2021 ZOZO Championship Power Rankings

Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa
Xander Schauffele and Collin Morikawa of Team United States look on prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits on Sep 21, 2021 in Kohler, WI. (Photo by Patrick Smith via Getty Images)

For the first time since 2019, the PGA Tour is traveling to Asia, where a handful of highly-ranked players highlight the field for this year’s ZOZO Championship, held at Japan’s Narashino Country Club.

The ZOZO has only had two editions, but both resulted in high-profile winners, with Tiger Woods taking the inaugural 2019 title at Narashino and reigning Tour Player of the Year Patrick Cantlay winning last year’s edition at Sherwood Country Club in California.

Neither Woods nor Cantlay are making the trip across the Pacific this week, but there are plenty of other draws in the country that hosted golf at The Olympics just two months ago. Gold medal winner Xander Schauffele obviously makes this week’s power rankings, but how highly? And who else?

15. Alex Noren

Alex Noren
Alex Noren hits a shot from the 2nd tee during day three of the WGC-Mexico Championship at Club de Golf Chapultepec on Feb 23, 2019 in Mexico City. Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images

Since June, Noren has six finishes of T16 or better worldwide, including back-to-back top 10s in the first two rounds of the FedExCup playoffs in August, nearly playing himself into the Tour Championship (he finished 33rd in the standings) despite starting the playoffs ranked outside the top 90.

Noren played mostly well in Japan representing Sweden two months ago at The Olympics, posting three rounds of 67 and finishing T16.

The 39-year-old has one of the best short games in this week’s field, finishing the 2021 season 27th in strokes gained: around-the-green, and T13 in strokes gained: putting.

Odds To Win: 33-1
World Ranking: No. 62

14. Keegan Bradley

Keegan Bradley
Keegan Bradley lines up a putt on the 7th green during the third round of the Valspar Championship on the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook Resort on May 01, 2021 in Palm Harbor, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood via Getty Images)

Two years ago at Narashino, Bradley’s second-round 63 tied Rory McIlroy for the low round of the week, catalyzing a T13 finish.

The 35-year-old has not posted a top-10 on Tour since a runner-up at the Valspar Championship in May, but has been close a few times with four finishes between 11th and 18th.

Bradley was solid at last week’s CJ Cup, finishing ninth in birdies and tallying four rounds of 70 or better, leading to a T32 result.

It would surprise many to learn that Bradley ranked sixth on Tour last season in strokes gained: tee-to-green.

Odds To Win: 40-1
World Ranking: No. 84

13. Ryan Palmer

Ryan Palmer
Ryan Palmer celebrates his putt on the 16th hole during the final round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans at TPC Louisiana on Apr 28, 2019 in Avondale, LA. Photo by Stan Badz/PGA TOUR via Getty Images

Palmer is coming off a mediocre 2021 on Tour, having not posted a top 10 since a runner-up finish at the Farmers Insurance Open in January.

So, why the vote of confidence for this week? The ZOZO Championship has been good to him, with top 10s in both editions: a T4 at Sherwood last year and a T10 at Narashino in 2019, where he shot all four rounds in the 60s.

The field this week is not deep, giving the 45-year-old hope that he can capture his first victory in an individual event since 2010.

Odds To Win: 50-1
World Ranking: No. 41

12. Tommy Fleetwood

Tommy Fleetwood
Tommy Fleetwood plays his shot from the 12th tee during the second round of the Palmetto Championship at Congaree on June 11, 2021 in Ridgeland, SC. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann via Getty Images)

At 40th in the OWGR, there are only a handful of players at Narashino who outrank Fleetwood, but he is coming off a mediocre season on the PGA Tour, with a T10 at March’s Arnold Palmer Invitational being his only top-10 in a stroke-play event.

The Englishman did, however, string together a T2-T12-T7 stretch in the past month on the European Tour, and he did have a third-round 64 at last week’s CJ Cup, before finishing T38, playing the weekend bogey-free.

In 2019 at Narashino, Fleetwood put together an impressive 67-67 weekend, posting a T22 result. He is one of the best there is around the greens.

Odds To Win: 25-1
World Ranking: No. 40

11. Joaquin Niemann

Joaquin Niemann TOUR Championship Fastest Round East Lake
Joaquin Niemann and caddie Gary Mathews celebrate after finishing on the 18th green during the final round of the TOUR Championship on Sept 5, 2021 in Atlanta, GA. Niemann played his round in a record 1 hour 53 minutes. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins via Getty Images)

The 22-year-old Chilean has played surprisingly poor golf since the start of the FedExCup playoffs, and his final-round 71 at last week’s CJ Cup might as well have been an 80 given what the field as a whole was shooting.

