Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Charles Schwab Challenge Tips 2021

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Plenty of the Kiawah Island field have travelled west to Fort Worth, Texas for the final leg of the Texas Swing. The 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 shorter field. Defending champion Daniel Berger, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Reed, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas headline.

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Before we go into the detail surrounding the Charles Schwab Challenge, we always have new visitors to Golf Betting System, with the U.S. Open only 4 weeks away. Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published every Tuesday of the golfing calendar), the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube and our hugely popular, 5,900+ strong, private Group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

Course Guide: Colonial CC sits in the same classical course category as Torrey Pines, Riviera Country Club, Augusta National, and Muirfield Village, 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 simply overpowered. The tree-lined parkland course features pure Bentgrass greens that are extremely small at an average size of only 5,000 square feet. Birdies are hard to come by at Colonial with the 2 par-5s amongst the toughest on Tour to birdie or better.

Colonial will be only the third tournament on pure Bentgrass greens of 2021 on the PGA Tour. Naturally now as the PGA moves into summer, Bentgrass putting surfaces will be more regularly seen from week to week.

Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas: Designer: Bredemus/Maxwell 1936; Course Type: Classical; Par: 70; Length: 7,209 yards; Holes with Water Hazards: 6; Fairways Bermudagrass; Rough: Bermudagrass 3″; Greens: A4 Bent, 5,000 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 20 of 51 courses. 2019: 70.86 (+0.86), Difficulty Rank 7 of 49 courses. 2020: 69.57 (-0.43), Difficulty Rank 13 of 41.

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

  • Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 27 yards wide; 275:26; 300:27; 325:26; 350:23.
  • Ocean Course – Kiawah Island: Up to 50 yards wide.
  • Quail Hollow: 250 yards from tee: 33 yards wide; 275:32; 300:31; 325:30; 350:29.
  • Copperhead: 250 yards from the tee: 24 yards wide; 275:20; 300:21; 325:23 350:19.
  • Harbour Town: 250 yards from tee: 29 yards wide; 275:26; 300:22; 325:26; 350:22.
  • Oaks Course: 250 yards from tee: 33 yards wide; 275:34; 300:29; 325:27; 350:26.
  • PGA National: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:27 350:25.
  • TPC Sawgrass: 250 yards from the tee: 31 yards wide; 275:32; 300:30; 325:28 350:20.
  • Bay Hill: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:33; 300:33; 325:39 350:29.
  • Riviera: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26 350:28.
  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30 350:26.
  • TPC Scottsdale: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:27; 350:27.
  • Torrey Pines South: 250 yards from the tee: 26 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:24; 350:23.
  • TPC Stadium: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26; 350:24.
  • Waialae: 250 yards from the tee: 34 yards wide; 275:32; 300:34; 325:37; 350:34.
  • Plantation Course: 250 yards from the tee: 59 yards wide; 275:61; 300:65; 325:60; 350:62.

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. Both short game specialists (Kevin Na, Kevin Kisner, Jordan Spieth, Chris Kirk and Zach Johnson) and ball-strikers (Daniel Berger, Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Boo Weekley) have an equal chance of victory on this Texan classical Colonial layout.

The 2020 renewal was a classic with Abraham Ancer, Daniel Berger, Corey Conners, Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Gary Woodland and others all within 3 strokes of 54-hole leader Xander Schauffele. Eventually after Morikawa missed a 7 foot putt for the title, Collin faced Daniel Berger in a playoff, with Berger capturing his first title for 3 years. The magic combination for Berger was 4th for Greens in Regulation, 4th for Proximity to Hole, 5th for Strokes Gained Approach and 8th for Strokes Gained Putting.

Kevin Na in 2019 was accurate and efficient from tee to green, ranking 17th for Driving Accuracy, 1st for Greens in Regulation and 1st for Strokes Gained on Approach. Give a putter like Na a week like that from tee to green and he’s impossible to catch, and so it proved

In 2018 Justin Rose put on a typical ball-striking clinic –  6th for Driving Accuracy, 1st for Greens in Regulation, 1st for Ball Striking and 1st for SG on Approach, 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) who 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 traditionally ranks in the top 15 toughest in Birdie Average. Only 2 par-5s, namely the 1st and the 11th, ranked 3rd and 15th toughest on the whole PGA Tour for Birdie or Better in 2019 and 2018, so look for players who are comfortable to score on both par-3s and par-4s.

