Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's Charles Schwab Challenge Tips 2022

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Congratulations if you were on-board Justin Thomas at 16/1 to win the PGA Championship. It was undoubtedly your lucky week! What’s for certain is that Major Championship golf’s future looks healthy with the likes of Cameron Young, Mito Pereira and Will Zalatoris now challenging for the very biggest honours.

Plenty of the Southern Hills field have travelled south 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 Jason Kokrak, Sam Burns, Tony Finau, Max Homa, Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas and Will Zalatoris 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. Welcome 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, +6,100 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 for birdie or better.

Colonial will be only the fourth tournament on pure Bentgrass greens of 2022 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 Tifway 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. 2021: 70.21 (+0.21), Difficulty Rank 18 of 51.

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.
  • Champions Course – Southern Hills: Average 40 yards wide.
  • TPC Potomac: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:30; 300:27; 325:23; 350:27.
  • 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.
  • 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; 275:32; 300:30; 325:28 350:20.
  • Bay Hill: 250 yards from the tee: 32 yards wide; 275:33; 300:33; 325:39 350:29.
  • PGA National: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:27; 300:25; 325:27 350:25.
  • Riviera: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:27; 300:26; 325:26 350:28.
  • TPC Scottsdale: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:30; 300:28; 325:27; 350:27.
  • Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30 350:26.
  • 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 errantly.

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 (Jason Kokrak, Daniel Berger, Justin Rose, Adam Scott and Boo Weekley) have an equal chance of victory on this layout.

2021 saw a head-to-head between Jordan Spieth and Jason Kokrak who eventually prevailed on a nervy final day; they entered Sunday 5 and 4 shots clear of the pack. Kokrak was 4th for Fairways Hit, 2nd for Greens in Regulation, 2nd for Strokes Gained Tee to Green and was in the top 10 for Putts per GIR and Strokes Gained Putting – the complete performance.

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 play-off, 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, traditionally rank in the top 20 toughest on the whole PGA Tour for Birdie or Better, so look for players who are comfortable to score on both par-3s and par-4s.

And remember we are dealing with Bentgrass greens at Colonial Country Club for the only the fourth time in 2022 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

Charles Schwab Challenge Winners: 2021: Jason Kokrak (-14); 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).

OWGR of Winners: 2021: Kokrak 35; 2020: Berger 107; 2019: Na 52; 2018: Rose 5.

Cut Line: 2022: +1; 2021: -2; 2020: -4; 2019: -2; 2018: -2.

Lead Score Progression:

  • 2021: Round 1 -7; Round 2 -11; Round 3 -15; Round 4 -14.
  • 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 | SG 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, Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Scottie Scheffler, Max Homa, Brian Harman, Kevin Kisner, Bryson DeChambeau, Rory Sabbatini and Sungjae Im.

Charles Schwab Challenge Winning Prices: 2021: Kokrak 60/1; 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 8 Renewals Average: 39/1; Overall Average: 43/1.

Historical Weather:

  • 2021: Thursday: Mostly cloudy. High of 89. Wind S 12-22 mph. Friday: Mostly cloudy. High of 80. Wind NE 6-12 mph. Due to heavy rain and lightning, the second round was suspended from 1:49 – 4:15 p.m. CT (2 hours, 26 minutes). Saturday: Mostly cloudy. High of 79. Wind ENE 5-10 mph. Sunday: Mostly cloudy. High of 78. Wind ESE 10-18 mph.
  • 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: Latest weather forecast for Fort Worth, Texas, is here.

We’re in Texas, so the first question to answer is how much wind will the players face?  Well Thursday and Friday looks calm to moderate, with a step-change across the weekend where south westerlies with gusts up and around 30 mph are forecast. The weather will be hot (29-37 degrees Celsius) throughout, so greens will be watered continually. Although very dry in the build-up, likely thunderstorms on Tuesday and Wednesday will likely provide cut on the fairways plus receptive greens for Thursday.

