Golf Picks: Charles Schwab Challenge
Golf is back and the Charles Schwab with a stellar field is just the tonic we need right now.
2u - Brooks Koepka to finish Top 10 @ +300
Looking at the type of golfers to win here down the years we have a ton of plodders who tick all boxes in the game without having a lot of power off the tee. Stricker, Zach Johnson, Toms, Kirk, Kisner and Na are all types who don't hit it far off the tee and never stray too far from the fairways. I always feel the market never reacts to events such as these with McIlroy and Rahm being the same price here as they would any other week on a different style golf course with this calibre of field. Experienced types go better here also with a number of trips around the track being a distinct advantage. In terms of tournaments to look at, the John Deere holds a solid correlation with a handful of players in the recent past win both events. Deere Run is another track where the wedge game becomes crucial. The same applies here with a short track and the majority of approach shots coming in from 125-175 yards. With no spectators, and I assume little in the way of temporary structures, accuracy from tee to green becomes even more important. No trodden down grass if you stray and no bounce backs off the gallery suggests we're looking to a plodder even more so than usual here at this years renewal.
McIlroy heads the betting and I personally wouldn't back him at double figures. This is his first outing here and with a fair amount of rust expected from many I'd tend to steer clear from the very top of the market. the course doesn't exactly suit and the fact we haven't seen him here before speaks volumes I guess. Rahm has a couple of top 5s here and believe it or not I'd have him ahead of McIlroy in the betting at this track. I still think his price is about right though and that McIlroy should also be double figures. Justin Thomas' wedge game is one of the best of the world and if anyone can overcome the break quickly it's him. He has won and finished second in the season opener in Hawaii in the past few years and could easily make a solid run at this title. I'm tempted, and whilst writing still not sure whether I'll invest or not.
Brooks Kopeka has to be chanced on a return to action. We have seen a couple of times now how he bounces back well from injury and the few months off will surely have been a huge positive for someone who was on the road whilst trying to recover. A lot is written about his lack of regular tour wins but I was of the thinking that would change pretty soon with a run of non-major wins. He has had one spin around Colonial finishing second behind Justin Rose in 2018 firing in two 63s along the way. That is a sure sign that he is capable of firing another couple of low ones here this week and I'm sure he'll be quietly hoping to make a bold statement ahead of the rescheduled majors. It's a risky play I understand, but all plays are somewhat risky this week. This looks tastier than most.
1.5u - Patrick Reed to win @ +4000
1.5u - Patrick Reed to finish Top 10 @ +320
Patrick Reed is 3/3 here at Coloniol and rates a solid chance in my book of landing a victory this week. I imagine after a long lay off that many players will struggle with 'touch' and 'feel' over the opening few weeks and the best short games in the world may rise to the top. There isn't many better in that department than Reed and given that short game usually plays its part anyway around Coloniol I think Reed is one of the more likely contenders. He is another who comes out of the blocks impressively finishing 2nd in the Sentry this season and winning the same event in 2015. That's a sure sign that a few weeks break doesn't affect his game so much and it may be his reliance on a solid short game that gives him confidence to fire.
1.25u - Harris English to win @ +7000
1.25u - Harris English to finish Top 10 @ +700
I'll want a few experienced types in my staking plan this week and one who ticks all boxes is Harris English. English was in fine form for around 6 months prior to the break with his last finish a top ten at the Arnold Palmer. He has experience in the bank here with this being his 7th visit to Coloniol. He finished 2nd here to Spieth in 2016 and 5th back in 2012. Out of the last 50 rounds played by the whole field on all courses English ranks 3rd in Greens in Regulation Gained on the field. Here at Coloniol he ranks 4th in the field in Strokes Gained Total. His average is brought down by his stats off the tee but primarily that's not where your score is made around here. He is comfortable around this spot and looks a decent price to contend throughout the week.
1u - Chez Reavie @ +12500
1u - Chez Reavie to finish Top 10 @ +1500
Chez Reavie wouldn't look out of place on this winners rota and has had 9 previous trips here which fits the bill. A handful of missed cuts doesn't look too great but he has shown form here with a 5th place in 2011 and 11th in 2013. He was ranked outside the top 300 in the world in 2013 when he finished 11th here. Now a much improved sort he sits comfortably inside the top 50 in the world. These are the types of tracks we look to for Reavie and given he is a fairway machine he should give himself plenty of opportunities this week. Of everyones last 50 rounds he ranks 1st in Proximity and crucially ranks 3rd in the 150-175 distance where most approach shots are executed. He doesn't win very often but a spectator-less event certainly lends itself to golfers lower down the rankings as the same amount of pressure will not apply. The best in the world would feed off the galleries and there's a possibility they feel a little flat in the atmosphere. It's all speculation but in the opening weeks it could certainly pay to look to more outsiders.
0.75u - Dylan Frittelli @ +20000
0.75u - Dylan Frittelli to finish Top 10 @ +1900
Numerous others appeal at big prices where we could see a surprise but I'll take a stab with Dylan Frittelli at 200/1. There are plenty of similarities with Deere Run on paper but the mere fact that Perry, Zach Johnson, Stricker and Spieth have all won the John Deere and Coloniol since the turn of the century speaks volumes. The South African Frittelli won the John Deere last year with four spectacular rounds in the 60s and a total of 21 under. He is a very talented sort and could go on to achieve much bigger things in the coming years. His short game is a fine picture a lot of the time and given the way he won at Deere Run he simply looks worth chaning at this huge price with the favourite a big negative in my book. He is a first timer here which is a bit of a negative but the price is big enough to chance. Niemann has broken some records in his short career thus far and ticks a lot of the boxes here despite also being a first timer. A top ten at Deere Run is another positive for the Chilean. Corey Conners hits greens for fun and can be relied upon not to get into a lot of trouble around here. Justin Thomas wasn't left off the list easily and looks the pick of the front 3 at +2500. Morikawa, Grillo, Fitzpatrick and Hovland were others who made the shortlist.