And remember, we’re dealing with Bentgrass greens at Colonial Country Club for the only the third time in 2021 on the Tour. These Bentgrass green complexes 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: 2020: Daniel Berger (-15); 2019: Kevin Na (-13); 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).

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2020: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -11; Round 3 -13; Round 4 -15.
  • 2019: Round 1 -6; Round 2 -9; Round 3 -9; Round 4 -13.
  • 2018: Round 1 -8; Round 2 -10; Round 3 -14; Round 4 -20.

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 | Combined Stats | Strokes Gained 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 Thomas, Kevin Na, Jordan Spieth, Brian Harman, Patrick Reed, Sungjae Im, Brandt Snedeker, Tony Finau, Matt Kuchar and Daniel Berger.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to The Valero Texas Open, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Brendon Todd; 2) Brian Stuard; 3) Abraham Ancer; 4) Brice Garnett / Brian Harman; 6) Collin Morikawa; 7) Corey Conners; 8) Doug Ghim / Chase Seiffert / Michael Thompson; 11) Henrik Stenson; 12) James Hahn; 13) Billy Horschel; 14) Kyle Stanley; 15) Kramer Hickok / D.A. Points; 17) Joel Dahmen; 18) Matthew NeSmith; 19) Sungjae Im / Chris Kirk; 21) Tom Hoge; 22) Danny Lee; 23) Daniel Berger / Rory Sabbatini; 25) Scott Piercy.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Collin Morikawa; 2) Doug Ghim; 3) Justin Rose; 4) Emiliano Grillo; 5) Corey Conners; 6) Justin Thomas; 7) Abraham Ancer; 8) Matt Wallace; 9) Daniel Berger; 10) Charley Hoffman / Russell Knox; 12) Keith Mitchell; 13) Chris Kirk / Pat Perez / Jordan Spieth / Scott Stallings; 17) Matthew NeSmith / Kyle Stanley / Kevin Streelman; 20) Joaquin Niemann; 21) Vincent Whaley; 22) Troy Merritt; 23) Michael Thompson; 24) Billy Horschel / Luke List.
  • Scrambling: 1) Brian Harman; 2) Abraham Ancer; 3) Jordan Spieth; 4) Cameron Tringale; 5) Emiliano Grillo / Camilo Villegas; 7) Lucas Glover; 8) Patrick Reed; 9) Kyle Stanley; 10) Jason Kokrak; 11) Branden Grace; 12) K.H. Lee / Robert Streb / Will Zalatoris; 15)Tony Finau; 16) Ian Poulter; 17) Charley Hoffman; 18) Adam Long; 19) Pat Perez / Brian Stuard; 21) Matt Jones / Si Woo Kim / Troy Merritt; 24) Billy Horschel; 25) Corey Conners / J.T. Poston.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Tyler McCumber; 2) Camilo Villegas; 3) Brandt Snedeker; 4) Ian Poulter; 5) Scottie Scheffler; 6) Billy Horschel; 7) Matt Jones / Sebastian Munoz / Gary Woodland; 10) Daniel Berger; 11) Joel Dahmen; 12) Patton Kizzire; 13) Matt Wallace; 14) Nick Taylor; 15) Collin Morikawa; 16) Patrick Reed; 17) Anirban Lahiri / Cameron Tringale; 19) Joaquin Niemann / Henrik Stenson; 21) Brian Gay / Charley Hoffman; 23) Phil Mickelson / Keith Mitchell; 25) J.T. Poston.