Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Charles Schwab Challenge Tips 2019

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It was fantastic to see Brooks Koepka deliver an 11/1 winner for this column last week at the PGA Championship, following up on his 20/1 return for us at the Bellerive PGA held last August. My view that Brooks was an auto-bet in the Majors held true and his play across Thursday and Friday was out of the top drawer on a Bethpage Black Course which was stretching the world’s best. It’s also worthy of note that this win for Koepka gives him 4 victories in his last 8 major championship starts – the only men in the modern era to win 4 or more majors in a span of 8 starts are Ben Hogan, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. Esteemed company indeed.

Plenty of the Bethpage field have travelled down to Fort Worth, Texas for the final leg of the Texas Swing. The freshly sponsored Charles Schwab Challenge takes place at the classical Colonial Country Club and it is one of only 5 tournaments given Invitational status by the PGA Tour, meaning a short field of around 120. Defending champion Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth headline.

Before we talk through this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge tips, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is increasing by the week. Welcome to new visitors, listeners and viewers and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) our Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Charles Schwab Challenge Tips – Featured Bookmaker: betfair

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Course Guide: Colonial CC sits in the same classical course category as Torrey Pines, Augusta, Riviera, Quail Hollow and Muirfield, although it’s a far tighter affair from tee to green than most. At 7,209 yards, this Bredemus and Maxwell-designed par 70 cannot be overpowered. The tree-lined parkland course features pure Bentgrass greens that are extremely small at an average size of only 4,500 square feet. Birdies are hard to come by at Colonial with the 2 par-5s amongst the toughest on Tour to birdie or better. As we approach the close of May, Colonial is only the second visit to pure Bentgrass greens of 2019 on the PGA Tour; naturally now as we move towards summer, Bentgrass putting surfaces will be more regularly seen on the Tour.

Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas: Designer: Bredemus/Maxwell 1936; Course Type: Classical; Par: 70; Length: 7,209 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 5; Fairways Bermudagrass; Rough: Bermudagrass 2.5″; Greens: Bent, 4,500 sq.ft average; Tournament Stimp: 12ft; Course Scoring Average 2012: 71.13 (+1.13), Difficulty Rank 13 of 49 courses. 2013: 69.90 (-0.10), Difficulty Rank 24 of 43 courses. 2014: 70.27 (+0.27), Rank 19 of 48 courses. 2015: 69.78 (-0.22), Difficulty Rank 21 of 52 courses. 2016: 70.20 (+0.20), Difficulty Rank 18 of 50 courses. 2017: 71.15 (+1.15), Difficulty Rank 7 of 50 courses. 2018: 69.83 (-0.17), Difficulty Rank of 20 of 51 courses.

Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Colonial and how they compare to recent courses on Tour:

  • Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 27 yards wide; 275:25; 300:26; 325:25; 350:22.
  • Trinity Forest: 250 yards from tee: 58 yards wide; 275:54; 300:56; 325:60; 350:57.
  • Quail Hollow: 250 yards from tee: 33 yards wide; 275:32; 300:31; 325:30; 350:29.
  • Harbour Town: 250 yards from tee: 31 yards wide; 275:25; 300:20; 325:26; 350:22.
  • Oaks Course: 250 yards from tee: 33 yards wide; 275:34; 300:29; 325:27; 350:26.
  • Copperhead: 250 yards from the tee: 24 yards wide; 275:20; 300:21; 325:23 350:19.
  • TPC Sawgrass: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:33; 300:32; 325:29 350:20.
  • Bay Hill: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:34; 300:34; 325:39 350:29.
  • PGA National: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:26 350:25.
  • Riviera: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:29; 300:25; 325:27 350:27.
  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 41 yards wide; 275:37; 300:33; 325:34 350:30.

Course Overview: Colonial provides its winners with a plaid jacket that’s extremely similar to those handed to the champions at Harbour Town. The similarities don’t end there as the two courses share traditional values in the modern world of the PGA Tour. Colonial is short by today’s standards, but the course only features 24 acres of fairway – making tee shot target areas extremely small. Errant drives are captured by tough Bermudagrass rough with most fairways on the property being tree-lined ensuring plenty of blocked approach shots for those that deviate.

