This weekend has been an emotional journey, as Mito Pereira has just blown the PGA Championship in historic fashion. But it’s onto the next regardless of result, and next we examine the Charles Schwab Challenge odds.
In brighter news beyond Mito’s meltdown, I also became a first-time uncle this weekend. That brings a whole new wave of second-hand #perspective for my golf #content creation. We can only hope the new niece swag breeds a new era of profitable bets, starting at this week’s tournament in Dallas Fort-Worth.
We’ve grown accustomed to seeing Colonial CC on the schedule each year. It is the longest-running host course on TOUR. While it’s gone through a slew of sponsors, 2022 marks the 76th total installment of this event dating to 1946.
Notably, it served as host for golf’s return from its COVID hiatus in June 2020. It attracted an unusually strong field and saw uncharacteristic course conditions crop up.
Colonial CC is a quintessential positional course that mitigates distance advantage and has produced a diverse cast of winners. As per usual, the players who catch the hottest irons and putter are the ones who have historically prevailed at this event. With that said, there will be an added premium on mid-irons and accuracy off the tee in order to work the ball around this golf course and create the best angles to attack pins and generate scoring opportunities. We’ll run through the key facts and info about Colonial CC ahead of the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge.
CHARLES SCHWAB CHALLENGE ODDS: THE FAVORITES
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THE CHARLES SCHWAB CHALLENGE FIELD AT A GLANCE
The Charles Schwab Challenge is an invitational field, limited to 120 players, maintaining the standard “top-65 and ties” cut rules. For DFS purposes, that means we can expect a higher 6/6 percentage this week.
The field looks unsurprisingly loaded, featuring five of the OWGR top-10 players. That list is highlighted by world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, coming off of a disappointing early exit at the PGA Championship, his first missed cut since October 2021. Other top names joining Scottie in this week’s field include Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland, Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas.
Jason Kokrak is back in the field to defend his title this year after ripping my heart out in 2021 with a Sunday performance slightly less mediocre than that of Jordan Spieth. Kokrak did in part break a trend of accurate plotters off the tee winning at Colonial. He took a more aggressive route to cut off doglegged angles, ultimately leading the field with 6.2 strokes gained OTT.
In addition to Kokrak, we’ll also see Daniel Berger, Kevin Na, Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner, Jordan Spieth, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson and Rory Sabbatini return to the field as past champs.
INTRODUCTION TO COLONIAL CC
Colonial CC is a classical, tree-lined, positional golf course with rich history. As a par 70 just over 7,200 yards, it’s stood the test of time and challenged the field year after year. It keeps scores in check and has led to many dramatic finishes.
Precision off the tee, accuracy on approach, and putting pedigree are the consistent key characteristics we’ve seen from winners like Jason Kokrak, Daniel Berger, Kevin Na, Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner, Jordan Spieth and Chris Kirk. The winning score has pushed beyond -15 only twice since 2011. With the area receiving less rain than recent years, I would expect a winning score of around -12 to -13.
Texas has produced some of the game’s brightest stars, including Scottie Scheffler, Spieth, Will Zalatoris, Bryson DeChambeau and Abraham Ancer. Other notables in the field who either currently or have previously called Texas home include Ryan Palmer (a member at Colonial CC), Patrick Reed, Tom Hoge, Kramer Hickok, Rory Sabbatini and Sebastian Munoz.
Dallas may have the most dense population of golf obsessives in the United States. So, the Charles Schwab Challenge has always welcomed an electric crowd atmosphere. Local Texans have taken much pride in competing each year. The event should have the full attention of players like Scheffler and Spieth despite the major turnaround.
This year introduces the Perry Maxwell Swing to the PGA TOUR schedule. We get to see two of his most famous creations in back-to-back weeks. Unlike Southern Hills and Augusta National (another that Maxwell helped design), Colonial CC is a tighter, more claustrophobic golf course off the tee. That discourages the field from using driver often. This has opened things up for more balanced competition regardless of a player’s strengths off the tee. We’ve seen players like Na and Kisner thrive on courses that do not disadvantage them relative to longer hitters and instead allow them to lean on their approach and putter. Unsurprisingly, each has picked up wins at this event over the last five years.