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Valero Texas Open, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Collin Morikawa; 2) Scottie Scheffler; 3) Corey Conners; 4) Abraham Ancer; 5) Ryan Palmer; 6) Keith Mitchell; 7) Jhonattan Vegas; 8) Charley Hoffman / Matt Jones; 10) Kevin Streelman; 11) Sergio Garcia; 12) Kyle Stanley; 13) Daniel Berger / Luke List / Justin Rose; 16) Matt Wallace; 17) Wyndham Clark / Jordan Spieth; 19) Joaquin Niemann; 20) Cameron Champ / Will Gordon; 22) Doug Ghim; 23) Brian Harman / Lee Westwood; 25) Sepp Straka.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Corey Conners; 2) Collin Morikawa; 3) Matthew NeSmith; 4) Jordan Spieth; 5) Will Zalatoris; 6) Daniel Berger; 7) Emiliano Grillo / Kevin Streelman; 9) Charley Hoffman; 10) Russell Knox; 11) Doug Ghim; 12) Matt Wallace; 13) Justin Thomas; 14) Abraham Ancer; 15) Henrik Stenson / Camilo Villegas; 17) Joaquin Niemann; 18) Keith Mitchell / Patrick Reed; 20) Tom Hoge / Patton Kizzire; 22) Phil Mickelson; 23) Brandt Snedeker; 24) Joel Dahmen; 25) Luke List.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Jordan Spieth; 2) Tony Finau; 3) Camilo Villegas; 4) Dylan Frittelli; 5) Cameron Tringale; 6) Byeong Hun An / Wyndham Clark / Kevin Na / C.T. Pan; 10) Justin Thomas; 11) Matt Jones / Mat t Wallace; 13) Brendon Todd; 14) Troy Merritt / Patrick Reed; 16) Matt Kuchar / Vincent Whaley; 18) Rafa Cabrera Bello / Anirban Lahiri; 20) Brian Harman / Brandt Snedeker; 22) Lucas Glover; 23) Harold Varner III; 24) Branden Grace / Kramer Hickok / Ian Poulter.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Collin Morikawa / Jordan Spieth; 3) Corey Conners; 4) Charley Hoffman; 5) Abraham Ancer; 6) Jhonattan Vegas / Matt Wallace; 8) Scottie Scheffler; 9) Doug Ghim; 10) Luke List; 11) Joseph Bramlett / Emiliano Grillo; 13) Lucas Glover / Justin Thomas; 15) Daniel Berger / Kevin Streelman; 17) Keith Mitchell; 18) Brandt Snedeker / Will Zalatoris; 20) Patrick Reed; 21) Tony Finau / Anirban Lahiri; 23) Kyle Stanley; 24) Russell Knox / Matthew NeSmith / Joaquin Niemann.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Jason Kokrak; 2) Billy Horschel; 3) Patton Kizzire; 4) Joaquin Niemann; 5) Harry Higgs / Ian Poulter; 7) Matt Jones; 8) Brian Gay; 9) Denny McCarthy / Robert Streb; 11) Brandt Snedeker / Camilo Villegas; 13) Branden Grace; 14) Patrick Reed; 15) Abraham Ancer; 16) Zach Johnson / Sebastian Munoz; 18) Austin Cook / Scott Stallings; 20) Brian Harman / Nick Taylor / Brendon Todd; 23) J.T. Poston; 24) Troy Merritt / Jimmy Walker.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Collin Morikawa / Jordan Spieth; 3) Abraham Ancer / Charley Hoffman; 5) Corey Conners / Camilo Villegas; 7) Brandt Snedeker; 8) Patrick Reed; 9) Matt Wallace; 10) Joaquin Niemann; 11) Brian Harman; 12) Emiliano Grillo; 13) Vincent Whaley; 14) Will Zalatoris; 15) Matt Jones / Scottie Scheffler / Justin Thomas; 18) Lucas Glover / Kyle Stanley; 20) Billy Horschel; 21) Branden Grace; 22) Troy Merritt / Kevin Streelman; 24) Si Woo Kim / Jason Kokrak / Matt Kuchar / Ian Poulter / Cameron Tringale.

