Share to Facebook
Share to Twitter
Copy Link
Tom Jacobs is back with another First Round Leader article, as the PGA Tour returns to Texas again. Colonial Country Club plays host to the Charles Schwab Challenge this week, and we will look at who could start fast!

Charles Schwab Challenge First Round Leader Picks & Predictions: Back Spieth Again For a Fast Start

With the PGA Championship in our rear view, we now focus our attention back to a regular PGA Tour stop, Colonial Country Club. Colonial is an old favorite on TOUR and hosted this event since 1946, under several different titles.

Before we begin breaking down this event, it is worth noting that DraftKings Sportsbook have an amazing offer for the PGA Tour right now. You can boost odds on any PGA Tour market to 20-1 here, as you bet $5 and win $100 with this DraftKings promo code. Bet on Head-to-Heads, 3-balls, make/miss the cut and more and get 20-1 odds with this insane offer!

Error fetching data.

Charles Schwab Challenge First Round Leader Strategy

Over the past 10 renewals of the Charles Schwab Challenge, the leader or a co-leader has come from the AM wave 8 times, and the PM wave 6 times. We have had co-leaders after day one in 4 of the last 10 renewals, with at least one player coming from an AM and a PM tee time. Looking at the first round leaders below, AM starters should be in your mind this week.

Recent First Round Leaders of the Charles Schwab Challenge

Here are the last ten leaders/co-leaders after Round 1 of the Charles Schwab Challenge

  • 2021 – Jordan Spieth (8:16 am) & Sergio Garcia (12:55 pm) – AM/PM  -7/63
  • 2020 – Justin Rose (7:45 am) and Harold Varner III (12:22 pm) – AM/PM  -7/63
  • 2019 – Tony Finau (7:44 am) – AM -6/65
  • 2018 – Kevin Na (12:11 pm) – PM -8/62
  • 2017 – Derek Fathauer (7:11 am), Kelly Kraft (12:22 pm), JT Poston (12:11 pm) – AM/PM -5/65
  • 2016 – Bryce Molder (7:00 am) – AM -6/64
  • 2015 – Ryo Ishikawa (2:41 pm) / Kevin Na (10:22 am) / Jordan Spieth (3:36 pm) / Boo Weekley (10:55 am) – AM/PM -6/64
  • 2014 – Dustin Johnson (12:44 pm) – PM -5/65
  • 2013 – Ryan Palmer (8:28 am) – AM -8/62
  • 2012 – Zach Johnson (7:43 am) – AM -6/64

What Score Is Required to Lead After Round 1?

The average leading score here over the past 10 years is 63.7 and considering the average first round score on TOUR this season hovers around the same number, a target of 63 looks to be the play. 63 has led the past two years, and while 65 led in 2019, we saw a 62 in 2018 and 2013. A 64 might do it, but best to look for those you think can get to seven-under around here.

Charles Schwab Challenge Odds: First Round Leader Favorites

Jordan Spieth +2600

Jordan Spieth is again a First Round Leader selection for me, so more on him later. Gulp.

Justin Thomas +2600

Justin Thomas has already held 11 leads or co-leads going into Friday, and in total has been within two an eye-catching 35 times, so he starts fast on Thursday's.

He continued that trend last week, shooting -3 to sit two back of Rory McIlroy on day one, despite playing in tougher conditions.

It is really hard to know how he is going to react this week after the PGA Championship, and how dedicated he's been to sharpening his game.

I won't do it this week, but he always has to be respected in this market.

Scottie Scheffler +2600

I am going to remain firm on this take until it is no longer true. Scheffler might have one of the best Round 1 Scoring Averages on Tour, but that is more a model of consistency as opposed to him generally threatening the Round 1 lead too often.

12 times so far in his career, Scheffler has been within two of the opening-day lead, but only once has he held the opening day led (2019 Bermuda). This will likely to change at some point, but until it does I won't bet him in this market as favorite.

This trend continued this past week, as he missed the cut at the PGA Championship, and I won't rush to back him for a fast start here.

Scheffler has played five rounds here, over two starts and is yet to shoot lower than 68. That doesn't mean he won't, and it could happen this week, but I have no desire to bet it happens on Day One.

Collin Morikawa +3000

Morikawa has still not started a tournament this season with a round better than 67 on Thursday, and that hinders him in this market.

He is the type to turn those sort of records around at any time though, and his record here is very good.

In two starts at this course Morikawa has finished 2nd and 14th, and he has posted rounds of 67 or better on five occasions. Maybe this sort of test is where he will vault himself back in the spotlight, even if it is hard to work out where he is at.

His best round last week came in the final round, but he still failed to break 70. In shooting a 64 in round 1 here in 2020, he was just one back of the opening-day lead, and maybe he can channel something like that again.

Like Scheffler he tends to grow into an event, but with that said, while he has only been within two the first round lead 6 times since 2019, when he has got in the hunt he has converted three of those into leads.

Tough decision, and one to mull over.

Charles Schwab Challenge First Round Leader Picks, Bets, Predictions

Jordan Spieth +2600 (FanDuel)

One more roll of the dice for Spieth in this market, as this will be the third week in a row I have backed him in this column, with little success so far.

He has however been within two of the opening-day lead 35 times in his career, with 9 of those occasions coming in Texas.

3 of his 14 first round leads of his career have come in Texas, with two of them coming on this golf course, as he shot 63 last year to co-lead with Sergio Garcia, and shot a 64 in 2015 to co-lead with three others.

Spieth has played here 9 times and has won once, finished 2nd three times, inside the top-10 three more times and never worse than 32nd.

