Sunday, June 13, 2021

2021 Charles Schwab Challenge picks, odds: Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa among best bets at Colonial


If we learned anything from the historic action last week it’s either that trying to figure out who’s going to play well at a given golf event is impossible or that there’s a ton of value to be had all over the board going into a week. When Phil Mickelson, Padraig Harrington (combined age: 100) finish in the top five at the second major of the year, it’s either unnerving or encouraging when it comes to making picks going forward. Maybe even both at the same time.

Regardless, I also don’t know that we should let it change the way we pick regular PGA Tour events, only that it can potentially inform us at the very unique major championships played at venues where all the shots are needed. This week’s track is not a complete return to the bomb-and-gouge golf that sometimes takes over the Tour. Colonial Country Club, host of the Charles Schwab Challenge, is a shorter golf course at which bludgeoning the ball off the tee is not rewarded like it is at a normal PGA Tour event. Instead, more weight is put on approach play, which is why great iron players fill up the card for this week’s best bets.

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Odds provided via William Hill Sportsbook

1. Will Zalatoris over Scottie Scheffler (-105): This is less a fade of Scheffler, who played well last week, and more of a load up on Zalatoris, who has been the third-best iron player in the world (!) over the last two months. Colonial is a great setup for him and Scheffler finished T55 here last year.

2. Charley Hoffman top 20 (+163): From Chuck Town to the Chuck Schwab Challenge to Chuck Hoffman finishing in the top 20. Hoffman has been lights out with his irons of late and ranks No. 4 in this field in approach play since April 1. He’s coming off a nice top 20 at the PGA Championship as well and has been a recent plus in every strokes gained category. That will not last forever because, although he’s a solid player, he’s playing above his historical clip. But I do think it lasts another week, especially at a place like Colonial.

3. Emiliano Grillo top 20 (+188): Again, the iron play has been a joke of late. Three top 15s in four starts before the PGA and a nice T38 in a much more stout field last week at the Ocean Course at Kiawah. Grillo is in that Doug Ghim range where it sometimes feels like fool’s gold to put anything on him, but I’m a sucker for his recent statistical profile. And, similarly to Collin Morikawa, he putts better on bent grass than he does on other surfaces.

4. Collin Morikawa top 10 (+138): Speaking of Morikawa, he’s my one-and-done pick this week. Top 20s in his last three starts — including the Masters and PGA Championship — and he was tremendous in an even more loaded field at this tournament last year. His iron play was embarrassingly good last week as he gained 2.0 or more strokes with his irons alone in three of the four rounds at Kiawah. One other thing to note is that his putting has been unusually bad, even for him. The sample size is small, but the data on him says he’s around a zero putter (no strokes gained or lost) over the course of a season, and right now he’s more than a half stroke lost per round. I bet that comes down and lands closer to zero by the end of the year.

5. Jordan Spieth top 10 (+125): He owns this course. Top 10s in five of his last six appearances here (including a win), and that was when he was not playing well. Now he’s striping it and leads the field (by a wide margin) in total strokes gained since April 1 (Charley Hoffman is second, by the way). It’s not a great number for him at +125, but his history here has proved he’s as steady at this course as he is maybe anywhere in the world — including Augusta National!





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