The Charles Schwab Challenge is an elevated event with a field that is set at 120 players. The Charles Schwab is one of the older events on the PGA TOUR (first held in 1946), and the venue is a classic in its own right and stands out from some of the more modern designs. The event has invitational status and is also now a designated “elevated event,” so despite being placed directly after a major championship, the field is still quite strong.
The field this week still includes 11 of the world’s top 30 players in the OWGR, with Scottie Scheffler being the highest-ranked player in the field. There are a lot of notable names missing, with Jon Rahm, Rory Mcilroy, Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele all taking this week off. Past champions in Jordan Spieth and Sam Burns are in the field, as is 2020 playoff loser Collin Morikawa. The event sees us return to normal cut rules, as the top 65 and ties will play the weekend.
Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas
Par 70, 7209 yards; Greens: Bentgrass, Fairways and rough: Bermuda mix
Colonial Country Club plays as a traditional par 70 that lands right around 7,200 yards in length. The course features tight fairways with several old trees that are very much in play and often block approaches on off-center tee shots. That, along with a couple of doglegs, means there is a big premium on accuracy here off the tee. Driving accuracy numbers at Colonial are usually quite below PGA TOUR averages, and players will often club down quite a bit off the tee simply due to the setup.
To make things even tougher, there’s a plethora of bunkers throughout the course, and play from the sand is something to keep note of this week — there are some great bunker players in the list of past winners (Na, Kisner and Jordan Spieth, to name a few). The bentgrass greens are also smaller than average, and water is surprisingly in play on this parkland course on six holes to keep things interesting. As a result, a pure-power game often doesn’t play that well here — accuracy with mid-irons and strong bentgrass putting has been the key to success for many past winners.
As for the layout, the first couple of holes at Colonial play rather easy, with the leadoff par 5 being a near-must birdie — it’s the easiest hole players face all week. The other par 5 plays very long at a maximum of 635 yards, but it still played as the third-easiest hole in 2021. The par 3s are a mixed bag but play quite tough in general, mainly due to the small greens and the fact water and sand are in play for wayward tee shots. Only one of the par 3s plays well over 200 yards, but the smaller greens put a big premium on accuracy.
The greens have been easier to putt on in the past but were extremely dried out last year and a nightmare for players down the stretch. Regardless, winners tend to be players who are already bringing in some confidence with the putter and the last four winners at Colonial have all gained over 5.0 strokes on the greens for the week.
As for the par 4s, there are 12 of them on the course, and seven of them fall in the 400-450 yard range, making that a good distance to target when looking up par-4-efficiency stats. In 2018, Justin Rose blitzed the field to a 20-under winning score and led the field by a mile in SG: Approaches. Like putting, approach play tends to be where winners gain a lot of their strokes against the field and the last four winners (Na, Kokrak, Berger, Burns) all gained 3.5 strokes or more on their approaches.
Last season saw unusually tough conditions, with Sam Burns defeating Scheffler in a playoff at 9-under par. Scheffler was the leader in bogey avoidance for the week, while Burns led the field in birdies but was also above field average in bogey avoidance.
2023 Weather Outlook: The weather this week is a nice reprieve from what we had last week at the PGA TOUR, where cold weather dominated and made an already tough golf course nearly unplayable for some. Highs the first couple of days are set to be in the low 80F range with very low chances of rain or thunderstorms. Winds the first couple of days don’t look too bad either, with gusts not expected to get much over 10mph. The afternoon waves will likely see faster greens and heavier winds on both of the first two days, so take that into account for both wave stacking and showdown play. Thursday looks like a slightly calmer day, so if you are wave stacking, right now the preferred play is likely to target Thursday p.m./Friday a.m. starters. As always, make sure to check back on Wednesday to see if the forecast has shifted.