Winners & Prices: 2020: Berger 70/1; 2019: Na 70/1; 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 7 Renewals Average: 36/1. Overall Average: 40/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2020: Thursday: Sunny. High of 93. Wind E 6-12 mph. Friday: Sunny. High of 95. Wind ESE 5-10 mph. Saturday: Sunny. High of 97. Wind SE 6-12 mph. Sunday: Sunny. High of 97. Wind SE 6-12 mph.
  • 2019: Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 89. Wind SSE 15-20 mph, with gusts to 30 mph. Friday: Partly cloudy. High of 90. Wind SSE 12-18 mph, with gusts to 25 mph. Saturday: Weather: Partly cloudy. High of 90. Wind SSE 7-14 mph, with gusts to 17 mph. Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 89. Winds S 10-16 mph, with gusts to 22 mph.
  • 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: The latest weather forecast for Fort Worth, Texas, is here.

Expect warm conditions in Texas this week. Temperatures between 27 and 31 degrees Celsius are a step up from what we have seen on the Tour to date. There has also been plenty of rain in the Fort Worth area in May, so I’m expecting soft conditions on the fairways and greens to start.

Colonial’s Bermudagrass rough will be in a healthy state, but with temperatures up towards 30 degrees Celsius at the weekend, the greens will have to be watered, so I think they will be accessible. A southerly wind gusting up to 20 mph on Thursday will be in play on Thursday, with it dropping to 10-15 mph across the rest of the tournament.

Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 11 winners here at Colonial since 2010 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this:

  • 2020, Daniel Berger (-15). 308 yards (23rd), 62.5% fairways (17th), 77.8% greens in regulation (4th), 28’1″ proximity to hole (4th), 68.8 % scrambling (25th), 1.64 putts per GIR (8th).
  • 2019, Kevin Na (-13). 292 yards (58th), 60.7% fairways (17th), 77.8% greens in regulation (1st), 29’1″ proximity to hole (1st), 68.8 % scrambling (15th), 1.68 putts per GIR (5th).
  • 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 Averages:

Driving Distance: 35th, Driving Accuracy: 19th, Greens in Regulation: 13th, Proximity to Hole: 17th, Scrambling: 17th, Putting Average 8th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2020, Daniel Berger (-15). SG Off the Tee: 31st, SG Approach: 5th, SG Around the Green: 27th, SG Tee to Green: 4th, SG Putting: 8th.
  • 2019, Kevin Na (-13). SG Off the Tee: 18th, SG Approach: 1st, SG Around the Green: 58th, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 2nd.
  • 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: 18th, SG Approach: 12th, SG Around the Green: 17th, SG Tee to Green: 4th, SG Putting: 7th.

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

Kevin Na (2019): “Yeah, I like this golf course. One of those golf courses I look forward to coming to. Fits my game; I’ve got a good record. You got to take advantage of those weeks because there is not too many golf courses like this on tour anymore. I’d rank Colonial in the top 3 of PGA Tour courses with Riviera and Hilton Head.

Yeah, 1st hole (par-5) I hit a good drive off the tee. Keeping in the fairway is huge there. I had a biggest cut. 3-wood was too much and my hybrid is enough, so I had a big cut. Ended up about three feet and felt like a bonus starting day. This is a golf course you don’t do anything different. You play your game. You see that white stone in the middle of the fairway? That’s where I’m trying to be every hole.

It’s a great designed golf course. You got to hit a lot of draws off the tee. Just some of the way the hole sits, I like it. Few cut holes. I can cut it when I need to. Mostly I think a lot of my draws work out here.

And I mentioned this many times, I feel like it’s a second-shot-in golf course. The golf course, everyone kind of puts it in the same position off the tee and same spot. It’s about how good you can hit it with the irons and how well you can putt. I’m a pretty good player fairway in.”

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 winners of the Charles Schwab Challenge since 2010:

  • 2020 – Daniel Berger: Round 1: 7th, Round 2: 7th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 2019 – Kevin Na: Round 1: 38th, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 1st.
  • 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 Off the Lead: Below are the shots from the lead during the tournament of the Charles Schwab Challenge winners since 2010:

    • 2020 – Daniel Berger: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 2 back.
    • 2019 – Kevin Na: Round 1: 6 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 2 ahead.
    • 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:

    • Daniel Berger: 4th PGA National/5th Pebble/9th TPC Scottsdale/29th PGA West.
    • Kevin Na: MC PGA/38th Trinity Forest/10th Heritage/46th Augusta.
    • 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.