That mediocre final round dropped Niemann 28 spots down the final leaderboard, into a tie for 45th. However, his talent is obvious and he posted three runner-up finishes in 2021.

Niemann also played well in Japan at The Olympics with a 66-65 weekend, and he was T6 in this event a year ago. He had the Tour’s 17th best scoring average last season, and finished inside the top 50 in five of the six strokes gained categories.

Odds To Win: 25-1
World Ranking: No. 30

10. Jhonattan Vegas

Jhonattan Vegas
Jhonattan Vegas tees off on the 2nd hole during the third round of The Northern Trust on Aug. 25, 2018 at the Ridgewood CC in Paramus, NJ. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In 2021, Vegas put together his best season since 2016, notching three runner-up finishes and raising his world ranking from 216th to his current position of 81st.

The Venezuelan, who represented his country in Japan at The Olympics in August, has six top-20 finishes in his last nine starts worldwide, including a T14 at the CJ Cup last week, where he birdied six of his final seven holes and posted four rounds in the 60s.

Showing growth in his game, Vegas has been prone to random high scores, but has not posted a round on Tour of worse than 72 since the final round of the U.S. Open in June.

Odds To Win: 40-1
World Ranking: No. 81

9. Emiliano Grillo

Emiliano Grillo The CJ Cup
Emiliano Grillo plays his shot from the 4th tee during the final round of THE CJ CUP at The Summit Club on Oct 17, 2021 in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Christian Petersen via Getty Images)

As a whole, the field absolutely eviscerated The Summit Club on Sunday last week, but nobody dismantled it more thoroughly than Grillo, who played his final six holes in 7-under(!) to shoot an 11-under 61, which elevated him a field-high 38 spots up the final leaderboard to T18.

One of the best on Tour at hitting greens, Grillo showed tremendous accuracy off the tee at the CJ Cup as well, and he hopes that momentum will carry across the Pacific Ocean as he chases his first victory since winning his first start as a Tour member six years ago.

Odds To Win: 40-1
World Ranking: No. 71

8. Erik van Rooyen

Erik van Rooyen Wins Barracuda Championship
Erik van Rooyen looks on after hitting his shot on the 2nd hole during the final round of the Barracuda Championship at Tahoe Mountain Club’s Old Greenwood Golf Course on Aug 8, 2021 in Truckee, CA. (Photo by Alex Goodlett via Getty Images)

The 31-year-old from South African started the 2021 calendar year 51st in the world rankings, and now sits at 52nd, but that does not reflect how fantastically van Rooyen has played in the past three months.

He won the Barracuda Championship in August and has four finishes of T25 or better in six starts since, and played himself into the Tour Championship despite starting the FedExCup Playoffs in 76th position.

Even in one of his lesser recent results, a T37 at the Wyndham Championship, he had bookend 65s. He was in 10th place through 54-holes at last week’s CJ Cup before a pedestrian Sunday 70 dropped him to T25.

Odds To Win: 40-1
World Ranking: No. 52

7. C.T. Pan

C.T. Pan
C.T. Pan plays a shot from the 12th tee during the final round of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on Apr 21, 2019 in Hilton Head Island, SC. Photo by Tyler Lecka/Getty Images

Pan’s 2021 season was not especially impressive as a whole, with just 14 made cuts and two top 10s in 27 starts, but the native of Chinese Taipei has been fantastic since August.

Pan was the winner of the seven-man bronze medal playoff at The Olympics two months ago in Tokyo, ousting the likes of Collin Morikawa, Hideki Matsuyama, Rory McIlroy, and Paul Casey, among others. He has since made two starts on Tour, finishing T6 last month at the Fortinet Championship followed by a T11 at the Sanderson Farms Championship.

Pan has since taken the last two weeks off, and hopes the good vibes from his medalist performance keeps him confident in his return to Japan.

Odds To Win: 40-1
World Ranking: No. 132

6. Will Zalatoris

Will Zalatoris
Will Zalatoris hits out of the green side bunker on the 8th during the first round of the Charles Schwab Challenge on May 27, 2021 at Colonial CC in Fort Worth, TX (Photo by Andrew Dieb Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The reigning PGA Tour Rookie of the Year, Zalatoris was a revelation in 2021, posting top-25s in 14 of 24 starts, and played his best on the biggest stages, as evidenced by his runner-up finish at his Masters debut, and his T8 at the PGA Championship.

The 25-year-old looks like one of the Tour’s next great shot-makers, somehow finishing ninth on Tour in strokes gained: tee-to-green last season.

A second-round 61 at the Sanderson Farms Championship earlier this month teased what could be a special 2022 season.

