This weekend, we have the first PGA Tour Golf tournament taking place for a while as 144 of the world’s top stars meet in a specially-expanded field from the usual 120 players that compete in the annual Charles Schwab Challenge, formerly the Colonial National Invitational.
Kevin Na will be one of the players in the field and he will be aiming to defend the title he won last year when defeating Tony Finau by four shots. Tiger Woods is absent, but a number of top players in the world today, including all of the top three players in the golf rankings, will be participating at the event, with a particularly strong representation from the United States.
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So, before we take a look through the field for this tournament, let’s learn a little more about the event itself and the course on which it is contested.
The Colonial National Invitational/Charles Schwab Challenge
Due to a new sponsorship deal, the Colonial National Invitational has become the Charles Schwab Challenge and one of the more venerable events on the tour has a new name. First contested back in 1946, when Ben Hogan won the first of his five titles at the event, the Fort Worth-based event has been a mainstay on the PGA Tour ever since.
Over the years, nobody has managed to better Ben Hogan’s five wins, in fact nobody has come close to that level of success with a number of golfers recording two wins, including the likes of Lee Trevino, Billy Casper, Nick Price, Phil Mickelson and Zach Johnson amongst them. Tiger Woods, who is again absent from the event, has never won the tournament. Kevin Na is the current champion having won the tournament last year.
Other players to have tasted victory here in recent times include Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Chris Kirk and Kevin Kisner.
Colonial Country Club Course Analysis
The Colonial Country Club has been the home venue for this tournament since 1946 and prior to that, in 1941 it was also the venue for the US Open tournament. It has also been the home of the 1991 Women’s US Open, which was won by Meg Mallon.
The course is one of the top 100 courses in the United States and is famous for a stretch of three holes early in the round. The third to the fifth holes are known as the “Horrible Horseshoe” given the shape the holes create on the course and the fact that they are three of the toughest holes on the course. In fact, the 481-yard par four fifth hole is regularly rated one of the toughest holes on the PGA Tour each year.
Despite this, the course record is 61, which has been achieved by seven PGA Tour professionals including last year’s winner Kevin Na.
Which players should be in contention this weekend?
A quick look back through the history of this event reveals that American players have won 11 of the last 13 times the tournament was run with only Justin Rose (2018) and Adam Scott (2014) breaking American player’s stranglehold on the trophy.
The field contains a very strong American contingent despite Tiger Woods’ absence. Justin Thomas (16/1), Webb Simpson (22/1), Bryson DeChambeau (25/1), Xander Schauffele, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka (all 28/1), Tony Finau, Ricky Fowler (35/1), Scottie Scheffler, Jordan Spieth (40/1), Matt Kuchar (50/1) and US Open Champion Gary Woodland (55/1) are amongst those competing at the weekend.
There is also a strong representation from Europe, despite a number not making the trip to the US for a number of reasons. Rory McIlroy is the 8/1 favourite to win the trophy just ahead of Spaniard Jon Rahm at 12/1. Justn Rose is a 45/1 shot, with Matt Fitzpatrick a 55/1 chance and Sergio Garcia 60/1.
International players are also well represented with the likes of SungJae Im (33/1), Collin Morikawa (40/1), Marc Leishman (45/1), Jason Day (50/1) and Louis Oosthuizen (66/1) amongst those rated as having a good chance of victory.
However, you can also look into the longer odds selections for some stellar names including British Open Champion Shane Lowry (70/1), 2017 winner Kevin Kisner (80/1), Bubba Watson (125/1), Phil Mickelson (125/1) and Ryder Cup ace Ian Poulter (140/1).
My gut feeling is that the winner will likely come from one of the players mentioned above, so who would we back?
Outright Winner – Jon Rahm (12/1)
The Spaniard has finished as a runner up in this event in recent years and he was one of the form players on the tour before the break. He is well used to playing in the United States and it is his consistency from one week to the next that has seen him climb the rankings so effectively over the last few years. If one player can slot back into the rhythm of tournament play quickly and easily it is Rahm and that may be a key factor here.
In addition to this, I would place a number of smaller each way bets on a number of other players, with bet365 Sport paying out the top six and equal in the tournament. My choices here would be Tony Finau (35/1), Jordan Spieth (40/1) and Phil Mickelson (135/1).