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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Zozo Championship

Twofer Tuesday visits the Land of the Rising Sun for the inaugural Zozo Championship.

Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama

The Zozo is being held at the Narashino County Club in the Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo, of which most of us got our first look during Monday's Skins Game. The sponsor, ZOZOTOWN Apparel, has signed on for at least six years so I suspect we'll all get used to seeing this beautiful course. What stood out to me during the Skins Game was the double greens, and I'm anxious to see how they end up affecting play.

PGATOUR.com's summary had some interesting facts about those double greens, so I'm including it here:
Narashino CC is a 36-hole facility. A composite course has been routed for the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP. It's a par 34-36—70 stretching 7,041 yards. The five par 3s range from the 141-yard 13th to the 191-yard fifth. The longest of the trio of par 5s is the 608-yard 14th. The closing hole is a par 5 tipping at 562 yards, so the opportunity for walk-off heroics is in play.
Golf courses of some age in Japan were built with two greens on every hole. At the time, it was a solution to present different strains of healthy grass no matter the season. Today, bentgrass blankets most greens primarily because advances in agronomy have allowed for improved conditioning where possible year-round.
Narashino opened in 1965 with two greens per hole. They remain today. Those utilized for the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP have been prepped to run 11-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter. To honor the tradition of two greens in Japan, both the A and B greens on the par-4 fourth hole will be used at some point during the tournament. It's possible that another hole or holes also will use alternate greens. As usual, targets in play for every round will be determined when hole locations are posted.
If a golfer lands an approach on the incorrect green, the "wrong green" local rule will be enforced. It will allow the golfer relief off the green no closer the hole. No penalty will be assessed.
Like I said, this could be interesting.

Since this is the first playing of this event, I have no past history that might give me a hint about who to pick this week. It's probably unrealistic to hope for as good a results as I had last week... but let's give it a shot.
  • For my Top10er I'm picking Justin Thomas. It's asking a lot for him to go back-to-back, but I see no reason he couldn't add yet another Top10 to his current streak of good play. He's back up to #4 in the OWGR and, with Brooks out for this week, another good finish could help him make up some ground on #1.
  • And for my winner I'm taking Jason Day... for no other reason than he won the Skins Game rather decisively. He's originally from this part of the world and has experience on courses like this. And I can't help but feel the Skins Game gave him a better perspective on Narashino than he would have had with just his normal practice rounds. That shouldn't hurt his chances at all!
GC's live coverage begins at 11pm ET on Wednesday night here in the US. This is the first worldwide event in Japan in nearly two decades, so this should be a really fun watch!

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