,This week the PGA Tour resumes with a high-quality event, at a prestigious venue, and with a host of big names competing: the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Charles Schwab Challenge: The Tournament
It’s been around since 1946 but the Charles Schwab Challenge has undergone several name changes along the way, with the “Colonial” being its most popular modern version. As one of the five invitational events on the PGA Tour, it’s made up of a smaller field than usual (around 125 players compared to the usual 156). But the quality tends to remain constant with a number of “name” players lifting the trophy in recent years.
Charles Schwab Challenge: The Course
The Colonial Country Club is a par-70, laid out over 7,209 yards. It was originally designed by John Bredemus. Situated just outside Fort Worth in Texas, it has a rich history dating back to its opening in 1936. It’s a tree-lined course with narrow fairways, many dogleg holes (turning left and right) and testing putting surfaces. It’s no pushover for the players with average winning scores in recent years being around 12-under to 15-under.
259: Zach Johnson (2010)
61: Zach Johnson (2010)
Charles Schwab Challenge: Past Winners
2019: Kevin Na
2018: Justin Rose
2017: Kevin Kisner
2016: Jordan Spieth
2015: Chris Kirk
Charles Schwab Challenge: The Field
An invitational field of 125 golfers are in the Lone Star state this week. Rory McIlroy is the $9.75 outright favourite with TopSport.
Charles Schwab Challenge: The Weather
Hot and dry all week, basically. In fact, weekend temperatures could be touching 100 degrees (F)! And with little cloud cover, it’s only a slight wind (15-20mph throughout) that will inconvenience the players.
Outright Value Bets from The Golf Insider
Brooks Koepka – currently $29 with TopSport
This week the PGA Tour returns and a major-like field has assembled in Texas. Most of the big guns usually skip this event, but they’ve pretty much all turned up for this curtain-raiser – with the exception of a certain Mr. Woods. The lack of crowds should help some players more than others – such as those who haven’t won before, or those who continually get into good positions only for nerves to get the better of them on Sunday in front of huge galleries.
Koekpa has no such worries as a multiple major champion and proven winner. The former world No.1 was not in the best of form pre-break, and was coming back from an injury lay-off, but if anyone can focus on one event it’s a guy who has won four majors in the last three years. He’s posted a decent second on his sole visit to Colonial in 2018, and in what is a wide-open heat his price looks a shade generous to me. His record outside the majors is modest in comparison, but his focus will be on a fast start given the way the season is now set-up. Koepka is worth backing on a course that should suit.
Colin Morikawa – currently $34 with TopSport
Morikawa has been super-impressive since becoming an official PGA Tour member, and is yet to miss a cut in 22 starts! He hasn’t just been making cuts either, he’s been challenging for titles on a regular basis, winning the Barracuda Championship in July last year. He also finished runner-up to Matthew Wolf at the 3M Open a few weeks prior to this win, and had a fourth place at the John Deere Classic. Last time out at the Arnold Palmer Invitational he finished ninth. Those great finishes are no surprise given his ball-striking stats.
Morikawa ranks first in Strokes Gained: Approach this year. This attribute will be vitally important this week at Colonial as the targets are small. Accuracy and precision iron play are more important than power. Morikawa has been pretty awful on the greens, which makes his accomplishments all the more impressive this season. This week on a course that should suit his tee-to-green game, I can see the young American challenging for another title.
Justin Rose – currently $34 with TopSport
Rose has finally ditched Honma, the club sponsor he’s been with for the last year or so, after he couldn’t quite get his game to click using their equipment. This week he’ll be back using his Taylor Made equipment (at least for his woods). This switch can only be a good thing as it clearly wasn’t working for him with Honma. I fully expect the supreme ball-striking machine to play well this week on a course he won at in 2018. Rose has an advantage over his rivals because Colonial is a course he’s played multiple times, unlike many at the top of the market. With current form pretty much out the window due to the long layoff, 33/1 looks huge on this former world No.1 and course winner. I expected Rose to be around half this price.
Russell Knox – currently $101 with TopSport
Knox is one I think will benefit from no crowds as he tries to win his second PGA Tour title. Knox is a quiet, mild-mannered guy who gets on with the job. With no rowdy Americans to put added pressure on anyone in contention on Sunday, I think you could see Knox and others like him excel when in the thick of the action. I’m not saying this is definitely the case with Knox, but he strikes me as the kind of player who could benefit.
Knox was playing nicely from tee-to-green before the break, but his putting was atrocious. So hopefully he’s been brushing up on that over the last few months. His hasn’t finished worse than 24th from four starts at Colonial. His best finish came last year when he finished eighth. Knox is a quality player and his game suits Colonial. He looks a decent each-way bet at 100/1.
Corey Conners – currently $81 with TopSport
Conners is one of my favourite golfers. This week looks like the perfect opportunity to get this great ball-striker on side at a big price. Conners ranked eighth in Approach prior to the break. He’s proven on many occasions that he just needs the putter to behave and he’ll compete for titles. His one PGA Tour win came in Texas at the Open (we backed him!), so he clearly like the conditions.
His record at Colonial is solid, finishing 31st and 8th on his two starts here. The price looks overs considering how well he’s suited to the course. It appears the bookies have put far too much emphasis on his poor form prior to the break. Three months on, that’s now null-and-void. Conners is a class act who, like Knox, will probably benefit from the no-crowd situation. He looks another cracking each-way bet.