The Fort Worth Invitational has had a name change to the Charles Schwab Challenge but it takes place this week at the iconic Colonial Country Club as a really good field embark on the latest PGA Tour event looking for the riches that come with it.
Justin Rose will be the man defending the title this week and he will do so against some of the best in the world as the preparations for the US Open begin on a course that could very well host an event of that type.
2018 – Justin Rose
2017 – Kevin Kisner
2016 – Jordan Spieth
2015 – Chris Kirk
2014 – Adam Scott
2013 – Boo Weekley
2012 – Zach Johnson
2011 – David Toms
2010 – Zach Johnson
2009 – Steve Stricker
The Colonial Country Club is a par 70 which measures 7,209 yards which by modern standards isn’t exactly a lengthy track. One thing you need around here is accuracy. That is at a premium. This is a treelined course so the fairways are not the easiest to find but with the greens being among the smallest played on all year it is imperative to play the course from the fairway.
Generally the roll of honour is loaded with some of the best ball strikers in the game. Putting generally isn’t a massive thing around here given the small sized greens. It just so happens that a couple of the previous winners are among the better putters around. The wind is expected to be a factor this week which makes it interesting.
We might be one week on from the second major of the season but that hasn’t diminished the field any. For a regular PGA Tour event the field this week is as good as you’ll see. The defending champion Justin Rose headlines it in the absence of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka but there are a number of leading Americans here too.
Jordan Spieth, Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele head the American charge while Bryson DeChambeau, Kevin Kisner and the big hitting Tony Finau also tee it up. Jon Rahm leads the Continental European charge while Paul Casey, Ian Poulter and Matthew Fitzpatrick are also in the field. Emiliano Grillo, Louis Oosthuizen and Abraham Ancer head the international charge.
Defending champion Justin Rose is the favourite for the tournament as an 11/1 shot. I don’t think he is quite on top of his game and that was highlighted last week when he got himself onto the leaderboard in the USPGA but soon fired himself out of it, albeit on a tough golf course. If your game isn’t spot on around here you get found out so he looks a little short to me, not that I would be interested anyway as I don’t get involved in defending champions as a rule as there is too much of a sideshow around them.
Jon Rahm is the second favourite at 12/1. He had last weekend off after failing to tame Bethpage Black, which was a surprise to many as his length should have given him every chance. Rahm has decent form around here with final placings of 5-2 in his two run outs here so that is very much a positive but he hasn’t really been at his best since that final round meltdown at TPC Sawgrass which is enough to put me off him.
Popular Americans Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler come next in the betting at 14/1. Spieth might not be in great form, although he showed a return to something last week, but he has a fantastic record around here with a win and a pair of runner up finishes so it is hard to scrub him off the shortlist too quickly this week, albeit he is a little short for my liking. Fowler has a fair record around here but no more and I would prefer others to him.
I’m a big fan of Xander Schauffele and he is a 16/1 shot this week but he has little in the way of form around this track and the way he finished the USPGA Championship last week makes me think that there could be something of a hangover with him. Normally I would be keeping him onside but this week might just be the tournament to look elsewhere given his lack of a positive spin around this course.
As with the Made in Denmark tournament I only like the one main bet this week but it is one I’m very confident in because if ever a course suited Francesco Molinari then it is this one. We know all about his tee to green prowess and I expect him to lap a good number of the field in that department this week even if it is his course debut.
I’m amazed Molinari is not shorter than 20/1 this week. He has won at Bay Hill, finished fifth in The Masters when he held the lead going into the final day and made the semi-finals of the Match Play all within the last couple of months. He was level par through 36 holes on a course a country mile too long for him last week which shows how well he is hitting the ball. This track is certainly not too long for him. A huge showing is expected here.
In the hope that the big guns suffer a comedown from last week I’m going to throw a few darts at the bigger prices. Chez Reavie is a man who has been on my radar over the last 12-18 months and he is back in my team this week. Reavie is a relentless straight hitter and for the early parts of the USPGA Championship he was under par for the tournament despite the course being too long for him and not really playing to his strengths. This one does though. Reavie sits at 13 in proximity to the hole on the PGA Tour which should give him plenty of birdie chances. That should make him a major runner here.
Zach Johnson has won around here and like Reavie he was also under par for a good deal of the USPGA Championship despite now having the length to tame Bethpage Black so that is encouraging ahead of this week. Johnson knows his way around here blindfold and there are still few better players with a wedge in their hand than him. If he has his putting boots with him then he ticks every box and at 66/1 has to be a bet here.
Jim Furyk goes much in the same boat as Zach Johnson without the form at Bethpage Black, but he has shown enough throughout the season to ensure that he merits being a bet here. Furyk is as straight as a die, decent in the wind, a wizard with a wedge and generally a decent putter. Furyk is fourth in proximity to the pin on Tour. That should give him a lot of good looks this week and he’s far too big to ignore at 100/1.
I’ve been in the Brian Stuard camp for the last month or so and while I’ve not been rewarded for it financially yet, I’m not giving up on this guy just yet. He is another who is generally pretty straight from tee to green and with the irons in his hand he can be deadly. He is T20 in proximity to the pin and with no strain on his long game off the tee I expect him to pile up the birdie chances this week. At a three figure price I’ll take him given that we are running out of tracks that he will contend on.
My final bet comes in the shape of the form horse Matt Every who at 150/1 has to be overpriced. Every has been on a cut schedule recently but he has four solo top 20s to his name including a second placed finish last time out down the road at Byron Nelson. He was third at the Zurich Classic albeit in a pairs competition and in the top 20 at the RSM Classic, Pebble Beach Pro-Am and Puerto Rico. That all shows a comfort in the wind which is important this week and having finished in the top five here in the past Colonial can be good to him too. I’ll pay to see how well he goes this week.
Back F.Molinari to win Charles Schwab Challenge (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 21.00 with Betfred (1/5 1-7)
Back M.Every to win Charles Schwab Challenge (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 151.00 with Betfred (1/5 1-7)
Back them here:
Back C.Reavie to win Charles Schwab Challenge (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with 888sport (1/5 1-6)
Back Z.Johnson to win Charles Schwab Challenge (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 67.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-8)
Back J.Furyk to win Charles Schwab Challenge (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 101.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-8)
Back them here:
Back B.Stuard to win Charles Schwab Challenge (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Betfair (1/5 1-8)
Back him here: