The world’s best golfers finally return to our screens on Thursday as the PGA Tour resumes play from Colonial Country Club in Texas.
It’s safe to say there hasn’t been a more anticipated non-major championship PGA Tour event in many years than this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge. Thursday presents golf with the best opportunity it has had to elevate its status and reputation in the American sports scene, with all eyes on Colonial Country Club.
Charles Schwab Challenge Preview
Thursday will mark 91 days since the opening round of The Players Championship, the final major golfing event before an immediate suspension of the schedule due to COVID-19. Sports fans and bettors around the world have been craving their regular dose of high-profile sporting action, or any sport for that matter, and the PGA Tour is ready to provide it on Thursday.
Thursday’s Charles Schwab has a sort of “Tiger is back” feel to it – lots of hype and talk around the event simply because of its lengthy absence. Unfortunately, Tiger won’t actually be making an appearance in Texas, but the world’s top 5 will be: Rory McIlroy, John Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson will all be there.
The Top 5 will be joined by the majority of the rest that make up the world’s top 30 golfers. The field is filled with unbelievable quality and it’s sure to make for some great viewing from Thursday through to Sunday.
Each of the past five winners are also in the field: Kevin Na, Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner, Jordan Spieth and Chris Kirk. All will be hoping to take their positive experiences of Colonial onto the tee on Thursday.
The Charles Schwab Challenge when played as an invitational is usually set around 120 players. Rules have changed this year due to extenuating circumstances and Colonial is welcoming around 150 players. While this increase in player numbers is great from a competitive and entertainment standpoint, it makes it all-the-more challenging when making predictions ahead of Thursday. This, tied in with a three-month competitive break for all players, makes this year’s Charles Schwab rather unpredictable.
Charles Schwab Challenge Predictions
Colonial Country Club is not the type of course suited to the big hitters of the game. The real winners at Colonial tend to be those will an elite approach game and performance on the greens. The course is shorter than your average PGA Tour location and poor drives on the day will be unlikely to impact too detrimentally on overall score. It’s all about the short game this week.
As a result, it’s safe to assume that any strong short game players will have a slight advantage going into Thursday. This is one thing to focus on ahead of a competition where players will be focused on getting used to being on the course again in that competitive environment.
While Rory McIlroy sits at tournament favorite (+750), it is his first outing here and the course doesn’t seem to really suit his style of play. The fact we haven’t seen him here before perhaps says everything you need to know.
Justin Spieth, another high-profile name and a previous Charles Schwab winner is searching for his first win since 2017 and as a result enters the event at +4600 alongside big hitters Marc Leishman and Tony Finau. We can’t really see any of these guys winning in Texas, but again, you just never know.
Charles Schwab Challenge Picks
Pick 1: Justin Thomas (+1650)
If you’re talking about an impressive wedge game, Justin Thomas sticks out as one of the best around. As mentioned previously, Colonial is the perfect place for golfers with good approach play and Thomas fits the bill.
Thomas has also won and finished second in the season opener in Hawaii in the past few years, which proves he has the ability shake off any cobwebs and shoot off the mark after the break.
At +1650 odds to win the Charles Schwab, Thomas is third-favorite behind McIlroy and Rahm. Those looking for an even safer bet can get him at a Top 10 price of +188.
Pick 2: Webb Simpson (+2200)
Another favorite for Thursday, Webb Simpson is currently +2200 to win. There’s a lot going for Webb here – he’s currently ninth-ranked golfer in the world and he loves the shorter venues due to his brilliant approach play and putting. His downfall is his driving ability, but at Colonial this weakness is less likely to impact too hard on his rounds.
Simpson’s last 50 rounds have him ranked inside the top 10 on approach, putting, Par 4s gained and proximity from 100-125 yards. All of these stats point towards a good week for him in Texas. Again, if you’re looking for a safer Webb Simpson wager, he is +250 to finish top 10.
Pick 3: Patrick Reed (+3000)
2018 Masters Champion Patrick Reed has tasted success at Colonial in the past. Reed is 3/3 here and is another player with an outstanding short game – arguably the best.
Reed finished second in the Sentry this season and won the same event back in 2015. This proves that a break in play doesn’t affect his game too much, and his short game strengths may be enough for him to pull through and reap the rewards. Odds of +3000 makes Reed eighth-favorite for the Charles Schwab, but his odds arguably should be lower than that. Reed to finish in the Top 5 is +600 and in the Top 10 is +300.
Pick 4: Harris English (+7000)
At considerably higher odds than our first 3 picks, Harris English was in terrific form around six months before the break and recorded a Top 10 finish at the Arnold Palmer back in March. If you’re looking for a golfer with Colonial experience, English is up there.
This year’s Charles Schwab Challenge will be English’s 7th visit to Colonial. He finished second to Spieth here in 2016 and finished 5th in 2012. More impressively, out of the last 50 rounds played by the whole field on all courses English ranks 3rd in Greens in Regulation Gained on the field. At Colonial specifically, he is 4th in the field in Strokes Gained Total. Similar to Webb Simpson, his average is brought down by his play off the tee but that is not as important around this course.
His price is a high one, and he is priced at +1400 for a Top 5 finish or +700 for a Top 10 finish.
Pick 5: Kevin Kisner (+9000)
The highest odds of our five picks, Kevin Kisner was in the Top 10 in each of his previous three visits to Colonial and has proven his ability around this course. Incredibly, Kisner owns a 66.25 final-round score average in four attempts, which proves just how dangerous he can be towards the end of the week. If you are wagering on him and he has a bad start, this might be worth noting.
We all know just how good Kevin Kisner can be on his day, but his history in Texas just strengthens the case for him this weekend. At +9000, many will see this as a steal. A Top 10 bet is currently +1600 and a Top 10 finish is +750.