The 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge marks the resumption of the 2019-20 PGA Tour schedule and DraftKings is welcoming the return with a Fantasy Golf Millionaire Maker contest. An exceptionally strong field including each of the top five and seven of the top 10 golfers from the Official World Golf Ranking will be in attendance at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas June 11-14. We’ve looked at the opening betting odds at TheLines and made our picks here; below, we’ll look at the DraftKings prices and make our DFS picks for the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge.
We’ll also take a look at Colonial CC and the key stats you need to consider when making your picks. We’ll highlight some DraftKings lineup building strategies for Guaranteed Prize Pool (GPP) tournaments and discuss the importance of ownership. We then make our best DFS picks from each salary tier.
The course: Colonial Country Club
Colonial is the longest-tenured non-major host site on the PGA Tour. The 7,209-yard, par-70 course was designed by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell and features Bentgrass greens.
It is a favorite site of professional golfers, and that can be seen in the past leaderboards. Defending champion Kevin Na‘s world ranking of 52nd at the time of his 2019 win was the highest of any of the past five victors. Those five winning scores ranged from 10-under par to minus-20. Zach Johnson set the tournament record at the then-Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial at minus-21 to win by three strokes over Brian Davis. Ben Hogan holds the record with five career victories at Colonial, while 2020 participants Johnson and Phil Mickelson have each won twice.
Despite Na’s finishing score of 13-under par to beat Tony Finau by four strokes, only six holes played under par in 2019. The easiest was the 565-yard, par-5 first. It saw nine eagles and 150 birdies against just 23 bogeys and three doubles for a scoring average of 4.641. The most difficult was the 481-yard, par-4 fifth with just 34 birdies, 84 bogeys, 21 doubles, and five others. It induced a scoring average of 4.276.
It must be noted that the Charles Schwab Challenge and an undetermined amount of ensuing events will be played without fans permitted on the course as the PGA Tour and the world recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Key stats to consider
The stats most strongly associated with success at Colonial Country Club over the last five years have been Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, Strokes Gained: Short Game, Birdies or Better Gained, Strokes Gained: Scrambling, Par 4 Efficiency: 400-450 Yards, and Proximity from 125-150 Yards.
My model at Fantasy National looks at the most recent 100 rounds for each member of the field played on courses with Bentgrass greens. A larger sample than usual is being used to help account for the long interruption in the 2019-20 season. We need to look at the long-term, consistent abilities of those in attendance.
Additionally, we’ll pay closer attention to Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass surfaces this week. Highly volatile on a week-to-week basis, long-term putting success will be a crutch used by many at Colonial in their first true competitive action in several months.
Charles Schwab Challenge: DraftKings lineup building strategies
The first PGA Tour event since the cancelation of The Players Championship in mid-March, the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge is sure to draw more attention than ever before. Add in the elite, major-like caliber of the field and the little else going on in the entire sports world at this time, and DraftKings will certainly see a flood of DFS action. Now is a great time to get in on the fun. As noted above, the PGA Tour $3M Millionaire is the marquee attraction with a $1 million prize and a ticket to Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Fla. going to the first-place finisher.
With many new users expected to be in the water, it could be slightly easier than usual to place if making the right selections. At this point in a typical PGA Tour season, we have months of relevant data from which to draw. Course history, current form, and statistics all work together, but two of those have mainly gone out the window. Many users will be simply be picking golfers they know.
Below, we’re going to focus on consistently strong putters. We also want golfers with plenty of experience at Colonial Country Club. Familiarity with the venue and confidence in the flat stick will go a long way for those needing to work out some rust.
Without fans in attendance, it’s also a good time to take a chance on a few more bottom-tier options than usual. Clear fields of vision and quietude will help calm the nerves of less-experienced golfers lacking the career success of the most notable names and frequent contenders. Don’t be afraid to take risks, especially in the larger DFS tournaments.
Charles Schwab Challenge DFS Picks: Ownership
Rostering more bottom-tier golfers and going with a “stars-and-scrubs” approach is also a great way to help differentiate your DFS lineup. Roster managers often want to spend as much of their $50,000 salary as possible. In tournaments like the Milly Maker with 177,941 competing entries, however, it can be a savvy strategy to aim a little lower. This can help to avoid overexposure to certain golfers at the most common price points.
It will be a good strategy to avoid (or fade) the biggest attractions this week. Everyone knows Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson. Pivot to similarly-priced and similarly-skilled options such as Jon Rahm, Webb Simpson or Justin Thomas. This can not only help you to avoid a potentially missed cut by one of your most expensive golfers, but it means you’ll be sharing your prize with fewer people, even if they do well.
Monitor tools such as FanShare Sports through the week of an event to get an idea of ownership. They do a great job of tracking how much golfers are being talked about and whether the discussion centered around them is in a positive or negative light. Taking a flier on a risky, high-priced golfer most others are fading can present a high degree of upside.
