Best bets for PGA's Charles Schwab Challenge

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Phil Mickelson, who was priced as high as 250-1, won his sixth career major Sunday at the PGA Championship. He also became the oldest player to win a major on the longest golf course in major championship history. Mickelson led the best field of the year for Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green and was fifth for SG: Approach. This week, "Phil the Thrill" is priced at 50-1 at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Jordan Spieth (10-1) never factored into the mix at the PGA and finished tied for 30th, but is the tournament favorite this week. He won the Colonial in 2016 and finished second in 2015 and 2017. Spieth’s good friend Justin Thomas (12-1) tied for 10th in his first appearance here last year but was one of three of the top four players in the world, along with Dustin Johnson and Xander Schauffele, who missed the cut at Kiawah Island last weekend. Last year's Colonial champion, Daniel Berger (18-1), also missed the cut last weekend. Collin Morikawa (14-1), the man Berger defeated in the playoff last year, is back for redemption after missing a short putt on the first playoff hole and did backdoor his way into a top-10 finish last week. 
Also finishing in last week's top 10 were Abraham Ancer (20-1), Tony Finau (22-1), Will Zalatoris (25-1), Scottie Scheffler (25-1) and Justin Rose (33-1). Patrick Reed (22-1), Corey Conners (25-1) and Sungjae Im (30-1) all finished in the top 20 in the PGA. 
 
 
THE EVENT
The Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club was initially established in 1946 and is the longest-running non-major event to be held at the same site on the PGA Tour. Much like the Memorial Tournament is for Jack Nicklaus and Bay Hill is for Arnold Palmer, the tournament at Colonial is associated with the late Ben Hogan, who was a resident of Fort Worth and won the event five times (1946, 1947, 1952, 1953, 1959). Annika Sörenstam played in the 2003 tournament, becoming the first woman to play in a PGA Tour event in 58 years, since Babe Zaharias made three cuts as an amateur in 1945. Sörenstam's participation drew high media attention, but she shot 71 and 74 and missed the cut by four strokes. Due to its invitational status, the Charles Schwab Challenge field is just 121 players. Last year's field was at 148 because it was the first event to return after the COVID-19 shutdown and to make up for several canceled events in March, April and May of 2020. 
The criteria for entry into the Charles Schwab Challenge field:
Colonial winners before 2000 and in the last five years
Colonial Winners in the top 150 of the prior year FedEx Cup points list
The Players Championship and major championship winners in the last five years
The Tour Championship and World Golf Championships winners in the past three years
Arnold Palmer Invitational and Memorial winners in the past three years
PGA Tour tournament winners since the last Colonial tournament
Playing members on the last-named U.S. Ryder Cup team
Current PGA Tour members who were playing members on the last-named European Ryder Cup team, U.S. Presidents Cup team and International Presidents Cup team
Two players to be selected by the current and former champions of the Colonial tournament (Champions choices)
Top 15 finishers and ties from the previous year's Colonial tournament
12 sponsors exemptions — two from among graduates of Web.com Tour finals, six members not otherwise exempt and four unrestricted
Top 50 Official World Golf Ranking through the Masters
Top 80 from the prior year's FedEx Cup points list
Members in the top 125 non-member category whose non-WGC points for the previous season equal or exceed the points earned by the player finishing in 80th position on the prior year FedEx Cup points list
Top 80 from the current year's FedEx Cup points list through the tournament two weeks prior
If necessary to complete a field of 120 players, any remaining positions are filled from the current year's FedEx Cup points list
THE COURSE
Colonial Country Club was designed in 1936 by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell. It is in Fort Worth, Texas, just five minutes northwest of Texas Christian University. Colonial is a classical par-70, 7,209 yards. The fairways and rough (three inches) are Bermudagrass and smallish greens (5,000 square-foot average) are Bentgrass. Average fairway width is around 27 yards, which is lower than tour average. Power and distance are not necessarily much of an advantage here. Four water hazards are in play on six holes along with 84 bunkers. Twelve of the 18 holes are doglegs. History shows that the best way to win here is to hit the fairways, be precise with the irons and putt the lights out as this is seen as a "ball striker’s course."
Last year, because there were no spectators, Colonial did not have any grandstands on the course, so longer hitters were able to cut some of the doglegs on a more wide-open layout. 
Colonial opens with a par-5 and a short par-4 that are the two easiest holes on the course. Then the "Horrible Horseshoe" begins with holes 3-5, three of the toughest holes on the layout. 
The two par-5s are the first and the 11th with the 11th measuring over 600 yards, often playing as a three-shot hole to reach the green.
RECENT HISTORY/WINNERS
2020: Daniel Berger (-15/265), 70-1*
2019: Kevin Na (-13/267), 70-1
2018: Justin Rose (-20/260), 20-1
2017: Kevin Kisner (-10/270), 33-1
2016: Jordan Spieth (-17/263), 7-1
2015: Chris Kirk (-12/268), 35-1
2014: Adam Scott (-9/271), 18-1**
2013: Boo Weekley (-14/266), 100-1
2012: Zach Johnson (-12/268), 16-1
2011: David Toms (-15/265), 33-1
2010: Zach Johnson (-21/259), 50-1***
* playoff win over Collin Morikawa
** playoff win over Jason Dufner
*** tournament scoring record
TOURNAMENT TRENDS
Age is more than just a number
Other than Daniel Berger in 2020 and Jordan Spieth in 2016, 16 of the last 18 winners at Colonial have been 30 or older. 
Experience matters
Of the last 11 winners, only Berger last year and then-world No. 1 Adam Scott (2014) had fewer than three career starts at Colonial.
STATISTICAL ANGLES
The last three winners at Colonial have rated fifth (Berger, 2020), 1st (Na, 2019) and first (Rose, 2018) for Strokes Gained: Approach during their winning weeks.
Strokes Gained: Approach
1. Collin Morikawa 44
2. Will Zalatoris 31.7
3. Charley Hoffman 31.4
4. Corey Conners 27.5
5. Justin Thomas 27.5
6. Jordan Spieth 24.9
7. Emiliano Grillo 23.3
8. Talor Gooch 19.1
9. Doug Ghim 19
10. Patton Kizzire 18
11. Tony Finau 18
12. Daniel Berger 18
Note: Last 24 rounds
 
