PGA Tour best bets: Charles Schwab Challenge

May 25, 2022 07:36 AM

After a 4-over 74 on Saturday, Justin Thomas, who was already at a deficit from being on the wrong side of the weather draw, trailed by seven strokes heading into the final round of the PGA Championship. Data Golf gave him a 1.2 percent chance of winning the Wanamaker Trophy. As the leaders faltered, though, Thomas rallied and found himself in a playoff with Will Zalatoris, which he eventually won. Thomas tied John Mahaffey (1978) for the largest comeback in PGA Championship history. He also cashed a 17-1 winner for this column. 

Thomas gets no rest this week as he is back at it as the 12-1 co-favorite in the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. Joining him at the top of the odds board is World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, who missed the cut last week. Thomas and Scheffler head a strong field this week, with six of the OWGR Top 10 participating. Jordan Spieth (14-1) described last week's PGA Championship venue, Southern Hills, as “Colonial on steroids.” Spieth, who finished 34th at the PGA, is the 2016 champion of this event and a three-time runner-up, including last year to Jason Kokrak. Kokrak was tipped in this column last year at 55-1 and returns to Colonial priced at 40-1. 

Collin Morikawa (18-1), 55th last week, lost in a playoff here two years ago to Daniel Berger (35-1), who has been battling injuries and missed the cut last week. Viktor Hovland, 41st last week, is priced at 20-1 along with Zalatoris, who became the first player since Ernie Els with five top-10 finishes in his first eight major starts. 

Max Homa (28-1), who won three weeks ago at the Wells Fargo, finished 13th last week. Sam Burns (30-1), who won earlier this year at the Valspar Championship, finished 20th last week. Abraham Ancer (35-1) and Tommy Fleetwood (40-1) are both coming off top-10 finishes in the PGA, finishing ninth and fifth. Mito Pereira (50-1), who lost a one-stroke lead with a double bogey on the 72nd hole at Southern Hills, is attempting to put last week's disastrous finish behind him. 

The Event

The Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club was established in 1946 and is the longest non-major event to be held at the same site on the PGA Tour. Much like the Memorial is for Jack Nicklaus and Bay Hill is for Arnold Palmer, this tournament is associated with the late Ben Hogan, who was a resident of Fort Worth and won this event five times (1946, 1947, 1952, 1953, 1959). 

Due to its invitational status, the Charles Schwab has a field of just 120, with 65 players and ties making the cut. 

In 2020, the tournament was held June 11–14 as the first PGA Tour event since the interruption of the schedule in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the interest of maximum health and safety, the event had no spectators, a PGA Tour first.

Many of golf’s legends have won here, including Hogan, Sam Snead (1950), Cary Middlecoff (1951), Roberto De Vicenzo (1957), Tommy Bolt (1958), Julius Boros (1960, 1963), Arnold Palmer (1962), Billy Casper (1964, 1968), Gene Littler (1971), Lee Trevino (1976, 1978), Ben Crenshaw (1977, 1990), Fuzzy Zoeller (1981), Jack Nicklaus (1982), Lanny Wadkins (1988), Nick Price (1994, 2002), Tom Watson (1998) and Phil Mickelson (2000). 

The Course

Colonial Country Club was designed in 1936 by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell with a Keith Foster redesign in 2008. Nicknamed “Hogan's Alley,” Colonial is a classical tree-lined parklands design that plays as a Par 70 at 7,209 yards. The fairways and rough (3 inches) are Bermudagrass and the greens (5,000 square-foot average, seventh smallest on the PGA Tour) are Bentgrass. The greens will roll around 12 on the stimpmeter, which is about an average speed. 

Average fairway width is around 27.6 yards, which is the fourth narrowest on tour. Power and distance are not much of an advantage. Colonial is much tighter off the tee than what we see at other Maxwell designs such as Augusta National and Southern Hills. Gil Hanse will begin a restoration of the course next year, with the goal of highlighting Maxwell’s original design. 

Four water hazards are in play on six holes, and the course has 84 bunkers. Twelve of the 18 holes are doglegs. History shows the best way to win at Colonial is to hit fairways, be precise with irons and be able to shape shots in multiple directions, plus putt the lights out, as this is considered a ball-striker’s course. 

Colonial opens with the two easiest holes on the course, a Par 5 and a short Par 4, followed by the three toughest holes, known as the “Horrible Horseshoe.” Since 2003, Nos. 3-5 have been the second-toughest three-hole stretch on tour, with players averaging a combined 0.48 shots over par.

