This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
The ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP
Course: Sherwood Country Club (7,073 yards, par 72)
Winner: $1,440,000 and 500 FedExCup points
Tiger Woods will be defending his title this week at a very familiar venue. Due the COVID-19 pandemic, The ZOZO Championship was moved to Sherwood Country Club in Northwest Los Angeles from Narashino Country Club in Japan. It will make up the final event of the new secondary West Coast Swing for this season only. Sherwood previously hosted Woods' Hero World Challenge from 2000-2013. In 12 career appearances, the host recorded five wins and another five runner-ups. The 78-man field is loaded again this week with many of the same players that were in last week's CJ Cup at Shadow Creek. In saying that, we had somewhat of a surprise winner a week ago when Jason Kokrak finally was able to breakthrough on the PGA Tour behind a red-hot putter. Overall, The ZOZO Championship will feature eight of the top 10 golfers in the OWGR. This biggest omission is World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who continues to recover from COVID-19. Temperatures are expected to dip into the mid-60's in Southern California for this event. No precipitation is likely to fall, but morning fog is always a possibility. Winds should average between 10-15 mph throughout the four days.
2019 – Tiger Woods
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- GIR Percentage
- SG: Putting
As is typical with most Jack Nicklaus-designed tracks, Sherwood Country Club is a second-shot golf course. Elevation changes, hazards, and firm greens will challenge the best in the world to see who is the most dialed in with their scoring clubs. At just over 7,000 yards, players of all lengths will be able to compete. Just look at the results from the Hero World Challenge from 2000-2013 when it was held at Sherwood: Zach Johnson, Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk, and Steve Stricker all had great records and none would be classified anything close to "long." These bentgrass greens are expected to reach upwards of 13 on the Stimpmeter, adding added importance to touch around these greens. The putting surfaces got slick at Shadow Creek last week as well, so if a player putted well there I'd like his chances to keep it up. Lastly, par-5 scoring is going to be of added importance this week due to there being five of them, all of which should be reachable for most players. 20-under-par won it last week at Shadow Creek and I'd expect a very similar winning score this time around at Sherwood.
FanDuel Value Picks
Xander Schauffele ($11,600)
He can only keep knocking on the door so many times before he busts that door right open. Schauffele has finished top-5 in each of his last three starts, including a runner-up at Shadow Creek last week. He also has finished outside the top 25 just twice in 2020. Schauffele's always had the ball striking numbers to make him a serious threat, but early in this season he ranks first in SG: Around and third in SG: Putting.
Webb Simpson ($11,300)
Simpson is a perfect fit for Sherwood. He will keep it in play off the tees and is unbelievably accurate with his irons. On top of that, Simpson has developed into one of the best putters on Tour. The 35-year-old led the Tour in birdie average and scoring average last season. Simpson has begun the 2020-21 campaign with a T8 at the U.S. Open followed by a T13 at the Shriners Open.
Tyrrell Hatton ($10,900)
When we think of the best players in the world, Hatton's name never gets brought up, but we might need to start to reconsider. After a dominant performance at the BMW PGA Championship, the Englishman came back a week later at Shadow Creek and posted a T3. Hatton now owns nine top-6 finishes in his last 16 starts worldwide. Last season on the PGA Tour he ranked fourth in SG: Approach, third in putts per GIR, and second in birdie average. Hatton was also top-10 in par-3, par-4, and par-5 scoring.
Matthew Wolff ($10,200)
This is a great opportunity to take advantage of. Wolff drops a full $1,000 in salary this week after shooting a first-round 80 at the CJ Cup, something we likely will not see again for some time from the star in the making. Wolff has been playing too well the last couple months to not turn it around at Sherwood, a course that he played hundreds of times growing up in nearby Agoura Hills.
Longer Shots with Value
Harris English ($9,800)
If English is only four figures, that should be an auto-lock into your lineups. All the guy did last week was open with a 75 and still play his way back into the top 10 by the end of the tournament. The Georgia product now has 12 top-25s in his last 15 starts. English ranked top-20 last season in both SG: Putting and SG: Tee-to-Green. There are no holes in his game currently.
Matthew Fitzpatrick ($9,600)
If every course was this short, Fitzpatrick would be a serious threat pretty much every week. We all know that he's one of the best putters out there and last week he flashed impressive control with his irons, ranking top-10 in SG: Approach and GIR's en route to his second straight top-15 finish. Fitzpatrick is starting to put it all together at age 26 and is closing in on his best career standing in the OWGR of 17th.
Russell Henley ($9,200)
I was on Henley last week and it almost paid off in the form of a W. While the former Georgia Bulldog was unable to close out the 54-hole-lead, a T3 in that field is certainly nothing to hang your head about. Henley's iron play was the story with him last season, as he ranked top-5 in SG: Approach and fifth in GIR percentage. At Shadow Creek he was also top-5 in SG: Putting, scrambling and putts per GIR. Since the restart, he has notched four top-10s in 10 starts.
Paul Casey ($8,700)
Casey has struggled in two starts back from a good showing at the U.S. Open, but this price is a little too good for me to pass up this week. Sherwood has been good to Casey in the past, as he finished top-3 in each of his last two starts here in the Hero World Challenge. The veteran Englishman is still one of the best ball strikers out here, as last season he ranked top-15 in SG: Off-the-tee, SG: Approach, and GIR percentage.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
Players that rank high in all the approach play statistics are going to have a good week at Sherwood Country Club. Even with five par-5's, length shouldn't be a big factor considering all of them should be reachable anyways. The greens should be running at a very similar speed to what players experienced last week at Shadow Creek, so if you putted well there one would think it should carry over. The only players that are five figures in salary that I would say for sure stay away from is Rory McIlory, because of spotty iron play and form, and Tiger Woods, because we haven't seen anything promising since the restart. A couple sneaky plays to consider for me are Billy Horschel ($8,600), Talor Gooch ($8,200), and Kevin Streelman ($8,000).