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The PGA Tour has returned to the land of the rising sun.

This week, the ZOZO Championship takes center stage at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club in Chiba, Japan, about 30 miles east of Tokyo.

Rickie Fowler will be on hand, as will defending champion Keegan Bradley.

“I really, really love playing in the country of Japan,” Bradley said Tuesday.

“I love the fans, I love the little cities that we’ve been able to explore. They’re so clean, and the food is so great. Being able to come over here as an American and win this tournament is a big deal. I really look forward to coming to Japan. It’s been one of my favorite places to play.”

Keegan Bradley, PGA Tour, ZOZO Championship

Keegan Bradley poses with the trophy after winning the 2022 ZOZO Championship.
Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

Bradley won the 2022 ZOZO Championship by one stroke over Fowler and Andrew Putnam.

Should Bradley go on to win this week, he would be the fifth player this season to defend a title and second in as many weeks. Tom Kim successfully defended his title at last week’s Shriners Children’s Open.

But Bradley has not competed professionally since playing in the Tour Championship in August, which featured the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings.

Of those 30 that teed it up at East Lake, nine are in the field this week in Japan: Bradley, Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, Adam Schenk, Sungjae Im, Nick Taylor, Emiliano Grillo, and Taylor Moore.

Schauffele, the sixth-ranked player in the world, is the highest-ranked player in the field.

Other notables include Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters champion, and fan-favorite Sahith Theegala.

Matsuyama, one of the most famous athletes in his home country, won the ZOZO Championship in front of his home country months after his maiden major victory.

The support he received in 2021 rivaled the fanfare that surrounded Tiger Woods in 2019 when he won this tournament. That was the last time Woods won an event, which marked his 82nd victory on the PGA Tour.

“A lot of good memories two years ago with the victory,” Matsuyama said. “It’s always great to play in the ZOZO Championship.”

Hideki Matsuyama, PGA Tour, ZOZO Championship

Hideki Matsuyama during the final round of the 2022 ZOZO Championship.
Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The Japanese superstar then noted that the rough is thicker and longer than in years past, which puts a premium on finding fairways.

Bradley agreed.

“[You] have to hit the fairways,” Bradley said. “It’s just a great golf course, with small little greens. I love playing this course. You have to have a lot of imagination and work the ball into a lot of these flags, so it’s a great course.”

Fowler, Bradley, and Matsuyama will play together for the first two days, beginning their opening rounds at 9:46 p.m. ET or 10:46 a.m. local time.

With Chiba, Japan, sitting 13 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, the ZOZO Championship will air late at night for most American viewers.

Golf Channel will begin its coverage of the first round beginning at 11 p.m. ET on Wednesday. It will conclude at 3 a.m. ET early Thursday.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.

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