Charles Schwab Challenge PGA Picks and Preview
CHARLES SCHWAB CHALLENGE PGA PICKS AND PREVIEW – After a dramatic victory, and seeming validation for the LIV Tour with a Brooks Koepka victory, the PGA Tour packs it’s bags and heads to Panther City. Colonial Country Club is the familiar host for this tournament in Fort Worth, Texas.
This is the 78th consecutive time we’ve seen Colonial host this tournament, having done so every year since 1946. It’s long been known as a ball striker’s venue, due in no small part to the historic dominance of one of the game’s legendary ball strikers, Ben Hogan. This is also the last year we’ll see this course before it is redesigned by a team of architects led by Gil Hanse.
At 7,200 yards and par 70, nobody is going to look at this track and think it’s a bombers’ course. Tight, tree-lined fairways, thick rough, and small greens will test every facet of a player’s game from tee to green. Once a player is on the green, they’ll be tasked with navigating slick bentgrass greens. Water doesn’t play a huge factor on this course, only coming into play on about four holes.
Traditionally, this has been a course in which older, more experienced players win. No debutante has won here in over two decades, and it typically takes a few tries before a player is able to get around this course well enough to win. It tends to favor good iron players and strong short games. Distance tends to take a backseat as players tend to opt for position off the tee by laying up strategically, rather than engaging in a bomb-and-gouge type of strategy.
Our picks pretty much reflect the historical trends of this course, while also paying attention to past results at courses that are good comparisons. If you want to do your own research, the start by looking at guys who have played well at Waialae, Harbour Town, and TPC River Highlands. Even though players have been trying to be more aggressive on this course, those still seem to be the most predictive places to look at in terms of results at Colonial.
As always, the picks are formatted the same as our “What’s in the Bag?” segment of our podcast, Clubhouse Picks.
Clubhouse Picks | 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge | Brooks Koepka wins the PGA | Michael Block | https://t.co/A2TO4x175T
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Odds courtesy of DraftKings, May 24, 2023
The Driver (Scottie, Hovland)
These are the guys who are at the top of the leaderboard, usually at +2000 or better. They are the favorites for a reason, and though we don’t always bet them, these are our favorite bets from the top of the board.
Viktor Hovland (+1400)
There’s basically nothing left to say about Scottie’s greatness at this point, and his odds are terrible at +400. So we’ll check in on another of the premier ball strikers on Tour, Viktor Hovland. Our man Hovland gained strokes in all four major strokes gained categories, en route to a runner-up finish at the PGA Championship.
The ball striking numbers are typically elite, especially with the irons, so he’s a natural fit for Colonial. His short game numbers have been better lately, as he’s been only slightly below or above average for the last couple of months. Those may not seem like good numbers, but consider that last year he finished tied for 14th in the FedEx Cup points race while trotting out to the course with the worst short game of anyone qualified in strokes gained data. In short, all he needs to be is not terrible in order to compete out there.
There’s always a concern about some fatigue after a grueling test, but he’s young and playing extremely confidently. We can justify him at these odds. Scottie’s heater can’t last forever, right?
The Irons (Fleetwood, Rose)
Our reliable players. You can usually find these heroes in the 20/1-80/1 range. They’re reliable and often a good bet for top-5, top-10, or top-20 props if you’re not feeling especially frisky.
Tommy Fleetwood (+2800)
A common theme we’ve been harping on and recognizing this season is guys who are due for a win on Tour. It’s happened already with Wyndham Clark, and it feels like there’s more to come with Fowler and Fleetwood playing high-level golf. Fleetwood has been prolific internationally with six wins on the DP World Tour in his career, but it hasn’t translated into wins on American soil.
He’s simply too accomplished not to do well here and there were encouraging signs last week when he picked up strokes in all four categories while netting a top-20 finish at the PGA. That marks his third consecutive top-20 this season with a top-5 sprinkled in at the Wells Fargo. He’s been here before, which is always a concern, placing T35 last season.
If there’s one club that tends to hold Fleetwood back these days, it’s the driver where he rates as merely average in both distance and accuracy. Colonial should play to his strengths as it tends to test iron play rather than strength off the tee.
He feels like the forgotten man because the very top of the leaderboard is filled with the games elite coming off high-profile results at the PGA. He has the game to win here and this feels like a good spot for him. Viktor and Scottie could be coming off some major fatigue as they were in contention right up until the very last holes. Fleetwood had a nice tournament, but may not feeling the mental wear-and-tear as much since he was never really in it.
The Wedges (Cam Davis, Christiaan Bezuidenhout)
We bet on these guys all the time and they never seem to actually win. Nevertheless, we’re enamored with what they bring to the table and will ride with them for as long as it takes.
Cam Davis (+3500)
I’m a pretty unapologetic Cam Davis fan. So much so that I’m basically going against my entire betting logos for this tournament.
From a statistical profile, he looks like a guy to target on a driver-heavy course. He’s elite off the tee which tends to make up for the rest of his game which is slightly above average (approach and around the green) or just average (putting).
He’s coming off a career best major finish after finishing T4 at Oak Hill, so clearly he’s in good form. The other weird thing about him, is he has posted some really strong results at course that — on the surface — don’t look like good fits. He has top-10s at TPC Sawgrass and Harbour Town, both of which tend to favor precision over power. He also finished in the top-10 last year here.
I can’t really explain why he tends to well at these courses, but all of those results aren’t a fluke. I’ll ride with him here.
The Putter (Christiaan Bezuidenhout, Rickie Fowler)
Bet regret. We fired off these bets in the heat of the moment, then we pondered them a little while longer. Now we’re wondering if that money would’ve been better spent on literally anything else.
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+5500)
I’m not really sure this is bet regret, but I have some doubts about whether or not he’s in a spot to win this. I bet him earlier in the week at +7000, but his odds are plummeting, as he’s often a darling of golf bettors on short courses.
He’s way too short of a hitter to be a real threat at a lot of the courses on Tour, but he manages to hang around because he plays so well with his irons, and, particularly, his putting and chipping.
He’s had pretty good form this year and has notched three top-25 finishes since March. He’s also experienced on this track with a top-15 here last season.
Ultimately, you might be better served targeting some top-10 or top-20 props on our man this week, but I’m a sucker and bet him outright because I am deeply sick. If he’s ever going to win, it’ll be on a course like Colonial where his lack of distance won’t hurt him.
The Hybrid (Harris English, Aaron Rai)
This is our fun long shot that could make us all rich. Or not. It’s tough to hit these, but it’s a damn good time sweating them if they’re in contention. Tread lightly on these guys, but sometimes miracles happen.
Aaron Rai (+13000)
It’s not a short course preview without featuring our short course Rai-or-die player (sorry). What he lacks in distance, he makes up for with staggering accuracy with both his driver and his irons. Like Bez, there are simply courses where he can’t really compete unless absolutely everything breaks his way, but this isn’t one of those places.
Now, the form hasn’t been great lately, and he’s coming into this week off three consecutive missed cuts. That said, he’s 8th in driving accuracy and 20th in GIR this season.
We’re getting long odds because he’s pretty much sucked lately, but he made the cut at Harbour Town and TPC Sawgrass this year, even posting a top-20 at the Players. A lot of those missed cuts were at courses in which he just doesn’t have enough firepower off the tee to compete in. Colonial should be an excellent fit for him, so why not take a flier at triple-digit odds.