Last 5 winners
Sam Burns—2022 (-9 over Scottie Scheffler playoff)
Jason Kokrak—2021 (-14 over Jordan Spieth -12)
Daniel Berger—2020 (-15 over Collin Morikawa playoff)
Kevin Na—2019 (-13 over Tony Finau -9)
Justin Rose—2018 (-20 over Brooks Koepka -17)
- Each of the last 10 winners of the Charles Schwab Invitational had a T8 finish or better on the PGA TOUR in one of their previous six starts before their respective win.
- Four of the last seven winners finished T14 or better at Colonial in the season before their win.
- Each of the last three winners of the Charles Schwab (not including 2020) played in the PGA Championship the week prior.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2022 Winner: Sam Burns (9-under par)
2022 lead-in form (T20-MC-MC-Win-T26)
- Top players at Colonial have tended to rank well in the Strokes Gained: Approach category, with both Justin Rose (2018) and Na (2019) leading the field for the week in SG: APP during their win. Kokrak gained +5.2 strokes on approach last year but lost -2.0 strokes ATG. Burns wasn’t quite as prolific but still gained 3.9 strokes for the week.
- Burns also gained +5.0 strokes putting, and six of the last seven winners here have gained over +5.0 strokes putting for the week on these greens. Some of the most elite spike putters in the sport (Spieth, Kisner and Na) have all grabbed wins at this event over the past five seasons.
- It’s also worth noting that each of the last four winners all gained strokes putting in the start prior to their win as well.
- Finally, while players don’t have to be elite bombers off the tee at Colonial — which has plenty of doglegs and tight holes — they do need to stay out of trouble and find plenty of fairways.
- Each of the past six winners has gained at least a stroke OTT, with a lot of those positive gains coming from accuracy over length.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value comparative to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Jordan Spieth ($9,900; best finishes: win-2016, T2-2015, 2021, win-2017): Colonial has proven to be the perfect setup for Spieth over his pro career. The Texas native is more than used to the climate, and the tighter track doesn’t emphasize power as much off the tee. He’s landed top-10 finishes here in six of the last seven seasons and leads the field in SG: Total here, by a wide margin, over that span.
2. Justin Rose ($9,300; best finishes: win-2018, T3-2020): Rose only added Colonial to his schedule a few years ago, but (like many veterans on the PGA TOUR) he’s found immediate success here, grabbing a win in 2018 and a T3 in 2020. He has finished top 20 in three of his last five visits to the course and is coming off a strong showing at the PGA Championship last week.
3. Emiliano Grillo ($7,700; best finishes: 3rd-2018, T8-2021): Grillo finished 3rd at this event in 2018 and added another top 10 to his Colonial resume in 2021. The Argentine’s ball-striking typically allows him to excel on more technical tracks making him a solid DFS target as long as he’s not overpriced on these weeks.
4. Tony Finau ($10,700; best finishes: 2nd-2019, T4-2022): Finau’s development over the past few seasons has seen him excel on more technical courses with more and more frequency. He grabbed a 2nd place finish at Colonial in 2019 and was T4 at this venue last season as well. He was super disappointing at the PGA Championship but a quick bounceback on this venue wouldn’t be shocking.
5. Brendon Todd ($7,800; best finishes: T3-2022, T8-2021): Todd is a high-end putter who can compete with the best on these shorter-to-mid length par 70 tracks when his iron play is in form. He’s finished T3 and T8 at Colonial the past two seasons and was 8th two starts ago at the Wells Fargo.
1. Scottie Scheffler ($11,500; T2-T5): Scheffler finished 2nd at the year’s second major, posting a 65 in round four. He’s been absolutely robotic finishing T12 or better in 10 PGA starts.
2. Cam Davis ($8,600; T4-T59-T7): Davis reeled off a T4 last week, his third top-10 finish in his last five starts. The Aussie posted his best-ever major championship finish and looks to be peaking in form as we hit the summer.
3. Viktor Hovland ($10,600; T2-T43): Hovland came up just short of winning his first major last week but has now finished top 10 in each of the year’s first two major championships. He hasn’t missed a cut in 17 PGA starts.
