Charles Schwab Challenge – Golfers to Target

Mark Diana
Golf Analyst

Following Phil Mickelson’s historic victory at the PGA Championship, the PGA Tour heads to Fort Worth, Texas for the Charles Schwab Challenge! Colonial Country CLub is a classical golf course and has been a staple on the PGA Tour for 75 years. The course is a Par 70 and measures close to 7,200 yards. There are only two Par 5s this week, which means Par 4 Scoring will be the pathway to success. Classical courses favor players who have experience on the course. Knowing the right places to miss, and general shot-making will be important.

This is not a course that can be overpowered. Finesse and execution are imperative and being able to create the right shot are traits to look for this week. The fairways are tough to hit, but many players in recent years have emphasized the importance of landing in the fairway. As with most Texas courses, the overall scoring conditions are dependent on the wind. The course is relatively exposed to the elements and strong winds can dry out the greens and cause the course to play firmer, and faster. I will be looking for strong approach players who have elite scoring upside.

Each week, I will highlight golfers from different price tiers to help you build your betting card! The four price tiers I will highlight this week will be the: the top-tier, mid-tier, sleepers, and longshots. Top-tier golfers will consist of golfers who are 30-1 or less. The mid-tier will consist of golfers who are longer than 30-1, but shorter than 60-1. Sleepers will consist of golfers who are longer than 60-1, but shorter than 100-1. Longshots will consist of golfers who are longer than 100-1.

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Top-Tier (Under 30-1)

Jordan Spieth 10-1

Jordan Spieth has resurfaced this season as the top-tier player that had been missing for two years. Spieth has already won in Texas this year, winning at the Valero Texas Open. Spieth has a rich history at Colonial where he has played eight times with six Top 10 Finishes, including one win and two runner-up finishes. In this field, Spieth ranks fifth in Birdies-or-Better Percentage, eighth in Par 4 Efficiency from 400-450 yards, and tenth in Approach. Spieth has the elite scoring ability to dominate these Par 4s and record another great finish at Colonial Country Club.

Abraham Ancer 20-1

Abraham Ancer fired a 65 on Sunday at the PGA Championship, the best round of the day. Ancer has been an elite tee-to-green player this season and he is a very consistent player. Ancer’s consistency is a result of his ability to get to the green and live in the fairways. This is a short number for a player who has never won on the PGA Tour, but the books have him priced here for a reason. Ancer is live to win this week and he fits this course very well.

Corey Conners 25-1

Corey Conners has been one of the best players this season, and one of the best ball-strikers on Tour. Conners frequently finds himself in the fairway which will be important this week. He’s made the cut all three times he has played at Colonial finishing inside the Top 10 once. Among all PGA Tour players, Conners ranks fourth in Approach, ninth Off-the-Tee, and tenth in Scoring Average. The 29-year-old Canadian is riding tremendous form where he has made nine straight cuts and has recorded four Top 10 Finishes during that span. This is the perfect course for Conners and I expect him to be in contention all week. 

Mid-Tier (Longer than 30-1, Shorter than 60-1)

Justin Rose 35-1

Justin Rose was someone who I was on last week at the PGA Championship and he delivered a Top 10 Finish on the heels of a great final round. Rose is a former winner at this event and has been trending well recently. I expect him to be popular this week, especially in DFS formats but Rose should be able to put together another good performance at a venue he loves. 

Charley Hoffman 42-1

Charley Hoffman has seen a resurgence in his game this year. Since February, Hoffman has played in ten events and has recorded eight Top 20 Finishes, including a Top 20 Finish last week at the PGA Championship. The high finishes have been a result of great ball-striking, where Hoffman is gaining over 1.3 strokes per round over his last 32 rounds. Hoffman is ranked fifth in Birdies-or-Better Gained among players in this field, while also ranking sixth in Approach. Hoffman has been stacking up high finishes and this is a course he has played twelve times. With how strong his current form is, I think Hoffman is worth a look this week.

Jason Kokrak 47-1

Jason Kokrak was a hot name earlier in the season, but has cooled off recently. Kokrak has been one of the best putters this year, ranking seventh among all PGA Tour players. Among this field, Kokrak is also ranked 12th in GIRs Gained, and 19th in Birdies-or-Better Gained. I like that Kokrak has the ceiling for a spike putting week and has the ability to get himself onto the greens. Kokrak has not missed a cut since last November, where he has either finished inside the Top 10 or outside of the Top 40. Kokrak has a high floor, as shown by his ability to make the cut, but he also has the volatility to have a spike week that can lead to a win. 