2020 Charles Schwab Challenge DFS picks
Top Tier: $11.8K – $9K
Jon Rahm ($11,000)
Rahm will get less attention than McIlroy and comes $800 cheaper. He’s also considerably more expensive than the likes of Koepka and Johnson, who many would rather have at the lower salary. He has gained 1.87 strokes per round across 10 career rounds at Colonial, according to Data Golf. He tied for second in 2017 and tied for fifth in 2018. Trust in those results while others are deterred by his missed cut last year. He’s second in SG: Putting to Koepka among those in the top five of the OWGR.
Rickie Fowler ($9,400)
Fowler has 24 career rounds played at Colonial but has played this event just twice in the last five years. He missed the cut in 2019 following a T-14 result in 2018. He ranks sixth in the field in SG: Putting across everyone’s last 100 rounds on Bentgrass greens. Fowler is also third in SG: Scrambling and is well-equipped to work his way out of the trouble most golfers are likely to frequently find in their return to tournament play.
Justin Rose ($9,000)
Rose leads my overall stat model while ranking second in Birdies or Better Gained, fifth in SG: Ball Striking, and ninth in Par 4 Efficiency from our chosen distance. Not the best putter, he specializes in the 15-25-foot range. He won here in 2018 and has gained 1.19 strokes per round for his career.
Mid Tier: $8.9K – $7.5K
Jason Day ($8,300)
Injuries have continued to plague Day’s career for much of the last two years as he has dropped to No. 51 in the OWGR. He withdrew from the Arnold Palmer Invitational and missed the cut at The Genesis Invitational prior to the season going on pause. The hiatus has allowed plenty of rest for his troublesome back, and he’ll now look for his first win since 2018. He leads the field in SG: Putting over his last 100 rounds on Bentgrass greens. He has 14 career rounds played at Colonial with an average of 1.30 strokes gained per round.
Jordan Spieth ($8,000)
Spieth will be a strange test of ownership theory this week. The public still loves the three-time major winner. The sharps, however, have been routinely fading Spieth for much of the last three years since his last victory at the 2017 Open Championship. His game has been in disarray.
Those struggles seem to go away at Colonial, though. The 2016 champion has twice finished as the runner-up and he tied for eighth last year. He also ranks second in the field in SG: Putting. Go ahead and roster Spieth under the expectation the stronger portion of entrants won’t.
Kevin Kisner ($7,600)
Another former champion and excellent putter, Kisner is a tremendous bargain. The 2017 champ missed the cut last year, but his victory came on the heels of a T-10 in 2016 and a T-5 in 2015. The 36th-ranked golfer in the world missed the cut at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, but he picked up a T-4 at the Sony Open in Hawaii earlier in 2020.
Harris English ($7,500)
English has averaged 1.58 strokes gained per round at Colonial and picked up a runner-up finish in 2016. He finished inside the top 30 in each of his next two visits before skipping last year’s event. Following the theme of this tier, he’s an excellent putter and short-game specialist.
Value Tier: $7.4K and Lower
Adam Hadwin ($7,300)
Hadwin became a father early in 2020 and thus played sparingly early in the season. He started the 2019-20 schedule with a runner-up finish at the Safeway Open immediately followed by a T-4 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, but his next best result was a T-26 at The Genesis Invitational. He has slipped to No. 55 in the world as a result, but he’s still one of the best putters on Tour. He has never missed a cut in four visits to Colonial with a top result of T-5 in 2015.
Danny Lee ($7,200)
Lee is familiar with Colonial with 28 career rounds played. He has averaged 1.31 strokes gained per round and picked up a sixth-place finish in 2017. He’s a poorer putter than our other selections here, but we can trust his experience on the course. He also tied for fifth at the Arnold Palmer Invitational before the break and was the runner-up at the CJ Cup @ Nine Bridges in a loaded field late in 2019.
Emiliano Grillo ($7,100)
Grillo was disqualified from the API following four missed cuts in his previous five events to begin 2020. Ranked 130th in the OWGR, he’s well outside of the range of typical winners. He could benefit from the absence of fans on the course as he chases his first PGA Tour win since the 2015 Frys.com Open. He’s 41st in putting and 26th by the stat model. He was third here in 2018 and tied for 19th last year.
Patrick Rodgers ($6,700)
Rodgers is a great example of an ownership pivot. At $6,700, he’s as cheap as roster managers should be looking to go in this field. He’s also $100 cheaper than two-time champion Zach Johnson and two-time winner in 2019-20 Brendon Todd.
On his own merits, he’s 11th in the field in SG: Putting on Bentgrass greens. He missed the cut in both 2017 and 2018, but he has climbed from 367th to 236th in the OWGR already this season while picking up a T-9 at the tough Farmers Insurance Open.