rate.

Perhaps foolishly, none of our experts are backing Kim this week at the Zozo Championship, which returns to Japan for a third time in its four years of existence. Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club has produced two elite winners in Woods and Hideki Matsuyama, and our outright selections indicate we expect more of the same in 2022.

Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2022 Zozo Championship.

Zozo Championship picks 2022: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions

Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Collin Morikawa (14-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — This should be a perfect course for Collin. He will bore you to death by hitting fairways and greens, and you don’t gotta be long here, which means it’s a ball-striking clinic without needing to bomb it. Advantage: Collin.

Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Cameron Young (16-1, FanDuel) — We don’t know a ton—for certain—about this week’s course and have to do a lot of assuming based on two events with minimal data available to us. That said, it does seem like driving distance is a key component and that ball-strikers tend to float to the top of the field. That checks out for Young, who is a bit undervalued given the buzz around the other names at the top of the board.

Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Xander Schauffele (+800, DraftKings) — No matter how you slice it, Schauffele is the best player in this field. He’s gained the most strokes over the past 50 rounds, 36 rounds and 24 rounds—a feat that proves long-term dominance. He has no flaws in his game, which allows him to stay in contention longer than most of his peers. His record in Japan is excellent, finishing T-10 and T-28 at this golf course while adding a gold medal at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Sungjae Im (12-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — I bet Sungjae last week, and frankly, there’s no reason to get off him. The ball-striking stats continue to be insanely good. He’s first in this field over the past 46 rounds in SG/ball-striking, per Fantasy National. And given how well he’s been playing, with three runner-up finishes in his past six starts, he’s bound to convert on a course that suits his strengths.

Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Hideki Matsuyama (14-1, DraftKings) — Thanks to the fine recent form of Tom Kim and Sungjae Im, we’re getting a price dip on Matsuyama, who has gone second, WIN in two trips to Narashino. Don’t reinvent the wheel this week.

Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Sungjae Im (12-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Im comes into this event ranked second in the field for SG/total over the past two years and the last two months. Im has shown his suitability to this course, too, with a third-place finish here in 2019.

Past results: Golf Digest's betting panel caught fire at the end of the summer, correctly predicting the winner in five of the final six events of the season. But now we turn the page to the 2022-’23 season. We failed to pick the winner of the season opener at Fortinet or the Sanderson Farms, but if history is any indication, we’ll nail one of the Fall Swing events soon.

Zozo Championship picks 2022: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win

Caddie: Maverick McNealy (45-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Mav really likes these shorter, tighter layouts. He’s got distance, but he’s another guy, like Collin, who could bore you by hitting the center of the clubface. He’s got success at Harbour Town, which I like, and he’s working really hard right now to fix the deficiencies in his game. He’s trending back up in my book.

Gdula: Kurt Kitayama (45-1, FanDuel) — Kitayama missed the cut at the Shriners due to poor putting. However, the irons were there, and given the distance angle I’m taking this week, he makes a lot of sense for a breakthrough win.

Gehman: Sepp Straka (50-1, DraftKings) — Straka fell to Mackenzie Hughes in a playoff at the Sanderson Farms Championship, but that runner-up was his second runner-up finish in his past three starts. He also added a T-7 at the Tour Championship during that period. He’s clearly found something in his game, gaining at least 3.6 strokes on approach in each of his past three events.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sebastian Munoz (45-1, DraftKings) — The Colombian finished T-4 at this course last year and is coming off a very strong Presidents Cup showing (2-0-1). He’s also got a T-3 at another shorter, tree-lined course last year (Colonial). I will definitely be betting on him to be first-round leader, too (Shout out our guy @PGATout).

Powers, Golf Digest: Matthew NeSmith (70-1, DraftKings) — Hard to believe NeSmith can beat this field, but it seems foolish to not at least try to cash in on his scorching hot irons right now. He’s gained 6.3 and 6.8 on approach in his last two starts, resulting in ninth- and second-place finishes. He’s also found something with his putter, normally the weak spot in his game, gaining strokes on the greens in five straight measured starts.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Emiliano Grillo (66-1, BetMGM) — Grillo is playing some very nice golf right now: He comes into this event ranked top 20 for every key stat I’m looking at this week, including ninth for SG/total over the past two months.