    • 2020 – Rose / Varner III – AM/PM  -7/63 – 50/1 & 125/1.
    • 2019 – Finau – AM -6/65 – 40/1.
    • 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.
    • 4 – Phil Mickelson, Kevin Na, Justin Thomas.
    • 3 – Matt Kuchar.
    • 2 – Jason Dufner, Sergio Garcia, Lucas Glover, Brian Harman, Chris Kirk, Troy Merritt, Patrick Reed, Jhonattan Vegas.
    • 1 – Daniel Berger, Dylan Frittelli, Charley Hoffman, Billy Horschel, Kevin Kisner, Jason Kokrak, Danny Lee, K.H. Lee, Joaquin Niemann, Ian Poulter, Brandt Snedeker, Scott Stallings, Kyle Stanley, Henrik Stenson, Kevin Streelman, Michael Thompson, Brendon Todd, Camilo Villegas.

    Colonial has a habit of producing shorter-priced winners. Justin Rose won at 20/1 in 2018, 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. Prior to that, winners’ prices at the Crowne Plaza Invitational read: 2009: 28/1; 2010: 50/1; 2011: 33/1; 2012: 16/1.

    Outside of that, the in-form Boo Weekley scored here in 2014 at a very nice 100/1, and we need look no further than the last 2 champions here. Kevin Na won this at 70/1 in 2019, whilst Daniel Berger won here last year again at 70/1, in a field which had Major Championship strength, as it was the PGA Tour’s resumption event post lockdown. Hardly outlandish prices in themselves. Indeed take the past 7 renewals here and we see an average winning price of 36/1.

    It’s clear that experience wins around Colonial with only World Number 1 (at the time) Adam Scott and last year’s winner Daniel Berger 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 to late-teens under par unless the wind really blows.

    From a course form perspective, we’ve seen mixed looks in terms of winners’ profiles here of late. Berger’s win here 12 months ago came on his third visit to Colonial, where he had 1 MC and a 53rd to his name before that. Justin Rose’s victory here in 2018 was his first ever in Texas and came in his 5th appearance at Colonial. In those prior 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 Na, (4th, 7th, 9th and 10th), 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 Final Charles Schwab Challenge Tips Are As Follows

    Patrick Reed 2pts EW 22/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

    Colonial is a short, classical golf course where ball-strikers and short game specialists can compete on an equal footing.

    Shorter hitters can win around here and Colonial is also a course where Strokes Gained Putting has made up 52%, 41%, 43% and 41% of the total Strokes Gained of 4 of the past 5 winners. That’s a higher than standard percentage, especially when you throw in the fact that Spieth (2nd), Kisner (3rd), Na (2nd) and Berger (8th) all ranked in the top 8 the week they won for Strokes Gained Putting. Taking an in-form market principal as a working example, the last time Corey Conners ranked in the top 10 for Strokes Gained Putting was the 2020 Sony Open. So backing the Canadian for a victory this week (not an each-way place) would need to buck a considerable trend.

    We also know that the average winning price here of the winner is 36/1 across the past 7 renewals, although both Berger and Na have been 70/1 shots across both 2020 and 2021. Therefore I’m not in love with chasing the likes of Spieth, Thomas and Morikawa at very short odds. Daniel Berger is Daniel Berger (!) and then we have Tour maidens Abraham Ancer, Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris, interspersed with Tony Finau whose victory record isn’t the most stellar and Patrick Reed.

    My first port of call therefore is Patrick Reed who in this field has plenty of win equity. 9 PGA Tour wins since he arrived on the Tour in 2012 is a strong number and with the Charles Schwab Challenge being both in his home state of Texas and a Tour Invitational status tournament, it’s interesting to eyeball the quality of his wins. Working backwards, he’s won a star-studded Farmers Insurance Open, World Golf Championship, FedEx Cup Playoff, Major Championship, FedEx Cup Playoff, short-field Tournament of Champions and a World Golf Championship across his last 7 wins. So the Charles Schwab Challenge fits in this regard.