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 both PGA Tour and DP World Tour events. Players’ rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:

  • Top 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Sungjae Im; 2) Jason Kokrak / Jordan Spieth; 4) Tony Finau; 5) Mito Pereira; 6) Abraham Ancer / Collin Morikawa; 8) Will Zalatoris; 9) Lucas Glover / C.T. Pan; 11) Kurt Kitayama / Erik van Rooyen; 13) Viktor Hovland /Chris Kirk; 15) Sam Burns; 16) Paul Barjon; 17) Max Homa / Matt Jones; 19) J.T. Poston; 20) Webb Simpson / Austin Smotherman; 22) Talor Gooch / Gary Woodland; 24) Adam Long / Matthew NeSmith / Ryan Palmer.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Kevin Na; 2) Scottie Scheffler; 3) Max Homa; 4) Collin Morikawa; 5) Justin Thomas / Harold Varner III; 7) Jordan Spieth; 8) Sungjae Im; 9) Stewart Cink; 10) Viktor Hovland / C.T. Pan / Will Zalatoris; 13) Sebastian Munoz / Mito Pereira; 15) Cameron Tringale; 16) Tommy Fleetwood / J.J. Spaun; 18) Chris Kirk; 19) Paul Barjon; 20) Nate Lashley; 21) Chad Ramey / Alex Smalley; 23) Justin Rose / Gary Woodland; 25) Kurt Kitayama / Pat Perez.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Rory Sabbatini; 2) Pat Perez; 3) Jordan Spieth; 4) Sungjae Im; 5) Justin Thomas; 6) Kevin Na; 7) Vince Whaley; 8) Billy Horschel; 9) Chris Kirk; 10) Brian Harman / Tom Hoge / Will Zalatoris; 13) Tony Finau; 15) Talor Gooch / Stephan Jaeger; 17) Peter Malnati / Andrew Putnam / Scottie Scheffler; 20) Lucas Glover; 21) Taylor Moore; 22) Doug Ghim / Matt Jones / Scott Piercy; 25) Min Woo Lee / Mito Pereira / Harold Varner III.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Jordan Spieth; 2) Sungjae Im; 3) Mito Pereira; 4) Justin Thomas; 5) Collin Morikawa; 6) Chris Kirk; 7) Will Zalatoris; 8) C.T. Pan / Harold Varner III; 10) Kevin Na; 11) Scottie Scheffler; 12) Sebastian Munoz; 13) Max Homa; 14) Tommy Fleetwood / Tony Finau; 16) Lucas Glover / J.J. Spaun; 18) Doug Ghim; 19) Kurt Kitayama; 20) Adam Long; 20) Brian Harman / Jason Kokrak; 22) Viktor Hovland / Scott Piercy; 24) Tom Hoge / Aaron Rai / Webb Simpson.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Lucas Herbert; 2) Justin Rose; 3) Troy Merritt; 4) Denny McCarthy; 5) Justin Thomas; 6) Abraham Ancer / Beau Hossler / Matthias Schwab / Cameron Tringale; 10) J.T. Poston; 11) Sam Burns; 12) Max Homa; 13) Bill Haas / Brendon Todd; 15) Christiaan Bezuidenhout; 16) Patrick Rodgers; 17)  Billy Horschel; 18) Brian Harman / Adam Long / Brandon Wu; 21) Jason Kokrak / Ian Poulter; 23) Bryson DeChambeau / Peter Malnati / Maverick McNealy.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Justin Thomas; 2) Sungjae Im / Mito Pereira; 4) Tommy Fleetwood; 5) Troy Merritt; 6) Will Zalatoris; 7) Jordan Spieth / Harold Varner III; 9) Max Homa / Kevin Na; 11) Tony Finau / Adam Long; 13) Collin Morikawa / Sebastian Munoz / J.T. Poston / Cameron Tringale; 17) Brian Harman / Peter Malnati / Scottie Scheffler; 20) C.T. Pan; 21) Lucas Herbert / Rory Sabbatini; 23) Viktor Hovland / Jason Kokrak; 25) Aaron Rai.

For a summary of the Strokes Gained Performances from this week’s field here at Colonial Country Club since 2016 click here.

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

  • 2021, Jason Kokrak (-14). 321 yards (1st), 73.2% fairways (4th), 75.0% greens in regulation (2nd), 29’7″ proximity to hole (9th), 61.1 % scrambling (42nd), 1.67 putts per GIR (9th).
  • 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: 32nd, Driving Accuracy: 19th, Greens in Regulation: 13th, Proximity to Hole: 16th, Scrambling: 19th, Putting Average 8th.