Zozo Championship picks 2022: Players We’re Fading

Caddie: Cameron Young (16-1, FanDuel) — I would imagine Cam Young enjoyed a little time off after the Presidents Cup. He played a lot of golf this summer—and contended a bunch. If I were in his camp, I would’ve encouraged him to take some time off. I’d imagine, for these reasons, he’ll come out a little rusty, if he truly didn’t touch the clubs.

Gdula: Tom Kim (14-1, FanDuel) — I know Kim feels unfadeable right now, but I can’t bet everyone at the top of the board, and the recent wins have his odds too low for me to see the value at 14-1. A lack of distance could hurt this week, too.

Gehman: Corey Conners (22-1, DraftKings) — Conners appears to be slumping at the moment, dating back to his T-26 (out of 30) finish at the Tour Championship. He lost nearly eight strokes putting that week and followed it up with a missed cut in Napa. Then he went to the Presidents Cup and failed to record a point in an 0-4-0 effort for the International team. I’ll need to see him find some traction before making an investment.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Corey Conners (22-1, DraftKings) — This feels like the cop-out fade, but dear lord, after watching his putting at the Presidents Cup, I will not be betting on Conners until … at least the new year.

Powers, Golf Digest: Tom Kim (14-1, FanDuel) — If the Tank wins again this week, I’ll simply tip my cap and bow to him.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Hideki Matsuyama (10-1, FanDuel) — Matsuyama finished first and second the two times the Zozo Championship has been played at Accordia, but his current form has question marks. Matsuyama ranks outside the top 20 percent of the field for SG/total, Opportunities Gained and Birdie Or Better over the past two months.

Zozo Championship picks 2022: Matchups

Caddie: Scott Stallings (-110) over Sebastian Munoz (WynnBet) — Any course where control of your driver is paramount is a good course for Scott. Munoz is the same type of player, but just like my reasoning for fading Cam Young, I’d imagine Munoz took a little time off post-Presidents Cup, so I give the edge to Scott here.

Gdula: Sebastian Munoz (-112) over Sahith Theegala (FanDuel) — Munoz is the much better ball-striker over the long term, and Theegala is recently being carried by his short game—especially the chipping. That, plus overall form, puts me on Munoz here.

Gehman: Sebastian Munoz (+105) over Tom Hoge (DraftKings) — Munoz was splendid at the Presidents Cup, going 2-0-1 to earn 2.5 points for the Internationals. When he’s playing well, he’s an excellent driver who can put himself in attacking positions off the tee. He’s also capable of catching fire with the flat stick, making him a dangerous option with four guaranteed rounds. He’ll be able to lean on past experience around this golf course, finishing T-4 last season.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Kurt Kitayama (+100) over K.H. Lee (WynnBet) — I think we’re getting value on Kitayama here with some great results and ball-striking data over on the DP World Tour not factoring into the oddsmakers’ numbers. Even without that, Kitayama has the edge in SG/ball-striking, bogey avoidance, fairways gained and Opportunities Gained over Lee over the past 36 rounds, per Fantasy National.

Powers, Golf Digest: Tommy Fleetwood (+100) over Keegan Bradley (DraftKings) — Stunningly, Keegan Bradley gained over six strokes putting in his last start. There is simply no way he replicates that based on his putting history, so I’ll fade that and roll with Fleetwood, who has been quietly very good over the past 12 months, starting with this event last year when he finished seventh.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Sungjae Im (+100) over Hideki Matsuyama (Bet365) — As you can see above, Im is my pick to win this week. I have questions, on the other hand, about Matsuyama and some shaky recent stats.

