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Tom Jacobs makes five picks in the Charles Schwab Challenge First Round Leader market.
ANALYSIS

2024 Charles Schwab Challenge First Round Leader Picks and Predictions: Back Straka at Colonial

We head to Texas this week to clear the PGA Championship hangover, as Scottie Scheffler and Collin Morikawa lead a decent field at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

It is not the deepest field, with some players opting for a week off, but there is plenty of interest in the likes of Scheffler, Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, and Max Homa at the top of the market to make this a worthy betting event.

If you are looking to bet on one of these favorites, then the First Round Leader market might be the way to go. Scheffler for example is +1200 to lead after round 1, but just +280 to win the tournament. You could definitely take a shot on him starting fast, as you'd think he'd have to, to get in the mix here after last week.

Colonial has been a mainstay on the PGA Tour for years now and has been played directly after the PGA Championship in four of the last five years, so there is plenty to go by - which we will analyze in our strategy and trends sections below.

We cashed a 50-1 ticket on J.T. Poston in a recent First Round Leader article and now it is time to add another.

Former Charles Schwab Challenge First Round Leaders

Here are the five most recent first round leaders at Colonial, the scores they shot, and the time they teed off. It is important to note that the 2020 renewal was played in June due to COVID.

2023 - Harry Hall (8:59 am, #1 Tee) - 62

2022 - Webb Simpson (8:15 am #10 Tee), Patrick Reed (8:15 am #10 Tee), Scottie Scheffler (8:26 am #10 Tee), Harold Varner III (8:48 #1 Tee), Chris Kirk (12:12 pm #1 Tee), Nick Taylor (12:23 pm #1 Tee), Cameron Davis (12:45 pm, #10 Tee), Beau Hossler (1:18 pm, #10 Tee) - 66

2021 - Jordan Spieth (8:16 am, #10 Tee), Sergio Garcia (12:55 am, #1 Tee) - 63

2020 - Justin Rose (7:45 am, #10 Tee), Harold Varner III (12:22 pm, #1 Tee) - 63

2019 - Tony Finau (7:44 am, #1 Tee) - 64

The first thing to note is the massive 8-way tie for the lead in 2022, where no one managed to separate themselves. There were four morning and four afternoon starters that led after round 1 that year, and that perfectly summarizes the history here. In 2019 and 2023 Harry Hall were able to pull away after teeing off in the morning, but in both 2020 and 2021, the lead was split across morning and afternoon starters again.

There doesn't seem to be any real tee bias, so I wouldn't worry about whether a player tees off from the #1 or #10 tee.

2024 Charles Schwab Challenge First Round Leader Trends

Former First Round Lead a Pointer: Every player that has led or co-led here after round 1 since 2019, has previously held a First Round lead as a professional.

Harry Hall (2023) Harry Hall held three first round leads from 2020 to 2022 on the Korn Ferry Tour, and then posted his first on the PGA Tour here at Colonial 12 months ago,

Eight players (2022)

All eight players that shared the lead on day one in 2022, had held first round leads in their careers, before leading here. Notably, Webb Simpson had held 12 day-one leads before leading here making him a prolific first round leader contender. On the other end of the scale, Scottie Scheffler had only led after day one once before his first round lead here, and he's not added to that tally since.

Jordan Spieth and Sergio Garcia (2021) Jordan Spieth had already held 13 first round leads on the PGA Tour before leading here, and one of those came on this course back in 2015.

Sergio Garcia had held 25 first round leads in his career before sharing the lead with Spieth here in 2021.

Justin Rose and Harold Varner III (2020)

Justin Rose had held 23 first round leads in his career, before leading after round 1 of the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Harold Varner III had held two first round leads before leading here at Colonial for the first time.

Tony Finau (2019)

Tony Finau had held four first round leads before leading here at the Charles Schwab Challenge.

Clearly then, experienced players, who have shown an ability to lead after round 1 should be targeted here at Colonial.

Weather Forecast at the Charles Schwab Challenge

The weather looks consistent from 8 am to 1 pm and while the wind speed picks up from 2 pm to 6 pm, there should be a chance for both waves to contend, with a slight preference for the early starters.

Forth Worth Weather for Charles Schwab

Who are the Fasters Starters in the Field This Year?

Here are the 5 fastest starters in the field based on their Round 1 Scoring Average during the 2024 PGA Tour season.

  • Scottie Scheffler (1st Overall in 2024 - Scoring Average 67.45 - Low Opening Round - 65 (Houston Open)
  • Collin Morikawa (4th overall in 2024– Scoring Average 68.08) – Low Opening Round – 65 (Sentry, Heritage)
  • Alejandro Tosti (7th overall in 2024 – Scoring Average 68.62) – Low Opening Round – 65 (Myrtle Beach Classic)
  • Maverick McNealy (8th overall in 2024 – Scoring Average 68.75) – Low Opening Round – 65 (Phoenix Open)
  • Tom Whitney (9th overall in 2024) - Scoring Average 68.91) - Low Opening Round - 65 (CJ Cup Byron Nelson)

What Score is Required to Lead After Round 1?

