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PGA DFS: Vegas Report - ZOZO Championship


Justin Thomas' game is often regarded in the same breath as Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson, but there tends to be these strange ebbs and flows around his betting odds that the other players don't seem to encounter. We will see him viewed as the best golfer in the field, which was the case during his victory last weekend at odds of 5/1 over Brooks Koepka, but we have also seen him placed into a territory where he will randomly be valued at 30/1 and nowhere near his counterparts.

Perhaps his propensity to achieve the majority of his success in no-cut fields has something to do with it, but Thomas has entered rarified air that shouldn't be ignored. His victory at the CJ Cup not only was his second time finding the winners circle at the event in the past three years but also provided him with his 11th tour win by the age of 26.

To understand just how good Thomas has been during his first few years on tour, his victory in South Korea tied him with Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth for the second-most wins before the age of 27, and the fourth-ranked player in the world will have another six months to try and get into a solo second with an additional triumph. As you might have guessed, the top spot belongs to Tiger Woods at an astonishing 34 tournaments won, but the American has a shot this season to cement his status as the best player in the world if he can put together a similar campaign that we have seen recently from the likes of Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka or Dustin Johnson. I'm not sure he fully gets to that level, but I would say he is off to a very good start.

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2020 ZOZO Championship

For an in-depth breakdown of the top DraftKings and Fanduel plays, check out Joe Nicely's weekly Horse For The Course that highlights the best fits for the week's course.

 

Narashino Country Club

7,041 Yards - Par 70 - Greens Bentgrass

An hour's drive East from Tokyo, Japan, Narashino Country Club was designed in 1976 and features what I would call a "claustrophobic design." The fairways are of average width but emphasize a substantial tree-lined nature with six doglegs throughout the 18 holes.

For those that miss the short grass on their opening shot, not only will trees play an issue, but the rough will be relatively lush after a rainy past few months. All the par-fours are short (only two of the 10 exceed 450 yards), and all four par-fives range between 550-600 yards.

Water comes into play on four of the holes, and there are a handful of bunkers that protect the smaller Bentgrass greens. One of the interesting differences for most courses in Japan is that there are two greens per hole. They do this to be able to utilize one in the summer and the other in the winter, but players will need to be aware and focused on what hole they are playing their approach shots into. Three-putt avoidance and scrambling percentage will be crucial, as well as strokes gained off the tee and par-five scoring.

ZOZO Championship

#1 Xander Schauffele 25/1

DK Price $10,400, FD Price $11,100

Projected DraftKings Ownership Percentage - 15.6%

It has been tough sledding for us early in the year with pretty much all of our betting cards featuring reduced exposure, and that doesn't look like it will change at the ZOZO Championship.

These sorts of tournaments are always tricky from a handicapping perspective for a few reasons. For starters, the fields feature top-heavy talent mixed in with a handful of lower quality golfers that play primarily on the Asian Tours, which in and of itself can create a strange-looking betting board. Not only do your high-end golfers get priced too low, but the same sentiment could be said about your back-end talent in the field. However, there usually is a bubble that gets created in the 20/1 to 50/1 range that can cause slight value in where the casinos place a players' win equity and where the actual numbers should be.

Xander Schauffele sometimes gets stereotyped into a specific range, even though his game has proven to be successful throughout most venues. Tree-lined fairways have given pause to some that the American is not accurate enough off the tee to find success at a course that has trouble lurking if you miss the short grass, but I always am slightly hesitant when it comes to using driving accuracy or even good drive percentage as a tool to determine how successful a player might be for the week.

The PGA Tour has transformed into a bomb-and-gouge sport over the years, which stems from the rough not being as penal as it might have been back in the day, not to mention that golfers are carrying their drives further than ever before. Simple game theory dictates that the proper play is to advance your ball as far as possible and figure it out from there.

While Narashino Country Club appears to be condensed because of the plethora of trees that line the fairways, the actual drives aren't overly complicated. Yes, golfers will need to deal with doglegs on multiple holes, but that just means clubbing down is going to be the preferred play in those situations. That isn't a concept that holds value during most PGA Tour stops, but the ability to leave the driver in the bag should provide relatively easy setups on fairways that are average in width.