None of the last 11 winners here have rated higher than 14th in the field for Driving Distance, but six of the last 11 have rated in the top 10 for Fairways hit. Distance is never necessarily a disadvantage, but a combination of distance and accuracy is what usually gets it done here.
Total Driving
1. Scottie Scheffler 64
2. Sungjae Im 103
3. Jason Kokrak 113
4. James Hahn 114
5. Collin Morikawa 122
6. Corey Conners 123
7. Sergio Garcia 125
8. Hudson Swafford 127
9. Joaquin Niemann 128
10. Daniel Berger 131
11. Matthew NeSmith 137
12. Emiliano Grillo 137
Note: 2020-21 PGA Tour season rankings of Driving Distance Rank + Driving Accuracy Rank
 
Seven of 12 par-4s at Colonial Country Club measure between 400 and 450 yards.
Par-4s: 400-450 Yards Strokes Gained
1. Chris Kirk 18.7
2. Emiliano Grillo 17.7
3. Harold Varner III 13.1
4. Abraham Ancer 13
5. Jordan Spieth 12.5
6. Vincent Whaley 12
7. Will Zalatoris 11
8. Corey Conners 11
9. Patrick Reed 10.8
10. Branden Grace 10.8
11. Kevin Na 10.8
12. Charley Hoffman 10.5
Note: Last 24 rounds
 
The last four winners here have rated fourth (Berger, 2020), first (Na, 2019), first (Rose, 2018), second (Kisner, 2017) in the field for Greens In Regulation during their respective winning weeks.
Greens In Regulation Gained
1. Corey Conners 44.4
2. Collin Morikawa 43
3. Will Zalatoris 34.6
4. Abraham Ancer 34.4
5. Emiliano Grillo 33.4
6. Doug Ghim 29.5
7. Jordan Spieth 27.4
8. Matthew NeSmith 25.9
9. Daniel Berger 25.1
10. Joaquin Niemann 25
11. Charley Hoffman 24.5
12. Cameron Percy 24.4
Note: Last 24 rounds
 
SELECTIONS
Collin Morikawa 15-1
No one's irons game has been better of late than Morikawa's has been. He has gained 44 strokes on approach over the last 24 rounds. That mark is more than 12 shots better than anyone else in this field.
A 4-under 67 on Sunday got him a T-8th last week at the PGA. Morikawa was eighth in last week's field for SG: Approach, third for SG: Off-The-Tee and fifth for SG: Tee-To-Green. 
Morikawa also returns to Colonial with redemption on his mind as he missed a six-foot birdie putt for the win in regulation here last year and then went on to lip out a 3-footer for par in the playoff against Daniel Berger. 
Corey Conners 25-1
The Canadian checks every statistical box this week and has been playing terrific golf of late with four top-10 finishes and a solid finish of T-17th at the PGA last weekend where he was the first-round leader. 
Gary Woodland 55-1
Woodland was on the first page of the leaderboard Sunday before tumbling to T-38th. He was 4 under and just a couple off the lead before a double bogey on the par-5 seventh sent his round sideways as he eventually carded another uncharacteristic double on the par-5 11th.
Nevertheless, he played better than his finish and returns to Colonial where he was ninth in his debut last year. Woodland also finished with a sixth last month in Texas at the Valero. 
Jason Kokrak 55-1
Kokrak had an awful final round on Sunday that plummeted him to T-49th at the PGA. 
He returns to Colonial, where he finished third last year. 
Emiliano Grillo 60-1
Grillo has fared well here before with a third back in 2018. He was T-2nd just a few weeks ago at the RBC Heritage. 
A T-38th last week at the PGA saw him rank ninth in the field for SG: Approach. 
Chris Kirk 60-1
The 2015 winner here at Colonial has four top-10 finishes this year and has been playing his best golf in five years this season. 
Brandt Snedeker 68-1
Snedeker seemed to find something at the Valero several weeks ago, and that started a run of two top-10s and four top-20s over the course of his last five events. 
He also has a runner-up finish here in 2015. 
Peter Uihlein 130-1
Uihlein has two top-15 finishes in his last two appearances at Colonial. 
He also won six weeks ago on the Korn Ferry Tour in Las Vegas and has a runner-up and a seventh in the last three months. 
 