As with most classical courses, there’s no particular right or wrong game-shape which dominates the champions list. Short game specialists (Kevin Kisner, Jordan Spieth, Chris Kirk and Zach Johnson) and ball-strikers (Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Boo Weekley) have an equal chance of victory on this classical Colonial layout. Justin Rose put on a ball-striking clinic 12 months ago – 6th for Driving Accuracy, 1st for Greens in Regulation, 1st for Ball-Striking – when he won in incessant heat. Little wind and watered greens helped him to amass a -20/260 winning total. Kevin Kisner played some lovely, balanced, plotting golf – 1st Driving Accuracy, 2nd Greens in Regulation, 2nd Scrambling, 3rd Strokes Gained Putting – when he won this in 2017 on a firm course with gusting 25 mph to 30 mph winds a feature. Jordan Spieth (2016) and Chris Kirk (2015) were wayward off the tee and scrambled and putted their way to victory; prior to that Adam Scott (2014) and Boo Weekley (2013) diligently plotted their way around the Par 70, both ranking in the top-10 for Driving Accuracy and Greens in Regulation. Power isn’t a huge advantage around this layout where birdies are hard to come by if the wind blows – Colonial ranked 20th, 6th, 15th, 14th and 13th toughest in Birdie Average across the past 5 renewals. Only 2 par-5s, namely the 1st and the 11th, ranked 15th toughest on Tour for Birdie or Better in 2018, so look for players who are comfortable to score on both par-3s and par-4s.

Colonial really plays as difficult as turf and wind conditions dictate. 2017 saw Kisner make only 16 birdies, but with a field-best 4 bogeys and a double bogey he outlasted the freer scoring O’Hair, Rahm and Spieth. But an eagle (a rarity here) and 21 birdies for Kirk, 22 birdies for Spieth and 25 birdies for Rose highlights that Colonial, if conditions allow, can yield birdies for those who can manufacture scoring opportunities on the Bentgrass green complexes which have nuances that take real time to understand. No wonder therefore that experienced players with a liking for tight, tree-lined layouts, tend to thrive here.

charles schwab challenge tips

Winners: 2018: Justin Rose (-20); 2017: Kevin Kisner (-10); 2016: Jordan Spieth (-17); 2015: Chris Kirk (-12); 2014: Adam Scott (-9); 2013: Boo Weekley (-14); 2012: Zach Johnson (-12); 2011: David Toms (-13); 2010: Zach Johnson (-21).

Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Top 20 Finishes | Combined Stats.

Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Paul Casey, Scott Piercy, Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele, Chez Reavie and Kevin Kisner.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Valspar Championship and Maybank Championship, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Chez Reavie; 2) Ryan Armour / Andrew Landry; 4) Tyrrell Hatton; 5) Bronson Burgoon / Colt Knost; 7) Scott Brown; 8) Francesco Molinari / Brian Stuard; 10) Paul Casey; 11) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Russell Knox; 13) Jonas Blixt / Kramer Hickok / Vaughn Taylor; 16) Emiliano Grillo; 17) Josh Teater / Michael Thompson; 19) Ryan Blaum; 20) Brian Gay / Kevin Kisner.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Scott Piercy; 2) Emiliano Grillo; 3) Corey Conners; 4) Rickie Fowler / Brian Stuard; 6) Xander Schauffele; 7) Paul Casey; 8) Jason Kokrak; 9) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Ian Poulter / Shawn Stefani; ; 12) Justin Rose; 13) Jason Dufner; 14) Joel Dahmen / Matt Jones; 16) Branden Grace / Jon Rahm; 18) Rory Sabbatini; 19) Jim Furyk / Kevin Streelman.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Aaron Baddeley; 2) Jordan Spieth; 3) Louis Oosthuizen; 4) Andrew Putnam; 5) Kiradech Aphibarnrat / Justin Rose; 7) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 8) Ben Crane; 9) Charley Hoffman / Chez Reavie; 11) Peter Malnati; 12) Vaughn Taylor; 13) Scott Stallings; 14) Paul Casey / Rickie Fowler / Matt Jones; 17) Denny McCarthy; 18) Joel Dahmen / Matt Every / Nick Taylor.