Brian Harman 50-1

Brian Harman has put together a fine season despite a missed cut at the PGA Championship last week. Prior to his missed cut, Harman had a string of five consecutive Top 20 Finishes. Harman does not do anything exceptionally well, but he’s super consistent, and he scores. Harman is 20th among all PGA Tour players in Scoring Average. Among this field, Harman ranks third in Short Game, seventh in Fairways Gained, and 21st in Strokes Gained on Par 4s. I love this setup for the former Georgia Bulldog and think he can win this type of event. 

Sleepers (Longer than 60-1, Shorter than 100-1)

Emiliano Grillo 75-1

Fairways and ball-striking. Grillo’s entire game is based on his ability to get himself into the fairway, and then onto the greens. He has been playing well recently and while he struggles with the flatstick he is so good on Approach that these odds look good for him. Over his last 18 rounds, Grillo is gaining 1.51 strokes per round on Approach. One of the courses I have seen compared to Colonial the most is Harbour Town, where Grillo finished runner-up to Stewart Cink a few weeks ago. Grillo does his best work on shorter, Par 70/Par 71 types of courses. 

Chris Kirk 80-1

I’m pretty surprised to see Kirk at odds this long. Kirk is a former winner who has never missed a cut here in his ten appearances. Kirk is eighth among this field in Strokes Gained on Par 4s, 21st in Approach, 22nd in GIRs Gained, and 22nd Short-Game. Kirk has the complete skill-set I am looking for this week and the recent missed cuts at tougher events don’t scare me too much. 

Matt Kuchar 85-1

Matt Kuchar has seen a recent resurgence in his game ever since the WGC Match Play. Kuchar is a short hitter, who is a great putter and lives in the fairway. Kuchar contends, and plays his best golf on shorter courses where short hitters are not at a disadvantage. In his last three non-Major events, Kuchar has three straight Top 20 Finishes. I would look to Kuchar as a value play in DFS, and possibly in the Top 40/Top 30 market.

Russell Knox 100-1

Russell Knox has been sneakily very good this season. Among this field, Knox is sixth in GIRs Gained, ninth in Opportunities Gained, and tenth in Fairways Gained. With fairways being relatively difficult to hit, I like Knox’s ability to avoid major mistakes. He has played well at Colonial in the past. In five total appearances at Colonial, Knox has four Top 25 Finishes. Knox is a good approach player, and he is someone I will be looking at this week in multiple betting markets. 

Long Shots (Longer than 100-1)

Rory Sabbatini 150-1

Rory Sabbatini is a player who randomly shows up on leaderboards at these shorter courses. Sabbatini is also a former winner here, although that win came back in 2007. Sabbatini is 18th in this field in Birdies-or-Better Gained. Sabbatini will be someone I look at in the Top 40 market but would not consider him too much for an outright bet.  

Kyle Stanley 180-1

Kyle Stanley is a really sneaky player this week. He has been good on Approach, and gets in the fairways. Stanley has three Top 30s in his last five events. Stanley ranks 10th in Proximity to the hole, and 25th among all PGA Tour players in GIR Percentage. Stanley is 14th among all PGA Tour players on Approaches from 150-175 yards which is a key range for this week. I love Stanley in the Top 40 market.

JT Poston 180-1

JT Poston has played Colonial four times in his career, recording a Top 10 finish last year. Poston is an elite putter, ranking fifth among all PGA Tour players. Poston tends to play his best golf on shorter, Par 70 type of courses and I think playing him in DFS or betting him in the Top 40 market is a possibility for me this week. 

Matthew NeSmith 180-1

I’ve mentioned the importance of Approach, GIRs, and Fairways. NeSmith does all of this. NeSmith has not had too many high finishes, and he struggled at some of the Florida events. He has scoring upside, as he has shot as low as -18 this season. NeSmith is first in GIRs Gained, fourth in Approach, and 16th in Fairways Gained among all PGA Tour players. NeSmith is someone I might sprinkle a few dollars on outright, and will almost certainly bet him in the Top 40 market.

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