His opening rounds here so far in his career are: 65, 67, 64, 67, 70, 69, 65, 65 and 63. I cannot ignore that record.

He is by all means the worthy favorite for this market, and I will forgive him the poor week last week, as the cloud of the grand slam loomed over him.

Jordan Spieth will tee off #1 at 9:26 am with Daniel Berger and Max Homa

Kevin Na +6000 (FanDuel)

Kevin Na has been exceptional in the first round at this event over the years. Three times he has been the leader/co-leader at Thursday's end (2007, 2015, 2018) as he has shot 63, 64 and 62 on those occasions.

Na has ranked 12th, 5th and 26th in his last three recorded strokes-gained starts, and he played well at the Masters before that too. His current form reads 14-26-42-23, and with a record here that has seen him win once and place in the top-10 four more times, I like his chances of at least one low round.

He shot a second round 65 here last year, despite finishing 32nd and when missing the cut the year before he also shot 67 on Friday. When he won in 2019 he shot a Friday 62 and Sunday 66, and all of a sudden you want to bet him to shoot the lowest Friday score!

In 2018, the year before he shot an opening 62 and closing 61, and still didn't win, but it is those rounds, his leading round 1 scores here in general, and his multiple rounds of 65 or better that make him a great first round leader candidate at 60-1.

He opened with a 68 last week on a tough course to sit three back of the first-day lead, and back in January he opened with a 61 to lead the Sony Open going into Friday.

All in all, Kevin Na has held 8 leads/co-leads in his career on Day One, with the lead at the Sony his first in four years. This is the perfect course for him though,as evidence by his three first-round leads here, and for a man who's been within two of the lead 32 times in his career, after day one, I thought 60-1 was more than fair on this layout.

Kevin Na will tee off #1 tee at 8:26 am, with Patton Kizzire and Ryan Brehm

Sebastian Munoz +6600 (Unibet)

Sebastian Munoz likes first rounds.

Sebastian Munoz is based in Texas, was educated in Texas, and plays well in Texas, with four top-10's in his last ten starts in the Lone Star State.

Sebastian Munoz has opened with a 60 twice this season, including two weeks ago in Texas.

Sebastian Munoz finished 3rd here last year and opened with rounds of 67-65 and closed with a 68.

Sebastian Munoz ranks 8th in this field over the last 8 weeks in SG Approach.

Sebastian Munoz has held 13 first round leads in his career, including five since the start of 2021.

Case closed.

Sebastian Munoz will tee off #10 tee at 12:34 pm with Luke Donald and Michael Thompson

Stewart Cink +8000 (General)

First of all, a hat-tip has to go to Dave Tindall (@DaveTindallGolf) on Twitter, who consistently reminds of us of Stewart Cink's record after a major.

5 of Stewart Cink's 8 PGA Tour wins have come a week after a major. His best finish at the respective major the week before was 14th and the worst was 28th. He finished 23rd last week at Southern Hills.

His win at the Heritage last year came after finishing T12 at Augusta, and he won the Travelers Championship in 2008 the week after the U.S. Open. In 2004 it was the WGC NEC Invitational the week after the PGA Championship, and the RBC Heritage the week after the Masters again. It was the Heritage the week after the Masters in 2000 that he won after the Masters, and you could argue it is just that event, at that time of year.

Looking back at his career though, 71 times, including 9 times in Texas, Cink has been within two of the opening-day lead. 12 of those were first round leads, and one came in this event in 2006 and another at the Texas Open in 2011, so those are good signs.

In general, Cink is in good form finishing 7th at the Valspar, 9th at the Wells Fargo and 23rd last week, and while he might not be in winning form, he can shoot a 63/64 once.

Stewart Cink will tee off #1 tee at 12:23 pm, with Carlos Ortiz and Nick Taylor

Tyler Duncan +18000 (DraftKings)

Tyler Duncan ranked 9th in SG Approach last time out at the Byron Nelson, and that is encouraging at an event that isn't really in his wheelhouse.

Duncan prefers a shorter layout, think Webb Simpson. On the two occasions he has played here, he has made the cut both times and in 2020 when in the strongest field ever assembled here, he opened with a 65 to sit in 7th place going into Friday.

He faded that week, and would likely do the same this week if he found himself in the same position, but I see no reason why he cannot go low for one day, on a suitable course.

14 times in his career, Duncan has been within two of the opening-day lead, with two of those co-leads. One came here in 2020 and the other at the Byron Nelson in 2019, which is in Texas as well.

Two of his best finishes this season came at the RBC Heritage (T12), where he shot a final-round 65 and the Valspar Championship (T25) where he again shot 65 on Saturday, and I like both courses as correlations for this test. 29th earlier in the season at the Houston Open as well, where he closed with a 66, and in a wider view, it appears Duncan does some of his best work in the state of Texas.

Good course for him, good iron play last time out, and someone who is capable of firing a low one. Duncan looks a good candidate for this, with his early tee time.

Tyler Duncan will tee off #10 tee at 12:56 pm with Chez Reavie and Lucas Glover

Article Author


Tom Jacobs is the host of the Lost Fore Words golf podcast and has been writing betting articles on golf for the past decade. Tom also co-hosts the DP World Tour Picks & Bets show on the Mayo Media Network, so has his finger on the pulse on all the major Tours. A long-suffering Nottingham Forest fan, Tom also enjoys watching Soccer at the weekend, and was delighted to see his Forest team win promotion this season!


Almost there!

We are loading your bets, and they will be here in a second.