Odds To Win: 18-1
World Ranking: No. 31

5. Paul Casey

Paul Casey Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Paul Casey of Team Great Britain plays his shot from the seventh tee during the second round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Kasumigaseki CC on July 30, 2021 in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann via Getty Images)

The affable 44-year-old finds himself in a bit of a slump after playing some of the best golf of his career over the 2020 and 2021 seasons, lowlighted by a horrific 0-4-0 week for the losing European side at the Ryder Cup.

Could a trip to Japan, where he finished T4 at The Olympic Games in August, get him back to his high-finishing ways? That 68-65 start a week ago at The Summit Club is promising.

Casey was T17 at Narashino two years; one of just four players in the field to shoot four rounds in the 60s (Tiger Woods, Hideki Matsuyama, Ryan Palmer).

Odds To Win: 25-1
World Ranking: No. 27

4. Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler The CJ Cup
Rickie Fowler plays his shot from the 14th tee during the final round of THE CJ CUP at The Summit Club on Oct 17, 2021 in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Alex Goodlett via Getty Images for CJ Cup)

That final-round 71 at The Summit Club last week was disappointing given what everyone else on the first few pages of the leaderboard was shooting, but it has to feel great for Fowler to capture a 54-hole lead and contend on Tour again.

Having fallen all the way to No. 128 in the world rankings, Fowler averaged nearly eight top-10s per season from 2014 to 2019. The last two seasons? Just three top 10s in 38 starts, and he failed to qualify for two majors last season (The Masters, U.S. Open) after having not missed a major since 2010.

As we saw with Jordan Spieth last year, a big part of learning to win again is just getting yourself back in frequent contention. Do not be surprised if he builds on that T3 from a week ago, his best result on Tour in two-and-a-half years.

Odds To Win: 25-1
World Ranking: No. 82

3. Hideki Matsuyama

Hideki Matsuyama WGC-Fedex St Jude Invitational
Hideki Matsuyama reacts to barely missing his birdie putt on the first playoff hole on 18 following play of the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational at TPC Southwind, on Aug 8, 2021 in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo by Ken Murray / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The reigning Masters Champ is not his best version as of late, having posted results of T67 and T59 the past two weeks. If he is going to snap out of that funk though, there really is not a better week to bet on him.

Japan’s best golfer – by far – heads back to his native country where he was T2 to Tiger Woods at Narashino two years ago, and he was T4 in Tokyo two months ago.

Putting has never been a strength of his game, but he needs to find a way to do much better than he did at The CJ Cup last week, where he finished dead last in strokes gained: putting, losing nearly 10 strokes to the field on the greens for the week.

Odds To Win: 14-1
World Ranking: No. 19

2. Collin Morikawa

Collin Morikawa Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Collin Morikawa of USA plays his tee shot on the 9th hole during round 4 of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games at the Kasumigaseki CC in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan. (Photo By Ramsey Cardy / Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Injury issues truncated the late season results of the 24-year-old Open Championship Golfer of the Year, but the five-time Tour champion is looking like himself over his last two starts, following a brilliant week at the Ryder Cup with a T2 at last week’s CJ Cup, where he posted a final-round 10-under 62 to finish solo-second to Rory McIlroy.

The highest-ranked player in the field at Narashino, the world No. 3 shot a final-round 63 at The Olympics in Japan in August, getting himself in that epic seven-man bronze medal playoff, where he was the last player eliminated by C.T. Pan.

Morikawa hit 31 of 36 greens in regulation over the weekend at the CJ Cup, which should have put this week’s field on notice; he is essentially untouchable when his irons are on.

Odds To Win: 7-1
World Ranking: No. 3

1. Xander Schauffele

Xander Schauffele Wins Olympic Gold Medal
Xander Schauffele of Team USA smiles with his caddie Austin Kaiser on the 16th hole during the second round of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on the East Course at Kasumigaseki CC on July 30, 2021 in Kawagoe, Saitama, Japan. (Photo by Keyur Khamar / PGA TOUR via Getty Images)

The four-time Tour champion made his 2021-22 season debut last week at The Summit Club, and it was very surprising to not see him in the leadership mix.

However, after being 9-under through three rounds, which had him at T46, Schauffele went 9-under in the final round alone, rising himself to a respectable final standing of T18. Now, the world No. 5, who had four top-3 finishes last season (although no wins), heads back to Japan.

Last time he was there, he only became the first American to ever win an Olympic Gold Medal in golf. He was also T10 at Narashino two years ago.

Odds To Win: 6-1
World Ranking: No. 5

Next Five: Maverick McNealy, Harry Higgs, Mackenzie Hughes, Branden Grace, Cameron Tringale


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