This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
CHARLES SCHWAB CHALLENGE
Winner's Share: $1.314M
FedEx Cup Points: 500 to the Winner
Location: Fort Worth, Texas
Course: Colonial Country Club
2018 champion: Justin Rose
The tournament that has changed its name more often than Puff Daddy/P. Diddy/Puffy/Diddy is back with yet another moniker for 2019: the Charles Schwab Challenge. The investment firm has signed on as the title sponsor for the next four years, offering some stability to the longstanding Tour stop. Crowne Plaza ended its relationship in 2015, then Dean & Deluca came on for two years, then last year there was no title sponsor. It was simply the Fort Worth Invitational. But one thing that has remained constant ever since this tournament began in 1946 is the course: venerable Colonial. Only the Masters has seen a longer lifespan without a course change. The list of champions could fill multiple wings in the Hall of Fame: Hogan, Snead, Middlecoff, Boros, Palmer, Casper, Trevino, Crenshaw, Nicklaus, Price, Tom Watson, Mickelson, Spieth and last year, Justin Rose.
Rose is back for the 73rd edition as part of a very strong and limited 122-man invitational field, surprisingly strong the week after a major. Seven of the top 13 in the world are on hand, and that doesn't even include native son Jordan Spieth, fresh off his tie for third at the PGA. There are also 19 of the top 50 in the OWGR, including a strong contingent of internationals staying stateside for another week. Colonial has a unique feature called the Champion's Choice Invitation. Past champions vote to give spots in the field to two players otherwise ineligible. This year, one of those players is area favorite Tony Romo ... wait, what? [checks notes] ... Sorry, actually, they are Dru Love and Tucker Wadkins, sons of Davis and Lanny. (Insert "Romo is a better golfer than them" joke here.)
Colonial tries to choke off the long hitters with narrow fairways, trees and dog legs, which is a big reason why Annika Sorenstam famously chose this track for her one and only venture onto the PGA Tour 16 years ago. A similar course to look at for guidance is Harbour Town, where the Tour stopped just last month and also features a smaller invitational field. Colonial, of course, features the Horrible Horseshoe, which honestly sounds more like a children's book than one of the most treacherous stretches on Tour. It's a bit of a letdown that it comes so early in the round. Still, Nos. 3-5 are hard, with two par-4s that exceed 480 yards sandwiching a nearly 250-yard par-3. Last year, No. 5 was the hardest hole on the track, with only 41 birdies all week, and No. 3 was third. We'll take a closer look at how to navigate around Colonial in the key stats and Champion's Profile below.
Weather-wise, the area has seen a lot of rain leading up to and into tournament week, and there's a small chance of thunderstorms on Thursday, as well. The big issue could be wind, as it expected to be blowing all four days, unlike last year, when it was very calm. Otherwise, it'll be a real scorcher, with temperatures topping out in the mid-80s.
Fun Colonial factoid: This is one of only five invitational tournaments on the PGA Tour calendar, allowing for smaller and better fields. The others are Riviera, which gains that status beginning next year; Bay Hill; Harbour Town; and the Memorial, which will be played in two weeks.
Key Stats to Winning at Colonial (in order of importance)
Note - The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key stats" follow in importance.
• Driving accuracy/strokes gained: off the tee
• Greens in regulation/strokes gained: approach
• Putting average/strokes gained putting
• Par-4 scoring average/par-4 birdie or better
Last year was likely an anomaly with extremely calm conditions throughout, as Rose won at 20-under-par, the lowest winning score in years and 10 clear of Kisner from the year before. He ranked 17th in driving distance, sixth in accuracy, first in greens in regulation and second in proximity – really, it's surprising he didn't win by more than three strokes (over Brooks Koepka). Rose is a long hitter, and that's not consistent with other recent winners. Kisner, Kirk, Johnson, Toms and Stricker are all on the shorter side, and even Scott, a pretty big hitter, was outside the top 50 in driving distance when he won. Colonial is really a second-shot golf course. With greens averaging only 4,500 square feet, it will be a challenge to find the putting surface. Historically, good putters have won here, though Rose and Scott were both outside the top 20 in strokes gained: putting. With only two par-5s, one of which is 635 yards and among the harder par-5s on Tour, par-4 scoring takes on added meaning this week.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS (Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap)
Tier 1 Values
Justin Rose - $11,400 (Winning odds at golfodds.com: 10-1)
Rose entered Colonial a year ago for perhaps not the right reasons. He needed to fulfill his PGA Tour scheduling requirement, and was skipping the prestigious BMW PGA Championship back home in England. Of course, it worked out, as Rose dominated all week. And with Wentworth now moved to the fall on the calendar, he can come back for all the right reasons in his title defense.