Strokes Gained Tournament Trends:

  • 2021, Jason Kokrak (-14). SG Off the Tee: 1st, SG Approach: 8th, SG Around the Green: 61st, SG Tee to Green: 2nd, SG Putting: 7th.
  • 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: 15th, SG Approach: 11th, SG Around the Green: 29th, SG Tee to Green: 4th, SG Putting: 7th.

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

Jason Kokrak (2021): “I’m comfortable around this golf course. A lot of the harder holes, I can hit shorter clubs off of. Doesn’t really bode well when I hit 4-iron in the middle of the trees on the last hole but overall I can take advantage of my length but also hit irons off a couple of tees where I’m uncomfortable. I think it’s just I’m able to take advantage of the shorter clubs I have in on some of these holes and then I’m also able to take advantage of the harder holes, I can hit iron or I have a 7-wood in the bag, I think on what is it, 4 or 5, the tough par 4, I hit 7-wood, 7-iron in there so I didn’t have to hit 3-wood or driver off there to hit a mid-iron into that green. I tend to like tougher golf courses that I know it’s soft this week and I know it’s quite a few under is going to win. But I’m comfortable here.”

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.

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:

  • 2021 – Jason Kokrak: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 2nd.
  • 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 From the Lead: Below are the shots from the lead during the tournament of the Charles Schwab Challenge winners since 2010:

  • 2021 – Jason Kokrak: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 1 back.
  • 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.

Form of Charles Schwab Challenge winners since 2010:

  • Jason Kokrak: 49th PGA/13th Copperhead/21st New Orleans /49th Augusta.
  • 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.

  • 2021 – Garcia / Spieth – AM/PM  -7/63 – 66/1 & 25/1.
  • 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 – Kevin Na, Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas.
  • 3 – Bryson DeChambeau, Lucas Glover.
  • 2 – Stewart Cink, Rickie Fowler, Brian Harman, Chris Kirk, Jason Kokrak, K.H. Lee, Troy Merritt, Patrick Reed.
  • 1 – Daniel Berger, Luke Donald, Tony Finau, Dylan Frittelli, Bill Haas, Charley Hoffman, Max Homa, Billy Horschel, Sung-jae Im, Kevin Kisner, Russell Knox, Danny Lee, Ian Poulter, Chez Reavie, Rory Sabbatini, Scottie Scheffler, Brandt Snedeker, Scott Stallings, Kevin Streelman, Michael Thompson, Brendon Todd, Camilo Villegas, Nick Watney.

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. Previous to that, winner 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 3 champions here: Kevin Na won this at 70/1 in 2019, Daniel Berger in 2020 at 70/1 and Jason Kokrak at 60/1 last year. Hardly outlandish prices in themselves. Overall across the past 8 renewals here and we see an average winning price of 39/1.

It’s clear that experience wins around Colonial with only World Number 1 (at the time) Adam Scott and 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 24 months ago came in his third visit to Colonial, where he had 1 MC and a 53rd to his name prior. Justin Rose’s victory here in 2018 was his first ever in Texas and came in his 5th appearance at Colonial. In those previous 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 Kokrak (3rd), 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

Jordan Spieth 3pts EW 16/1 (8EW, 1/5) with William Hill

The fact that I tipped up Will Zalatoris and Mito Pereira at the Byron Nelson a fortnight ago is both amusing and annoying in equal parts. “Weekafteritis” is a cruel mistress as is golf betting in general, but to see Pereira make double-bogey on the 18th to lose the PGA Championship and then see Will Zalatoris lose in the playoff to Justin Thomas was the strongest bout I have ever experienced. Amazingly both of them managed to lose, without a penny of my cash staked on them!

So it makes perfect sense to start this week’s betting card with Jordan Spieth who naturally I was very sweet on for the PGA Championship last week. I backed him at 18/1 in the deepest Major of the year, so 16/1 in this far weaker field seems a fair price to me.

Spieth in his home state of Texas works. Indeed we were lucky enough to be on him at 16/1 when he won the 2021 Valero Texas Open, breaking his winless streak which went back to the 2017 Open Championship, and a detailed look at Jordan’s career uncovers a fascinating Texas angle. Put simply, playing in his Lone Star home state really matters to him.