Colonial CC does share in common with Maxwell’s other famous designs the contoured fairways, the importance of creating the best angles for your second shot, and rolling intricacies on Bentgrass greens, which give a distinct advantage to strong putters with experience on the grounds. Last week’s players called Southern Hills the “Colonial on steroids.” Players like Ancer, Webb Simpson, Na, Kirk, and Hoge who found success at the PGA Championship despite lack of distance should channel a similar game plan with less resistance from the course at Colonial CC.
How It Breaks Down
Colonial CC is fairly average in length for a par 70 by PGA TOUR standards, sitting at 7,209 yards. There are just two par 5s on the property. The first, hole No. 1, is the easiest hole on the course, measuring 565 yards. Most will reach in two, which yields a scoring average of about half a stroke under par. The second par 5 is a bona fide three-shot hole, measuring 635 yards. It still plays as the third easiest on the course, but averages just 0.14 strokes under par.
Colonial is defined by its par 4s, with 12 in total on the property. What makes Colonial CC unique is its concentration of par 4s in the shorter ranges of 350-410 (5x) and 410-450 (4x). We’ve typically seen the more challenging PGA TOUR courses rely on lengthening the par-4s into the 450-yard range in order to challenge the fields. It’s refreshing to see this Perry Maxwell design still impose itself on stronger fields year over year via precision off the tee and on approach. There are just three par 4s on the course which measure over 450 yards, each having a scoring average of at least 0.1 strokes over par.
Traits And Recent Notable Facts
Compared to TOUR average, Colonial CC’s defining traits are in its difficulty off the tee. The fairways are the third-most narrow on TOUR, measuring just 27 yards on average. That has made this the second-most difficult course on TOUR to gain strokes off the tee. The Bermuda rough can give players challenges, but it is not a pronounced penalty, with scoring from off the fairway about in line with the TOUR average. Still, when hitting into smaller, 5,000-square-foot greens, it’s a huge bonus to be able to control spin from the short grass.
There are two ways to go about a course like this. You can either hone in on the most accurate drivers off the tee who will have the highest percentage of approaches from the fairway into these tight greens, or you can take the Bryson at Winged Foot approach. If nobody is hitting these fairways and everyone is hitting their approaches from the rough, it’s better to have a wedge in hand than a mid-iron.
Kokrak won the 2021 Charles Schwab challenge despite losing two strokes around the greens. That’s a bit misleading considering he lost all of his strokes in the bunkers. He performed very solidly in terms of chipping from the green-side rough. In general, this is not a course that is going to be won with your short game like a Southern Hills. We should expect a higher scrambling rate from the field, even from players who are more deficient around the greens. That’s good news for a player like Viktor Hovland, fully capable of winning here with the 2021 Kokrak formula.
Putting And Approach
Given the smaller greens, we’ve seen less of an emphasis on lag putting or three-putt avoidance. This instead shifts the importance to precise approaches and greens in regulation. Winners here have consistently generated a volume of 20-foot birdie opportunities with a simple formula of Approach + Putting separating them from the pack. We want a player who can gain 5+ strokes in both categories.
In terms of proximity ranges, the concentration of nine par 4s under 450 yards and only two par 5s creates a notable deprioritization on approach shots from 200+. Instead, we’ll see a higher than average volume of approach shots from 125-200 yards. With ample options to lay back off the tee, we should expect varying dispersion on approach yardages for each player. They’ll set up approach shots from their preferred yardages on most of these par 4s.
The Donald Ross-designed courses on TOUR (Detroit Golf Club, Sedgefield CC, East Lake) share an interesting trend of top-putting players finding the most success, given that the greens define the course and act as its best defense. Players who are historically best at reading intricate greens have gone on to find the most repeated success on these golf courses. Colonial CC is not a Ross course, but it does share a similar identity and has a storied history of the game’s best putters succeeding. For that reason, I’ll weight SG: P a bit more heavily this week than most.