Made In Himmerland
After a three-week trek around the Canary Islands and last week's PGA Championship, the European Tour heads north to Denmark for the newly titled Made In Himmerland event. Nine players are heading straight back from Kiawah Island to play this week — Aaron Rai, Andy Sullivan, Bernd Wiesberger, Brandon Stone, Jason Scrivener, Kurt Kitayama, Rasmus Højgaard, Robert MacIntyre and Thomas Detry – with Scrivener faring best of the bunch last week with a tie for 23rd. MacIntyre (49th) and Højgaard (79th) were the only others to make the weekend in South Carolina.
MacIntyre (12-1) is the highest ranked OWGR (46th) in this week's field and finished runner-up here two years ago to Wiesberger (18-1). Another Austrian, Matthias Schwab (25-1), follows Wiesberger in the market. Danes Rasmus Højgaard (22-1) and Thorbjørn Olesen (28-1) will attempt to garner wins in their home country, which is always a difficult task. Sullivan (25-1) returns to Europe off missing the cut by one stroke at the PGA Championship. 
THE EVENT
The Made in Himmerland presented by FREJA, a Danish logistics and transport company, is newly named this year after it was known as the Made in Denmark since its inaugural event in 2014. The tournament has been played at Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort each year except for 2018. The event returns after a year hiatus as the 2020 event was cancelled due to COVID-19. 
THE COURSE
The Made In Himmerland is played at the Himmerland Golf & Spa Resort in Farsø, Denmark. Himmerland can stretch out to 7,400 yards from the back tees but typically plays as a par-71 layout of just 6,751 yards. It is an exposed, inland track with water in play on five of the holes and linksy in style. Wind is the main defense on this track, but early forecasts indicate a moderate breeze of 10-15 mph, so low scoring should be the order of the day. The fairways are relatively wide, but missing them will punish players with some thick rough. 
Five of the par-4s measure at under 400 yards and there’s also a very short 128-yard par-3. The par-5 11th measures well over 600 yards, making it a three-shot hole for most of the field. Aside from the driveable par-4 14th, which at 262 yards ranked the easiest hole on the course two years ago, the two par-5s on the front nine — the fifth and eighth holes — offer the best scoring opportunities, with 22 eagles and more than 300 birdies made on just those holes last time this event was held in 2019.
The greens will typically run between 10 and 11 on the stimpmeter and are smaller Bentgrass greens that have been tailor-made for the better putters on the European Tour.
 
RECENT HISTORY/WINNERS
2019: Bernd Wiesberger -14/270, 70-1
2018: Matt Wallace -19/269, 40-1*
2017: Julian Suri -19/265, 60-1
2016: Thomas Pieters -17/267, 12-1
2015: David Horsey -13/271, 80-1
2014: Marc Warren -9/275, 30-1
Note: 2018 event played at Silkeborg
* playoff win over Steven Brown, Jonathan Thomson and Lee Westwood
 
SELECTIONS
Thorbjørn Olesen 28-1
Olesen has a bit of a spotty record on this course with three missed cuts sandwiched between two seventh-place finishes. 
However, he seemed to find a bit of form in the Canary Islands with a fifth and a 12th. 
Ryan Fox 40-1
Fox's last appearance on the European Tour in January was a T-6th at the Saudi International.
Most recently he has been playing at home in New Zealand on the Jennian Homes Charles Tour to stay close to his newborn child. Nevertheless, he earned back-to-back wins in April in Gulf Harbour and Muriwai, New Zealand. Granted, it was against lesser competition, but there is something to be said for coming in with confidence and in a winning frame of mind.
Guido Migliozzi 42-1
The Italian has two runner-up finishes this season at the Qatar and British Masters, respectively. 
Min Woo Lee 66-1
Having grown up in Perth, Australia, Lee has plenty of experience on coastal courses that are exposed to breezy conditions. 
While he has not played a lot of golf lately, he has finished in the top 30 in his last two starts against better fields than this one at the WGC-Workday and the British Masters. 
Nicolai Højgaard 70-1
While brother Rasmus makes the trip over from playing in the PGA last week, Nicolai has been playing the better golf of late. He has two top-10s in his last four starts and finished sixth here last time the event was held in 2019. 
Niklas Lemke 100-1
One of the biggest hitters on the European Tour (seventh in Distance), Lemke's tee-to-green game has been solid this year and rates fifth on tour for SG: Around The Green. 
 