10th (2014), 2nd (2015) and 1st (2021) at TPC San Antonio; 2nd (2015) and 3rd (2018) at the GC of Houston; 9th (2021) and 2nd as recently as a fortnight ago at TPC Craig Ranch; Jordan has racked-up 7th (2013), 2nd (2015), 1st (2016), 2nd (2017), 8th (2019), 10th (2021) and 2nd here at Colonial. I make that 2 wins, 6 runner-ups, a 3rd place, plus 5 additional top-10 finishes in 24 stroke play appearances.

Spieth’s Colonial Scoring Average of 67.64 is amazing considering he’s played 36 rounds across 9 events – only Collin Morikawa’s 67.50 is better across 8 full rounds – and the World Number 9 has to be gunning for his 2nd Colonial victory this week.  And we have previous with Jordan who when he’s in form tends to contend often and win in bunches.

2nd for Off the Tee, 7th for Approach, 1st for Tee to Green and 7th for Total Stokes Gained Current Form across my 8-week Strokes Gained trackers, Jordan has to lead my portfolio this week. RESULT: T7

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Sebastian Munoz 1pt EW 50/1 (10EW, 1/5) with Boylesports

Sebastian Munoz is another I really like for the Charles Schwab Challenge this week. The Dallas, Texas resident who went to the University of North Texas in the northern suburbs of the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex loves playing here at Colonial and across Texas in general – that reminds me a lot of last year’s Charles Schwab Challenge winner Jason Kokrak who saw off Jordan Spieth in a Sunday head-to-head.

10th at Trinity Forest (2019) where he was 5th after 54 holes, Munoz has gone on to finish 9th at TPC San Antonio (2021), 3rd here at Colonial (2021) and 3rd at TPC Craig Ranch just a fortnight ago. I make that a couple of top-3s and a top-10 across his last 5 stroke play appearances in the Lone Star State. But I like the Colombian World Number 54 for a number of differing reasons.

As we know it’s President’s Cup year and qualification for Trevor Immelman’s International squad is ramping up nicely. Indeed Mito Pereira certainly entered the frame last week with an amazing PGA Championship performance, and that must inspire a player like Munoz who would love to become a rookie member of the 2022 squad. 4th at the ZOZO Championship and 3rd at the RSM Classic early this season have helped to get Munoz into the mix for qualification, and the 2019 Sanderson Farms Championship winner would love to capture a 2nd PGA Tour title at what would be the perfect time for his President’s Cup ambitions.

February to the start of May saw 5 consecutive top-33 stroke play finishes, but Munoz trumped that at the Byron Nelson 2 weeks ago, when an opening -12/60 saw him lead from the front at TPC Craig Ranch, which he then backed-up with a further 3 rounds in the 60s to deliver a 3rd place finish in McKinney. 55th last week at the PGA Championship will only boost his confidence and when he’s confident he really can mix it at the top of leaderboards. 67-65 here last year saw him T3 going into the weekend a position he went on to capture with a closing 68 on Sunday.

13th for Strokes Gained Current Form and 12th for Tee to Green in this field across my 8 week trackers, I love his correlating course form across other short, tree-lined tests featuring Bentgrass greens such as Old White TPC (3rd and 7th), plus TPC Deere Run (4th). RESULT: T48

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Kevin Na 1pt EW 50/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Kevin Na is a short course specialist who has quietly impressed in 2022.

Na ended the 2020-21 season shooting -14/266 at the Tour Championship at East Lake which tied with Jon Rahm as the best 72 hole total for the week. That powered him to a best ever 3rd place finish in the FedEx Cup, behind only Cantlay and Rahm – and naturally it barely got a mention! The last month or so has produced 14th at Augusta National, 26th at Harbour Town and 23rd last week at Southern Hills. You get the feeling that Kevin just needs one of his favourite courses to pop.

17th (2005), 7th (2007), 9th (2009), 13th (2012), 10th (2015), 4th (2018) and 1st (2019) here highlights that Na is the perfect type for Colonial Country Club and all of his 5 PGA Tour victories have come on short course, Par 70 or Par 71 formats – TPC Summerlin (2011 and 2019), Old White TPC (2018), Waialae Country Club (2021), and here in 2019.

A tremendous putter by trade, Na across my 8-week Strokes Gained trackers in this field ranks 1st for Approach, 10th for Tee to Green and 9th for Strokes Gained Current Form, so I’m definitely in on the World Number 34. RESULT: T7

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Troy Merritt 1pt EW 100/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

I mentioned on the Steve Bamford Golf Channel on YouTube the other day that Troy Merritt is playing some exceptional stuff right now.