4. Eric Cole ($7,200; T15-T23): Cole continues to play high-end golf and comes into this event ranked fourth in strokes gained total stats over the last six weeks. His T15 at the PGA Championship last week represented a career-best in terms of major championship finish.
5. KH Lee ($8,300; T29-T50-T8): Lee grabbed a share of 29th at the PGA Championship and comes in on a six-event made-cut streak. The South Korean has been a machine off the tee gaining strokes OTT in eight straight starts.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Don’t skimp on Scheffler
Scottie Scheffler ($11,500) comes in having finished T12 or better in every single one of the starts he’s made on the PGA TOUR this season — and may also be a little angry after seeing LIV golfer Brooks Koepka raise the trophy over him last Sunday. Starting lineups with him is a near must in this format, given we have so many other big names skipping this week. Further down, KH Lee ($8,300) and Stephan Jaeger ($8,000) both hold appeal for their cut-making ability, as does Christiaan Bezuidenhout ($7,700), who has gained over 4.0 strokes on approach in each of his last three starts. Other names to consider for this format include Cam Davis ($8,600) and Eric Cole ($7,200).
Tournaments: Homa, a good contrarian target
Despite a poor PGA Championship that saw him languish down to T55 by the end of the week, Homa ($10,100) does set up quite well for this classical test and looks like a good player to target for GPPs. The American ranks 11th in strokes gained approach stats over the last 50 rounds and comes in having gained over 3.0 strokes putting in each of his last two events. While the ball-striking has dipped a bit, his long-term form suggests we should expect better approach play from him sooner than later. Russel Henley ($8,800) is another player not to overlook this week, as his long-term approach play still ranks him as one of the best. He’ll likely be under-owned after he missed the cut last week and typically has played his best at these short-to-medium length par 70 courses. Other GPP targets this week include Denny McCarthy ($8,700), Harris English ($7,800), and Chez Reavie ($6,900).
MY PICK: Tommy Fleetwood ($9,200)
Certainly, with an elevated event on tap, it wouldn't be shocking to see a name like Homa, Hovland, or Scheffler at the top of the board this week when all was said and done. However, if some of those top names do falter, don't be shocked if it’s Tommy Fleetwood left putting on the plaid jacket this Sunday.
One of the biggest positives with Fleetwood at the moment is the return of his arrow-straight driver, a club that has been a huge weapon for him in the past. He’s gained at least 2.6 strokes off the tee alone in each of his last three starts on the PGA and that’s set him up perfectly to take advantage of a burgeoning iron game which has him ranked all the way up to 7th in SG: Approaches in long-term form.
Fleetwood showed some great poise earlier in the season at the very technical Copperhead Course (when he finished T4 at the Valspar), and given the way his game has trended since then, this week at Colonial makes for a very logical spot for him to contend again. He’s a solid upper-tier target for DFS and remains a good value in the outright market at +3000 given how many of the other top players have chosen to skip this week’s event.
MY SLEEPER: Callum Tarren ($6,200)
Tarren showed up last week and posted a career-best major championship finish with a T29 at Oak Hill. The Englishman had missed eight cuts in a row prior to the Wells Fargo, where he finished T64 and gained 2.4 strokes on approach for the week against an elite field. That play carried over to last week, where he played even better, gaining 4.2 strokes on approach and 6.0 strokes putting.
Tarren has proven in the past that he has the approach game and putting upside needed to challenge on these more technical courses. He posted a 2nd place at the RSM Classic on the shorter Sea Island course in the fall — gaining over 5.0 strokes on approach and 3.0 strokes on the greens that week — as well as a T6 last season at TPC Deere Run, a venue that also features Bentgrass greens and correlates nicely to Colonial.
For DFS purposes, Tarren’s appeal is also enhanced by his price tag, which has him near the min-price this week and makes him a great fit for stars and scrubs builds in big field GPPs. For betting, he’s also a player to think about in the top 10 market where his +2000 odds offer good appeal considering he’s posted a 10% hit rate in this market on the PGA over his last 30 starts.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and customer (my username is wavegoodbye) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.