    Current form is also decent enough. 8th at The Masters, 6th at the Wells Fargo Championship and 17th at the PGA Championship, where making the cut on the number he shot -5/139 across the weekend which was the best in the field. Taking my 8 week Strokes Gained trackers he also ranks 10th for Tee to Green, 14th for Putting and 8th for Current Form in this field. And I like the look of his Colonial Country Club history, where he has finished 46th (2013), 33rd (2015), 15th (2016) and 7th (2020). Looking at that from a Strokes Gained at Colonial angle – using our free analysis page – he ranks 11th for Tee to Green, 7th for Putting and 7th for Total Stokes Gained. RESULT: MC

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    Charley Hoffman 1pt EW 45/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

    You have to say that Charley Hoffman is playing the best golf of his career since 2017. Back then ‘The Hoff’ forged his way up to 20th in the Official Golf World Rankings with a string of top results like 4th at Riviera, 2nd at Bay Hill, 8th at the U.S. Open (Erin Hills), 2nd at Glen Abbey and 3rd at Firestone South in the WGC Bridgestone Invitational. When he’s at the peak of his powers, confident and has momentum, Charley undoubtedly can mix it.

    And we’re in a similar situation right now, with the peak yet to come in my opinion. 7th at Pebble Beach , 10th at Bay Hill and 17th at TPC Sawgrass were the precursors to Hoffman’s standard contention at TPC San Antonio. Give Charley credit that day as he came from +5 in Thursday’s round to challenge Jordan Spieth on the back-nine Sunday. Since then 18th at Harbour Town, 18th at Copperhead and 17th last week at Kiawah Island has been super consistent. But for me Hoffman has always been more at home on Bentgrass base greens. 1st (2010) and 3rd (2015) at TPC Boston tells a story as does 2nd (2012), 7th (2013) and 3rd (2017) at TPC River Highlands on Bent Poa mix greens. It’s also worth highlighting that Charley has been in contention at Augusta National across 2015, 2017 and 2018, before the gravity all became a little too much.

    But I can see him being competitive at something like the Charles Schwab Challenge in a field which isn’t stacked with elite talent. 10th here in 2015, Charley has 3 further top-18 finishes here to his name. And his play right now is top drawer. 9th for Strokes Gained Approach and 15th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green across the whole season. Take an 8 week Strokes Gained snapshot and that becomes 4th for SG Tee to Green and 3rd for Strokes Gained Current Form in this field. And if he putts anything like he did in Pebble Beach, TPC San Antonio or Harbour Town in recent outings, I can see a Hoffman – boosted by a Major top 17 – getting himself seriously into the mix in Texas this week. RESULT: T3

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    Brandt Snedeker 1pt EW 66/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

    A player of the ilk of Brandt Snedeker must take positive momentum from the recent exploits of the PGA Tour senior citizens. 47 year-old (at the time) Stewart Cink won the recent RBC Heritage at a canter recently, doubling up his season number of PGA Tour titles after winning the opening Safeway Open in September. Phil Mickelson won last week’s PGA Championship at the age of 50 and back in March we saw 47 year-old (at the time) Lee Westwood finish runner-up in consecutive weeks across both the Arnold Palmer Invitational and The Players Championship. Such heroics inspire and 40 year-old Brandt Snedeker is quietly ploughing his own improvement furrow.

    6th at the Valero Texas Open, Brandt was 4th after 36 holes. That week at TPC San Antonio he ranked 3rd for Strokes Gained on Approach and 11th for Strokes Gained Tee to Green. 42nd at the RBC Heritage (1st that week for Strokes Gained Around the Green), he then teamed up with Keith Mitchell and finished in 4th spot at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. A move the week after to the Copperhead Course then saw him finish 11th at the Valspar Championship, ranking 20th for Strokes Gained on Approach and 8th for Strokes Gained Putting – his go to strength, as we know.

    We were then on him 2 weeks ago at TPC Craig Ranch for the Byron Nelson. Brandt drove the ball at just over 280 yards off the tee at the Nelson, on a course which ultimately favoured those with a little more power, but Snedeker still played well. 66-68-68 saw the Tennessee man in 15th going into Sunday, ultimately finishing 17th. He’s in great nick and I love his chances at Colonial this week.