Senior PGA Championship
On Sunday, Phil Mickelson became the oldest major championship winner in history at the age of 50 years, 11 months and 7 days. Fortunately for this field, Mickelson is electing to play at the Charles Schwab Challenge on the PGA Tour in lieu of playing this week's PGA Tour Champions major. 
Steve Stricker won two of the five PGA Tour Champions majors in 2019 and finished runner-up in this year's first major at the Regions Tradition. Stricker (7-2) is off a made cut at the PGA Championship and is playing excellent golf despite already having his plate full as the 2021 U.S. Ryder Cup team captain. Alex Čejka (16-1) defeated Stricker at the Regions Tradition three weeks ago to win a PGA Tour Champions major in just his third start on the 50-and-over circuit. 
Jim Furyk (17-2) won his first two starts on the tour in 2020 but is still seeking his first major championship victory. Bernhard Langer (12-1) has won at least one event every year he has been on the "senior tour" and is still playing competitive golf at 63 with three top-6 or better finishes already in 2021. Jerry Kelly (12-1) won his first major last summer at the Senior Players Championship and comes in with three straight top-10s. Ernie Els (18-1) is still seeking his first PGA Tour Champions major while fellow South African Retief Goosen (16-1) returns to Southern Hills Country Club almost 20 years to the day since he won the 2001 U.S. Open. Robert Karlsson (16-1) finished third three weeks ago at the Regions Tradition and continues to knock at the door for his first PGA Tour Champions victory.
THE EVENT
The Senior PGA Championship's history dates to 1937 as the PGA Seniors Championship. The event is co-sanctioned by the PGA Tour Champions and the European Seniors Tour and is one of five majors for the over-50 circuit.
The eligibility criteria for the Senior PGA Championship:
Any past winner of the Senior PGA Championship
Any past winner of a regular major championship
Any past member of the United States Ryder Cup team
The top 15 finishers in the previous year's Senior PGA Championship
The top 50 on the PGA Tour Champions money list (previous year and current year)
Any winner of a PGA Tour Champions event since the last Senior PGA Championship
The top 35 finishers from the Callaway Golf Senior PGA Professional National Championship
Any winner of the previous five U.S. Senior Opens
The winner of the last Senior Open Championship
The top eight players from the previous year's European Senior Tour Order of Merit
The top four players from the previous year's Japanese Seniors Tour Order of Merit
A one-time exemption for those who have just turned 50 and have won a PGA Tour, Japan Golf Tour or European Tour event in the last five years
The top 30 on the career money list, both PGA Tour Champions and combined PGA Tour Champions and PGA Tour
A one-time exemption for former PGA Professional National Champions turning 50
THE COURSE
Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Okla., is scheduled to host the 2022 PGA Championship next year, but first will be the venue for this year's Senior PGA Championship. The track was designed in 1936 by Perry Maxwell and given a complete makeover and renovation by Gil Hanse in 2019. Southern Hills has hosted seven major championships for men, including the U.S. Open three times (1958, 1977, 2001) and four PGA Championships (1970, 1982, 1994, 2007). It is the only course to host the PGA Championship four times. The layout will play as a par-70 of 6,902 yards this week. Water is in play on 15 of 18 holes and there are 88 bunkers. The course has Bermuda fairways, a Bermuda/fescue mix rough and Bentgrass greens that average 5,277 square fee and will roll at 11.5 on the stimpmeter. 
SELECTIONS
Jim Furyk 17-2
Furyk has been splitting time on the PGA Tour and PGA Tour Champions so far in 2021 and has yet to get in a rhythm. He has all top-20-or-better finishes in his four "senior" circuit events. Perhaps seeing his contemporary Mickelson win the PGA last week may spur him on. 
Robert Karlsson 16-1
Karlsson has three top-10s in his last four starts. He also leads PGA Tour Champions for Scrambling and ranks third in Putting. 
Ernie Els 18-1
"The Big Easy" ranks second on tour for Driving Distance, second for Greens In Regulation and eighth in Putting Average. 
Tim Petrovic 35-1
Petrovic comes in with four finishes of seventh or better in his last six starts. He also ranks as the No. 1 putter on the PGA Champions.
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