Schauffele has proven that he is capable of finding success all over the world, and I believe we are getting very slight value on the 25-year-old - especially when you consider that he should be priced as the third option on the board. I would have flipped both he and Hideki Matsuyama in the odds, so I will gladly take a few points of value on a player that has won three of his four career titles in no-cut events.

#2 Patrick Reed 30/1

DK Price $9,600, FD Price $10,200

Projected DraftKings Ownership Percentage - 9.7%

Not too many players have been more in the zone than Patrick Reed has recently. The American has provided 13 straight top-36 results, including a victory at the Northern Trust in August.

Reed's prowess on Bentgrass greens has been impressive, ranking inside the top-10 compared to the field in strokes gained on par-fives, three-putt avoidance, scrambling, strokes gained putting and par-four scoring between 400 to 450 yards when faced with the surface, and the 29-year-old will look to continue his hot form this weekend in Japan. I have Reed's win equity above the likes of Tony Finau, Gary Woodland, Paul Casey and Jordan Spieth and believe he should be priced at 25/1 in this field.

#3 Kevin Kisner 60/1

DK Price $7,600, FD Price $8,300

Projected DraftKings Ownership Percentage - 15.1%

Looking for a player who has quietly put together quality form recently? Let me try to sell you on Kevin Kisner.

The American closed the FedExCup Playoff stretch with three top-12 results and enters the event as one of the best putters on Bentgrass greens, ranking third compared to the field in strokes gained putting and first in three-putt avoidance. Kisner has been a streaky player throughout his career but is yielding a little value this weekend. I have the 35-year-old priced at 45/1 - giving us a 0.56% edge compared to the market. It might not sound like much, but a half of a percent is worth a small flier on Kisner in Japan.

 

Key Stats: Scrambling 25%, Three-Putt Avoidance 22.5%, Birdie or Better 20%, Strokes Gained Off The Tee 17.5% and Par-Five Birdie or Better Percentage 15%

70% Stats/30% Form


Head-to-Head Play of the Week

No head-to-head wager this week.

2020 Head-to-Head Record (2-1-1)

+0.85 Units Year-To-Date From H2H Bets

Tournament

Head-to-Head Bet

Bet

My Picks Finish

Opponent Finish

Result

Total

Sanderson Farms

Denny McCarthy -110 over Martin Laird

1.10 Units to Win 1.00

T18 (-11)

MC (+4)

Win

1.00

Safeway Open

Cameron Percy -110 over Danny Lee

1.10 Units to Win 1.00

T7 (-12)

MC (+2)

Win

1.00

Shriners Open

Bud Cauley -115 over Phil Mickelson

1.15 Units to Win 1.00

MC (-1)

61 (-9)

Loss

-1.15

Houston Open

Jhonattan Vegas +100 over Aaron Baddeley

1.12 Units to Win 1.12

MC (+3)

MC (+3)

Push

0

2020 Outright Bets That Have Finished Inside the Top-10

None through four events.

 

Career Record: 

2017 Golf Betting:
Head to Head Bets (10-2-2) +8.175 Units
Outright Winners (5)
Dustin Johnson Genesis Open (10/1)
Sergio Garcia Masters (50/1)
Brooks Koepka U.S. Open (45/1)
Justin Thomas PGA Championship (35/1)
Dustin Johnson Northern Trust (14/1)

2018 Golf Betting:
Head to Head Bets
(46-24-2) +24.49 Units
Outright Winners (5)
Phil Mickelson WGC-Mexico (22/1)
Bubba Watson WGC- Match Play (45/1)
Brooks Koepka U.S. Open In-Play Wager (14/1)
Dustin Johnson RBC Canadian Open (7/1)
Justin Thomas WGC-Bridgestone (30/1)

2019 Golf Betting:
Head to Head Bets
(16-9-2) +8.33 Units
Outright Winners (5)
Matt Kuchar Mayakoba Golf Classic (66/1)
Corey Conners Valero Texas Open (200/1)
Rory McIlroy RBC Canadian Open  (10/1)
Brooks Koepka WGC- St. Jude Classic (12/1)
Rory McIlroy Tour Championship (8/1)

Career Record (Excluding 2020 Season Results):

Head to Head Bets (72-35-6) +40.995 Units
Outright Winners (15)
Top 5s (Didn't Track in 2017)
2018 - 16
2019 - 26
Top 10s (Didn't Track in 2017)
2018 - 31
2019 - 41

 

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