Zozo Championship: Winners, losers for Japan's PGA Tour debut

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Zozo Championship: Winners, losers for Japan's PGA Tour debut

PGA Tour

Zozo Championship: Winners, losers for Japan's PGA Tour debut

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Here are some winners and losers from the Zozo Championship, the PGA Tour’s first official tournament in Japan:

Winners

Tiger Woods – The master entertainer scrapes it around Monday’s Skins Game, starts 3-over-par through three holes, then flips a switch while cruising to a record-tying 82nd PGA Tour win. His next likely official start on the PGA Tour is at Torrey Pines, where he has put on so many remarkable shows. Of course he’s going to win No. 83 in southern California.

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PGA Tour in Japan – Huge, respectful crowds greeted the first official PGA Tour stop outside Tokyo and Commissioner Jay Monahan vowed that they will always be back. Even better, the gospel of pro golf was spread internationally with field strength, buzz and a grandeur often missing with the Tour’s excursions to Asia.

Tiger Woods poses with volunteers after winning the 2019 Zozo Championship in Japan. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

ShotLink – Watching a tournament won by Tiger Woods without all of the detailed stats we’ve become accustomed to deprived us of deeper insights into Woods’ stunning iron play and overall performance. It was another reminder how much we’ve grown to value ShotLink team and the volunteers who tabulate the data each week.

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Gary Woodland – Another strong week eliminated any doubt about a place on the Presidents Cup team and gives the U.S. Open winner more momentum, especially given the notoriously-average putter’s work over Accordia Narashino Country Club’s devilish greens.

Accordia Narashino CC – The rain totals for round two’s washout varied and got to 10 inches by the final-round telecast. Anything over three in one day would wreak havoc on a non-links course, but somehow the place was playable the next day after modifying one hole to make it all work. An amazing bit of salvation work by the crews and the on-site rules staff.

Hideki Matsuyama – Is it possible for a five-time runner-up to have had his greatest week finishing second? Perhaps, given the pressures of playing in front of the homeland crowds, Matsuyama still played better than anyone except Tiger. But it was his tightened swing, streamlined body, a lack of one-arm finishes and an overall verve that suggest this incredible talent is primed for a huge 2020.

Losers

Picking on Sam Snead’s 82 – Who knew Woods’ record-tying win would be an occasion to pick on the legend? Multiple analyses reminded us of the less enthralling-sounding wins in his epic career, including an 18-hole Crosby and a few other small events. How about focusing on Snead winning 17 times in his 40s to Tiger’s 3? Or that he accumulated most of his victories without access to a private jet, watermelon-sized driver heads, millions in the bank and instead focus on how he beat multiple generations in his amazing career?

Late Night Golf – Watching pro golfers overseas this time of year is always fun for West Coast viewers, but the timing for this week’s Skins and Zozo sounded fun until it ran up against the World Series and start of the NBA season.

ShotLink – The system is apparently still too expensive and unwieldy to ship overseas. What a bummer watching a tournament won by Tiger Woods without all of the detailed stats we’ve become accustomed to.

WGC-HSBC Champions – This week’s World Golf Championship in Shanghai must follow a remarkable week that felt like a WGC. Maybe a player will tweet his support of Hong Kong protesters to liven up the pre-tournament discussion. On second thought, not a great idea.

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