The TOUR leaves Kiawah Island, and so does Phil Mickelson with his sixth major title. The TOUR travels from the historic 2021 PGA Championship to the storied Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, for the Charles Schwab Challenge. The course will play as a par 70, measuring 7,209 and will be putt on bentgrass greens. There are 121 players in the field, and the standard top 65 and ties make the cut. The Charles Schwab Challenge was the first tournament back after the COVID-19 shut down last season. Daniel Berger (+1800, $10,000) is your defending champion.
The field moves back to its usual field size of 121 golfers after seeing its most robust group of 156 golfers in 2020, with every player on TOUR looking to get back to action post-COVID-19 shut down. The slimmer field will host some of the best golfers in the world like Justin Thomas (+1000, $11,000), Jordan Spieth (+850, $11,200), Tony Finau (+1600, $9,600), Justin Rose (+3300, $8,900), Collin Morikawa (+1400, $10,500), Abraham Ancer (+1400, $9700) and Patrick Reed (+1800, $10,300). With close to 54% or more of players potentially making the weekend, this week should result in one of the highest percentages of lineups having all six golfers make the cut.
Colonial Country Club has been one of the longest-tenured courses on the PGA TOUR, with this being its 76th season hosting a tournament. Colonial CC isn’t known for playing difficult like The Ocean Course, but it’s been ranked inside the top-10 in difficulty scoring relative to par over the past few years. Like last week, the winds can cause havoc at Colonial CC. The tournaments held in 2012, 2014 and 2019 all recorded either higher than average or severe wind conditions, with the winning score averaging around 12-under. We’ve seen close to 20% of rounds over the previous four years register very windy conditions. The fairways are tight and tree-lined, making any wayward tee shots challenging to recover from if the golfers find trouble. The greens are below average in size, measuring 5,000 square feet, but the average greens in regulation (GIR) hit here is close to the TOUR average. Initially, we would think that smaller greens result in a smaller percentage of GIR, but it doesn’t. Over the previous five years, the highest distribution of approach shots has come from 125 to 175 yards, which are relatively easy scoring opportunities for these guys. Similar to other traditional layouts on TOUR, like Pete Dye’s Harbour Town Golf Links and TPC Sawgrass, Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green will be the predominant statistic that will lead to success. DraftKings scoring will need to come from a massive amount of birdies, with one of the lowest eagle rates on TOUR. Also, with nine par 4s measuring under 450 yards, rostering golfers who rank high in shorter par 4s should take precedent over golfers who aren’t succeeding on these holes.
This classical course layout lends itself to all types of golfers. Kevin Na (+6600; $8,400) can win with an impeccable short game, while Rose can do it with tremendous ball-striking, shooting 20-under, gaining 10.2 strokes with his irons, and four strokes Off-the-Tee.
Joaquin Niemann (+2500 to Win, $9,300 on DraftKings)
When we’re back on bentgrass, we should be backing the Chilean sensation, who ranks 20th in approach over the previous 24 rounds. Niemann has only lost strokes with his irons in one tournament out of his past 11 and has played well on shorter courses like Colonial, finishing fifth at the RBC Heritage in 2020 and second at this year’s Sony Open at Waialae CC.
Chris Kirk (+6600 to Win, $7,600 on DraftKings)
Kirk is just 10 spots behind Niemann at 30th in Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green over the same timeframe but ranks the highest out of anyone in the field in Par 4 efficiency from 400 to 450 yards over the previous 24 rounds. On courses at or below 7,200 yards, Kirk ranks 27th in putting and eighth in birdies gained over his last two dozen rounds. Like Niemann, Kirk has been great on these shorter, classical courses, finishing seventh at the RBC Heritage and second at the Sony Open this year.
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