Kern picks PGA Charles Schwab Challenge: Joaquin Niemann, Will Zalatoris, Emiliano Grillo, Kevin Streelman

Phil Mickelson is in the field at the former Ben Hogan at Colonial in Fort Worth, Texas, which tees off Thursday morning.
Can Phil Mickelson go back-to-back? Mike Kern doesn't think so but we wanted to run a photo of Lefty holding the Wanamaker.
Can Phil Mickelson go back-to-back? Mike Kern doesn't think so but we wanted to run a photo of Lefty holding the Wanamaker.@PGATOUR on Twitter

Almost. It’s the most frustrating word in sports, especially in betting. Among my picks (and I didn’t take any of the favorites) I gave out Brooks Koepka to win the PGA at 45-1, and also to finish in the top five at 8-1. And he could easily have won the event for the third time, but ended up two shots behind 50-year-old Phil Mickelson, which was a great story. Of course I would rather have cashed, but that’s the way it goes sometimes.

On to the Charles Schwab Challenge in Fort Worth, which is played at old style Colonial and used to be known as the Ben Hogan. It’s a course where you don’t need to be as long but places a premium on accuracy.

Jordan Spieth, who has played well the last few months (including his first win in three years) is the fave, at 10-1. His win was at the Texas Open just before the Masters. And I have him in my yearlong pool this week. Last week I had Justin Thomas, who missed the cut at the PGA. And so it goes. He’s 12-1. Collin Morikawa, who lost here in a playoff last year to Daniel Berger, is 14-1. Abraham Ancer, who had a good PGA as one of my other picks, is 16-1 along with Tony Finau and Patrick Reed.

Berger and Corey Connors are 18-1. Joaquin Niemann and Will Zalatoris are 22-1. Brian Hartman is 28-1, as are Scottie Scheffler and Sungjae Im. Justin Rose is 30-1. Billy Horschel and Jason Kokrak are 33-1. Charley Hoffman is 35-1. Emiliano Grillo is 40-1. Kevin Streelman, who played well at the PGA, is 50-1. Ditto Gary Woodland. Kevin Na is 60-1. Sergio Garcia is 66-1. So is Matt Kuchar, Mr. Mickelson, Si Woo Kim, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Wallace. Branden Grace, who also had a good PGA, is 80-1. We could go on, but you can certainly do that yourself. There’s always some name or names out there at longer odds that could grab your attention.

I’m not taking Spieth, just because. You know how I feel about chalk. But he’s been in the top 15 in seven of his eight career starts here, with a win and two seconds from 2015-17. Thomas was 10th last year in his debut, but I’m not going with him either although it would make perfect sense if he wins the week after I had him.

I really don’t know which ways to go. I could make a case for probably too many of these guys. So I will go light, but I’ll throw a few out there. Two of the blokes at 22-1, Joaquin Niemann and Will Zalatoris, I think are worth a little something. And they’re both +550 for a top five, which I will also take as a backup plan.

A little further down the list, I would try Emiliano Grillo at 40-1 (and 8-1 for a top five) and Kevin Streelman at 50-1 (and 10-1 for a five, maybe even 5-1 for a top 10). Again, nothing too crazy. These are mostly stabs. And hey, if you want to throw something on Mickelson just in case he’s still on top of the world, the numbers work but I just don’t see it happening. But it is golf, so sometimes almost anything seems possible.

As for a real longshot, I think I would try Harold Varner III at 90-1. And 14-1 for a top five, 7-1 for a top 10. I know that’s maybe a few too many names to go with, but I’m staying away from the faves so I’m allowed. But it’s your money, so proceed as you see proper. Just try to have some fun and have something to at least root for come Sunday. I know that feeling. Just hoping for no more close calls.

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