Winners & Prices: 2018: Rose 20/1; 2017: Kisner 33/1; 2016: Spieth 7/1F; 2015: Kirk 35/1; 2014: Scott 18/1; 2013: Weekley 100/1; 2012: Z Johnson 16/1; 2011: Toms 33/1; 2010: Z Johnson 50/1.  Past 5 Renewals Average: 23/1; Overall Average: 35/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2018: Thursday: Mostly sunny. High of 92. Wind SSE 6-12 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 94. Wind SSE 7-13 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 97. Wind SSE 7-14 mph. Sunday: Mostly sunny. High of 99. Wind ESE 5-10 mph.
  • 2017: Thursday: Sunny with a high of 93. Wind S 20-25 mph, with gusts of 30 mph. Friday: Sunny with a high of 98. Wind SW 15-20 mph, with gusts of 25 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy with a high of 96. Wind SSW 15-20 mph, with gusts of 25 mph. Sunday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 82. Wind N 10-15 mph.
  • 2016: Thursday: Mostly cloudy with a high of 83. Wind S at 15-20 mph, gusting to 30 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy early turning to partly sunny skies in the afternoon. Warm and humid, with a high of 86. Wind SSE at 10-15 mph. Saturday: Mostly cloudy early turning to partly sunny skies in the afternoon. Warm and humid, with a high of 86. Wind SSE at 10-15 mph. Sunday: Due to early morning thunderstorms, the original tee times featuring twosomes off of one tee beginning at 7:30 a.m. were changed to a two-tee start with threesomes at 10:19 a.m. Mostly cloudy. High of 85. Wind SSE at 10-15 mph
  • 2015: Weather: Thursday: Cloudy, but drier in the afternoon, with highs reaching only into the lower 60s. North wind at 10-20 mph. A total of 1.3 inches of rain fell overnight and into the morning. Friday: Overcast, with intermittent rain throughout the day. High of 76, with N wind at 7-12 mph. Saturday: Overcast, with a high of 76. Wind SE at 15-25 mph. Sunday: Due to the likeliness of inclement weather, final-round tee times were between 7-9 a.m. Cloudy with rain most of the day and a high of 79. Wind SSW at 10-20 mph.

Weather Forecast: Latest weather forecast for Fort Worth, Texas, is here. April and May in this part of Texas have been particularly wet, indeed we saw lots of precipitation during the AT&T Byron Nelson held at nearby Trinity Forest Golf Club. 31mm on Saturday allied to forecast rain on Tuesday afternoon should mean that the course is nice and lush. The real feature of the week though will be wind throughout the tournament. Southerly wind throughout will be strong at times, with gusts up to 30 mph forecast for Thursday. From Friday onwards, expect 15-25 mph winds throughout. Temperatures will be pleasant and  with wind a factor, expect watered greens potentially over the weekend.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 9 winners since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this:

