2021 US PGA Tour
Charles Schwab Challenge
Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas
27 – 30 May
Well, I never saw that one coming. Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen fighting tooth and nail for a PGA Championship- I can buy that. But Phil Mickelson becoming the oldest ever Major Champion at Kiawah? I never thought he had it in him to compete again at one of these masochistic contemporary layouts. I think his achievement rivals Tiger’s exploits at the 2019 Masters (back inclusive). I’m also surprised that the sage veteran has chosen to tee it up again this week. Perhaps he’s eyeing a potential backdoor pathway towards a shock Ryder Cup qualification. The lefty has unfinished business with the prestigious tournament after a few ignominious showings in recent times.
This week’s event has undergone as many name changes as Puff Daddy. Formerly known as various names such as the Fort Worth Invitational and Dean & Deluca Championship, this event dates back all the way to 1946. The first two renewals were one by golfing icon Ben Hogan (the course is affectionately known as Hogan’s Alley). His legacy runs deep throughout the history of this old championship. He won the event a further three times in the 50’s, taking his personal tally to five victories (no one else has won it more than twice). One thing that hasn’t changed since the inception of this event is the host course. Colonial Country Club is a classical test that all the players will be familiar with. Colonial is the longest-running host of a single PGA event outside of Augusta. Who will take home the tartan jacket this year?
This course was designed by John Bredemus and opened in 1936. Colonial is really an atypical PGA tour course. It is a relatively short, tree-lined exercise in precision. Not often you say those words. It is also punctuated by small, elevated bentgrass greens. The course is also littered with deviously placed bunkers that make the gung-ho approach slightly precarious.
It’s no surprise to see the likes of Kevin Na and Kevin Kisner finding success on this tactical masterpiece. It’s also fascinating to know that Phil Mickelson won this event in 2000 and 2008. Could he make it back-to-back titles this week?
Let’s just avoid the Mickelson fairy-tale for a few seconds. This week’s line-up is once again extremely strong despite last week’s Major. There are many tremendous possible champions this week. Defending champion Daniel Berger is ultra-consistent while Colin Morikawa- the man he beat in last year’s playoff- looked solid at the Ocean Course. Texan Jordan Spieth is a perennial contender in this event and he will be looking for a bounce-back following last week. The likes of Patrick Reed and Will Zalatoris will be looking to build on impressive showings at the year’s second Major.
2020: Daniel Berger (-15)
2019: Kevin Na (-13)
2018: Justin Rose (-20)
2017: Kevin Kisner (-10)
2016: Jordan Spieth (-17)
To Win Outright
Jordan Spieth 10/1
Justin Thomas 12/1
Collin Morikawa 14/1
Daniel Berger 18/1
Abraham Ancer 20/1
Justin Rose- To Win 30/1 | To Place 13/2
2018 Champion Justin Rose is famed for his tee-to-green game. He has struggled a bit over the last few years with his famed precision iron-play. But the Englishman has started to show some of his best golf in stellar events. He finished 7th in the Masters and 8th last week in the US PGA Championship. Those were two of his last three starts. I think he is worth chancing this week after shooting a 67 at Kiawah on Sunday.
Harry Higgs- To Win 140/1 | To Place 30/1
I’m opting for Harry Higgs as my complete outsider. I say this after his brilliant showing at Kiawah last week. He finished in a tie for 4th in his first career Major appearance. However, that was his first top 10 showing in 12 events this year. He was 2nd amongst those who made the cut in SG: Around-the-Green. His small-game ability should serve him well on these pernickety bentgrass greens. The 29-year-old resides in Dallas and he finished in a respectable tie for 38th last year. He just seems worth it in the place markets at 30/1.
The Man to Beat: Corey Conners- To Win 25/1 | To Place 11/2
This is a popular choice this week for good reason. Conners has been in excellent form this season and he’s a brilliant ball striker. He is currently 9th for SG: Off-the-tee. He is also 15th for SG: Tee-to-green. He is also 4th in shots gained approaching the green (a stat that will prove crucial with these small green complexes). He has seven top 10 finishes this year and he battled hard last week in Kiawah. He ultimately finished in a tie for 17th. Going deeper than that, he actually has four top 8’s in his last eight stroke-play events. He looks built for this course and looks great value at 25/1.