COLONIAL CC COURSE SPECS
- Yards: 7,209
- Par: 70 (4x 3s / 12x 4s / 2x 5s)
- Greens: Bent
- Architect: John Bredemus & Perry Maxwell
- Historic Cut Line: +2
- Median Four-Round Score: -3 (’21), -6 (’20), +1 (’19), -5 (’18), +1 (’17)
- Comp Courses: Sedgefield CC, Harbour Town, Waialae CC, Memorial Park, Pebble Beach GL, TPC River Highlands, Austin Country Club
- Recent Past Winners: Jason Kokrak -14 (’21), Daniel Berger -15 (’20), Kevin Na -13 (’19), Justin Rose -20 (’18), Kevin Kisner -10 (’17)
- Hole-by-hole Breakdown:
COURSE HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS
Course History has proven very predictive at Colonial CC. Of the last seven Charles Schwab Challenge winners, five (Jason Kokrak, Kevin Na, Kevin Kisner, Jordan Spieth and Chris Kirk) had posted a T10 or better finish within three years prior. Only Justin Rose within the past decade won in his debut appearance.
The list of players with a T10 finish over the last three years at this event includes Spieth, Rose, Na, Brian Harman, Emiliano Grillo, Tony Finau, Charley Hoffman, Collin Morikawa, Kokrak, Daniel Berger, Gary Woodland, Rory Sabbatini, CT Pan, Justin Thomas, Bubba Watson, Bryson DeChambeau, Ian Poulter, Sebastian Munoz, Patrick Reed, Lucas Glover, Sungjae Im, Russell Knox, JT Poston and Troy Merritt.
Looking at recent course history, 12 players have posted multiple T15 finishes within the last five years: Spieth, Rose, Na, Harman, Grillo, Hoffman, Danny Lee, Morikawa, Kokrak, Woodland, Sabbatini, and Abraham Ancer.
Twelve players have avoided missing the cut over each of the last five years (min. three appearances): Spieth, Rose, Harman, Ancer, Tony Finau, Daniel Berger, Billy Horschel, Maverick McNealy, Poulter, Brandt Snedeker, Brian Stuard, and Chris Kirk.
The top-10 players in terms of overall course history at Colonial CC are Spieth, Na, Rose, Finau, Kisner, Harman, Hoffman, Harris English, Webb Simpson, and Morikawa.
One could argue Jordan Spieth’s history and consistency at the Charles Schwab is the most dominant of any currently active PGA player on a given course. Spieth has amassed 88.8 strokes gained on the field over 36 career rounds, an average of 2.7 per round. For context, Na ranks No. 2 in total strokes gained at Colonial CC with 46.7 total strokes over 28 rounds. He is the only player in this field to have gained even half as many strokes at this event as Spieth.
It’s a home game for Spieth in his native DFW area. He’ll stay in his childhood home for the week and put on a show in front of local friends, family and fans. There really are not many other examples of a pure home game on TOUR where the entire entire crowd supports one player. Only Hideki Matsuyama at the ZOZO Championship comes to mind. That makes me less concerned about a major hangover for Spieth, even though he’s surely disappointed to have let a chance at the career grand slam get away from him at Southern Hills.
In nine career appearances dating back to 2013, Spieth has one victory, three runner-ups, and eight total finishes within the top 14. His worst outing came in 2018 when he finished T32 while still gaining over seven strokes from tee to green.
Last year I went all in and bet Spieth at 12-to-1 on a short card, which made for a good yet disappointing sweat. With a win and a T2 in his last three starts, he’ll be a popular play. I expect him to open as the favorite come Monday.
Colonial CC slots in well with some of the other shorter, positional, wind-exposed courses we see on the yearly TOUR schedule. A similar formula of driving accuracy, approach precision and strong putting continues to be the script to find success here.