    Wins at Forest Oaks (2007), Harbour Town (2011), East Lake (2012), Glen Abbey (2013), and Sedgefield (2018) have all come on tree-lined golf courses and additional wins at Pebble Beach (2013/2015) and Torrey Pines (2012/2016) have all come on classical layouts. And with the U.S. Open just over the horizon at his beloved Torrey Pines, a win this week would be perfect for a player who has played in 12 of the last 13 national Open Championships. RESULT: T50

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    Matt Wallace 1pt EW 66/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfred

    Matt Wallace delivered a full 66/1 each-way payout for this column at the Wells Fargo Championship a fortnight ago and I’m more than willing to follow him in yet again at Colonial this week.

    The negative first: he played here last year on course debut and missed the cut. But on the basis that it was the first PGA Tour event post-Covid lockdown, which was 3 months after the last PGA Tour action and that travel restrictions were in full swing, I’m actually seeing Matt being in Fort Worth and practicing / playing for 5 days around Colonial as a real positive. 50 weeks later the Hillingdon man is back and that suggests to me that he liked the set-up.

    Undoubtedly Matt now feels at home on the PGA Tour. “I’ve played with pretty much everyone over here now and it just makes it a lot easier. When you’re playing, you tee off on Thursday and Friday, there might be new people, but you know them because you see them around a lot. Yeah, that makes it a lot more comfortable than where I probably was a year or so ago.”

    And getting up to speed on the Tour is reaping rewards. 18th at Bay Hill, 3rd at TPC San Antonio and 6th at Quail Hollow. All proper golf courses and now at 79th in the FedEx Cup standings, Wallace can focus on continuing to play great golf and re-establishing himself back in the OWGR top 50. And with more high-profile results in the United States over the coming weeks and months we could well see the 31 year-old in Europe’s Ryder Cup team.

    Season-long Strokes Gained numbers of 10th for Approach, 14th for Tee to Green, 57th for Putting and 14th for Strokes Gained Total are not to be sniffed at and I like the look of Matt’s results CV both sides of the Atlantic. His win in Denmark came on a tight, tree-lined, parkland course and in the United States he has already delivered 6th at Bay Hill (2019), 3rd at Bethpage Black (2019) and 4th at Muirfield Village (2020). Proper, classical golf courses, which we know Colonial Country Club is as well. A move to Bentgrass putting surfaces won’t hurt either. RESULT: T56

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    C.T. Pan 1pt EW 150/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Betfred

    Accurate plotters can thrive at Colonial Country Club and C.T. Pan seems to be finding confidence again. Inconsistent should be Cheng Tsung’s middle name, but undoubtedly his Tee to Green game is improving of late as are his results. 20th at the Genesis Invitational, 3rd at the Honda Classic and 18th last time out at 7,600+ yard Quail Hollow are Pan’s best results across 2021, but don’t forget that C.T. contended at Augusta National last November, eventually finishing 7th.

    And tree-lined, Classical or Carolina-type courses have always been a forte. 2nd at Torrey Pines in 2017, 8th at TPC River Highlands in 2017, 2nd at Sedgefield in 2018 and 3rd at TPC Boston in 2019, all preceded Pan’s maiden victory at Harbour Town in 2019. Harbour Town and Colonial share similar plaid jackets for their champions and Colonial winners such as Zach Johnson, Boo Weekley, Kevin Kisner, Kevin Na and Daniel Berger have all had top-4 finishes on Hilton Head Island.

    So it’s not a total surprise to see that C.T. was 3rd here 2 years ago. 68-67-68 saw the Taiwanese in Sunday’s second last group with Jordan Spieth. And where Jordan shot a disappointing 72, Pan delivered a resilient 69 to finish behind Kevin Na and Tony Finau at 100/1. 18th for Tee to Green at the Wells Fargo last time out, a sporadic putter fired at PGA National recently where he was 9th for Strokes Gained Putting and 3rd behind Matt Jones. I think Colonial this week is a great opportunity for Pan to tie-up his PGA Tour card for next season. RESULT: T32

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    Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 18:30BST 24.5.21 but naturally subject to fluctuation.