Last week was an awesome week for golf as Phil Mickelson won his sixth major becoming the oldest golfer to win a major championship. Brooks Koepka faded during the middle of the final round and got too far behind to mount a comeback.
This week the Tour heads back to Texas for the 2021 Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth. Colonial Country Club plays host and is slated to play around 7,200 yards as a par 70. Colonial is a classic tour stop and has been hosting an event since the 40’s.
Colonial is an old parkland style course with big old trees that line tight fairways. There are plenty of doglegs that also add to the difficulty and importance of getting the ball in the fairway.
Colonial’s small greens demand precision when you do find the fairway placing even more emphasis on solid iron play this week. Past leaderboards here definitely indicate the need for above average approach play.
Beyond iron play, putting is always an indicator of success here. If you glance over the previous leaderboards at this event, its pretty evident that good putters have success and most of the guys at the top putted well that week.
Putting is hard to predict week to week but certain players are certainly better on average than others and they should have an advantage this week.
Long hitting is not an advantage really this week, at least not near as much as normal. You don’t see a ton of bomb and gouge type players succeeding here. The shorter hitters are definitely in play this week.
Ultimately, the player who hits the irons well and putts well will have the best shot to win. It seems like that is the formula for Colonial. Berger, Na and Kisner are all recent winners here and fit that narrative nicely.
2021 Charles Schwab Challenge – Outrights
Last year I was on Morikawa as he missed a shorty on 18 for the win and then a really short putt on the first playoff hole to lose. His ball striking was superb and largely the reason he was in the hunt.
Berger had the balance of clutch putting and strong iron play to take the win. I expect to see someone in form and hot with the putter to come out on top.
I love Niemann this week as he fits right into that type of golfer for Colonial. Niemann has been playing great as well.
Niemann excels with his driver and irons ranking in the top 12 in SG: Off the Tee and Approach over the last 36 rounds. While the driver may not matter as much this week, that approach play will.
Niemann is also putting really well. He is 16th in SG: Putting over the last 36 rounds of guys in this field. Bent grass is also his best putting surface. Niemann has had the putter rolling recently as well.
Niemann is on a run 18 straight made cuts with 11 top 25’s. Very few guys are in form like that and the fit is excellent.
Hoffman is one of those that are in similarly terrific form like Niemann. Hoffman has seven top 20’s in his last nine starts including a 2nd in Texas a few weeks ago.
Hoffman is on fire with the irons ranking 6th in SG: Approach and 4th in Opporuntites Gained. He has gained at least 4.8 strokes on approach in six of his last seven starts which is outstanding.
Hoffman is also rolling the rock nicely as well. He has gained putting in four of his last six and he can get super hot with the putter. He should give himself some nice looks on these small greens too.
Hoffman also has a strong track record at Colonial with five top 25’s.
Longshots I like: Matt Wallace +6600 & Joel Dahmen +10000
2021 Charles Schwab Challenge – Top 10
Will Zalatoris +250
I refuse to stop betting on Zalatoris. He paid out another top 20 for us last week and is just an absolute machine. His iron play is unbelievable.
Colonial makes a lot of sense for Zalatoris considering his approach play prowess. Zalatoris ranks 1st in SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds and has been on an incredible run including making this article seemingly every week.
Zalatoris is also a Texas guy and should have some familiarity with the style of golf it will take this week. While Zalatoris’ putting is concerning at times, he more than makes up for it with this iron play. His floor is as high as anyone right now.
Longshot top 10: Joel Dahmen +700
2021 Charles Schwab Challenge – Top 20
Jason Kokrak +175
Kokrak fits nicely here as well. Kokrak ranks third in SG: Putting over the last 36 rounds and is normally known for his ball striking.
He has been pretty good on approach recently, gaining strokes in four straight starts. Kokrak is another player who is pretty long but he should be able to back it down when necessary this week to find some fairways.
Kokrak’s game clearly fits here as he finished third here last year and has two other top 35 finishes at Colonial. I like his form too with 10 straight made cuts including four top 15 finishes.
Cam Tringale +200
Tringale popped sixth in my fantasynational.com model this week so I couldn’t keep him out of the article. Tingale is another iron playing specialist.
Tringale has been doing everything well ranking in the top 20 in a multitude of statistical categories over the last few months. He is certainly playing the best golf of his career.
Beyond his strong iron play, Triangle has six top 20’s in 11 starts since 2021 began. He has been a really safe bet for a placement and is priced really nice this week given his fit for the course.
His bent grass putting stats are good as well and it should bode well for him this week in Texas.
Longshot top 20: Matt NeSmith +450
2021 Charles Schwab Challenge – Matchup
Jason Kokrak -106 over Justin Rose
The same ideas about Kokrak apply here. His floor is pretty high with his strong iron play and form. He should be able to ball strike his way into a top 30 easily with putting upside for more.
Rose however seems to have lost his game a bit. He has a couple nice finishes recently but the underlying numbers suggest it is a bit smoke and mirrors. He isn’t going to gain 11 strokes putting every week.
Rose is a good player but isn’t consistent enough right now and his approach numbers have been poor. Rose has lost strokes on approach in two of his last three starts and lost strokes putting in three of his last four.
Rose can certainly surprise here but the stats suggest he won’t unless he overachieves his underlying numbers. Also, Rose hasn’t played a ton and doesn’t seem motivated beyond the major championships at this point in his career.
2021 Charles Schwab Challenge – Watchlist
Gary seems to have come back from the dead for the second time this year. Woodland struggled last year with a nagging hip injury and really played some poor golf but seemed to have recovered earlier this year.
Woodland had strung together a couple nice starts but then struggled again until recently. Now he has made four of his last five cuts and has two top 10’s. Gary has all the skills to finish high if he is feeling healthy.
I like the value on Woodland given his form and ability. He is certainly a risk but he loves taking less than driver off the tee and should be playing from the middle of the fairway all week and he’s been hitting his irons well.
Woodland is +5000 to win, +400 to finish in the top 10 and +200 to finish in the top 20.
I don’t need to say much other than he is absolutely on fire, playing the best golf of his career. He is going to a track that fits him nicely and he has had success at.
Find a way to bet Conners, whether that is a top 10 or in a matchup you like because this may be the peak play for him right now.