16th at the season-opening Fortinet Championship where he was 3rd after 54 holes set the tone, and since then he has added 2 top-5 and a further 2 top-15 finishes. 15th at Mayakoba, 4th at Pebble Beach, 4th at TPC San Antonio and 12th at Harbour Town have seen the 36 year-old into the top 100 in the OWGR and into 52nd in the FedEx Cup Standings. He’s also 33rd for Scoring Average on the PGA Tour, compared to 82nd (20/21) and 120th (19/20) across the previous 2 seasons.

A plotter who loves shorter formats and Bentgrass greens, Merritt across his 3 visits to Colonial Country Club has finished 17th on course debut in 2016 and 7th here 12 months ago, where he shot a closing round 65 which tied the best of the day with Charley Hoffman.

A 2-time winner on the PGA Tour, both wins came on Bentgrass greens at the 2015 Quicken Loans National and the 2018 Barbasol Championship. But Troy is undoubtedly progressing towards another win, as you may remember he lost in a playoff last year to Cameron Davis at the Rocket Mortgage Classic played at the short Par 72 at Detroit Golf Club, which features Bentgrass mixed with Poa Annua greens. 5th this year at Pebble and TPC San Antonio also saw the Idaho resident in the mix on the Sunday back-nine.

A tremendous putter, Merritt across my 8-week Strokes Gained trackers in this field ranks 3rd for Putting and 5th for Strokes Gained Current Form. And he must be buoyed by his highest ever finish in a Major Championship at a far too long and onerous Southern Hills. RESULT: T57

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Stewart Cink 1pt EW 100/1 (8EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Stewart Cink is on an upward trajectory again.

4 made cuts from his past 5, the 48 year old – who’s still more than competitive on shorter tests – has already this spring finished 7th at Copperhead and 9th at TPC Potomac, before 23rd last week at the PGA Championship where he was T7 heading into Sunday. The World Number 76 is undoubtedly playing some very nice stuff at the moment.

And he’s always been the sort who uses a Major Championship as a platform for a contending performance. Here’s his record: 6th 1997 Buick Classic (week after 13th at U.S. Open ); 5th 1998 BellSouth Classic (week after 23rd at The Masters); 2nd 1998 Greater Hartford Open (week after 10th at U.S. Open); 8th 1999 Greater Hartford Open (1 week after MC at The Open); 1st 2000 MCI Classic (week after 28th at The Masters); 7th at 2000 NEC Invitational (week after 15th at PGA); 10th 2001 WorldCom Classic (week after MC at The Masters); 3rd 2001 Buick Classic (week after 3rd at U.S. Open); 1st 2004 The Heritage (week after 17th at The Masters; 5th 2004 Buick Open (1 week after 14th at The Open); 1st 2004 NEC Invitational (week after 17th at the PGA); 5th 2006 Buick Championship (1 week after 37th at U.S. Open); 2nd 2006 Bridgestone Invitational (week after 24th at the PGA); 7th 2008 The Heritage (week after 3rd at The Masters); 1st 2008 Travelers Championship (week after 14th at U.S. Open); 6th 2009 Bridgestone Invitational (week after 1st at The Open); 5th 2015 RBC Canadian Open (week after 20th at The Open); 1st 2021 RBC Heritage (week after 12th at The Masters).

Now I make that 5 wins, plus 7 additional top-5s, and 6 additional top-10s. Incredible stuff and it’s worth noting that he also lost 2 Playoffs when finishing runner-up, so 5 wins could easily have been 6 or 7 wins.

From a Colonial Country Club standpoint he’s also played some excellent stuff in Fort Worth, finishing 2nd (2000), 13th (2003), 14th (2004), 4th (2006), 18th (2007), 16th (2011) and 10th (2017).  Combine strong recent form, course form and Strokes Gained numbers from Copperhead (25th Tee to Green – 10th Putting), TPC Potomac (22nd Tee to Green – 13th Putting) plus Southern Hills – (25th Tee to Green) and I think he’s a must-back this week in Texas. RESULT: MC

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 16:30BST 23.5.22 but are naturally subject to fluctuation.