WHY TIGER'S COMMITMENT TO
PLAYING THE ZOZO MATTERS
Tiger Woods is heading to Japan. The freshly minted Masters champion will headline the ZOZO Championship, which is to be Japan’s first ever PGA Tour event. The tournament, which boasts a $9.75 million purse, is set to replace Malaysia's CIMB Classic on the tour, and will be held from October 24-27 at Narashino Country Club. Woods committed to playing just a few weeks after his comeback-for-the-ages victory at Augusta, and in doing so brought the kind of star power no other golfer could.
|Tiger Woods, the freshly minted Masters champion will headline the ZOZO Championship, which is to be Japan’s first ever PGA Tour event.
The Narashino Country Club course is located in the Chiba Prefecture just outside of Tokyo. It spans 7,598 meters and features a quartet of par-5s and a trio of par-3s. In these respects, the course isn't actually unlike Augusta, which spans 7,475 yards and has four each of par-5s and par-3s. The key difference is that Narashino, despite being slightly longer, is more straightforward, and devoid of the infamously tricky approaches one finds at Augusta (like "Amen Corner" or Rae's Creek). It's a fairly unassuming course, which should make for some impressive scoring come October, from Woods and others alike.
A more in-depth look at the Narashino course is best saved for a time closer to the tournament though. Instead, we're examining what the effects are of Tiger Woods agreeing to play there. And simply put, they should be enormously positive! That said, there was also significant excitement building around this event before Woods committed - just ask Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezaw, who is the event's main sponsor. He could barely contain his excitement announcing the upcoming tournament, which is part of a six-year deal between Japan and the PGA Tour. "I think this will be the first PGA Tour sponsor that is going to the moon," Maezaw said through an interpreter. "I haven't decided who I will take to the moon with me yet. I would like to talk to many people with an open mind."
Again, that was before Woods announced his intent to be part of it all. Imagine how Maezaw and his co-sponsors are feeling now, knowing that the sport’s biggest star will be playing in at Narashino! Woods’s presence will single-handedly raise the profile of the ZOZO Championship, not just because of his fame, but because of his level of play as well. The way Woods is being looked at after his Masters win, it won't be a surprise at all if the popular odds-setting sites based out of Europe install him as the betting favorite to win the ZOZO Championship. Those odds won't be posted in any meaningful detail until closer to the event, but we feel confident asserting that Woods will be high among the contenders at the very least. When he's front and center like that, as we just saw in Augusta, a tournament is simply lifted to a higher level. This will be a flat-out treat for Japan, which incidentally has a richer golfing culture than many likely realize.
In other words, the presence of Tiger Woods is likely to shine a spotlight on what Japan has to offer the sport. Narashino is a lovely course, and billionaire sponsor Maezaw is a huge golf fan who should inject a certain passion and enthusiasm into the tournament. Come October, everyone who loves the sports will get a chance to see all of this, and that "everyone" is going to consist of a much larger group of viewers solely because of Woods.
It's shaping up to be a nice introduction to the PGA Tour for Japan.
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