Following Brooks Koepka‘s near-domination of Bethpage Black and the 2019 PGA Championship field, the PGA Tour shifts from New York back to Texas for this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth.
Koepka regained the No. 1 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking with his defense of the Wanamaker Trophy and fourth Major title. Last week’s winner isn’t making the trip to Fort Worth, but the field remains strong with five of the top 10 and nine of the top 20 in the OWGR in attendance.
The 2019 event will be the first under the “Charles Schwab Challenge” title but the 73rd running of an annual PGA tournament at Colonial. Justin Rose won last year’s unsponsored Fort Worth Invitational with an aggregate score of 20 under par and returns to defend his title. Six of the past eight winners, including two-time champ Zach Johnson, are listed in the field coming off 2019’s second Major.
The course: Colonial Country Club
Colonial Country Club was designed by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell. The par-70 course measures 7,209 yards as one of the shortest on Tour.
Just 10 holes have a scoring average above par with the par-4 third being the first of those and the beginning of the Horrible Horseshoe — a three-hole stretch of the most difficult holes on the course.
Colonial puts an emphasis on landing areas off the tees, and most greens are well guarded by bunkers to force lay-ups. The Bentgrass putting surfaces are considered an average test with below-average size putting further emphasis on approach shots.
Last year’s field averaged 69.830 strokes per round with Rose winning by three over Koepka. Adam Scott‘s playoff victory over Jason Dufner at minus-9 in 2014 was the highest finishing score of the millennium.
Key stats to consider for the Charles Schwab Challenge
Success at Colonial over each of the last five years has depended strongly on a golfer’s performance in the key stats of Strokes Gained: Approach, Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, Fairways Gained, Proximity 150-175 Yards, Par 3 Efficiency 175-200 Yards, and Par 4 Efficiency 400-450 Yards, according to historical data from Fantasy National. All references to the model refer to a player’s most recent 24 rounds on par-70 courses.
Course history is extremely relevant this week with Colonial being a staple Tour stop. The average age of the past 16 winners is just under 37 years old.
Charles Schwab Challenge: Sleepers and value bets
Oosthuizen debuted with a T38 at Colonial in 2014. He withdrew the following year and missed the cut in 2016, but he finished T5 last year after skipping the 2017 event. He followed up a T29 at April’s Masters with a T60 at the second Major of the year. His best finish of the season was a second at the Valspar Championship.
The 36-year-old ranks ninth in the model over his last 24 rounds, specializing on the shorter par 4s. “Oosty” is ranked 20th in the world and is the ninth best player in the field. The sportsbooks make him a value with the 10th-best odds to win.
Casey’s coming off a finish of 29th at the PGA Championship, improving on his missed cut at the Masters. He won the Valspar Championship and finished fourth at the Wells Fargo Championship in his two most-recent non-Majors.
The 41-year-old didn’t participate in last year’s Fort Worth Invitational but he was T10 in the Dean & DeLuca Invitational in 2017. He’s been a whiz in SG: Approach this season and also stacks up well in this field in Fairways Gained and SG: Off-the-Tee. Only one other golfer on Tour ranks better in eagles per hole. He should take full advantage of the 565-yard, par-5 first hole as he seeks to become the second consecutive Englishman to don the plaid jacket at Colonial.
Conners leads my model at Fantasy National while ranking in the top six players in the field in all but two of the key stats. The 27-year-old picked up his first win earlier this year at the Valero Texas Open and made the cut at each of the first two Majors.
He’s struggled with the putter this season and ranks just 202nd on Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting. Rose entered last year’s event at just 56th in the same stat.
Charles Schwab Challenge: The winner
Molinari makes his debut at Colonial as the reigning Open champion. He fell flat at the PGA Championship with weekend rounds of 73-75 to finish 48th following his disappointing Sunday at Augusta, which resulted in a fifth-place finish.
Ranked seventh in the world, he’s the second-best player in the field but has the fifth-best odds to win and is sixth in DraftKings Daily Fantasy pricing. The expert ball striker enters the week third in the field in SG: Approach over his last 24 rounds. He has struggled with his putter over his last two events, but he’s performed better on Bentgrass greens over his career.