Tiger Woods Defends His Title at Sherwood Country Club ⏤ The ZOZO Championship

Fantasy Golf


The PGA TOUR continues its swing through the Southwest with a trip to Los Angeles, CA for the ZOZO Championship at Sherwood Country Club. This Jack Nicklaus design was selected to host the ZOZO in the wake of its movement from Japan due to concerns related to COVID-19. Tiger Woods will be on hand to defend the title he won overseas last year and he shouldn't be too terribly disappointed with the change of venue as the 15-time major champion has had a fair amount of success at Sherwood over the years. He used to host his Hero World Challenge event here and won five times while finishing runner-up another five times. While this will be his first start since the U.S. Open at Winged Foot, his success here can't be ignored and we wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see him factor in the finish here on Sunday.

A number of players will be making their last start on the PGA TOUR before the Masters Tournament that begins in just a few weeks. The Bermuda Championship and the Houston Open still stand between here and the next major championship of the season, but the strong field last week as well as the strong field we've got again this week foreshadows a drop off in the quality of the competitors over the next couple of weeks. This means the ZOZO is likely going to be the last time we have an elite field of competitors before the best of the best gather at Augusta National for the first-ever fall edition of the Masters Tournament.

The Field and the Favorites

It's hard to imagine a regular PGA TOUR event could have as strong a field as we saw last week for the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek, but this week's ZOZO Championship has assembled an even better crop of participants than the one we saw in Las Vegas. Xander Schauffele will look to build off of the momentum he's generated over the last few weeks and try to bag his first PGA TOUR win since the Tournament of Champions back in January of 2019. He's knocked on the door frequently (including last week) and is playing some of the best golf of his career right now and it's no surprise to see him listed as the second favorite at +1100.

The favorite coming into the week is Jon Rahm (+1000) who has finished inside of the top-25 in his last six starts. This includes a win at the BMW Championship and the former world number one should find his blend of power and accuracy a swell fit at Sherwood Country Club. Rahm and Schauffele are joined at the top of the list of favorites by Justin Thomas (+1200) and Rory McIlory (+1200) who both enter the week having played some solid golf lately but not having found their way into contention much recently. McIlroy in particular continues to search for the form he had pre-COVID as there has been a marked difference in his results from before and after the PGA TOUR season came to a pause.

Other contenders this week include Collin Morikawa (+1800), Webb Simpson (+1800), Tyrrell Hatton (+2000), Patrick Reed (+2200) and Hideki Matsuyama (+2800). They are joined by Patrick Cantlay (+3000), Tony Finau (+3000) and international stars like Tommy Fleetwood (+4000), Matthew Fitzpatrick (+3300), Adam Scott (+4500) and Justin Rose (+8000). Rounding out the crop of star players are American favorite Jordan Spieth (+8000) and now two-time PGA TOUR Champions winner Phil Mickelson (+6600).

Unfortunately, in the wake of his positive COVID test last week, Dustin Johnson has been forced to withdraw from this event as well.

The Golf Course

Sherwood Country Club is a wonderful Jack Nicklaus design that plays through the canyons of Thousand Oaks and around ponds and streams that flow into nearby Lake Sherwood. Risk and reward abound at the par-72 layout as the course features a myriad of water holes as well as five very reachable par-fives. Those holes will be critical to finding success at Sherwood as those who hope to find themselves atop the leaderboard cannot let those birdie opportunities slip by.

The two most fascinating of the par-five holes are the second and the sixteenth as both have creeks and streams that factor into both the tee shot and approach into the green. Finding the fairway on these two holes is key as both can be reached from the fairway but are likely unhittable from the rough. Moreover, especially at the sixteenth, wayward tee shots can find the creeks that run alongside and across both of these holes. Eagles and doubles won't be terribly uncommon at either hole as well-executed shots should be rewarded and poor efforts will be appropriately punished.

Perhaps the most dangerous hole at Sherwood is the signature par-three fifteenth hole that is tucked deep into a canyon. The greensite sits atop an outcrop of rocks that fortifies the putting surface with seven pools and fourteen waterfalls in front. The tee shot plays significantly downhill but the hole's location among the canyons makes it difficult to correctly read the wind. Those who do not calculate the effective yardage correctly may either find themselves wet and fighting to save bogey or dry over the back of the green and facing a delicate downhill pitch to a green that runs hard away from the player. Expect the leader on Sunday to play this hole cautiously as it represents one of the best chances for disaster at Sherwood.

Here are our selections for this week's ZOZO Championship at Sherwood CC:

Group A (Xander Schauffele)

Group B (Collin Morikawa)

Group C (Tiger Woods)

Group D (Abraham Ancer)

Group E (Tyrrell Hatton)

Group F (Phil Mickelson)