The field this week is set at 121 players as it resumes its status as an Invitational on TOUR after getting an expanded field last year when it was the first event on the schedule after the COVID-19 restart. The Charles Schwab is one of the older events on TOUR (first held in 1946), and the venue is a classic in its own right, which makes it stand out from some of the more modern designs. The event was stacked with elite talent last season (a result the two-month hiatus away form the game) and was won by Daniel Berger in a playoff over Collin Morikawa. The win marked Berger’s third on TOUR and first in three years.
This year, the event has returned to its normal place on the schedule after the PGA Championship but again features plenty of big names. The shocking PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson is here as is Morikawa, the 2020 PGA Championship winner. All of the winners here from the past five years are in the field (Berger, Kevin Na, Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner, Jordan Spieth) as is world No. 2 Justin Thomas. The event sees us return to normal cut rules as the top 65 and ties will play the weekend.
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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, put a premium on accuracy here off the tee. Driving Accuracy numbers here are usually quite below TOUR averages, and players will also club down quite a bit off the tee given 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. The Bentgrass greens are also smaller than average and water is surprisingly in play on four 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 layout, the first couple of holes on Colonial play rather easy with the lead off 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 still played as the third-easiest hole in 2019. 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 are easier to putt for the most part, though, and we often see winners here gain +5.0 strokes or more on the greens.
As for the par 4s, there’s 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. Last year, Colonial played tougher as the seventh-toughest course on TOUR, yielding just a 70.860 scoring average. Daniel Berger won at just 15-under par, helped by a strong putter — it should be noted that five of the last six winners here have now gained five or more strokes with their putter in the week of their win.
2020 Weather Outlook: The weather this week doesn’t look too dramatic. The course could see some rain Monday to Wednesday, but the highs are set to be the 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit range from Thursday to Sunday. It is Texas, though, so we always have to worry about extreme weather rolling in. Luckily, the wind here doesn’t look like it will play a huge factor since Thursday appears to be the only day that will bring consistent gusts over 10 mph, with the afternoon set to see gusts in 10-15 mph range. There is a chance we get some precipitation on Friday and Saturday, but there’s no deluge cited and only a small chance of a thunderstorm. Look for hot and potentially humid weather to again have the greens playing fast here (and keeping scores a touch higher), with only a small chance that the rain comes in and makes this one more of a birdiefest come Sunday.
Last 5 winners
Daniel Berger—2020 (-15 over Collin Morikawa playoff)
Kevin Na—2019 (-13 over Tony Finau -9)
Justin Rose—2018 (-20 over Brooks Koepka -17)
Kevin Kisner—2017 (-10 over three players -9)
Jordan Spieth—2016 (-17 over Harris English -14)
- Each of the last eight winners of the Fort Worth-based invitational had a T8 finish or better on the PGA TOUR in their previous six starts before their respective win.
- Three of the last five winners finished T14 or better at Colonial in the prior season before their win.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
2020 Winner: Daniel Berger (15-under par)
2020 lead-in form (T4-T5-T9-T28-T39)
· On a tighter than normal course with smaller than average greens, good tee to green play is always going to be essential. In 2016, each of the top five players for the week ended the week ranked inside the top 10 in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green, and the last three winners here have ranked first, second and fourth in SG: TTG for the week of their win. Top players here have also tended to rank well in the Strokes Gained: Approach category, with both Justin Rose (’18) and Kevin Na (’19) leading the field for the week in SG: APP during their win.
· Berger gained +5.2 strokes putting for the week during his win last year, and four of the last five winners here have gained over +5.0 strokes putting for the week on these greens. It’s hard to predict when players will show up with hot weeks putting, but some of the most elite putters in the sport (Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner and Na) have all grabbed wins here the past five years.
· 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 some fairways. Each of the past five 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 ($11,200; best finishes: win-2016, T2-2015, 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 as it does an accurate approach game and good putting. He’s landed top-10’s here in four of the last five seasons and leads the field in SG: Total here over that span.
2. Kevin Kisner ($7,200; best finishes: win-2017, T5-2015): Kisner has finished T10 or better in three of his last six appearances at Colonial. A win in 2017 was his pinnacle, but he’s a player who can challenge at this tighter track for years to come. He’s looked in poor form of late but a one-week pop here wouldn’t be unexpected.
3. Kevin Na ($8,400; best finishes: T4-2018, win-2019): Na is second in SG: Total stats at this venue over the last five years, despite missing the cut here in 2020. He has made the cut at Colonial in seven of his last nine appearances, winning the event in 2019 while also recording a top-5 finish in 2018. He’s also been poor with his irons of late but can’t be ruled out on this venue.
4. Justin Rose ($8,900; best finishes: win-2018, T3-2020): Rose only added Colonial to his schedule a few years ago but found immediate success here, grabbing a win in 2018 and a T3 here in 2020. The veteran gained an insane 11.7 strokes putting last week, en route to a T8 finish, and has also putted well on the Colonial greens.
