The two biggest storylines coming out of last week’s PGA Championship came from a California club pro and a LIV golfer. The PGA Tour hopes to get things back on track at this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club. WagerTalk golf handicapper Andy Lang shares his thoughts on this week’s event with betting tips, DFS recommendations and players to avoid.
Charles Schwab Challenge Field
Colonial presents a much different challenge from what the guys faced last week. This course is short, the fairways are tight and lined with trees, and it’s not a course you can overpower or even want to try and overpower. Approach shots are going to be important as the greens are tiny, and of course solid putting is going to be required to compete. Last year’s event featured a lot of wind, but it looks like it will be calmer this year with sustained winds below 20 MPH so the winning score will be in the low-to-mid teens I’m guessing. Let’s take a look at the top-10 in Total Strokes Gained in this field in 2023:
1. Scottie Scheffler
2. Tony Finau
3. Collin Morikawa
4. Justin Rose
5. Viktor Hovland
6. Rickie Fowler
7. Sungjae Im
8. Max Homa
9. Jordan Spieth
10. Chris Kirk
There are a few notable golfers I would refer to you as “guys who don’t hit the ball far off the tee, but are really accurate off the tee and have solid approach numbers.” Those guys will be able to compete this week vs other courses that require long tee shots:
Russell Henley – No. 1 in driving accuracy the field. +0.48 in Strokes Gained on approach.
Si Woo Kim – No. 10 in driving accuracy in the field. +0.39 in Strokes Gained on approach.
Andrew Putnam – No. 19 in driving accuracy the field. +0.31 Strokes Gained on approach, and No. 14 in Strokes Gained putting.
Charles Schwab Challenge Players to Avoid
Viktor Hovland – He played incredible last week finishing runner up, and the amount of energy (both mentally and physically) it took might take more than a few days to recover from. I think this is a let down spot for him. He looked pretty exhausted after the last round, and that was his best finish of the year. He outperformed his yearly stats by far. He was third in tee-to-green, first in approach, and tenth around the green. Those numbers are not normal for him. Playing way above his averages along with a let-down spot make him overpriced for me as he’s No. 3 on the odds board this week.
Tony Finau – Outside of the win at The Mexico Open, he doesn’t have any other top-five finishes, and with him being priced as the second-favorite on the odds board this week, I can’t find any value on him after how bad he was last week. This isn’t a great field, but it’s decent and it does have big names. Finau hasn’t been great at the elevated events (26th at The Masters, 31st at RBC Heritage, 24th at Arnold Palmer and 19th at The Players). He would have to finish top-4 to return value, and that seems pretty ambitious. I won’t be betting on him this week.
Bonus: Michael Block – This may be the most epic let-down spot ever. Michael Block won millions of fans last week, and had the most fairy tale week anyone could have as a club pro. He played the tournament of his life, including a hole-in-one, and was +6.1 Strokes Gained putting. My guess is that won’t happen again this week. Don’t bet on Michael Block this week.
Charles Schwab Challenge DFS Darlings
Zach Johnson ($6,200) – He’s made the cut in three out of the last four events, and he’s made the cut three years in row here. It’s a not a long course so it fits his game pretty good.
Mark Hubbard ($6,600) – He’s made the cut in four-straight events, and he’s played here four times and never missed the cut.
Eric Cole ($7,200) – I worry that he’s never played here, but he’s been fantastic the last few weeks finishing 23rd and 15th the last two weeks. This is too good of a price to pass up on a guy with top-20 upside.
Rest of the lineup: Cameron Davis ($8,600); Jordan Spieth ($9,900); and Scottie Scheffler ($11,500)
Charles Schwab Challenge Best Bet
Denny McCarthy Top 40 Finish (-150)
In the last three months, McCarthy is No. 14 in Total Strokes Gained in this field, and really the only thing he struggles with is driving distance. That won’t be an issue this week as the course is short and rewards accuracy over power off the tee. He’s great at putting, and has solid numbers tee-to-green, and he finished 27th here last year. This year has been a great year for him and he’s finished top-30 in six-straight tournaments. The course fits his game well, I expect a solid finish from him this week inside the top-40.