Correlated courses to Colonial include Harbour Town, Sedgefield, Pebble Beach, Southern Hills, TPC Sawgrass and Waialae. 

Recent History/Winners

2021: Jason Kokrak (-14/266); 50-1

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**


— 17 of the last 19 winners at Colonial have been over the age of 30 (Berger in 2020 and Jordan Spieth in 2016 are the outliers) 

— 10 of the last 12 winners had at least three career starts at Colonial (Berger and Scott in 2014 are the outliers) 

​Statistical Angles

Strokes Gained: Approach (Last 36 Rounds) 

The last four winners have ranked eighth or better during their winning weeks (2021, Kokrak, eighth; 2020, Berger, fifth; 2019, Na, first; 2018, Rose, first).

1. Viktor Hovland, 37

2. Will Zalatoris, 35.1

3. Justin Thomas, 31.4

4. Daniel Berger, 28.3

5. Luke Donald, 26.9

6. Tom Hoge, 26.5

7. Scottie Scheffler, 25.8

8. Jordan Spieth, 25.2

9. Mito Pereira, 24.7

10. Sebastian Munoz, 21.9

11. Austin Smotherman, 21.3

12. Kevin Na, 21.2

13. Max Homa, 21.1

14. Harold Varner III, 20.9

15. Cameron Tringale, 19.6

Strokes Gained: Approach (Last 24 Rounds)

1. Will Zalatoris, 28.8

2. Viktor Hovland, 25.9

3. Max Homa, 23.8

4. Jordan Spieth, 23.1

5. Justin Thomas, 19.6

6. Collin Morikawa, 19.2

7. Luke Donald, 19.1

8. Scottie Scheffler, 19.1

9. Kevin Na, 18.5

10. Gary Woodland, 16.6

11. Cameron Tringale, 16.6

12. Mito Pereira, 15.9

13. Tom Hoge, 15.7

14. Chris Kirk, 15.4

15. C.T. Pan, 15.1

Strokes Gained: Par 4s 350-400 Yards (Last 36 Rounds)

Five of the 12 Par 4s at Colonial measure between 350 and a little more than 400 yards.

1. Chris Kirk, 12.8

2. Will Zalatoris, 12

3. Justin Rose, 12

4. Harold Varner III, 11.4

5. Kevin Na, 9.5

6. Pat Perez, 9.4

7. Ian Poulter, 8.4

8. Scottie Scheffler, 7.7

9. Nate Lashley, 7.6

10. Sam Burns, 7.6

11. Brian Harman, 6.9

12. David Lipsky, 6.7

13. Maverick McNealy, 6.5

14. Daniel Berger, 6.3

15. Billy Horschel, 6.2

Strokes Gained: Par 4s 350-400 Yards (Last 24 Rounds)

1. Will Zalatoris, 11.4

2. Chris Kirk, 9.2

3. Brian Harman, 8

4. Ian Poulter, 7.9

5. Justin Rose, 7.8

6. Stewart Cink, 7.1

7. Kurt Kitayama, 6.5

8. Harold Varner III, 6.4

9. Daniel Berger, 6.1

10. Justin Thomas, 6

11. Pat Perez, 5.8

12. David Lipsky, 5.7

13. James Hahn, 5.6

14. Kevin Na, 5.3

15. Nate Lashley, 5.2 

Good Drives Gained (Last 36 Rounds)

Good Drives Gained measures drives in which the player either hits the fairway or misses the fairway but still hits the green or fringe in regulation. Kokrak was able to overpower Colonial last year, but by and large, you cannot bomb your way to a victory here all that often. 

1. Brian Stuard, 36.2

2. J.J. Spaun, 34.6

3. Abraham Ancer, 33.7

4. Mito Pereira, 32.9

5. Brian Harman, 31.6

6. Russell Knox, 30.4

7. Viktor Hovland, 28.4

8. Cameron Tringale, 27.9

9. Aaron Rai, 27.9

10. Sebastian Munoz, 26.7

11. Matthew NeSmith, 26.5

12. Daniel Berger, 26.5

13. David Lipsky, 26.2

14. Alex Smalley, 26.1

15. Tom Hoge, 25.5

Good Drives Gained (Last 24 Rounds)

1. J.J. Spaun, 29.1

2. Sebastian Munoz, 25.8

3. Mito Pereira, 25.5

4. Cameron Tringale, 25.1

5. Abraham Ancer, 24.1

6. Aaron Rai, 21.9

7. Viktor Hovland, 20.1

8. Adam Long, 19.7

9. Billy Horschel, 19.6

10. Alex Smalley, 19.6

11. C.T. Pan, 18.3

12. Hayden Buckley, 17.4

13. Kevin Streelman, 16.4

14. Gary Woodland, 16.3

15. Tom Hoge, 15.8

Proximity Gained (Last 36 Rounds)

Over the last five years at Colonial, Proximity to the Hole was around 17 percent harder than the tour average.

