Getty Images

After a detour through California last year, the PGA Tour returns to Japan this week for the 2021 Zozo Championship. The event, which tees off Thursday at Narashino Country Club, made its debut in 2019, but the pandemic forced it to be played at Sherwood Country Club in 2020. The inaugural event saw Tiger Woods get his most recent PGA Tour event to tie Sam Snead's all-time record at 82. This year, two-time major champion Collin Morikawa, 24, is expected to be the center of attention, along with Xander Schauffele, who won Olympic gold in Japan this summer. Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama will get a hero's welcome, and Rickie Fowler comes in off his best finish since early 2019 after tying for third at last week's CJ Cup.         

Morikawa and Schauffele are the 13-2 co-favorites in the latest 2021 Zozo Championship golf odds from Caesars Sportsbook, followed by Matsuyama at 14-1. PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Will Zalatoris (18-1), Tommy Fleetwood (22-1) and Fowler (25-1) are among the others in the 78-player 2021 Zozo Championship expected to contend. Before you consider any bets on the 2021 Zozo Championship or make any PGA Tour predictions, you need to see what proven golf insider Sal Johnson has to say.

The media legend and esteemed golf insider has a strong track record on picks, and he knows what it takes to win. Before the inaugural Zozo Championship in 2019, he tabbed Tiger Woods as a solid contender.

"Now that his physical problem is solved, I can see him doing very well this week," Johnson told SportsLine before the tournament. "The course is good for him because he thinks so well."

Woods simply went out and fired consecutive 64's to kick off the new event and finished at 19-under to beat Hideki Matsuyama by three strokes. 

Johnson also is off to a strong start this season. Before the Shriners, he tabbed both Sungjae Im and Matthew Wolff among his players to watch. Im shot a 9-under 62 in the final round for a comfortable four-shot win, and Wolff finished as runner-up, his first top-10 finish in almost exactly a year.

The previous week at the Sanderson Farms Championship, Johnson nailed Sam Burns as his winner. Anyone who has followed Johnson's advice has cashed in huge.  

Now Johnson, the first producer of "Inside the PGA Tour," a longtime ABC Sports golf producer who worked with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, and founder of the world's top golf stats database, has released his highly confident 2021 Zozo Championship golf picks, and they will surprise you. You can only see Johnson's expert PGA Tour picks at SportsLine.

Top 2021 Zozo Championship golf predictions

In a major eye-opener, Johnson is fading Tommy Fleetwood, who is among the betting favorites at 22-1. Oddsmakers like that the Englishman has finished in the top-15 in three of his past four worldwide events, including a tie for the runner-up spot at the Italian Open last month. But he tied for 38th at last week's CJ Cup, his sixth finish outside the top-25 in his past seven PGA Tour events. He might not have the distance to contend this week, and he was 145th in strokes gained off the tee last season. Johnson has several other golfers you can't afford to overlook.   

At the same time, the golf insider knows Schauffele has the stats to dominate and is looking for a breakout season. The 27-year-old doesn't have an official win since January 2019, but his gold medal was a huge accomplishment. His mother grew up in Japan, and that was one of his motivating factors as he became the first American to win golf gold since 1900. He was seventh in scoring average (69.859) last season and 16th in strokes gained putting. His all-around game (22nd in driving distance, 33rd in greens in regulation) has him ranked fifth in the world.  

Fowler had a strong showing at Summit Club, and the golf guru is eager to see if that's the start of something for the former phenom. The 32-year-old has nine worldwide wins but has not lifted a trophy since February 2019. Fowler had the lead after 54 holes last weekend, but he couldn't keep up as winner Rory McIlroy and Morikawa scorched the course Sunday. Still, he has hit 82 percent of his greens in regulation in his first two tournaments and has shot 66 or better in four of his past five rounds. He ranked 12th on tour in strokes gained around the green last season.

How to make 2021 Zozo Championship golf picks

For this week's event in Japan, the golf expert is backing a huge long shot who comes in at well over 40-1. This veteran has been near the top of the leader board in both editions of this event and has a handful of tour wins to his credit. He has a strong all-around game and could pull off a shocking result this week. Anyone who backs this underdog could cash in huge. You can only see this Zozo Championship pick and the rest of Johnson's PGA analysis at SportsLine.

Who wins the 2021 Zozo Championship? Where do Xander Schauffele and Rickie Fowler finish? And which huge long-shot is a must-back? Check out the odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Sal Johnson's full leaderboard, picks and analysis for the 2021 Zozo Championship, all from the insider who knows what it takes to win on the PGA Tour, and find out.

2021 Zozo Championship odds, field, top contenders (via Caesars):

Collin Morikawa 13-2
Xander Schauffele 13-2
Hideki Matsuyama 16-1
Paul Casey 18-1
Will Zalatoris 18-1
Tommy Fleetwood 25-1
Joaquin Niemann 28-1
Cameron Tringale 30-1
Rickie Fowler 30-1
Keegan Bradley 35-1
Alex Noren 35-1
Maverick McNealy 35-1
Si-Woo Kim 35-1
Emiliano Grillo 40-1
Jhonattan Vegas 40-1
C.T. Pan 40-1
Erik Van Rooyen 40-1
Charley Hoffman 40-1
Branden Grace 50-1
Lanto Griffin 50-1
Carlos Ortiz 50-1
Adam Schenk 50-1
Kyoung-Hoon Lee 50-1
Matt Wallace 50-1
MacKenzie Hughes 50-1
Chris Kirk 50-1
Takumi Kanaya 50-1
Ryan Palmer 50-1
Luke List 60-1
Harry Higgs 66-1
Garrick Higgo 66-1
Sebastian Munoz 66-1
Brendan Steele 66-1
Henrik Norlander 66-1
Brendon Todd 66-1
Doug Ghim 66-1
Roger Sloan 80-1
Matt Jones 80-1
Robert Streb 80-1
Pat Perez 80-1
Tom Hoge 80-1
Chan Kim 80-1
Troy Merritt 100-1
Andrew Putnam 100-1
Scott Vincent 100-1
Doc Redman 125-1
Matthew NeSmith 125-1
Sepp Straka 125-1
Chesson Hadley 125-1
Kyle Stanley 125-1
Sung-Hoon Kang 125-1
Jimmy Walker 150-1
Brandon Hagy 150-1
Adam Long 150-1
Shugo Imahira 150-1
Wyndham Clark 150-1
Sam Ryder 150-1
Ryosuke Kinoshita 150-1
Satoshi Kodaira 150-1
Peter Malnati 150-1
James Hahn 200-1
Tomoharu Otsuki 200-1
Hiroshi Iwata 200-1
Kramer Hickok 200-1
Rikuya Hoshino 200-1
Jinichiro Kozuma 200-1
Keita Nakajima 200-1
Kazuki Higa 250-1
Ryo Hisatsune 250-1
Wesley Bryan 250-1
Tyler McCumber 250-1
Ryutaro Nagano 300-1
Tomoyasu Sugiyama 300-1
Naoto Nakanishi 400-1
Ryuichi Oiwa 400-1
Naoyuki Kataoka 400-1
Bill Haas 400-1
Ryuji Imada 500-1