  • 2018, Justin Rose (-20). 306 yards (17th), 66.1% fairways (6th), 79.2% greens in regulation (1st), 25’3″ proximity to hole (2nd), 66.7% scrambling (30th), 1.61 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2017, Kevin Kisner (-10). 293 yards (39th), 71.4% fairways (1st), 73.6% greens in regulation (2nd), 33’3″ proximity to hole (21st), 78.9 % scrambling (2nd), 1.76 putts per GIR (28th).
  • 2016, Jordan Spieth (-17). 299 yards (14th), 50.0% fairways (54th), 70.8% greens in regulation (17th), proximity to hole 34’8″ (59th), 85.7 % scrambling (1st), 1.65 putts per GIR (4th).
  • 2015, Chris Kirk (-12). 277 yards (41st), 50.0% fairways (60th), 63.9% greens in regulation (62nd), proximity to hole 33’9″ (57th), 61.5 % scrambling (39th), 1.57 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2014, Adam Scott (-9). 290 yards (52nd), 66.1% fairways (8th), 72.2% greens in regulation (13th), proximity to hole 29’2″ (4th), 70.0 % scrambling (16th), 1.73 putts per GIR (17th).
  • 2013, Boo Weekley (-14). 299 yards (17th), 71.4% fairways (6th), 75.0% greens in regulation (5th), proximity to hole 25’9″ (1st), 61.1% scrambling (40th), 1.65 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 2012, Zach Johnson (-12). 289 yards (51st), 58.9% fairways (26th), 62.5% greens in regulation (38th), proximity to hole 35’3″ (26th), 70.4% scrambling (3rd), 1.62 putts per GIR (2nd).
  • 2011, David Toms (-15). 299 yards (28th), 67.9% fairways (4th), 72.2% greens in regulation (4th), proximity to hole 28’1″ (2nd), 70.0% scrambling (5th), 1.58 putts per GIR (1st).
  • 2010, Zach Johnson (-21). 291 yards (45th), 69.6% fairways (10th), 84.7% greens in regulation (1st), proximity to hole 25’10” (6th), 72.7% scrambling (13th), 1.66 putts per GIR (11th).

Tournament Skill Average:

  • Driving Distance: 33rd, Driving Accuracy: 19th, Greens in Regulation: 16th, Proximity to Hole: 20th, Scrambling: 17th, Putting Average 8th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2018, Justin Rose (-20). SG Off the Tee: 4th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 19th, SG Tee to Green: 1st, SG Putting: 21st.
  • 2017, Kevin Kisner (-10). SG Off the Tee: 30th, SG Approach: 23rd, SG Around the Green: 2nd, SG Tee to Green: 5th, SG Putting: 3rd.
  • 2016, Jordan Spieth (-17). SG Off the Tee: 5th, SG Approach: 30th, SG Around the Green: 6th, SG Tee to Green: 7th, SG Putting: 2nd.

Strokes Gained Tournament Skill Averages:

  • SG Off the Tee: 13th, SG Approach: 18th, SG Around the Green: 9th, SG Tee to Green: 4th, SG Putting: 9th.

Let’s take a view from players as to how Colonial sets up and what skill sets the course favours:

Justin Rose (2018): “Every hole tempts you to hit driver in a way, you know. Every hole is just wide enough to hit driver, but it’s narrow enough if you miss it it’s going to be,  you’re going to have some type of challenge. The fairway bunkers are so good here you can almost challenge them and feel like if you’re in them it’s not such a penalty because they play firm. You don’t get many balls that sit down in these bunkers. I think that’s why guys do tend to be aggressive. It’s the type of rough here where you catch a lot of fliers and the greens are small and tricky. So catching fliers into these greens you’ll make a lot bogeys. For me, keeping it in play. I’m pretty confident in my iron play right now. If I am around that 150, then I’m pretty comfortable right now.

I think the rough is tough enough around here if you catch a bad lie it’s hard to get it to the green. If you have a decent lie, huge fliers in play around here. The greens are small. If the ball is in play it takes it out of the equation. I chanced my luck a little bit. Hit a bad tee shot on 18. I did the right things at the right time today. I was getting a little frustrated early in my round not making a few putts, and then made a putt at the right time, which kind of just kept my head up and kept things moving forward.”

Kevin Kisner (2017): “Played nicely coming down the fairway, which you got to do around here. I’ve played really conservative on the pins I didn’t like. I just love the golf course. I feel super comfortable. I know the pins I wants to go after and the pins I don’t. It’s just like what I grew up on, so that’s why I love it. Most important thing about playing well around here is getting the ball in the fairway, because you just can’t get to the small greens out of the rough. You get so blocked out with the trees if you’re in the rough that you hit so many run-up shots you’re just not going to hit the greens with. Probably hit 11, 12 fairways both days. You’re going to hit some short irons. If you hit the green, you don’t have more than about a 25-footer for birdie.