1. Justin Thomas, 62.9

2. Austin Smotherman, 57.7

3. Tom Hoge, 54.6

4. Sebastian Munoz, 54.2

5. Viktor Hovland, 53.2

6. Russell Knox, 51.4

7. Tyler Duncan, 51.3

8. J.J Spaun, 48.5

9. Collin Morikawa, 47.5

10. Richard Bland, 46.4

11. Christiaan Bezuidenhout, 45.3

12. Erik van Rooyen, 42.2

13. Tony Finau, 41.7

14. Gary Woodland, 39.9

15. Aaron Rai, 38.1

Proximity Gained (Last 24 Rounds)

1. Viktor Hovland, 79.9

2. Justin Thomas, 76.1

3. Webb Simpson, 59.4

4. Collin Morikawa, 57.7

5. Tony Finau, 55.5

6. C.T. Pan, 53.8

7. Tom Hoge, 53.2

8. Erik van Rooyen, 52.3

9. Luke Donald, 51

10. Austin Smotherman, 50.9

11. Russell Knox, 48.7

12. J.J. Spaun, 47.6

13. Richard Bland, 46.4

14. Kevin Streelman, 45.7

15. Scottie Scheffler, 45.6

Strokes Gained: Bentgrass Putting (Last 36 Rounds)

Over the last six years, since strokes-gained data has been available, the last six winners at Colonial have an average rank of seventh in the field for Strokes Gained: Putting during their winning weeks.

1. Jason Kokrak, 34.4

2. Beau Hossler, 33.5

3. Ian Poulter, 28.9

4. Brendon Todd, 28.6

5. Troy Merritt, 27.8

6. Zach Johnson, 27.6

7. Cameron Tringale, 24.5

8. Brandt Snedeker, 23.7

9. Cameron Davis, 21.3

10. K.H. Lee, 19.8

11. Adam Schenk, 17.4

12. Abraham Ancer, 16.7

13. Bryson DeChambeau, 16.5

14. Webb Simpson, 16

15. Jordan Spieth, 15.3

Strokes Gained: Bentgrass Putting (Last 24 Rounds)

1. Beau Hossler, 24.7

2. Troy Merritt, 23.1

3. Zach Johnson, 22.4

4. Brandt Snedeker, 17.5

5. Ian Poulter, 17.4

6. Justin Rose, 17.3

7. K.H. Lee, 15.5

8. Jason Kokrak, 14.9

9. Christiaan Bezuidenhout, 14.5

10. Cameron Davis, 13.7

11. Abraham Ancer, 13.2

12. Patrick Rodgers, 13.1

13. Adam Long, 12.2

14. Kevin Na, 12.2

15. Peter Malnati, 11.9


Viktor Hovland (22-1 BetMGM)

Hovland is still seeking his first PGA Tour victory on American soil. He did not get it last week in his adopted home state of Oklahoma. However, he has drifted north of the 20-1 threshold, and keep in mind he was the World No. 3 less than two months ago. Hovland leads this field for Strokes Gained: Approach over the last 36 rounds. 

Tommy Fleetwood (40-1 Westgate SuperBook)

Fleetwood tied for the low round of 67 on Sunday at the PGA Championship to finish fifth. He has never played at Colonial, so the trend of having three or more starts works against him. However, this is a course that should suit his game well. Fleetwood gained strokes on the field in all phases at the PGA. 

Webb Simpson (41-1 Boyd Sports)

​Simpson shot 65 on Saturday at Southern Hills in the most difficult conditions of the week. A Sunday 72 dropped him to 20th, but his game might be showing signs of life for the first time in 2022, perhaps courtesy of an equipment change. He swapped his Titleist blade irons for the T100s, which he said were better out of the rough, for distance control and with mishits. He finished third and fifth here in 2016 and 2017. Furthermore, he always seems to show on shorter courses, evidenced by wins at Sedgefield, Harbour Town and TPC Sawgrass. He also has good form at Waialae, another short Par 70. 

Chris Kirk (50-1 DraftKings)

Kirk finished fifth last week and was third in the field for Strokes Gained: Tee-To-Green.  He won at Colonial in 2015, plus he has performed well on correlating courses with two runners-up at Waialae (2014, 2021) and a runner-up at Pebble Beach (2013). In addition, he leads the field over the last 36 rounds for Strokes Gained: Par 4s 350-400 Yards. Kirk has three top-seven finishes this year (PGA, Arnold Palmer, Honda). 

