GOLF analyst Lewis Blain (@LewisBlainSport) shares his betting thoughts ahead of the Charles Schwab Challenge on the PGA Tour from Colonial Golf Course.
Charles Schwab Challenge | 23rd-26th May | Sky Sports
Fresh from the USPGA at Bethpage Black last week, six of the world’s top-15 head to Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
Justin Rose, Jon Rahm and Rickie Fowler front the market this weekend despite below-par showings at the second major of the year.
- Colonial Country Club – Fort Worth, Texas.
- Par 70 – 7,200 yards.
- A tight, tree-lined parkland track.
- Wind, heavy bunkering and water are hazards defend this course.
- Also known as ‘Hogan’s Alley’ after the five-time winner, Ben Hogan.
- The greens are small and elevated.
- It is an invitational therefore a slightly smaller than usual field will compete.
- Previous winners have either been elite in ball-striking or have a spectacular short-game (or both).
- Previous history at Colonial CC helps.
- Ability to play in the wind.
- Course form to consider: TPC River Highlands (Travellers); TPC Boston (Dell Technologies); TPC Deere Run (John Deere); Pebble Beach (AT&T Pro-Am); Harbour Town (RBC Heritage); Innisbrook (Valspar), Silverado (Safeway), Sedgefield (Wyndham) and even performances at Augusta National.
- Must be able to make birdies on par-4s (particularly 400-450 yard range) and be accurate off the tee.
- Not many ‘shock’ winners – Rose, Kisner, Spieth, Kirk, Scott, Zach Johnson, Striker, Mickelson, Garcia, Tom Watson.
It was a tough decision to make on what approach to take this week. Rose is a worthy favourite; Rahm’s bomb and gouge approach last year seemed to work and he will want to put that MC at the USPGA behind him; Jordan Spieth could be back and would be tempting if a little longer.
One of these could make me look silly come Sunday but I’m going to start my staking plan a little further down the odds list.
Emiliano Grillo (50/1 Coral)
The Argentine is on an upward curve every time he has visited Colonial CC. His debut in 2016 saw him make the cut but finish T55, he returned in 2017 to finish T27 and improved yet again with a third last year. Maybe he can go the extra mile and win the famous tartan jacket.
He comes into this week off the back of a top-25 at Bethpage Black, his best performance this calendar year – gaining 7.1 strokes total. He’s a frustrating putter at times but does rank fourth in the field for SG: Putting on Bentgrass over the last 75 rounds.
The main facet of his game is his impressive ball-striking where he has gained strokes on the field in 13 of his last 15 tournaments. He ranks well off-the-tee, around-the-green and ranks fifth in the field for Par-4 scoring (400-450 yards) in the last 50 rounds.
His maiden PGA Tour title came at the Safeway Open in 2015 whilst he has also racked up a number of top-20 finishes at the likes of TPC Boston (T7, 2018), TPC River Highlands (T19, 2018), Harbour Town (T16, 2018) and a T17 in the 2016 Masters.
Brandt Snedeker (55/1 PaddyPower)
If Snedeker was on the list of past champions at this course, you wouldn’t be surprised. He’s won nine times on the PGA Tour – twice at the Wyndham Championship (Sedgefield), twice at Torrey Pines, twice at Pebble Beach and once at the RBC Heritage (Harbour Town). All of which spring correlations to Colonial this week.
The forecast is expecting it to be quite windy and this will suit the 38-year-old very much. A number of his victories have come with astute performances in the wind, particularly at Torrey Pines. He also rates out third in the field in these conditions for the past 50 rounds.
He comes into this week off a surprise top-20 finish at Bethpage Black, a course that shouldn’t suit him in the slightest which suggests he is in fine fettle going into a perfect test. It too is his best finish in a major in over two years.
Sneds is an elite short-game player too, gaining strokes around-the-green on the field in 15 consecutive events. He’s often a reliable putter on these sorts of greens too. At Bethpage, he ranked in the top-three for driving accuracy which shows signs of improvement in that department and said following his final round: “typically when I play good I get on streaks,” which bodes well for us backers this week.
Kramer Hickok (150/1 SkyBet)
I’m going to end the staking plan with a speculative punt on Texas resident Kramer Hickok in both the outright (150/1 SkyBet) and top-20 market (6/1 SkyBet). A number of players have recorded their breakthrough win and Kramer could be the next on the list.
The 27-year-old went to the University of Texas where he befriended, roomed with and even caddied for three-time major champion Spieth. He has winning pedigree too, regularly contending on the PGA Tour Canada where he picked up two victories in 2017. His only season on the Web.com Tour in 2018 resulted in a fantastic wire-to-wire win in the DAP Championship. A tournament that Bryson DeChambeau has won.
The Texas Longhorn has taken to his rookie campaign pretty well and in 2019 he has made eight cuts from 12 tournaments – including a T10 at Corales and a T17 in the Byron Nelson last time out. He also gained the most strokes on approach of any event he has played on tour so if he can keep that up he will give himself opportunities. He has also gained strokes on the field for around-the-green game in six straight events and ranks 14th for Driving Accuracy and inside the top-50 for par-4 birdies or better and Greens in Regulation.
Backing someone on his home ground can go one of two ways but a T17 in Texas last time out is a positive sign. He too has had valuable time off to prepare for this tournament and he didn’t have to contend with the tough Bethpage Black last week.
Charles Schwab Challenge – Emiliano Grillo (50/1 Coral each-way)
Charles Schwab Challenge – Brandt Snedeker (55/1 Paddy Power each-way)
Charles Schwab Challenge – Kramer Hickok (150/1 SkyBet each-way)