Chris Kirk (2016): “I’ve played well here over the years, but I don’t think people would consider me an elite ball striker or shot maker necessarily. It’s been a course that’s suited guys who hit the ball right to left over the years, Zach Johnson, Kenny Perry, Stricker, some other guys like that, and I definitely fit in that category. I think that I’ve always been a very good iron player. I may not have driven the ball as well as some guys over the years, but I’ve always been a very good, solid iron player and control my distance really well and usually play well in the wind, and if you pair that with making a putt here or there, that usually does well around here.

The course appeals to more of a feel player. If you can kind of flight your shots and work the ball with the wind here and there, you’re going to have a big advantage out here because there’s a ton of cross-winds that you play in on this course. You’ll get a lot of off the left and a little in or maybe a little help. It’s just a lot of sort of calculating exactly what that wind is doing on those iron shots, and you have to be very precise with how small the greens are here. So yeah, I would think that a feel player and being able to judge those distances and judge that wind just right is crucial here.

Jordan Spieth (2015): “I think it’s going to be easier to hit fairways because one of the harder parts when this is firm and fast is holding the fairway. So it’s going to be easier to hit fairways, but I think if you don’t hit the fairway, I would imagine the rough’s going to be very healthy. You’re going to have to judge if it’s going to come out fat or if it’s going to come out as a flyer. And if you get above the hole around here, it doesn’t matter if they’re wet or not, they’re going to be fast, and you’re going to struggle. So it’s still going to be a test. I think that, yes, I think that the scores, if it’s moist, they’ll be lower. I don’t know about record setting, but doesn’t really change much about the tournament, though. It doesn’t make it a bomber’s course. It doesn’t make it favour I don’t think any type of player. It’s just going to be more of a premium on hitting fairway.

Adam Scott (2015): “But this is going to be a really good week to, you know, really play within myself. You can’t be wild around this golf course. You have to really hit the fairway this week. There’s a premium on that. The rough is up. It will be very hard to score well playing from off the fairway this week. So I think it’s a good week for me to really, you know, kind of tone things down a little bit and be very patient, which is pretty much how I played last year and it worked well. Well, the course is not too soft at the moment. So it’s in good shape. But ideally it would stay this way. When the course gets soft and quite soggy, it plays a lot easier for us because the ball doesn’t run so far off line as fairways get wider, greens become bigger. So I would say scoring is better. And certainly around this course, when this gets firm, it presents challenges, because you can’t bite off corners on holes that dogleg because the fairways are so narrow if the ball is running, and you have to be very precise into the greens when it’s firm as well leaving it under the hole. It’s the old style of golf that will prevail over 72 holes if you’re fairly cautious and make few mistakes, you’ll have a good score.

Boo Weekley (2014): “We just kind of broke the golf course down into places where we know that we can take advantage. If we hit it in the right spot, we can take advantage because we’ve got wedge in our hand or what I feel like 7 iron down are scoring clubs. I feel like I can hit it inside 10 feet. So to me that’s where I had to break it down the golf course to where if I hit it here, 3 wood off this hole is going to leave me an 8 iron or 7 iron. If I can get aggressive it’s feeling good, or if I hit driver, pitching wedge to gap wedge. I kept it in front of me. That to me I felt like I was driving the ball good the whole week. As long as I could just keep it in play and keep it out of that little bit of rough around here, you know, I felt like I could get it on the green somewhere and just two putt or make a putt coming in. I felt like every time I stand over it, if my mind’s right, and I feel like I’ve got the right club, I felt like I could knock it in at any moment.

Matt Kuchar (2014): “It was interesting watching Ryan Palmer go around last year, being a local guy that plays here quite a bit. When you feel like it’s more your home course when you’re playing just for fun, you’re not playing out of irons, irons just aren’t that much fun to hit off the tee. So Ryan is used to hitting driver off most tees. So hitting drivers off the tee, I flip flop every now and then between a driver, sometimes as a 3 wood. Watching a local guy pull driver there, maybe there is something to it. I hit driver there a bit, but that being said, my drive is a little different than some of the longer guys. But my driving accuracy is pretty strong. I think that’s a strength of mine. I try to use those strengths on certain holes where I can take an advantage. Maybe 9, if I’m feeling good with the driver to make that into a birdie hole and try to turn what a lot of times to get a par and get out of there into a legitimate shot at making birdie.