5. Brian Harman ($8,000; best finishes: T7-2017, T14-2018): Harman has been very consistent at these shorter par-70 setups over his career, and Colonial is no exception. Harman has made the cut here in each of the last five seasons and ranks fourth in SG: Total stats here over that span. He’d made 10 cuts in a row before missing the cut last week and could be a great bounce-back candidate.
1. Abraham Ancer ($9,700; T8-second): Ancer had the round of the event last week, finishing with a 65 to vault into T8 position. He’s landed three straight top-10 finishes and leads the field in SG: Total stats over the last six events.
2. Corey Conners ($9,400; T17-T34): Conners grabbed the lead after the first round of the PGA last week. He went on to finish T17, grabbing another top-20 finish at a major. He’s second in this field in SG: TTG stats over the last 50 rounds.
3. Charley Hoffman ($8,700; T17-T18): Hoffman showed well at the PGA Championship, coming back from a slow start to finish T17. He’s now recorded nine straight made cuts and four straight top-20 finishes.
4. Collin Morikawa ($10,500; T8-T7): Morikawa took a long stretch off after finishing T7 at the RBC Heritage in April but looked no worse for wear last week, finishing T8 in his title defense. He’s recorded three straight top-20 finishes and ranks first in SG: TTG and APP stats in this field.
5. Emiliano Grillo ($7,900; T38-T14): Grillo made a birdie on his last hole on Friday to make the cut at the PGA Champ and grinded out a T38 finish as a result. He’s gained +7 or more strokes on his approaches in the last two events and has three top-15 finishes in his last six starts on TOUR.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Niemann and Conners superb value combo
There’s plenty of great young ball-strikers in the field, and with a couple of elite names in attendance, they’re available at good prices on DraftKings. Both Joaquin Niemann ($9,300) and Corey Conners ($9,400) are capable of going nuclear with their irons on a course like Colonial and offer similar elite upside to the players priced over $10K this week. Conners finished T19 here last season and has gained +2.0 strokes or more on his approaches in each of his last three starts at Colonial. Niemann also finished T8 here on his debut in 2018. Both Emiliano Grillo ($7,900) and Matt Kuchar ($7,600) look like good cash game targets, too. Grillo has now gained an incredible +7.1 and +7.5 strokes on his approaches his last two times out. Other core targets here include the likes of Charley Hoffman ($8,700), and Talor Gooch ($7,300).
Tournaments: Take advantage of a cheap Justin Thomas
While $11K may not seem like a super-discount on Justin Thomas, consider he’s the highest-ranked player in the field in terms of the OWGR and is still just the second-most expensive player on the slate. Tons of top names bombed out of the PGA last week, and Thomas sits third in SG: Approach stats over the last 50 rounds. If his putter shows up on this shorter course, he could win in a landslide. Matt Kuchar ($7,600) is another player who missed the cut last week who I don’t mind targeting. He’s got a fantastic record at this event and course, and he showed up two weeks ago on the leaderboard at the Byron Nelson. Some other names to think about in GPPs here include Harold Varner III ($7,400 – see below), Doc Redman ($7,200), Russell Knox ($7,300), Patrick Rodgers ($6,700) and Anirban Lahiri ($6,400).
MY PICK: Abraham Ancer ($9,700)
Ancer enters this week in scorching form after posting a solo second-place finish at the Wells Fargo and a T8 at the PGA Championship. Ancer has been one of the most consistent players on TOUR since the beginning of the season and has now finished no worse than T26 in his last eight starts on TOUR, a run which includes top-10 finishes in his last three starts. While he has struggled on the greens a touch at the start of the season, he’s started to heat up with that club of late and has now gained strokes with the putter in three straight starts. His irons have been sharp all season, and he’s also gained over a stroke on his approaches in 11 of his last 12 PGA starts.
Ancer may feel like a recency-bias play here, and he’s sure to be popular this week, but there’s no discounting his fit for Colonial, which demands strong iron play and putting from its winners. Ancer has made the cut here each of the last three seasons and finished a career-best T14 at this event last season, gaining +8.0 strokes ball-striking for the week. While things in golf rarely work out like we think they should, a win for Ancer seems inevitable — he’s got the perfect venue and event to strike here. I think he does just that this week and, at under $10K on DraftKings, he offers similar elite upside to the players ranked above him.
MY SLEEPER: Harold Varner III ($7,400)
Varner comes into this event off a PGA Championship which saw him finish in T49 for the week. He didn’t flash on the leaderboard at Kiawah, but he did play well, gaining four shots around the greens — on a very tricky course — and +2.2 on his approaches. While he’s now missed the cut two of his last four starts, Varner has shown some improvement in his game lately, mainly around the greens where he’s gained strokes against the field in four of his last five starts.
A Texas native, Varner has only played this event a couple of times but opened with a 63 here last season after the restart, on his way to a T19 finish. He’s also developed a penchant for finishing well on these tighter, classic designs as evidenced by his second-place finish a couple of stops back at the RBC Heritage. I like the setup here for Varner, who often gives us several spike weeks a year in DFS and makes for a great GPP target if you can catch him on the right weeks. With his game showing confidence in many areas right now, I like chancing that his putter heats up a bit here by targeting him in the outright market on DraftKings Sportsbook and in big field tournaments for daily fantasy.
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