This week players head to Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth Texas for the Charles Schwab Challenge. GOLF BETTING IS BACK BABY! When the morning group goes off on Thursday it will be exactly 3 months since the Tour called off THE PLAYERS following the opening round.
This 148 man field is absolutely stacked with 16 of the top 20 players in the world competing including Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, and Xander Schauffele.
Handicapping this tournament is an almost impossible task. No one has a clue what these guys have been doing for the past 3 months so we are diving into a tournament with very little data to help guide us to a decision.
So while I will have a full card, I am not blaming anyone for sitting this thing out. Which I know isn’t going to happen so let’s get into it and break down Colonial Country Club.
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Colonial is a classic golf course that has hosted a PGA Tour event for longer than any reader has been alive (if you’re over 74 and reading this I fucking love you like a grandpa).
The tree-lined 7200 yard Par 70 is considered short by today’s standards but will offer players a stout test requiring accuracy off the tee and precise tee shots into postage-stamp-sized Bent greens.
If the layout wasn’t challenging enough the conditions in Texas are always a complete wild card. High winds and dry conditions can make an already challenging course even more difficult.
Over the past 5 years, Colonial has ranked between an average level of difficulty to a top third level of difficulty, usually depending on the weather both before and during the four days.
The greens at Colonial are pure Bent and anyone who has rolled it on Bent knows it is the purest surface players will see all year. Whereas Poa is bumpy and Bermuda is grainy, short, and well kept Bent rolls true.
While the surface is amazing, the greens themselves are insanely small, ranking up there with Pebble as the smallest played on all year. The greenside rough is Bermuda and not particularly thick. It really isn’t overly challenging for those skilled in the around the green game but will likely eat up those not comfortable scrambling.
Off The Tee
Off the Tee players will be faced with tight, tree lined fairways. Position within the fairway is even important, a rarity on Tour, as players can be on one edge or the other and not have a straight angle into a flag.
If a player misses the fairway, they will likely be unable to hit the tiny greens. However, as mentioned prior, the course is short. Most guys will be taking less than driver off the tee because the distance isn’t needed and accuracy is at a premium.
You will see many point to this as a reason to fade bombers, but I disagree. If you’re taking an iron off the tee and position is at a premium, what player would prefer to hit a 4 iron over a 6 iron? That iron distance is real so do not discount the long hitters just because they won’t need driver this week.
Ultimately, You cannot go wrong at Colonial (and basically anywhere) pounding greens in regulation. The last two winners, Na and Rose, led the event in Strokes Gained Approach.
However, the prior two winners, Kevin Kisner and Jordan Speith excelled in Strokes Gained Around the Green finishing 2nd and 6th respectively in the category.
The common denominator between 3 of the 4 winners was putting. Na, Kisner and Spieth finished 2nd, 3rd and 2nd in SG:P. Rose was no slouch with the flat stick in his win, finishing 21st in the category, but he put on an absolute ball striking clinic finishing 4th in SG:OTT along with 1st in SG: APP en route to his victory.
What this tells me is that Colonial is an all-around test. I will weigh SG: APP the most heavily. I also want players who pound fairways, and the Fairways Gained stat has been correlated with success at Colonial so I will be including that. Finally, Strokes Gained Tee to Green is a critical stat here. It incorporates success off the tee, on approach, and around the greens.
Patrick Reed +2800 MyBookie.com
I would likely find value on Reed if a tournament were played on Mars. The guy has a resume that parallels any player in the field outside of Rory and DJ and if we don’t have stats to back plays, how about we look at pedigree? Reed is an 8-time winner on Tour, including a Green Jacket.
The last we saw him he was in some of the best form of his career, coming off 8 of 9 top 20s including a playoff loss at the Tournament of Champions and a win at the stacked WGC Mexico (one of 4 outrights leading up to the suspension).
Reed is one of the best all-around players in the field, ranking 14th in Tee to Green over his last 50 rounds. Boxes are being checked left and right.
Here is the thing, T2G doesn’t factor in Reed’s strongest attribute… putting. Look, putting is the most volatile stat that can be considered, which is why I rarely make anything of it. However, there are guys who are so good at putting that it is impossible to ignore and Reed is one of them (along with Speith, Rickie, etc.). Over his last 50 rounds Reed is 7th in this field in Strokes Gained Putting. His favorite surface? Bent.
Too many boxes are checked here. I make this number closer to +2000 and will gladly take the disrespectful price.
Mark Leishman +4000 BetOnline.ag
Week in and week out Leishman pairs elite approach game with one of the streakiest putters on Tour. This is best evidenced by his win earlier this year at Torrey Pines.
Leish gained 4.7 strokes on approach, while losing strokes off the tee and around the green. Why did he win? 8 strokes gained putting! You normally have to brush that putting performance aside when assessing players. However, it is hard to do so when a guy has won 5 times on Tour using the exact same playbook.
This is a perfect combination at Colonial. His average off the tee game doesn’t hinder him as much as it would at most courses while his almost elite (he is no Morikawa, cmon) approach game fits this course perfectly.
Finally, the Aussie is obviously no stranger to wind and fast surfaces. Have you been to Australia (I haven’t but I hear it’s really windy and the courses can be baked). If they get this course touch, which i hope they do. Leish should be at home.
Previous renditions have shown a smoking hot putter when paired with around the green or approach is a path to victory. Leish has two of those three in his bag. I make Leish closer to +3500 here and will not hesitate to take this number.
Max Homa Top 20 +400 at Bovada.lv
Outside of being insanely likeable on Twitter, Homa has absolute game. Let me preface this by saying he can use a little polishing on his around the green work (he sucks at it).
However, you don’t have to be a good chipper when you consistently gain strokes off the tee and on approach as Homa has in each category going into the suspension of play.
The best part? His performance at Riv. I know readers have heard me say this in prior write ups but I love his moxi. The dude needed to make a birdie on 18 at Riv to stay in the hunt. To Homa this wasn’t only Tiger’s Tournament but an iconic spot for the Socal native.
What did he do? He completely airmailed the flag. Why do I take something from this? Because the shot was AT IT. He pulled the trigger on a back left pin and came within feet of executing what is likely the biggest iron shot he has hit on the professional level.
Good luck not airmailing the pin with that kind of adrenaline that was pumping. Good luck hitting it dead at it at the same time. I love that shit.
Given his win last year and his insane form going into the layoff, this number couldn’t be more wrong.
2u Justin Rose -1.5 (-115) o Jordan Speith
It is hard to put much into these matchups but it is also hard not to ride the fade Speith wave that has been so profitable the last 2 years.
The Course History Truthers will land on Speith this week. Cmon, he has won here! Unfortunately these days he rarely knows where the ball is going when he strikes it.
Speith hasn’t managed to gain strokes both off the tee and on approach during a tournament since Torrey in February of last year… FEBRUARY OF LAST YEAR! Mind you, he is one of the best putters in the game, which is the only reason he still has a Tour card. A minor slip in putting and Jordan is missing the cut.
However, this handicap isn’t only about Speith. There hasn’t been much to be excited about regarding Rose since he went into the 2019 Masters as the favorite along with Rory.
Think about that. Within a year of the last time we saw golf Justin Rose was amongst the favorites to win a Green Jacket.
While Rose came into the suspension in absolutely shit form, Speith has exhibited worse form for a longer period of time. I make Rose a substantial favorite here and love laying the strokes at -115.
That is it for this week’s write up. As always, look for my full card on Wednesday Morning @jmazzjd on Twitter and feel free to reach out to me with any questions on the same handle throughout the week.