The Charles Schwab Challenge (at Colonial Golf Course) is one of five PGA invite-only tournaments on the tour. With such an exclusive invite list, the tournament has produced notable winners over the past decade or so (Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Adam Scott, Justin Rose, and Daniel Berger).
The Colonial course itself was constructed in 1938 and has been the host of Colonial National Invitational Tournament. The course is known for “The Horseshoe” (Holes 3-5) which tend to get the worst out of the best players on earth. As indicated by the recent winners here, ball striking and Iron specialists appear to be two keys to victory at The Colonial.
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Last week, we only cashed on one of our picks (Keegan Bradley to finish T-20 at +250). It was looking for a while like we may get three cashes out of our picks, but Hovland and Spieth collapsed over the weekend. The week was a net of -3.5 units, putting us at +7.52 units on the season.
In last week’s picks, we probably should’ve taken the “Proven Winners” criteria a little more seriously. Phil Mickelson’s victory, though highly unlikely, set a record for oldest player (50) to win a Major. Certainly, Phil could be considered in the “proven winner” category.
We had a disappointing finish to a promising start in the PGA Championship, but we’re looking to right the ship this week at The Colonial. Ball Striking and Iron specialists (Approach to the Green) are our targets this week for the lineup. We’ll also be looking at past performance with a little more emphasis on that this week. Four of the Top-12 ball strikers on the PGA Tour are in our lineup this week. Here’s this week’s criteria:
- Good form of late
- Prior success at The Colonial
- Ball Striking
- Shots-Gained Approach the Green
Good luck this week!
The odds mentioned here come courtesy of the DraftKings Online Sportsbook
Middle of the Fairway – One Player to finish in the top 20
Emiliano Grillo +175
Emiliano Grillo has finished Top-25 at the Charles Schwab Challenge in three of five tournaments. He finished third here in 2018 but has had a very up and down season and career. The 28-year-old Argentine is 41st in the FedEx Cup standings this season, but 5th on the leaderboard in Ball-Striking.
Grillo finished 14th at Wells Fargo and 38th last week at the PGA Championship. Had it not been for the opening round 77, Grillo could’ve been in the mix last week on Sunday. Grillo is 3rd in GIRP, 19th in Scoring Average, and 12th in Shots Gained: Approach the Green.
Given his history at this venue and his 2021 form, Grillo appears to be closer to a coin flip to make the Top-20. I like the odds this week for Grillo, even if he isn’t a slam dunk play.
Edge of the Green – Two players to finish in the top 10
Joaquin Niemann +275
Joaquin Niemann is possibly a young star in the making. He’s the best Chilean Golfer since…Benjamin Alvarado (I suppose). I’m not implying there’s more pressure on him to become Chile’s first great golfer, but Niemann already has a PGA Tour victory, so the pressure in a non-major shouldn’t be a factor.
Niemann is currently ranked 17th in the FedEx Cup, serving as one of the premier ball strikers on the planet. He is 10th in Ball Striking, 7th in Driving Distance, 2nd in Scoring Average, and 8th in Shots Gained: Total. Niemann has one Top-10 finish at Colonial and two Top-32 finishes in his only three appearances here. More recently, Niemann has finished in the Top-30 in seven of his last eight tournaments. Had it not been for his final round 76 last Sunday, Niemann would’ve likely been setup for a Top-10 finish. Either way, the 22-year-old seems ready for his first PGA Victory this season.
Will Zalatoris +250
Willy-Z is back on the card! The last time we had Will Zalatoris on the card, he had a Top-5 finish, cashing easily for us. This time around, we are going a little more aggressive with him and shooting for a Top-10 finish. This guy has been consistently good this season, ranking 2nd in Shots Gained: Approach the Green, 6th in Shots Gained: Tee to Green, 7th in Eagles average, and 11th in scoring average.
Though Zalatoris has yet to play at Colonial on the PGA Tour, it would be hard to imagine he hasn’t spent time there, seeing as how he grew up in Dallas. Zalatoris is coming in relatively hot, finishing 17th at the Byron Nelson and 8th at the PGA Championship.
It’s also worth noting, Zalatoris has had his best round on Sundays over his past two tournaments (and four Top-10 finishes in four Majors). Whatever pressure typically mounts for most players on a tournament Sunday doesn’t seem to affect Zalatoris the same way.
Eagle Opportunity – Three Players to finish in the top five
Corey Conners +450
Not going with Corey Conners last week was probably a mistake. We went back and forth with the decision but ultimately decided the odds weren’t good enough for the Top-20 finish. Conners is currently 21st in the FedEx Cup standings. Conners has been strong lately, finishing Top-21 in five of his last six tournaments.
Conners fits our criteria well, ranking 3rd in Ball Striking, 4th Shots Gained: Approach the Green, 9th in Shots Gained: Tee to Green, 8th in GIRP, 10th in Driving Accuracy, 10th in Scoring Average, and 13th in Shots Gained: Total.
In three appearances at this tournament, Conners has finished 19th, 31st, and 8th. I’m not saying he’s going to win his first tournament of the season this week, but I feel really good about his odds this week.
Abraham Ancer +450
Ancer is on the short list of great players with no career victories on the PGA Tour. He is also one of the hottest players on the tour coming into the Charles Schwab Challenge. Ancer has finished Top-10 in each of his last three tournaments. He also had his best rounds on Sunday in his last two tournaments.
In his first two trips to Colonial, Ancer finished in the 50s, but broke through with a 14th place finish last season. Ancer is on the brink, playing well, and fits the mold for the type of player who succeeds at The Colonial. Ancer is 15th in the FedEx Cup Standings, 12th in Ball Striking, 2nd in Driving Accuracy, 25th in Shots Gained: Total, 12th in GIRP, and 17th in Scoring Average.
Collin Morikawa +350
I generally like picking Morikawa because he always appears to be a safe bet. However, he’s only cashed once in three tournament tickets for us this season. Morikawa is 2nd in Ball Striking, 1st in Shots Gained: Approach the Green, 1st in Shots Gained: Tee to Green, 6th in Driving Accuracy, 1st in GIRP, and 4th in Birdie Average.
Though he’s only 25th in the FedEx Cup Standings, Morikawa has finished in the top 10 in two of his last three tournaments. In his only time ever playing at Colonial on the PGA Tour, Morikawa finished 2nd (2020).