This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.
Charles Schwab Challenge Betting Preview
Following a thrilling second major championship of the year that saw Phil Mickelson become the oldest major winner in history, the PGA Tour moves on to Texas for the final time this season. The Charles Schwab Challenge was the much-anticipated first event of the Tour's restart last season, and although the field won't be nearly as strong this time around, it still features three of the top 10 players in the Official World Golf Ranking. Last year, Daniel Berger (60-1 odds) defeated Collin Morikawa on the first playoff hole to pick up this third PGA Tour victory.
Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth is the long-time host of the event, and iron play has always been key here, with the winner of the event finishing top-5 in Strokes Gained: Approach each of the last three years. It's on the shorter end of courses at approximately 7,200 yards, and with just two par-5s on the scorecard, both driving distance and par-5 play will carry less weight than they do at other tracks. The "Horrible Horseshoe" will be referenced often on the broadcast, as Colonial's most difficult stretch comes early on holes 3-5.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 5:00 PM ET Tuesday.
Birdwatching at Colonial
The following five players, with a minimum of two appearances, have averaged the most birdies per round at Colonial Country Club since 2016:
This week's odds-on favorite is Spieth at 21-2, which is no surprise considering the nearby Dallas resident has feasted in his home state throughout his career. Colonial has been no exception, as Spieth went through a dominant stretch here from 2015-2017 in which he won once and finished runner-up twice. Spieth was just one back of the final-round lead before settling for a share of 10th last year, and he comes in with much better form this time around. Another former winner of this event teeing it up is Na, although his play has been trending in the opposite direction of Spieth's. Since winning the Sony Open in January, Na has failed to record a top-10 result in 11 starts. As one of the shortest hitters on Tour, Na will be glad to see a shorter track this week. He makes for an appealing dark horse at 66-1 odds.
The Right Approach
These golfers gained the most strokes on approach per round over their last 20 rounds:
- Collin Morikawa: 1.77
- Will Zalatoris: 1.38
- Justin Thomas: 1.32
- Charley Hoffman: 1.29
- Emiliano Grillo: 1.29
Morikawa's approach numbers have been unmatched by anyone else on Tour recently, and that should be a big boost to his chances on a second-shot golf course that features smaller greens than the typical venue. Remarkably, he finished top-10 in SG: Approach in six of his last seven tournaments, a stretch that led to five top-10s. Although he's priced down to 15-1, you can make the argument that last year's runner-up still isn't getting enough respect from the oddsmakers. An under-the-radar player that has also been in excellent form with his irons is Grillo. After peaking at 25th in the world during his 2015-16 rookie season Grillo went through a lengthy lull, but he has re-emerged, notching three top-15 results over his last five starts, including a runner-up at the RBC Heritage.
Patrick Reed (17-1)
After making the cut on the number at the PGA Championship, Reed quietly had the lowest score of the weekend. As such, he heads back to his home state with some momentum. Reed's third-round 63 at Colonial last year tied for the lowest round of the tournament and propelled him to a T7 finish. His lack of distance off the tee won't hurt him here, and his scrambling ability on a course with smaller greens will be a noticeable benefit.
Chris Kirk (55-1)
This is not the first time I've bet on Kirk this season, and although he has not won, he's found himself in contention frequently. If you like the course history angle you'll like Kirk this week, as he won the event in 2015 and has never missed a cut in eight appearances. Although he's coming off two missed cuts, those were both on longer courses that didn't favor his game.
Zach Johnson (100-1)
Johnson is a two-time winner of this event and holds the scoring record at 21-under-par, so if there's a week to bet him this is it. Dating back to last year's PGA Championship, Johnson has experienced a resurgence, recording four top-10s, including a best result of T6 at the RSM Classic. That event was held at Sea Island GC, which grades very similarly to Colonial.
Branden Grace (11-2)
Grace is another golfer that hadn't shown much in recent years but has sprung back in a big way. That was never more evident than when he won the Puerto Rico Open in February. That was an alternate event, but a win's a win. Grace was only four shots off the lead heading into the final round of the PGA Championship before faltering Sunday. He fared well at Colonial last year and sat just one stroke off the lead after three rounds.
Patton Kizzire (7-1)
Kizzire came through as a top-10 pick two weeks ago, and two of his three top-10s this year have come in Texas. I still don't think he's being priced appropriately given his improved level of play, and his biggest weakness – he ranks 150th in SG: Off-the-Tee – should mostly be negated this week.
Andrew Putnam (12-1)
I like the value here, considering Putnam recorded three top-10 results over his last 11 starts. He's certainly a risk/reward option, as he has also missed 10 cuts this season. As one of the shortest drivers in the field, this is a course he can contend on. He proved that two years ago when he finished in a tie for third.
Niemann's worst finish in three starts at Colonial is T32, and he has also finished higher than that in each of his last three starts on Tour. That makes him a reliable head-to-head option, especially against Scheffler, who relies on his distance to dominate. Scheffler is losing strokes on approach play this season, which is a red flag this week.
I've been fading Garcia and will continue to do so, as he has missed four cuts in a row. It's hard to imagine that will turn around at a tournament he typically skips and missed the cut at last year. Kim is the better golfer and fit for the course, so I'm surprised – particularly given the recent form of both players – that the two are at the sane number in this matchup.
Streelman should be full of confidence following his first major championship top-10 result last week, but this is mainly a fade against Tringale. After a disastrous second-round 82 that led to a missed cut at Kiawah Island, I have serious doubts that he can right the ship quickly. He has also never recorded a top-40 in seven starts at Colonial.