Golf matchups: Form at Southern Hills may carry over to Colonial

May 24, 2022 08:00 PM
USATSI_18329590

What a finish in the PGA Championship at Southern Hills. Holy cow. 

VSiN colleague Wes Reynolds hit Justin Thomas outright, and Matt Youmans and I both had futures on Will Zalatoris. Tremendous drama, and I thought the golf course was fantastic. It gave players opportunities for birdies and eagles, but at the same time it was an incredibly demanding test in which double bogey or worse was always a possibility.

This week, we head back to Texas — not far from where we were two weeks ago for the Byron Nelson — to Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth for the Charles Schwab Challenge. I used Colonial last week as a correlated course to Southern Hills, due in large part to the fact that both courses were designed by Perry Maxwell. Some players last week called Southern Hills “Colonial on steroids.”

Thus, I have employed many of the same skill sets in my areas of emphasis this week. Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Around the Greens, Greens in Regulation Proximity from 125-175 Yards and Par 4 Performance are some of my main areas of focus. Like last week, Colonial is a Par 70, with 12 Par 4s, four Par 3s and two Par 5s.

I was on Zalatoris last week at 34-1 and Chris Kirk at 350-1. They finished second and fifth, and I’m going back to the well with both of them for outright plays and head-to-head matchups.

Here are the full tournament head-to-head matchups that I considered and those that I played for the Charles Schwab Challenge:

Considered (20-22-1 YTD)

— Will Zalatoris (+ 110) over Collin Morikawa

— Billy Horschel (-105) over Talor Gooch

Played (18-19 YTD)

— Tommy Fleetwood (+ 115) over Webb Simpson. I was on Fleetwood outright and Top 20 in the PGA and he delivered nicely with a fifth-place finish. That’s now five top-20 finishes, including two top 10s, in Fleetwood's last eight stroke-play starts. Simpson finished 20th at Southern Hills, his first top 20 in a full-field event in the last six months. My stats show a pretty substantial advantage for Fleetwood, and I'm surprised to see him at this price.

— Chris Kirk (-110) over Brian Harman. Both Georgia Bulldogs have been putting together solid seasons and both players make sense at Colonial, but Kirk has a win here in 2015 to go along with five additional top-16 finishes. As noted, Kirk finished fifth last week while Harman was 34th. The pick’em price is not shocking, but my numbers give Kirk enough of an advantage to make him a play.

— Kevin Na (-140) over Patrick Reed. Reed has been playing a little bit better recently but still has four missed cuts in his last nine starts. He was 34th last week to Na’s 23rd. Na won here two years ago and has four additional top 10s at Colonial. The stats aren't even close, mainly because Colonial isn’t a good fit for Reed. Na also won at Waialae, a correlated course to Colonial, in 2021 and has three additional top 10s there. I think Na contends this week, whereas Reed is a candidate for another missed cut.

— Will Zalatoris (+ 135) over Viktor Hovland. Some may have concerns backing Zalatoris this week after a playoff loss in the PGA, but I think he can ride the momentum. I got the feeling he was motivated by his performance at Southern Hills. Plus, we return to a comfortable place for Zalatoris, who lives in Dallas. Hovland, a former Oklahoma State Cowboy, was under the spotlight last week in front of a home crowd and hasn't been his usual self in more than two months. Meanwhile, Zalatoris has finished 5-6-4-2 in four of his last five starts. I think the price is way out of whack here and I'll bank on Willy Z remaining hot.

Check out “LongShots” this week for all of the plays from myself, Wes Reynolds, Matt Youmans and our special guest, Paul Stone, of Paul Stone Sports at VSiN.com/podcasts.

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