THE stars showed up to Vegas and one glistened brighter than the famous strip.
Rory McIlroy secured his 20th PGA Tour victory at the CJ Cup behind a scintillating 62 in the third round. McIlroy was then able to hold off the likes of Summit Club member Collin Morikawa and Rickie Fowler’s first serious run at a title on Sunday. The win over many Americans in the field offers some consolation for the heartbroken Northern Irishman in the wake of the Ryder Cup.
As for the picks, no one played poorly, but Oosthuizen, Leishman and Varner could not keep up with the pace on the easy driver / wedge track. Like Rory, the picks will look to begin gaining some momentum before the winter break.
We now head to the site of Tiger Woods’ most recent and record-tying 82nd Tour victory, the Zozo Championship in Chiba, Japan.
It is the first time the Tour is back in Asia since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Last year, the event was held in California where Pat- rick Cantlay won.
Like last week, it is just a 78-man field with no cut, but many of the notables in Vegas will not be flying to the other side of the globe.
According to SI Sportsbook, the favourite is Xander Schauffele at 6-1 returning to the country of his gold medal win in a limited field.
To follow is Collin Morikawa fresh off his runner-up last week at 13-2.
Next up is Masters champion and Japan native Hideki Matsuyama at 12-1.
To close out the notables is the up-and-coming Will Zalatoris at 16-1.
For our favourite, we must go with local hero Matsuyama at 12-1.
For a guy who’s been under so much pres- sure from his home country to perform, he has certainly delivered.
Besides slipping on the green jacket in 2021, he has played some very good golf. In his last 24 rounds, Matsuyama is top-10 in strokes gained: ball striking, tee-to-green and approach, which included a T6 at the Fortinet Championship.
Although he did not look his normal self in Las Vegas, we are sure his mind was else- where knowing the Tour finally returns to his home country and where he finished runner-up to Woods just two years ago.
For a midrange pick, we are going to fol- low the steam on C.T.
Pan at 45-1.
The Taiwanese player has had a wonderful start to the season with a T-11 and T-6 at the Fortinet and Sanderson Farms cham- pionships.
In his most recent visit to Japan, he secured the bronze medal at the 2020 Olympics in a massive playoff for the hon- our. Pan is also one of the few who has seen this course the last time the Zozo was held here, so he should feel confident to keep the momentum rolling.
For a sleeper, take a flier on Roger Sloan at 100-1.
Since golf ’s new year began, Sloan sand- wiched a 14th-place finish in between two missed cuts at the Sanderson Farms Cham- pionship.
Prior to the beginning of this season, the Canadian only missed two cuts since May and finished inside the top-21 four times, nearly winning the Wyndham Champi- onship. Sloan should feel like this is a less intimidating “no-cut” event where he can shine for four rounds. — Morning Read.