Charles Schwab Challenge Preview6 min read
After last week’s tip Brooks Koepka clinched his fourth major title by defending the PGA Championship, the action moves on to Texas for the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club.
It will be a totally different test for the field compared to the lengthy demands of Bethpage Black, with this week’s 7,209-yard par 70 course primarily focused on shot makers. Players have to navigate the tight fairways and several doglegs which negates the importance of power. With breezy conditions forecast for Texas, an ability to handle the wind will be important this week.
Justin Rose comes in as defending champion and is the 10/1 favourite. The English golfer was in a class of his own last season as he shot 20-under-par but Ben Hogan is the only player to have successfully defended his title at Colonial.
Speith’s form improving
Jordan Spieth has endured a tough time over the last year with the three-time major champion struggling badly for form but his performance last week suggests he is on the way back to the top. Spieth led the field for putting at Bethpage Black, gaining 10.6 strokes on the field on his way to a tie for third. It was his best result since ninth at the Open Championship last July.
Spieth has quietly been building confidence, with four top 30s in his last five events, ahead of a return to a course where he has enjoyed tremendous success. The 25-year-old Texan won at Colonial in 2016 and finished second in each of the years either side of his victory. With Spieth coming off the best putting week of his career, he has to be a strong contender. If he finds enough fairways, Spieth has a great opportunity to win for the first time in almost two years at 12/1 each way.
Colonial has been kind to Rahm
Jon Rahm was a disappointment last week at Bethpage Black but the powerful Spaniard is backed to respond with a big performance in Fort Worth. Rahm has an exceptional record at Colonial, finishing runner-up on his course debut two years ago. He returned last season and tied for fifth place with Rahm yet to shoot over par in eight rounds at the tournament.
Rahm won the Hero World Challenge in December and added the Zurich Classic title, alongside Ryan Palmer, in the team event last month. The 24-year-old will be focused on securing more individual silverware and another victory does not look too far away. Ranked third this season for strokes gained off the tee and sixth for par four scoring average, on a course which has 12 par fours, offers encouragement for this week’s test. Rahm is fancied to continue his excellent record at Hogan’s Alley and challenge for another win at 12/1 each way.
Lee and Connors could be overpriced
Danny Lee has consistently played well at Colonial and he could threaten the places at a big price this weekend. The New Zealander finished sixth at the course two years ago, tenth in 2015 and 14th last season. He is very comfortable at this tournament, living close by in Irving, which has probably helped him feel at home at the course.
Lee came to life last week after a superb opening round 64 at the PGA Championship which left him just behind leader Koepka. The 28-year-old could not keep this going but 36th place was still a respectable major finish. He finished seventh on his last start in Texas in April and could produce another strong showing this week. Lee appeals at 66/1 and should also be backed in the top ten market at 8/1.
Corey Conners clinched his breakthrough victory on the PGA Tour with an impressive win at the Texas Open last month. The Canadian came through Monday qualifying and shot 20-under-par to claim a victory which earned him a spot at the Masters. He had already shown his talent with top-three finishes at the Sanderson Farms Championship and the Sony Open this season.
Conners returns to Texas this week for the first time since his maiden title and another big week could be on the cards. His best result last season came at Colonial, finishing in a tie for eighth, as he instantly took a liking to the track. The 27-year-old, who is ranked fifth for greens in regulation, has the confidence of a recent win under his belt and looks overpriced to contend at 100/1 each way.
Jordan Spieth Each Way
Jon Rahm Each Way
Danny Lee for the top ten
Corey Connors Each Way