Path to Victory: Below are the end-of-round positions for the last 9 Colonial winners:

  • 2018 – Justin Rose: Round 1: 8th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2017 – Kevin Kisner: Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2016 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 9th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2015 – Chris Kirk: Round 1: 26th, Round 2: 15th, Round 3: 4th.
  • 2014 – Adam Scott: Round 1: 64th, Round 2: 36th, Round 3: 11th.
  • 2013 – Boo Weekley: Round 1: 23rd, Round 2: 9th, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2012 – Zach Johnson: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2011 – David Toms: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 2010 – Zach Johnson: Round 1: 5th, Round 2: 7th, Round 3: 3rd.

Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 9 Colonial winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2018 – Justin Rose: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 1 ahead, Round 3: 4 ahead.
  • 2017 – Kevin Kisner: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2016 – Jordan Spieth: Round 1: 3 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 1 ahead.
  • 2015 – Chris Kirk: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 7 back, Round 3: 3 back.
  • 2014 – Adam Scott: Round 1: 6 back, Round 2: 6 back, Round 3: 2 back.
  • 2013 – Boo Weekley: Round 1: 5 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2012 – Zach Johnson: Round 1: 1 ahead, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2011 – David Toms: Round 1: level, Round 2: 7 ahead, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 2010 – Zach Johnson: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 4 back, Round 3: 1 back.

Incoming form of winners since 2010:

  • Justin Rose: 23rd Sawgrass/19th New Orleans/12th Augusta/52nd Houston.
  • Kevin Kisner: 56th Sawgrass/MC Eagle Point/2nd New Orleans/11th Heritage.
  • Jordan Spieth: 18th TPC4S/MC Sawgrass/2nd Augusta/13th GC of Houston.
  • Chris Kirk: 13th Sawgrass/69th Heritage/33rd Augusta/8th TPC San Antonio.
  • Adam Scott: 38th Sawgrass/14th Augusta/3rd Bay Hill/25th Doral.
  • Boo Weekley: MC TPC4S/48th Sawgrass/58th Quail/6th New Orleans.
  • Zach Johnson: 2nd Sawgrass/69th Quail/2nd Heritage/32nd Augusta.
  • David Toms: 2nd Sawgrass/24th Quail/18th New Orleans/24th Augusta.
  • Zach Johnson: MC San Antonio/22nd Sawgrass/51st Quail/47th Heritage.

First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.

  • 2018 – Na – PM -8/62 – 66/1.
  • 2017 – Fathauer / Kraft / Poston – 1AM/2PM -5/65.
  • 2016 – Molder – AM -6/64.
  • 2015 – Ishikawa / Na / Spieth / Weekley – 2AM/2PM -6/64.
  • 2014 – D Johnson – PM -5/65.
  • 2013 – Palmer – AM -8/62.
  • 2012 – Johnson – AM -6/64.
  • 2011 – Reavie / Toms – AM -8/62.
  • 2010 – Adams / Bohn / Overton – 2AM/1PM Split -7/63.

For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Bentgrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:
• 7 – Justin Rose.
• 5 – Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth.
• 3 – Bryson DeChambeau, Francesco Molinari, Kenny Perry.
• 2 – Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Brian Harman, Martin Kaymer, Kevin Na, Xander Schauffele, Jhonattan Vegas.
• 1 – Jonas Blixt, Bill Haas, Charley Hoffman, Billy Horschel, Russell Knox, Michael Kim, Kevin Kisner, Martin Laird, Danny Lee, Louis Oosthuizen, Rod Pampling, Ted Potter Jnr, Ian Poulter, Chez Reavie, Rory Sabbatini, Brandt Snedeker, Scott Stallings, Kevin Streelman, David Toms, Nick Watney, Boo Weekley.