Justin Rose (65-1 DraftKings)

Rose won this event in 2018. He finished 13th last week and ranked in the top 10 for both Strokes Gained: Approach and Greens In Regulation. Rose led the field for Strokes Gained: Approach in that 2018 victory at Colonial. 

Tom Hoge (70-1 DraftKings)

This week is a bit of a home game for Hoge as he played his college golf at nearby TCU. He finished ninth last week courtesy of superb iron play, ranking third in the field for Strokes Gained: Approach. Hoge won his maiden PGA Tour event this year at Pebble Beach (tipped in this column at 60-1), which has correlations with Colonial.

Stewart Cink (125-1 Circa Sports)

Six of Cink’s eight career PGA Tour wins have come the week after playing a major (2000, 2004, 2021 at Harbour Town; 1997, 2008 at River Highlands; 2004 at Firestone). He had a disappointing finish of 25th last week, considering he was seventh after 54 holes and paired with eventual champion Justin Thomas on Sunday. Cink has 12 top-25 finishes at Colonial. 

Dutch Open

After a week off, the DP World Tour returns with the Dutch Open. Bernd Wiesberger (20-1), off a respectable 30th at the PGA, is the tournament favorite. Adrian Meronk (22-1) has five finishes of sixth or better in 2022. Thomas Pieters (22-1), who made the cut at the PGA but finished well down the board, has the all-time scoring record in this event, though at a different course in 2015. Ryan Fox shot three even-par rounds of 70 at the PGA before a final-round 77 dropped him to 54th. He is priced at 25-1 along with Rasmus Hojgaard. Rasmus' twin brother, Nicolai (45-1), was the runner-up to Sergio Garcia in this event at a different course in 2019. Jordan Smith (28-1) has a pair of runner-up finishes in 2022. 

Thorbjorn Olesen (30-1) won for the first time in nearly four years at the British Masters in his last start three weeks ago. Adrian Otaegui (33-1) is a month removed from a runner-up finish in his native Spain. Oliver Bekker (35-1), a runner-up last month in Spain, and Dean Burmester (40-1), with two runners-up in 2022, both missed the cut at the PGA. Hennie du Plessis (40-1) has four top-six finishes over the last two months on the Sunshine and DP World Tours. 

Last fall, the Dutch Open debuted a new course in the rotation. Bernardus Golf Course in Cromvoirt, Netherlands, hosted the event and will do so again this week. The course opened in 2018 and is a typically flat, exposed Dutch design with generous fairways and top-class A1/A4 Bentgrass greens. There are thousands of heather plants and long fescue grass flanking the fairways, so the course has a hint of a linksy, heathland track. Even with some penalty for not hitting fairways, the rough is light and the fairways are wide. Bernardus will play as a Par 72 of 7,042 yards. 


Ryan Fox (25-1 BetMGM)

Fox, a winner at Ras al Khaimah and a runner-up two weeks ago in Belgium, had three solid days at the PGA before a poor round Sunday. He ranks eighth on the DP World Tour for Strokes Gained: Approach and was 15th in this event last year.

Richard Mansell (40-1 Bet MGM)

Mansell has made four straight cuts with no finish lower than 30th. He also finished sixth in this event last year. He ranks sixth on the DP World Tour for Strokes Gained: Off-The-Tee and sixth for Greens In Regulation. 

Romain Langasque (50-1 DraftKings)

Though he has four missed cuts, Langasque has finished in the top 25 in his other six starts, including three top 10s. He will benefit from the wide fairways, and he finished 22nd here last year. 

Marcus Armitage (55-1 DraftKings)

Armitage is almost one year removed from his maiden DP World Tour win at the Porsche European Open (tipped in this column at 80-1) and has continued his solid play in 2022 with four top-12 finishes this season. He ranks seventh on the DP World Tour for Strokes Gained: Approach. 

Haotong Li (66-1 BetMGM)

After missing 14 of 18 cuts in 2021, Li has started to turn it around in 2022, making six of nine cuts and posting two top-six finishes. Li has good pedigree on links-style designs and should take to Bernardus. 

Yannik Paul (70-1 DraftKings)

Paul is a DP World Tour rookie who graduated from the European Challenge Tour in his first attempt last year. He was runner-up to Sam Horsfield two weeks ago in Belgium. In his last two starts, he ranked third and seventh for GIR plus sixth and third for Scrambling.

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