We’ve got a familiar event with a different name this week on the PGA Tour as the players head to Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas for the Charles Schwab Challenge. Formerly known as the Fort Worth Invitational, the Dean & DeLuca Invitational, the Crowne Plaza Invitational, and a slew of other names, this remains an exclusive event with at least 120 players that meet the tournament’s semi-strict criteria.
With its invitational status and hefty prize pool, this field is a lot stronger than we would expect for the week after a major. That means that we’ve got quite a fun tournament to handicap this week.
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Colonial Country Club is the longest standing host for a non-major event. This event started way back in 1946 and has been played in all but two years since that time. Flooding canceled the event in 1949 and the Tournament Players Championship was held here in 1975. Other than that, this tournament has hummed right along.
This week you’ll want to favor accuracy because this is one of the tightest courses on the PGA Tour schedule. Doglegs and narrow landing spots make it tough to play from the rough with that second shot on this par 70, 7200-yard course.
Justin Rose’s winning score of 20-under last year was the second-lowest score all-time at this course and he challenged the record set by Zach Johnson back in 2010. That was the first of two wins here for Johnson, which gives you an idea of the types of players you want to look at here.
That’s not to say that long hitters can’t succeed here, but it isn’t the most important thing.
Better RSVP for the Party
This is one of five invitational tournaments on the PGA Tour, but the requirements are fairly lax. Past winners of this tournament and past winners in the top 150 of last year’s FedEx Cup points list are the starting point. Major champions, other invitational champions, Ryder Cup and Presidents Cup team members, last year’s top 15 finishers plus ties, the top 50 in the OWGR, and the top 80 in the FedEx Cup points list are all on hand.
However, being the week after a major, guys like Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Brooks Koepka, and Sergio Garcia are not on hand. That being said, Jon Rahm and Justin Rose were co-favorites early in the week at 10/1 and Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler were co-second favorites at 14/1. Xander Schauffele, Francesco Molinari, Tony Finau, Paul Casey, Bryson DeChambeau, and a host of others are on hand, so this is still a very strong field and a good event.
This is the first time since 1998 that the AT&T Byron Nelson and the Fort Worth Invitational have not been back-to-back weeks.
The PGA Tour has a requirement that players have to add a new event to their calendar in the previous four years. Justin Rose picked this event and won. It was his first time at Colonial since 2010, when he finished 71st. Kevin Kisner won in 2017 and denied Jordan Spieth, who finished second, back-to-back wins. Chris Kirk was a surprise winner in 2015, with Spieth one shot back. Adam Scott, Boo Weekly, Zach Johnson, and David Toms round out the winners this decade.
Tournament co-favorite Jon Rahm has finished fifth and second in his two starts at Colonial. Danny Lee, who had a great showing early in the PGA Championship, has finished 22nd or better in each of the last four years, including top-10 finishes in 2017 and 2015. Kisner’s 52nd-place finish last year was his first time outside the top 10 since 2015. Johnson has those two wins here, but hasn’t cracked the top 10 since 2013.
Brian Harman is way down the board at +12500 and should be under consideration this week. He’s finished in the top 15 in three of the last four years. Kevin Na is 66/1 with three top-10 finishes here dating back to 2009.
Ryan Palmer is a member at Colonial and has finished fifth or better three times since 2012. He missed the cut last year and finished 70th two years ago. Member or not, he’s lacked the consistency it takes to look him up at +7000.
As far as recency not in this event, Rory Sabbatini, who did not qualify for last week’s PGA Championship, was fifth, 18th, third, and 10th in his previous four events. He’s only 40/1. Scott Piercy is 50/1 with a second and a third over the last month. Matt Every also has a second and a third in the last month at +11000.
Scouting the Field
I’m never going to say that length is secondary in today’s environment, but it matters less at this event than usual. That’s why guys like Jordan Spieth, who rank 77th in driving distance, can finish in the top five. We still need well-rounded players, but fairway to green play is a big deal this week.
It would be a great story, but how about Jim Furyk this week at +9000. This is the type of course Furyk, who is first in driving accuracy, can win at and do so in style. He’s 15th in par 4 scoring with his ability to hit from the fairway. He’s 13th in strokes gained approach and fifth in bogey avoidance. He’s good enough at 65th in putting and 47th in strokes gained around the green. Furyk has missed his last three cuts, but this course suits him better.
Paul Casey checks all the boxes at +2500. Casey is 62nd in driving distance, but 13th in driving accuracy, 35th in par 4 scoring, 11th in par 5 scoring, sixth in strokes gained tee to green, 12th in strokes gained off the tee, 23rd in strokes gained approach, and 30th in strokes gained around the green. He ranks 169th in strokes gained putting, which is why his finishes have been all over the place this season. If he can drop some putts, he’s the right guy for a course like this.
Piercy is 17th in driving accuracy and sixth in par 4 scoring, so he’s a good option as well. Vaughn Taylor is not a long hitter, but he’s 25th in driving accuracy and sixth in strokes gained putting. He is an ideal long shot here at +12500.
Take some longer shots here this week. While this event is usually won by a big name, the big names get inflated prices because they hit it a long way. Fairways and greens are the ways to win at Colonial and guys like Taylor at 125/1 and Piercy at 50/1 are good bets. As far as low prices go, Bryson DeChambeau plays the right type of game here at 30/1 and so does Paul Casey at 25/1.