Charles Schwab Challenge

At just over 7200 yards, Colonial Country Club (Fort Worth, Texas) is short by today's standards and with plenty of dog legs dotted throughout the course it tests a player's ability to strategise. 

Gil Hanse has undertaken a redesign of this layout and it changes a lot we'll have to wait and see. For courses that he has had influence with it's worth studying form at the 2016 Olympics, 2020 and 2022 US Opens and maybe most notably the 2022 PGA at Southern Hills. Aronimik and TPC Boston are another couple that you could look to.

Typically, Driving Distance didn't matter at all here, but surprisingly Kokrak topped that statistic when winning in 2021, and Burns was 3rd when winning the following year. It reverted to type last year once again with Grillo ranking 66th in driving distance. 

This is a place where ball striking is key and if you can marry that with a performing putter then you're in business. Hitting these small greens in regulation with regularity will give you an advantage on the rest and as you can see below the last three winners have ranked no worse than 8th in that statistic. 

The winners and placers here down the years are littered with top 10 performers in approach play for the week. Concentrate on that area alone and you can narrow down your search for potential winners here at Colonial for the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Charles Schwab Challenge Tips

Here are the key stats from the top five finishers in the last three editions of the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Now let’s look at my five tips for the week in more detail.

Tony Finau @ 33/1 (Eight Places)

Tony Finau didn't hit enough fairways last week to get into the mix over the weekend but a top 20 was a solid result regardless. It was hard to make birdies from the rough, and that's what was needed and he suffered only hitting 27 of 56 fairways across the week. 

1st in strokes gained approach though is a sign his iron play was in great nick from both long and short grass and given how he has hit his irons over the last six months a venue like Colonial could be coming at a perfect time. Finau still wins at a fair lick and despite a downturn for a while has five wins in his last 68 starts. 

He is dangerous here also having finished runner up and 4th before and has only missed one cut in eight starts here. 2nd at Ridgewood at the 2018 Northern Trust, 4th at TPC Boston in 2018 and 8th at Winged Foot shows that Finau has a liking for these Hanse redesigns and a solid record here down the years may just be improved upon this year.

2pts each-way T.Finau  33/1  (1/5 8) Paddy Power

Keegan Bradley @ 60/1 (Eight Places)

Keegan Bradley hasn't turned up here many times down the years but given how he has hit the ball lately he has every chance of contending this weekend. Bradley ranked 1st off the tee last week at Valhalla, in doing so being 21st in driving distance and 2nd in driving accuracy.

That was a potent combination and but for a somewhat ordinary week on and around the greens he could have been in the final few groups at the weekend. He settled for a top 20 which continues a solid run where he was 21st at Quail Hollow and 22nd at Augusta. 

Keegan will be keen to make his presence felt on tour this year with the Presidents Cup on the horizon and he won't rest until he gets back into the Ryder Cup squad. Colonial represents a solid chance for him to get into the mix as those hitting their irons well in the lead in to this event usually reap rewards here. 

There haven't been many more players as consistent with the irons this year and having already landed a victory on a Hanse design at Aronimik back in 2018, and a 7th at the Country Club he has all the tools to build upon that fine record. 

1.25pts each-way K.Bradley  60/1  (1/5 8) Paddy Power

Akhshay Bhatia @ 60/1 (Eight Places)

Akhshay Bhatia may have missed the cut last week at Valhalla and although I was on him I put little emphasis on anyone not performing well there. It was a really poor Major venue which was lifted by a handful of players to provide superb entertainment over the final couple of days. 

Instead it's worth concentrating on what Bhatia has done in the last 12 months. Two wins, one at the Barracuda and the other here in Texas have been an eye catching start to his career and right now he could be capable of doing special things in the game. 

As I pointed out last week his win at San Antonio was statistically the second best of the year thus far, behind Rory at Quail Hollow. The left hander is capable of some special golf with his irons and should be chanced back in the state where he was so impressive last month. 

He lay inside the top 20 here on debut after rounds two and three last year and for me arrives a much better golfer this time around. 

1.25pts each-way A.Bhatia  60/1  (1/5 8) Paddy Power

Eric Cole @ 100/1 (Eight Places)

Eric Cole was all the rage a few months ago and for my money was going off some silly short prices on the PGA Tour. Things haven't gone his way this last couple of months but he's out to triple figures now and looks worthy of supporting. 

Cole finished off 2023 in eye catching fashion and his start to 2024 was equally as impressive with two top 20s in Hawaii then 14th at Pebble and 10th at Riviera. Since then his long game has somewhat deserted him and finishing last at Quail Hollow was a further blow. 

Nevertheless this venue is much more suitable for Cole and there signs of encouragement at Valhalla. He missed the cut, but crucially on the number and ranking 20th off the tee and 43rd on approach for round two. That may be a sign that he is getting things back on track and anything around 90/1 or bigger is worth the risk here.

1pt each-way E.Cole  100/1  (1/5 8) Paddy Power

Mac Meissner @  250/1 (Eight Places)

Those who went to college in Texas, or hail from Texas originally have a great record in this state and one of the outsiders I'm happy to get on board with is Mac Meissner. 

Born in South Carolina Meissner played college golf in Texas and won the coveted Byron Nelson award. Since then it has been a sharp rise and having been outside the top 30 in the Korn Ferry Tour standings before the end of season finale last October, he managed to shoot 8 under over the weekend to gain his first PGA Tour card. 

It was a tough start but he has since found his feet finishing 23rd in Puerto Rico, 23rd in the Zurich and 13th last time out at Myrtle Beach. That 13th was alongside Robert MacIntyre and he can take heart from the Scot's performance at Valhalla.

His best finish of the year though came in Texas, finishing 10th. He was alongside Fitzpatrick, two behind Matsuyama and five back of McIlroy. He clearly has game and he ranked 4th with his irons at Myrtle Beach. Back in Texas he has a chance to upset the odds here. 

0.75pt each-way Mac Meissner  250/1  (1/5 8) Paddy Power