The PGA Tour heads out to Japan and pitches up at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club which opened for play in 1965 and is roughly an hour away from downtown Tokyo. The course is a composite of the 36-holes at the resort, which is owned by the Accordia Golf Company that is part owned by Goldman Sachs Group Inc who have been buying up golf courses in Japan due to the country’s recession.
The course is tree lined with tight fairways and plenty of bunkers with water coming into play on the 4th 5th 6th 10th and 16th holes. One of the things you will notice on TV is that a lot of the holes have duel greens, I am presuming this is to preserve the main greens during the winter months, but it would be great fun if they used some of them on alternate days during the tournament – although I am not sure the pros would enjoy that!
The course is par 70 and weighs in at 7,041 yards. The par 4, 405-yard opening hole doglegs to the left and has a narrow fairway to aim at, while the signature hole arrives at the par 3 183-yard, 16th and has a water hazard on the left with the green sitting up on a plateau that slopes from right to left. Just to add that extra bit of drama they shave the grass so anything not making the dancefloor that is short and left while roll into the water and for good measure anything right or long could see you in one of three bunkers that protect that side of the green.
The 562-yard par 5, 18th is a fitting finale to the course. The hole doglegs left and has bunkers left and right on the dogleg, but a good drive will carry the bunker on the left and give the players a chance to hit the green in two, but there are three large bunkers to navigate, before you arrive at a green that slopes back to front.
My tips to Win:
After just missing out at the weekends CJ Cup but firing a final round 62 Collin Morikawa 15/2 – with SportingIndex – will be looking to go one better this week. Collin’s iron play and putting looked back to its best on Sunday and depending on how well he recovers from the flight, I think he will be the man to beat this week.
After just missing out on a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, Masters Champion Hideki Matsuyama 16/1 – with SportingIndex – will be looking to give the home support something to cheer about and he was runner-up to Tiger Woods the first year the event was played here. Hideki did get the new wraparound season off to a good start with a sixth-place finish at the Fortinet Championship but has not really challenged since then, but being back here I expect him to be in the thick of it come Sunday
I am sure Erik Van Rooyen 40/1 – with MansionBet – will be slightly disappointed with his final round 70 at the weekends CJ Cup that see him drop down the leaderboard fifteen places, but after missing the cut in Shriners Childrens’s Open he will be happy that his golf game is back on track. With the quick turnaround from playing Sunday and teeing it up again Wednesday because of the time zone change the first two rounds will be trying to keep in the tournament while recovering from the time changes. South African golfers tend to travel well and adjust quickly as they compete on many different tours around the world, so I expect Erik to be challenging come Saturday.
I am sure arriving back in Japan Olympic Bronze medalist C.T. Pan 45/1 – with 888Sport – will have a lot of positive memories of his time at the Tokyo Olympics and those good vibes seemed to have carried over to this new season with two Top 11 finishes from his first two starts. I am not sure if CT was on the same plane as those coming from the CJ Cup, but hopefully he took advantage of not playing at the weekend and came out earlier and if so that extra acclimatisation time will certainly stand him in good stead this week.
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