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It’s time to get the passports out as the PGA TOUR readies for some serious air miles over the next few weeks.
Mexico and Bermuda await early next month but this week players will have to deal with a significant time change as the Tour pitches up in Japan.
Host course, Narashino Country Club, was first used in 2019 when, six months on from his memorable Masters triumph, Tiger Woods went wire-to-wire after opening with 64.
Sherwood Country Club had to stand in during the pandemic season of 2020 when Patrick Cantlay triumphed.
But Narashino returned to the schedule in 2021 and this will be the four time it’s played host so bettors have a decent bank of course form.
Three of the USA’s beaten Ryder Cup team - Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa and Rickie Fowler - make the trip while local hero Hideki Matsuyama, the winner two years ago, has another crack.
This is the fourth of seven events in a busy Fall stretch that offers a late opportunity for those outside the world’s top 50 to improve status and/or secure full playing privileges for 2024 by finishing in the top 125.
While Narashino is a short par 70, 15-under has been the winning score in each of the last two years and the runners-up to Matsuyama in 2021 finished at just 10-under.
|Year||Champion and winning score|
|2022||Keegan Bradley (United States) -15|
|2021||Hideki Matsuyama (Japan) -15|
|2020||Patrick Cantlay (United States) -23 - played at Sherwood in California|
|2019||Tiger Woods (United States) -19|
Schauffele didn’t have the best of times at the Ryder Cup to put it mildly (one point from four matches) but he does have some strong connections with Japan. His mother grew up there, he has other family members in the country and he captured Olympic gold in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. He’s played all three previous editions at this course with finishes of 10-28-9. This is his first 72-hole strokeplay start since August’s Tour Championship.
Morikawa is another with strong family history in Japan and he’s been a regular visitor to the Land of the Rising Sun. The results haven’t lived up to expectation though and over par opening rounds in all three visits have limited him to finishes of 22-7-45. Fourth at THE TOUR Championship, he also recorded a single win and three losses in the Ryder Cup.
Im ended last season in good form, posting a sixth and a seventh in the Playoffs. More recently, he won a gold medal at the Asian Games alongside Si Woo Kim - a result that excused both players from national service - and last week he lost a play-off in the Korean Tour’s Genesis Championship. It’s his third start in the event and he has one notable finish, a third in 2019.
Tom Kim defended his title in Las Vegas last week and gave us another payout, this time at +1200.
Our run of winners includes a victory for Sahith Theegala in the Fortinet Championship and I’m going to back the American to score a quick follow up here.
Theegala’s triumph - his breakthrough first win on the PGA TOUR - hadn’t come from left field as he’d delivered a pair of top 15s in his previous two events during the Playoffs.
That’s current form covered. What elevates him further is course form.
The last two winners here - Keegan Bradley and Hideki Matsuyama - had advertised their chances with impressive strong play at the course.
Bradley was seventh 12 months earlier while Matsuyama had finished runner-up the year before his runaway victory in 2021.
Theegala made his debut at Narashino in 2022 and immediately took to the layout, twirling a 7-under 63 in Saturday’s third round and eventually finishing fifth.
With the driver now a help rather than a hindrance, everything looks in place for the 25-year-old to chalk up another ‘W’. He’s +1800 to do so.
I was close to putting up Bradley in the outright market but I’m happy to use him for a 72-hole match bet against Adam Scott.
Bradley has course form of 1-7-13 while Scott’s only appearance resulted in a modest tied 33rd in 2019.
Scott has flashed patches of form in the last couple of months but he’s missed two of his last three cuts and one of those early exits came in last week’s Japan Open after a pair of 73s.
Bradley hasn’t been since 11th at the TOUR Championship but that superior course form and the fuel of being left out of the Ryder Cup team when his claims were strong make him the bet at -120 with bet365.
Beau Hossler says he’s playing his best golf in years and the results back it up.
The 28-year-old opened with a 62 in Las Vegas last week before finishing tied seventh and that represented a sixth top 30 in his last seven starts, two of those top 10s.
Hossler played here last year and, not in the form he’s showing now, ended the week in tied 16th.
Back him for a Top 10 at +300 with bet365.
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Dave Tindall is former golf editor at SkySports.com and Golf365.com and has been writing betting previews for the PGA Tour and European Tour since 1997. He has also written for a range of betting companies, including William Hill and Betfair, as well as being a regular columnist for Rotoworld, The Guardian, Sporting Life and Planet Sport. His other area of speciality is football while he's also covered cricket and tennis.
Email: [email protected]More info on Dave Tindall
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