I lean to Sedgefield CC as the top overall comp course. Kisner and Sergio Garcia have won both events within the last 10 years. We’ve seen players like Reed, Snedeker, Poston, Na, Simpson, Adam Scott and Spieth post T5 finishes in both events over recent years. Both par 70s share a similar emphasis on those key characteristics of driving accuracy, approach and long-term putting. Short-game specialists welcome these courses.
In addition to Sedgefield, I also like Memorial Park for a comp as another challenging, wind-exposed Texas course which featured a recent Kokrak win. TPC River Highlands, Harbour Town, Pebble Beach GL and Waialae CC have also shared similar overlapping leaderboards with shared emphasis on positional play and strong irons.
Lastly, Austin Country Club jumps out as one of the better comps from a player profile and leaderboard overlap standpoint, even if played in two different formats of golf. Kisner, Horschel, Poulter, and Bubba Watson have each had recent success on both of these shorter Texas tracks.
Combine performance across this list, and the top-10 players in Comp Course History here are Daniel Berger, Bryson DeChambeau, Webb Simpson, Abraham Ancer, Kevin Na, Jason Kokrak, Billy Horschel, Harold Varner III, Jordan Spieth and Ryan Palmer.
KEY STATS TO CONSIDER
- SG: APP / GIRs Gained
- Par 4: 350-450
- Prox: 125-200
- Good Drives Gained / Driving Accuracy
- SG: Putting (Bent)
- Doubles Avoided
- Course & Comp Course History
We’ve seen a sticky formula of repeated success on courses which remove distance advantage and instead reward control both off the tee and on approach. When we also consider that scoring will remain in check, likely no further beyond a -15 winner, we have less randomness for which to account.
As with most 7,200-yard courses, irons will likely decide things. The top-10 in terms of SG: APP entering this week are Will Zalatoris, Viktor Hovland, Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Scottie Scheffler, Max Homa, Luke Donald, Daniel Berger, Collin Morikawa and Cameron Tringale.
Driving Accuracy also remains of vital importance this week. The heavily treelined set up will block out approach shots for any significant misses. With that said, since the rough is not incredibly penal, the Good Drives Gained stat has been a bit more predictive of success at Colonial CC than pure accuracy. There is more of an advantage to hitting drives to the correct side of the hole than simply finding the fairway. The top 10 in terms of Good Drives Gained are Sebastian Munoz, Abraham Ancer, Brian Harman, Mito Pereira, JJ Spaun, Aaron Rai, Adam Long, Alex Smalley, Tringale and CT Pan.
A combination of Driving Accuracy, SG: APP, and weighted SG: P (Bent and Total) looks like the simplest approach to narrowing down a player pool this week. Only three players rate out above average in each of those categories: Kevin Na, Sungjae Im and Maverick McNealy.
Approach from Shorter Range
To take a more granular look at what’s needed this week, we should remove approaches from over 200 yards, as fewer than 20% of approaches have historically come from beyond that on this course. The top-10 players in terms of SG: APP with Prox 200+ removed areThomas, Scheffler, Luke Donald, Morikawa, Austin Smotherman, Erik Van Rooyen, Spieth, Sam Burns, Christiaan Bezuidenhout, and Webb Simpson.
Some players who’s SG: APP metrics may be a bit inflated by the less-relevant 200+ approach stats this week include Zalatoris, Munoz, and Gary Woodland. Each ranks top 10 in terms of Prox 200+, but outside the top-30 in terms of SG: APP <200 yards.
Other notable value players who are poor from over 200+ yards, but rank inside the top 30 from shorter ranges include Max McGreevy, Brian Stuard, Dylan Frittelli, and Stewart Cink.
Looking at the hole ranges this week, it’s also key to look at performance on par 4s from the 350-450 range. Half the holes on this courses fall within these distances. The top-10 in P4: 350-450 Scoring are Berger, Scheffler, Zalatoris, Justin Rose, Burns, Adam Long, Harman, Sepp Straka, Kevin Streelman and Bezuidenhout.