Colonial has a habit of producing shorter-priced winners. Justin Rose won at 20/1 last term, whilst Kevin Kisner won at 33/1 in 2016 and Jordan Spieth was the 7/1 favourite in 2015. Chris Kirk delivered at 35/1 in 2015, whilst Adam Scott was 18/1 in 2014, although the in-form Boo Weekley bucked the trend in 2013 when he won at a generous 100/1. Previous to that, winners’ prices at the Crowne Plaza Invitational read: 2009: 28/1; 2010: 50/1; 2011: 33/1; 2012: 16/1.

It’s clear that experience wins around Colonial with only World Number 1 (at the time) Adam Scott winning here with less than 3 tournament appearances prior. But as with many a classical golf course, both short-game specialists or grinding ball-strikers can get the job done at Colonial Country club, where scoring is generally mid-teens under par unless the wind really blows. With 20-25 mph winds likely to be in-play this week, I think the greens will have to be watered at various stages this week. Scoring-wise, I don’t foresee a -20/260 winning total this time around, but with moderate wind a constant factor, most likely around the -13/267 mark.

From a course form perspective, we’ve seen some changes in winners’ profiles here of late. Justin Rose’s victory here 12 months ago was his first ever in Texas and came in his 5th appearance at Colonial. In those preceding visits to Fort Worth, his best finish had been 13th way back on course debut in 2005. Adam Scott won here with nothing better than 64th and 65th in 2 previous appearances. But conversely Kisner (5th and 10th), Kirk (5th), Weekley (9th), Zach Johnson (1st, 4th, 9th) and Toms (2nd, 3rd, 4th) all had top 10 results here before triumphing since 2011.

My selections are as follows:

My Final Charles Schwab Challenge Tips Are As Follows

Francesco Molinari 2pts EW 20/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

A tree-lined, plotter’s course should suit Francesco Molinari down to the ground. In their formative years in Turin, the Molinari brothers learnt their golf on typical tight, tree-lined, classical courses featuring Bentgrass greens and a glimpse at Francesco’s Italian Open record is impressive: 2 Wins (2006 and 2016, 2nd (2018) and 3rd (2007) amongst a total of 7 top-10s around various tree-lined tracks highlights a player who’s at ease with this kind of golf. Also from a European Tour perspective 7th (2012), 9th (2013), 7th (2014), 5th (2015), 2nd (2017) and 1st last year at Wentworth highlight to me that the World Number 7 will get on just fine at Colonial Country Club on his tournament debut.

There were signs last week at a Bethpage Black course which was far too long for the Italian that his underlying good play is coming back to the surface after his high-profile disappointment at Augusta National. He outscored Tiger Woods by 6 shots across the opening 2 rounds at Bethpage and overall across the week a 48th place finish included some top-notch tee-to-green numbers. 7th for Driving Accuracy, 9th for Greens in Regulation,  6th for SG Approach and 13th for SG Tee to Green, Francesco needs to tidy the scrambling game to become a real factor. And with pure Bentgrass greens a feature this week, there’s no reason why we don’t see the kind of scintillating play we saw across Wentworth (1st), Garda Golf CC (2nd), TPC Potomac (1st) and Deere Run (2nd) last term.

1st (2019), 5th (2014) plus another 2 top 10s at Bay Hill, 2nd at Quail Hollow (PGA Championship 2017), 3rd at Muirfield Village (2015), and 8th at Congressional (2016), highlight that Molinari can compete on some of the United States finest classical golf courses, but I still get the feeling that Colonial at just 7,200 yards will be perfect for a player who was good enough to almost win The Masters just 6 weeks ago. RESULT: T53

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Paul Casey 2pts EW 28/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

I learnt my lesson not to back Paul Casey in a Major Championship at the 2018 Masters much to my chagrin. But in stock PGA Tour tournaments you have to face facts – he’s having a super 2019: 2nd at Pebble Beach, 25th at Riviera, 1st at Copperhead and 4th at Quail Hollow, he’s even played well at WGC-level finishing 3rd at the Mexico Championship and making his way into the knock-out stages at the Match Play.