63.6 has been the average leading score over the past five years, and I would say your golfer needs to aim for a 63 to feel confident of leading this week, but potentially firmer greens and high winds might mean 64 is enough.

The Favorites in the Charles Schwab Challenge First Round Leader Market This Week

Here are the favorites in the First Round Leader market at the 2024 Charles Schwab Challenge.

  • Scottie Scheffler +1200
  • Collin Morikawa +2500
  • Jordan Spieth +3500
  • Max Homa +4000
  • Tony Finau +4000

2024 Charles Schwab Challenge First Round Leader Picks

Here are my First Round Leader selections for the 2024 Charles Schwab Challenge.

Jordan Spieth +3500 (Caesars Sportsbook)

I am not sold on the idea of Jordan Spieth winning again soon, but I do think he can lead here after round 1, as he returns to familiar surroundings.

We know Spieth performs well at home, and at this course in particular he has enjoyed himself on multiple occasions. Not only is Spieth a former winner who has also finished runner-up twice, but he's also led after round 1 on two occasions here at Colonial.

Sure, we are asking for Spieth to land a hat-trick of first round leads here, but he's more than capable, of doing so.

Spieth led twice after round 1 in 2023 and that was after posting two first round leads in 2021 as well, so he's certainly due another fast start on Thursday. Where better than a course where he's done it twice?

He hasn't started that fast in 2024 so far, but Spieth is averaging 4.45 birdies a round, which leaves him in 10th in that category this season, so he just needs to find those birdies on Thursday, this time around.

I wanted a pick or two in the afternoon wave, and Spieth is a leading candidate considering he has held the first round lead 16 times in his career, including twice at this particular course.

Sepp Straka +5000 (DraftKings)

Sepp Straka is my "all-in" candidate this week, as I have bet on him in both the outright and first round leader market.

Straka missed his first two cuts here but was inside the top 16 after round 1 on both occasions, and last year he shot a second round 66. There is every chance the Austrian finds a couple more birdies this time on his fourth visit to the course and takes advantage of some rock-solid iron play.

He was 4th after round 1 of the Heritage, 6th after round 1 of the Wells Fargo Championship, and inside the top 12 in back-to-back opening rounds at Bay Hill and the Valspar. Simply put, Straka has been his usual self - a fast starter.

Straka should relish an early start to proceedings this week as a player who has held five first-round leads in his career and has played Colonial three times already.

Tom Hoge +5000 (FanDuel)

Tom Hoge is tailor-made for this golf course so it is somewhat a surprise that his record here is so distinctly average. In fact, it is very disappointing. Hoge has never finished better than 17th at this course, but he has flashed low rounds in the past.

Last year, Hoge opened with a 66 here to sit 3rd at the end of play on Thursday, and he shot one round of the same score in each of his first two visits here as well. That is three rounds of 66 around Colonial for Hoge, and I think he can find something just a bit better in round 1 this week.

Hoge ranks 3rd in Birdie Average and 16th in Round 1 Scoring Average this season, and he has found himself inside the top 16 after round 1 in 3 of his past 5 starts. 10th after round 1 of the Heritage, 16th after round 1 at the Wells Fargo, and 5th last week at Valhalla, Hoge has been raring to go on Thursday of late.

Hoge is my second and final pick in the afternoon wave this week, as he looks for the 12th first round lead of his career.

Alejandro Tosti +12500 (bet365)

Alejandro Tosti gets hot under the collar and is volatile in everything he does, but that lends itself to some low rounds as well.

The Argentinian was 6th after round 1 of the the Houston Open a few weeks ago, a tournament he finished 2nd at, and two starts ago he was 3rd after round 1 of the Myrtle Beach Classic. Even last week, he was inside the top 18 of a major championship, as he started off well again.

Tosti knows what it takes to lead after round 1 of a golf tournament, doing it four times in his career, including twice on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2023 and he should favor playing in Texas this week, just as he did when runner-up in Houston.

He ranks 7th in Round 1 Scoring Average and that is no surprise considering he opened the year with three straight opening rounds of 66. That was the same score that put him in contention at the Houston Open and he bettered that at the Myrtle Beach Classic recently as well, with a 65!

I think Tosti can conjure up some magic here after another promising week at the PGA Championship, where one bad round cost him any chance of a decent result.

Kevin Tway +19000 (bet365)

Kevin Tway is enjoying a return to form, and fortunately for us, he is a player with a history of leading after round 1. Tway has held two first round leads in the past, and I think he is capable of adding a third here.

The timing could not have been better for a return to this course for Tway, who has struggled in recent years but seems to be returning to form just in time.

Tway has missed the cut on his last three visits to Colonial, but before that, he had posted finishes of 18th, 5th, and 19th, and if he continues this return to form this week, he can get off to a quick start here.

He is in the first group out, which provides us with a great opportunity to cash a big ticket this week.

Article Author

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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!

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