Looking at the correlation charts this week, we finally have a significant pool of data to pull from again after playing new courses each week since the RBC Heritage. Compared to the TOUR average, it’s notable to see the precipitous drop in importance of Par-5 Scoring at Colonial CC. That makes sense on this par 70, which features one par 5 reachable in two for the full field and a second par 5 not reachable in two for anyone. We also see a notable drop in the importance of SG: OTT and P4: 450-500. Jason Kokrak did excel in both areas during his 2021 victory. But over the history of this event, the shorter hitters have found the most success, capitalizing on their driving accuracy and short to mid irons.
Par 4: 350-400 and Par 4: 400-450 represent the biggest climbers in terms of importance at Colonial CC, considering half the holes this week will fall within these two ranges, a bit of an unusual set up for a PGA TOUR course.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: WEBB SIMPSON
The “should we play Webb Simpson” flowchart typically goes something like this:
- Is he healthy?
- Is the course less than 7,200 yards?
- Has he played well there before?
If yes to all, it’s usually a safe bet to slot Simpson onto your betting card. If no, he typically has not stood much of a chance. As we look ahead to the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge, we have a perfect 3-for-3 formula.
Simpson has not looked healthy at all in 2022, but a Saturday 65 at Southern Hills says he finally turned a corner. As of Sunday morning, he is putting together a complete all-around game, gaining in all facets. With Colonial a shorter, less penal version of Southern Hills, the success on leg one of the Perry Maxwell Swing is a very encouraging sign.
It’s no secret Simpson performs at his best on positional golf courses that remove distance advantage and emphasize precision. The seven-time PGA TOUR winner has thrived equally in difficult conditions that put an emphasis on short game (winning at THE PLAYERS and U.S. Open), as well as on short positional courses.
At the Charles Schwab, Simpson has shown himself a fit, with two top-five finishes in his first four appearances. The recent strokes gained stats won’t jump out at you as he continues to battle back to full health. In spite of that, he still ranks top 10 in terms of Course & Comp Course History and SG: APP from under 200 yards. With such a loaded field in store and negligible recent results due to injury, we should see a palatable outright number on Simpson when odds open.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT THE 2022 CHARLES SCHWAB CHALLENGE
We’ve spent a good amount of time in this neck of the woods in 2022, as the Charles Schwab Challenge will mark the fifth and final PGA event contested in the Texas/Oklahoma region recently. It’s always interesting to monitor what a major championship hangover week looks like for players like Scottie Scheffler and Daniel Berger, who saw early exits after having lofty expectations, versus Will Zalatoris and Mito Pereira, who looked excellent at Southern Hills but will now need to re-calibrate for a lower-stakes event.
With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge odds as well. I’ve broken the list down by projected pricing/odds tier for Draft Kings.
In my model, I’m emphasizing SG: APP first and foremost, followed by a more balanced mix of SG: T2G (Recent Form), P4: 350-450, Comp Course History, GIRs Gained, Good Drives Gained, Fairways Gained, SG: P (TOT + Bent) and Doubles Avoided.
Scheffler continues to hold down the fort as the top model man. Despite the field strength, the world No. 1 still rates out top five in the key stats of SG: APP, GIRs Gained, P4: 350-450, and SG: T2G (Recent Form).
After Scheffler, the rest of my model’s top 10 this week features Collin Morikawa, Justin Thomas, Brian Harman, Berger, Viktor Hovland, Jordan Spieth, Pereira, Billy Horschel, and Chris Kirk.
A small yet loaded field means a good time for patience with the odds board. I would expect some bigger names to drift over the course of the week. Each of the elite names enter in solid recent form, but I find myself leaning towards Morikawa, Webb Simpson, Tony Finau, and Harman. Check back in later this week for more updates, and best of luck navigating 2022 Charles Schwab Challenge odds!