Up from 22nd in the OWGR to 13th, Paul is undoubtedly upwardly mobile and his form at Colonial is excellent: 5 appearances have delivered 5th (2009 on course debut), 13th (2010) and 10th (2017), plus he openly admits he loves the golf course, “Yeah, I’ve always liked it. It’s been one where I think maybe the amount of different shots you get to hit, different clubs you get to hit off the tee, different shots you can hit into the green, you have got to move the golf ball both ways. Just you’ve really got to have it all. I love the difficulty, and the fact you feel like you should be making an awful lot the birdies. If you like a golf course you always play it well. I’ve looked forward to coming back here.

29th last week at Bethpage Black, he finished with a closing 69 to buoy his confidence. 6th for Driving Accuracy, 18th for Greens in Regulation, 4th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, 5th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and 1st for Ball Striking, Casey’s course management seems in rude health and top 5 results at other United States correlating courses such as Pebble Beach, Riviera, Copperhead, GC of Houston, Augusta National, Quail Hollow, TPC Boston and East Lake all make perfect sense. A winner at Wentworth in 2009, tree-lined parkland courses have always been a happy hunting ground for Casey and I also like him the outing after a Major Championship. RESULT: WD

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Chez Reavie 1pt EW 66/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Accurate sorts who have top-notch wedge games can compete around Colonial Country Club and Chez Reavie undoubtedly falls into that category. The World Number 59 has just qualified for the U.S. Open and must be confident heading into Texas. 18th at Quail Hollow and 14th at Bethpage Black are 2 super finishes at tracks that measured 7,554 yards and 7,459 yards respectively. Totally outgunned, averaging 287 yards off the tee, Chez used excellent approach play (Quail Hollow) and a super hot putter (Bethpage Black) to garner a strong batch of ranking points to make the OWGR top 60 cut-off for the Pebble Beach U.S. Open on Sunday.

It’s also worth noting that 14th at the PGA Championship was Reavie’s second-best Major finish in a season where he has already 3 top-7 and a further 3 top-20 finishes. 3rd at Waialae (2019), 2nd (2018) and 4th (2019) at TPC Scottsdale, 2nd at Pebble Beach (2018), 4th (2017) and 6th (2018) at TPC Southwind, 7th (2018) at Nine Bridges and 4th at El Camaleon (2017); Chez has undoubtedly started to deliver again on the PGA Tour. So it would not be a total shock if he was to pick up his 2nd PGA Tour title in a tournament where the field strength isn’t too intimidating. 5th (2011) and 11th (2013) here from 6 appearances, I think Reavie is a smart operator these days and it’s interesting to see that he tops my Driving Accuracy and sits 9th in Putting Average across my 8-week trackers, plus also sits in the top 10 of my published Predictor Model. RESULT: MC

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Brandt Snedeker 1pt EW 66/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Coral

We can also squeeze in another member of the World’s Top 50 at a rather juicy 66/1 with Coral. Brandt Snedeker owes me nothing over the life of this betting preview column, delivering wins and each-way returns aplenty. I backed him a while back at Copperhead where Todd Anderson had started to work with the 9-time PGA Tour winner after Brandt left Butch Harman. Since the switch Sneds has finished 5th at TPC Sawgrass, 30th at Copperhead, 48th at Harbour Town and 16th last week at Bethpage Black. For the record that’s Snedeker’s best finish at a Major since the 2017 U.S. Open and it featured 2 excellent rounds of 67 on Friday and 69 on Sunday.

As we know Snedeker is undoubtedly a momentum player, who, when he finds confidence is fantastic on classical, old-style golf courses. In the top 15 for Putting Average across his last 4 appearances here in Fort Worth, if Brandt continues to hit the ball as sweetly as he did at Sawgrass, Harbour Town and Bethpage on approach, I can undoubtedly see him being a factor this week and with wind forecast throughout, our Predictor Model ranks Brandt in the top 10 in this field for wind performance over the past 5 years. RESULT: T19

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Charles Schwab Challenge Tips. Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:10BST 20.5.19 but naturally subject to fluctuation.