This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Golf series.
Charles Schwab Challenge
Fort Worth, Texas
Colonial Country Club - Par 70 - 7,209 yards
Field - 121 entrants
Purse - $7.5M
Hellacious seeds off the tee aren't rewarded at Colonial Country Club quite like they were this past week on the longest layout in major championship history, but that isn't stopping a 50-year-old Phil Mickelson from fulfilling his commitment to play in the Charles Schwab Challenge despite the nights of celebration that have surely accompanied his improbable victory at Kiawah Island. As the Hall of Fame lefty joins the conversation surrounding Ryder Cup consideration, the PGA Tour has now completed a full rotation since returning from last year's three-month pandemic hiatus at the Charles Schwab Challenge in June of 2020. The reduced-field invitational has been played at Colonial CC since the 1940s, and it remains one of the few sites on Tour where precision and putting trump power. Driving accuracy is a requirement for selecting proper angles into smaller bentgrass greens, while approach-shot distribution falls mostly within the 125-175 yard range. Five par-4s measure less than 410 yards, so full wedge play becomes a factor as well. The windiest conditions of the week are expected to arrive Thursday afternoon, though scattered thunderstorms are possible throughout Rounds 2 and 3 in Texas.
Key Stats to Victory
SG: Putting (bentgrass)
Yahoo Value Picks
Based on $200 salary cap
Cream of the Crop
Collin Morikawa - $45
Young debutants at Colonial CC rarely sniff the winner's circle, but Morikawa was nearly fitted for the plaid jacket here last season before ultimately settling for solo runner-up honors with a playoff loss to champion Daniel Berger. Morikawa now heads back to Fort Worth fresh off a top-10 at the PGA Championship where he ranked third among the field in SG: Off-the-Tee, T3 in driving accuracy, T4 in GIR percentage and eighth in SG: Approach. He's No. 1 in proximity from 125-150 yards and No. 2 in SG: APP over his last 12 rounds, though Morikawa also resides sixth in driving accuracy from a season-long perspective.
Abraham Ancer - $40
Ancer has ascended to a career-best 19th in the Official World Golf Ranking without a PGA Tour victory, but it feels like a breakthrough is coming with three consecutive top-8s since the Valspar Championship and nine straight results of T26 or better dating to the WGC-Workday Championship. He's second to only Brendon Todd in FIR percentage, while Ancer ranks sixth in proximity from 150-175 yards over his past 12 rounds and fourth in P4: 400-450 efficiency over his last 36. The Texas native has also gained an average of 3.3 strokes per event with the flat stick throughout his last five measured starts.
Will Zalatoris - $39
Zalatoris is going to be a popular selection at a sub-$40 salary on the heels of his third consecutive top-10 finish in a major. Nonetheless, Zalatoris is second to none in SG: Approach over his last 12 rounds, playing a home game in the DFW area and he averages gaining north of 2.8 total strokes on the field in windy conditions. Much like Morikawa demonstrated in 2020, such elite ball-striking prowess basically eliminates the notion that a CSC first-timer can't win.
Corey Conners - $38
The Canadian pretty much can't miss a fairway or a green on a weekly basis, but he might be experiencing a regression to the mean with his short game as he's lost strokes both around and on the greens in three straight starts. Conners has still gained at least 3.2 strokes on his approach shots in seven consecutive measured events, and he's second in P4: 400-450 efficiency over his last 36 rounds. Additionally, he's a perfect 3 for 3 in cuts made at the Charles Schwab Challenge with no finish worse than a T31.
Gary Woodland - $31
Woodland, who ranks top-10 in proximity from 100-125 yards over his last 12 rounds, has gained 9.7 strokes on his approaches in eight rounds dating back to a solo-fifth at the Wells Fargo Championship. The 37-year-old made the trip to Colonial CC last year for the first time since 2012, and he left with a ninth-place result after tallying 18 total birdies to just six bogeys.
Emiliano Grillo - $31
Grillo's iron play pops off the charts as he ranks third in both proximity from 125-150 yards and 150-175 yards over his past 12 rounds, but he's also gained strokes putting in back-to-back tourneys for the first time since the calendar year. This could be an especially promising development given his best surface statistically is bentgrass. The Argentinian has gained no less than 7.1 strokes on his approaches in three of four starts dating to a runner-up finish at the RBC Heritage, and he's collected a trio of top-25s in five career CSC appearances.
Matthew NeSmith - $23
NeSmith might not have much win equity, but he's third in GIR percentage and 13th in driving accuracy over his last 36 rounds, while also ranking eighth in proximity from 150-175 yards and 12th in SG: Approach over his past 12. Relative to the field, he's been at his best on bentgrass greens in windy conditions, which helps explain his made cut as a Colonial debutant during the 2019-20 campaign. NeSmith has advanced to the weekend in five straight starts since the Honda Classic, gaining strokes with the irons at each stop along the way.
Russell Knox - $20
Knox had racked up four consecutive top-25s at the Charles Schwab Challenge before missing the cut here in 2020, but that one funky instance shouldn't be a deterrence as he ranks eighth in Prox: 125-150 and 11th in SG: Approach over his last 12 rounds to pair recent form with course history at the minimum salary. He slumped from the Genesis Invitational through the RBC Heritage, but has turned it around with finishes of T21-T18-T39 from the Valspar Championship to the AT&T Byron Nelson. On the season, Knox is seventh in GIR percentage, 17th in proximity, 33rd in scrambling and 19th in par-4 scoring.
Doug Ghim - $20
Ghim has been a mess with the putter since February and he's now missed back-to-back cuts in his last two starts. However, he's a somewhat respectable 62nd in SG: Putting on bentgrass over his last 36 rounds while also ranking sixth in driving accuracy with the same sample size. Over his last 12 rounds, he's ninth in SG: Approach with a season-long standing of seventh in proximity. Ghim's issues on the greens are probably bad enough to drop him from cash-game consideration at this point, but he could return massive value in GPP formats with just an average putting performance this week.