The second of three straight weeks in the Far East takes the PGA Tour to the outskirts of Tokyo for the inaugural Zozo Championship. Stats and words by Andy Swales...
"Xander Schauffele makes a first start since the Porsche European Open in September, with the world No 8 another golfer who has enjoyed considerable success on his recent long-haul travels."
The PGA Tour breaks new ground this week with a first-ever tournament in Japan.
As with last week's event in Korea, The Zozo Championship will feature a reduced field of 78 players, many of whom have made the 790-mile trip from Jeju Island to compete.
This co-sanctioned tournament will run through to 2025, following a deal agreed 12 months ago between the tours of the United States and Japan.
Venue for this historic event is Narashino Country Club, located around 12 miles north-east of Tokyo city centre.
Opened in 1965, this week's venue will be a composite layout taken from holes on its Kings and Queens courses.
Narashino is a lush gently-rolling tree-lined course that is extremely well bunkered, with water on five holes.
Eleven of the world's top 20 golfers are taking part, led by No 2 ranked Rory McIlroy and No 4 Justin Thomas, winner at Nine Bridges on Sunday.
No one has performed better than Thomas over the past three or four months, with the 26-year-old continuing to show how much he likes playing tournaments in Asia.
His victory at The CJ Cup was his fourth in the Far East, which means six of his 11 PGA Tour titles have happened far away from the American mainland - he's also won twice in Hawaii.
Check out latest betting ahead of this week's Zozo Championship
Xander Schauffele makes a first start since the Porsche European Open in September. The world No 8 has enjoyed considerable success on his recent long-haul travels.
Next week, Schauffele will defend his title at the HSBC Champions tournament in China, and he has also won in Hawaii which sits more than 2,400 miles from America's west coast.
The Californian, who turns 26 later this week, has won four times on the PGA Tour, with three of these victories being tournaments with limited-size fields and no 36-hole cut.
Another starter is Tiger Woods who tees-up for the first time in 10 weeks following arthroscopic surgery on his left knee during August.
This year's US Masters champion is hoping the procedure will have successfully repaired damage to his cartilage.
After taking part in a Skins Game on Monday, Woods confirmed that he was able to line-up his putts again, having previously had problems when stooping down.
Hideki Matsuyama, who was also part of the Skins Game at Narashino along with McIlroy and Jason Day, tied-third in Korea at the weekend.
Japan's leading golfer will be joined by a number of highly-rated Asian stars including his compatriots Ryo Ishikawa and Shugo Imahira.
Both have performed superbly on the Japan Tour during 2019, with Imahira currently second in the Order of Merit, three spots above Ishikawa.
Ishikawa, a former PGA Tour member, has won twice since early July while Imahira has posted nine consecutive top-20 finishes. The latter tees-up for a 10th straight week on home soil.
Two players who should feel acclimatised to conditions in Japan are Aussie Adam Scott and Shaun Norris of South Africa.
Scott tied-fifth at Sunday's Japan Open, while Norris was a joint runner-up in the same event.
The 39-year-old Scott finished last season in style by posting top-10s in all three FedEx Cup Play-Off events on the PGA Tour.
Norris, meanwhile, has been busy recently with a victory and a brace of runner-up finishes in Japan over the past six weeks.
And in his first event since mid-August, American Jordan Spieth tied-for-eighth in Korea at the weekend.
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
Table Shows Performances For Last 10 Weeks
MC* - Missed Additional 54-Hole Cut
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves
|Sung Jae Im||39||1||49||2||19||15||11|
|Byeong Hun An||6||MC||MC||3||47||28|
|Si Woo Kim||26||55||49||61||28|
|Seung Su Han||MC||2||26||39||2||8||MC||19|