Golf predictions – Tiger Woods in action at Zozo Championship
October, November, and December are normally the dog days of the PGA Tour—when most of the top players in the world are resting up for the following season and lower-ranked players seize opportunities for rare victories and big paychecks. In this most unusual year across all sports, however, the fall swing in golf is looking a little bit different. And in November it will look a lot different. That’s right; there is still one more major to go in 2020. The Masters was pushed back seven months and will take place in three weeks.
With one of the biggest tournaments in the world rapidly approaching, players are busy fine-tuning their games. They have an opportunity to do just that at this week’s Zozo Championship in Lake Sherwood, Calif. A resurgent Tiger Woods won the inaugural event last fall and is back to defend his title. But it won’t be easy in a field that also includes Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas, Rory McIlroy, and Collin Morikawa.
Let’s take a look at the best pre-tournament bets heading into Thursday’s opening round, and also be sure to check out our outright picks for the Zozo.
Fowler to beat Woods (+100)
The Woods that was on display in 2019 (especially at the Masters) and even at the end of 2018 (won the Tour Championship) has not appeared in 2020. The 44-year-old was playing well enough in January and February, but he returned from the coronavirus hiatus in far worse form. Woods turned in four straight performances outside the top 36 and then missed the cut at the U.S. Open. Fowler, meanwhile, is also struggling—which is why you can get him at +100 in this matchup. However, the 31-year-old at least made the cut at the U.S. Open and is coming off a decent T28 showing at last week’s CJ Cup. As mentioned above, Woods won this tournament last year. But keep in mind it was played in Japan, so that has little to no bearing on what will transpire at Sherwood Country Club this week.
Hovland to finish in the top 20 (+100)
Hovland has been an absolute top 20 machine. Since the “2021” season officially began in September, the 23-year-old Norwegian is two-for-two in top 20s (T13 at the U.S. Open and T12 at the CJ Cup). That is nothing new for Hovland, who was also top 20 in five events from golf’s resumption in early June through the Tour Championship. He also placed 23rd and 21st on two other occasions. Up to No. 24 in the world golf rankings, Hovland won the Puerto Rico Open back in February and he looks poised to find the column once again sooner rather than later. In fact, top 20 feels like a safe bet for someone who has been one of the best players on tour over the past four months.
Berger to finish in the top five (+550)
Berger not being in the Masters is the biggest crime in golf in recent memory. However, the Masters was supposed to be in April and that is when qualification for the prestigious field was in effect. Berger, who was injured for much of 2019, did not begin his surge until the PGA Tour returned from the coronavirus break. The 27-year-old American won the first tournament back (the Charles Schwab Challenge), placed third at Harbour Town, second at the FedEx-St. Jude Invitational, and third at The Northern Trust. Berger has produced four consecutive top-34 performances since then, so he is not quite as on fire as he was despite remaining consistent. There is no reason why he cannot return to the top five this week, especially while playing with a chip on his shoulder due to the upcoming Augusta snub.
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