The Charles Schwab Challenge will begin Thursday, June 11.
It’s back. Golf, the real thing. As in the PGA Tour again. Not some made-for-TV exhibitions to raise lots of money for charity in these trying times, as well meaning as they were. They were still mostly diversions. But finally, after three months away, the best players in the world are going up against each other.
This week, to kick things off, is the Charles Schwab Challenge from Colonial in Forth Worth, deep in the heart of Texas. This tournament was originally scheduled for May 21-24, but like a lot of events had to be moved around. Get used to it. Doesn’t matter anymore. We’re only looking forward. There won’t be any spectators, at least for the time being. But that’s OK, given the circumstances. This was supposed to be the week of the Canadian Open, but that was cancelled. Next week will be the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, which was to be played the week after the Masters in April. And away we go. Just try to keep up.
On the Parx Casino Sports Book your favorite is World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, as he should be, at 7-1. Jon Rahm is next, at 11-1, followed by Justin Thomas at 16-1 and Webb Simpson at 20-1. The top five in the world, and eight of the top 10, are in the field. Tiger Woods is not. The two exceptions are Adam Scott and Tommy Fleetwood, who like many non-Americans are having issues with when and how to best return to this country from overseas.
This is the course where Annika Sorenstam made her PGA debut in 2003. It’s also the place which Ben Hogan made famous in his hometown. It’s a shotmaker’s layout. Not long by today’s standards, with tight fairways and smallish greens. The field is much stronger than it would be in most years. Of course, at this point it’s mostly a crapshoot trying to figure out who might be capable of doing what, just because. Do you go by the form they were displaying way back when, or the form they have maybe shown here in the past. It all makes for some interesting propositions.
Bryson Dechambeau, who had three straight top five finishes when the world was put on pause, is 22-1. As is Brooks Koepka, the four-time major winner who was not playing well after undergoing knee surgery last year. But he did finish second here in 2017. So, there is that.
Along those lines, Simpson had four top 10s in his last five starts and had top fives here in 2016 and ’17. Just saying.
Dustin Johnson is 28-1, joining Patrick Reed and Xander Schauffele. Rickie Fowler, who has one victory in the last 40 months, is 33-1. So are Collin Morikawa, Scottie Scheffler and Sungjae Im, three of the best young players out there. Im was playing well, and he likes to play a lot. So, there’s no telling how the prolonged layoff may impact him.
Tony Finau is 40-1, with Marc Leishman and Jordan Spieth, who won this in 2016 but has actually fallen out of the top 50, which seems almost impossible to believe. Matt Kuchar and 2018 champion Justin Rose are 45-1. Rose hadn’t been doing much at all, but maybe the time away could help him.
Kevin Na, the defending champ, is 50-1. Jason Day, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sergio Garcia and Gary Woodland are 55-1. Viktor Holland is 66-1. Kevin Kisner, the 2017 winner, is 80-1. Bubba Watson is 90-1, along with Joaquin Niemann. Phil Mickelson and Ryan Moore are 100-1.
Ryan Palmer, who is a member at the club, is 66-1.
Hey, there’s also a bunch of prop bets you can take a look at. Such as whether you think Jim Furyk is going to beat Mickelson, or who’s going to win certain group matchups, or if certain players might make an eagle. There’s always something for everyone. Me, I have a hard-enough time trying to give out some individual winners to get too ambitious.
In a week like this, and maybe for awhile, I’m not sure going with one of the faves is the smart play. I’d like to have some sense of what somebody is capable of before I get too whatever. I just think there’s too many unknowns and so much value on the board to go that route. But that’s why they make vanilla and rum raisin ice cream I guess.
Among the faves, I think I would take a shot on Webb Simpson at 20-1. That’s a pretty good number for somebody that might actually be suited for this course.
In the next tier, I think I would look at Sungjae Im at 33-1 and Tony Finau at 40-1. Im has already won this season, while Finau has only won once. And that wasn’t even a regular event. But he’s been there a lot. So maybe this week just makes sense.
For the record, I have Spieth in that yearlong pool that I have to pick back in December where I can only take a player once. And I was somehow leading the standings when the pandemic hit. Go figure. I’m confident that’s about to change.
There’s any number of tempting long shots out there. I’ll give you two: Kevin Kisner at 80-1 and Joaquin Niemann at 90-1. I was also looking at Viktor Holland at 66-1, if that makes any difference.
So, there you have it. Good luck, as always. Before you know it maybe we’ll have a major to get excited about. That really can’t happen soon enough.
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