This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Charles Schwab Challenge
Course: Colonial Country Club (7,209 yards, par 70)
Winner: $1,350,000 and 500 FedExCup points
Just four days removed from becoming the oldest major championship winner at Kiawah Island, Phil Mickelson will be teeing it up at Colonial looking to add to his historic career numbers. The 50-year-old is one of 10 two-time winners of the Charles Schwab Challenge, hoisting the trophy in 2000 and 2008. Only Ben Hogan has won this event more than twice in its 75-year history, as the long-time Fort Worth resident has his name up on the historic Wall of Champions at Colonial five times. Joining Mickelson in the field of 120 this week will be the current favorite son of Texas, Jordan Spieth, who will be looking to add to his strong record in the Lone Star State in 2021. The 2016 Charles Schwab Challenge Champion won the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio and finished top-10 at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play in Austin and the AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas. Other notable up and coming future stars from Texas that will be teeing it up in Colonial are Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris, both of whom are coming off top-10's at the PGA Championship and will be looking to win their first PGA Tour events.
Last year this was the first event after the three-month COVID-19 break, and despite zero fans on the course, we had quite a finish. Daniel Berger was able to outlast Collin Morikawa in a playoff, and both players will be back in 2021 to try to win their fifth PGA Tour events. Other notables that are teeing it up this week are Justin Thomas, Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Justin Rose, and Colonial Country Club member Ryan Palmer. Temperatures will be in the mid-80's throughout the tournament with a chance of rain most likely on Friday and Saturday. We should see the usual Texas winds in effect for most of the tournament, as players try to navigate these doglegs and tight fairways.
2020 – Daniel Berger (-15)
2019 – Kevin Na (-13)
2018 – Justin Rose (-20)
2017 – Kevin Kisner (-10)
2016 – Jordan Spieth (-17)
2015 – Chris Kirk (-12)
2014 – Adam Scott (-9)
2013 – Boo Weekley (-14)
2012 – Zach Johnson (-12)
2011 – David Toms (-15)
2010 – Zach Johnson (-21)
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- GIR Percentage
- Driving Accuracy
- SG: Putting
A course that is synonymous with Ben Hogan like Colonial Country Club should tell you right away that there will be an emphasis on ball-striking. That will definitely be the case this week, as this classic golf course has a lot of small targets. For starters the fairways are very narrow and many of them dogleg. With the course likely to play pretty firm, this will add emphasis on not just hitting it solid, but also shaping your ball both directions to be able to keep it in the short grass. There are very few holes where hitting it further will be of much benefit, so everyone has a chance this week. The rough should hover around 2.5 inches this week and the Bermudagrass here is known for generating some flyer lies. The greens on the other hand are bentgrass and on the smaller end for PGA Tour standards. Many of the greens also feature a decent amount of undulation, which will created even smaller targets and force players to be dialed in with their distances. The greens will be prepped to run around 12.5 on the Stimpmeter. While breezes in Texas are known to kick up, we shouldn't see the wind affect anywhere close to the amount of putts that we saw last week at Kiawah due to the greens being more protected. If you're on, you can really start making putts in bunches on these greens. Just look at the last handful of winners with guys like Kevin Na, Kevin Kisner, Jordan Spieth, and Zach Johnson. All of those guys can fill it up with the flat stick.
FanDuel Value Picks
Collin Morikawa ($11,900)
The Cal product is a ball-striking genius, as he leads the Tour in SG: Approach, SG: Tee-to-Green, and GIR percentage this season. Morikawa is also sixth in driving accuracy and 13th in proximity to the hole. It's no secret that he struggles with the putter, but he handled these bentgrass greens last season fairly well ranking T23 in SG: Putting and second in putts per GIR en route to his solo second. Morikawa has finished T18-T7-T8 in his last three individual events.
