Philip Reid’s lowdown: ZOZO Championship and Italian Open
All you need to know ahead of this week’s PGA Tour and European Tour stops
Tiger Woods won the ZOZO Championship in Japan last year. Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
Purse: €6.75 million (€1.25m to the winner)
Where: Thousand Oaks, California
The course: Sherwood Country Club – 7,073 yards Par 72 – was designed by Jack Nicklaus and is located at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains some 60km south of Los Angeles. The course has played host to multiple golf tournaments, starting with the Shark Shootout, hosted by Greg Norman, which ran from 1989 to 1999 and then the World Challenge, hosted by Tiger Woods, which ran from 2000 to 2013 on the PGA Tour. There are a number of standout holes, although the early Par 3 sixth hole sets the tone: the carry is across water to a green framed by 14 waterfalls cascading through a series of seven pools.
The field: The tournament has moved from Japan, where Tiger Woods won a year ago, to California due to the impact of Covid-19. Woods returns to action for the first time since missing the cut at the US Open and has a phenomenal record on the layout, winning five of those Challenge tournaments. Dustin Johnson, the course record holder and world number one, is absent having tested positive for the virus. Jon Rahm has the chance to move to world number one with a win.
Quirky fact: The course derives its name from the 1939 Academy Award film, “The Adventures of Robin Hood” (set in Sherwood Forest) starring Errol Flynn where some of the scenes were shot on and near the present-day course.
Irish in the field: Rory McIlroy is the lone Irish player in the no-cut field of 78. McIlroy (who tees off in the first round at 7.51pm Irish time) is grouped with Webb Simpson and Phil Mickelson.
Quote-Unquote: “I came here when I was really young to watch Tiger’s event, but I couldn’t tell you anything about that day other than I remember waiting underneath one of the balconies for signatures, but never got one” – Collin Morikawa, the US PGA champion, on his journey from young fan to playing in a tournament at Sherwood.
Betting: Matthew Wolff can bounce back from a disappointing showing at the CJ Cup: the American grew up in the area and is effectively on home turf with a 28/1 market value. Talor Gooch is showing some decent form and is worth an each-way look at 90/1.
On TV: Live first round coverage on Sky Sport Golf from 9pm, with featured groups coverage from 6pm.
Purse: €1million (€160,000 to the winner)
Where: Brescia, Italy
The course: Cheró Golf Club – 7,434 yards Par 72 – in northern Italy is located beside Lake Garda. The course opened for play in 2008 but this is the first time it will play host to the Italian Open, which has lost its Rolex Series status this season in the restructured schedule.
The field: Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger defends his title and is grouped with in-form players Victor Perez and Matt Wallace for the first two rounds. Wiesberger, the world number 35, is the headline act in a field that also features Lee Westwood and two-time Major champion Martin Kaymer.
Irish in the field: Three of them – Gavin Moynihan (7.32am Irish time), Cormac Sharvin (8.02am Irish time) and Jonny Caldwell (11.20am Irish time).
Betting: Wiesberger is a little off the top of the market and his odds of 16/1 make him a value bet. Some each-way value can be found with the 40/1 price on Italian Guido Migliozzi.
On TV: Live first round coverage on Sky Sport Golf from 11.30am.