Matchup Results from the Shriners Children’s Open: Caddie: 1 for 1 (McNealy (+100) over T. Moore); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Hoge (-110) over S.W. Kim); Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Hoge (-115) over McNealy); Gdula: PUSH (Suh (+100) over Fowler); Mayo: 0 for 1; Powers: 0 for 1; Alldrick: 0 for 1

Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Hennessey: 3-0-0 (up 2.8 units); Gehman: 3-0-0 (up 2.65 units); Caddie: 2-1-0 (up 1.1 units); Alldrick: 2-1-0 (up 0.58 units); Powers: 1-2-0 (down 0.95 units); Mayo: 1-2-0 (down 1.1 units); Gdula: 0-2-1 (down 2 units)

Zozo Championship picks 2022: Top 10s

Caddie: Sungjae Im (+140) (WynnBet) — Sungjae’s been a top-10 machine, so plus money feels like an auto bet in a 78-person field.

Gdula: Scott Stallings (+410, FanDuel) — Stallings is a good all-around golfer who can gain distance on this field. His irons were neutral at the Sanderson Farms, but he still finished T-13. Typically, the irons carry him, and he has had five top-10 results in his past 16 starts, a 31 percent success rate.

Gehman: Tommy Fleetwood (+250, DraftKings) — You might not have realized it, but Fleetwood has been playing well for a really long time. Over his past 50 rounds, he’s gained 66 strokes to the field—second only to Xander Schauffele during that stretch, per the RickRunGood.com golf database. He’s been incredibly well-rounded, gaining strokes from tee to green in 12 of his past 13 and gaining strokes with his putter in 10 of his past 12. In his two trips to Accordia Golf Narashino C.C., he has finished T-22 and T-7.

Hennessey, Golf Digest: Adam Long (+950, FanDuel) — Long is at his best on shorter courses, and his skillset should suit himself well at the tight, tree-lined course—as he ranks in the top 25 in this field in SG/ball striking and Opportunities Gained over the past 36 rounds, per Fantasy National.

Powers, Golf Digest: Tommy Fleetwood (+250, DraftKings) — Fleetwood has gone 22nd and seventh in two trips here, so he clearly likes the place. Long-term, he’s been excellent, making 21 of his last 23 cuts across the PGA and DP World Tours, with 11 top-20 finishes along the way.

Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Sepp Straka (+400, DraftKings) — Straka ranks first in the field for SG/total over the past two months and first for Birdie Or Better Gained over the same period. Straka is one of the most improved players in the field over the past year and has a good chance at a top-10 finish at a good price.

Top-10 results from the Shriners Children’s Open: Hennessey: 1 for 1 (Matthew NeSmith +700); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Tom Hoge +450); Everybody else: 0 for 1

Top-10 results from this season: Hennessey: 1 for 3 (up 5 units); Gdula: 1 for 3 (up 2.9 units); Caddie: 1 for 3 (up 2.5 units); Mayo: 1 for 3 (up 2 units); Alldrick: 1 for 3 (up 2 units); Gehman: 0 for 3 (down 3 units); Powers: 0 for 3 (down 3 units)

Zozo Championship picks 2022: One and Done

Gehman: Sungjae Im — The obvious choice is Hideki Matsuyama, so let me offer up an alternative in Sungjae Im. Another excellent week in Vegas means he’s finished no worse than T-12 in any of his last five starts. He’s completely dialed-in with his ball-striking, gaining 38.34 strokes during that stretch and gaining 14.76 with his putter. The last trip he made to Accordia Golf Narashino C.C., he finished T-3 in 2019.

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo. Sanderson Farms Championship: Sam Burns. Shriners: Taylor Montgomery.

Hennessey: Hideki Matsuyama — Rick is right: I’ll go with the obvious pick with Hideki here.

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Cam Davis. Sanderson Farms Championship: Denny McCarthy. Shriners: Emiliano Grillo.

Powers: Hideki Matsuyama — Sticking with my theme of picking the guy who I think is going to actually win, which means burning a great player like Hideki before the turn of the calendar year. Unless you’re saving him for a major, it won’t hurt as bad plugging him in here.

Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Sahith Theegala. Sanderson Farms Championship: J.T. Poston. Shriners: Sungjae Im.

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) was named 2021 Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year by the Fantasy Sports Writing Association, while also being a finalist for Podcast of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year. Mayo won the 2020 FSWA 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 in 2020. He was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). 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 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. 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.