Scottie Scheffler ($11,100)
Scheffler very well might be the best driver on the PGA Tour. He ranks 12th in SG: Off-the-Tee and is first in Total Driving. The Texas standout also has one of the highest ball flights on the PGA Tour, which will give him the ability to attack certain flags that most players wouldn't even dream of going at. Scheffler has also improved his short game in putting this season, ranking 44th in SG: Around-the-Green and 31st in putts per GIR. He is coming off a T8 at the PGA Championship as well.
Corey Conners ($11,000)
This place has Conners' name written all over it. He and Morikawa may very well be the Ben Hogan's of ball-striking of this generation. The Canadian ranks ninth in SG: Off-the-Tee, fourth in SG: Approach, 10th in driving accuracy, and eighth in GIR percentage. Conners has made the cut in nine straight events and was the first-round leader last week at the PGA Championship. In three career starts at Colonial he has gone T8-T31-T19.
Joaquin Niemann ($10,700)
Many likely wouldn't have guessed the 22-year-old to be leading the PGA Tour's consecutive cuts made streak at 19. In fact, Niemann has only finished outside the top-30 three times this season in 17 starts. There is so much to like with the talented Chilean, who has almost no weaknesses. Niemann ranks 10th in SG: Off-the-Tee, 14th in Total Driving, 14th in GIR percentage, 21st in SG: Putting, and 19th in SG: Tee-to-Green. He is currently second on Tour in scoring average and eighth in SG: Total. Niemann has finished T8-T31-T32 in three starts at Colonial.
Longer Shots with Value
Matt Wallace ($9,800)
The Englishman is in great form, making his last seven cuts and notching four top-25s in that stretch. After being known as mostly a putter early in his career, Wallace has really upped his ball-striking game this season. He ranks 10th on Tour in SG: Approach and 14th in SG: Tee-to-Green. Wallace is still 62nd in SG: Around-the-Green and 57th in SG: Putting as well. He was solo third the last time he teed it up in Texas at TPC San Antonio.
Chris Kirk ($9,100)
Colonial is definitely one of Kirk's favorite venues on Tour. He is 10-for-10 here with six finishes of T16-or-better, including his win back in 2015. Kirk has missed his last two cuts in individual events, but prior to that he had posted seven top-25's in his previous nine starts. The 36-year-old possess great balance through the bag, as he ranks 26th in SG: Tee-to-Green, 37th in GIR percentage, 21st in proximity to the hole, 19th in SG: Around-the-green, and 48th in putts per round.
Talor Gooch ($8,800)
Gooch has been one of the most consistent players on Tour over the last few months. He has made the cut in nine of his last ten starts with four top-26 finishes in that stretch. Looking at the numbers, Gooch has been somewhat of a jack-of –all-trades. He ranks 70th in Total Driving, 55th in SG: Approach, 22nd in scrambling, and 30th in putts per round. Add them all up, however, and Gooch is 44th in SG: Total and 39th in scoring average.
Matthew NeSmith ($8,500)
NeSmith is kind of your poor man's Collin Morikawa. He ranks eighth in SG: Approach, second in GIR percentage, 17th in Total Driving, and fourth in the Ball Striking stat, but 157th in SG: Putting. Because NeSmith gets it done with ball-striking, however, that gives him a much higher floor, especially at a course like Colonial. When he has putted decent, the 27-year-old has some good results as evidence by his seven top-25's.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
Jordan Spieth's record at Colonial is incredible, but as the No. 1 priced player this week and a very high expected ownership percentage, I'm not sure there's really any value in taking the Texan this week. I get the same feeling about the No. 2 priced player in Justin Thomas, who is coming off a missed cut at Kiawah and doesn't have much experience at Colonial. It feels like the heart of the value this week is between $10,000-$11,200, as that stretch has a lot of strong ball strikers who either have good records at Colonial or who are playing well right now. I'd try to build the majority of your roster in that range and take a few flyers down low with players who rank highly in some of the ball striking categories or who have a decent course history at Colonial, as very little changes have been made here the last several years.