Jon Rahm - $11,200 (12-1)
Rahm was on the cusp of challenging Rose last year until he found the water at No. 9, ending his chances. He wound up tied for fifth, and that followed a tied for second the year before. So he obviously plays the track well, albeit differently than most. He averaged 325 off the tee last year, trying to overpower Colonial's checkpoints. Hey, whatever works. Rahm is ranked fourth on Tour in par-4 scoring average.
Rickie Fowler - $10,500 (12-1)
Despite Jordan Spieth's tie for third at the PGA, we're not ready to pull the trigger and start backing him just yet. He putted so well, but his driver and irons were still wobbly. So we go with Fowler (not exactly a ringing endorsement, right?). Fowler tied for 14th here a year ago, his first visit in five years. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy is one of the better wind players around. He's also ranked 34th in greens in regulation and 10th in strokes gained: putting.
Francesco Molinari - $9,800 (16-1)
This price might be the biggest bargain on the whole DK board, finding the laser-like Molinari at under $10,000. The world No. 7 has never played Colonial before, but it should be right up his (Hogan's) alley. On a track where precision counts for more than power, Molinari can match up with anyone this week.
Tier 2 Values
Paul Casey - $9,300 (25-1)
Casey admittedly is thrilled to be done with getting beat up by Bethpage, not that he did that poorly, tying for 29th. Like a lot of golfers this week, he has played Colonial sparingly, but he's had success when there, most recently tying for 10th two years ago. Casey is 29th in driving accuracy and, a bit surprisingly, 44th in strokes gained: putting.
Ian Poulter - $9,100 (30-1)
Poulter missed the cut at the PGA, but we like that he'll be a bit fresher coming in. The Englishman tied for 10th at Harbour Town, and that was with another Sunday fade, something happening to him with greater frequency. Poulter has played Colonial on and off, just four times in the previous 10 years, but he does have a top-5 and a top-10 on his ledger.
Scott Piercy - $8,600 (40-1)
Piercy has played well of late, as he's given himself plenty of rest. Not this week, though, which is the only factor that gives us pause. This is Piercy's third week of action in row, though he did share runner-up at the Nelson and also was a respectable T41 at Bethpage. Piercy tied for third last month at the RBC Heritage. He is ranked 17th in driving accuracy and eighth in greens in regulation.
Joel Dahmen - $8,400 (60-1)
Dahmen was inside the top 40 at the PGA until he blew up on Sunday. Still, he did enough to show us that all his top-25s the past two years are the real deal. Despite averaging well under 300 yards off the tee, Dahmen is ranked 57th in strokes gained: off the tee. That's because he's 20th in driving accuracy. Unsurprisingly, he tied for 20th last year at Colonial.
Tier 3 Values
Kevin Na - $8,000 (50-1)
Na tied for fourth here a year ago, his third top-10 at Colonial in the past decade. He does best on the shorter tracks, and he tied for 10th last month at Harbour Town.
Abraham Ancer - $7,600 (60-1)
The native Texan is coming off a stellar PGA in which he tied for 16th. That moved him to 60th in the OWGR, giving him a spot in next month's U.S. Open. Ancer ranked 22nd in strokes gained: off the tee thanks to some decent distance and stellar accuracy. He's also 23rd in scrambling and ninth in par-4 birdie or better. Ancer tied for 52nd in his Colonial debut a year ago.
Danny Lee - $7,300 (80-1)
For whatever reason, the native New Zealander loves himself some Colonial. He's finished in the top-25 four years running, including T14 last year and T6 the year before that. There's no specific stat to point to for this success, so we won't. Lee wound up 36th at the PGA after opening with a 64.
Corey Conners - $7,200 (80-1)
This track should be right in Conners' wheelhouse, and last year it was when he tied for eighth in his Colonial debut. The winner in Texas last month at the Valero is ranked 19th in strokes gained: off the tee, fifth in greens in regulation and 10th in strokes gained: tee to green. Any sort of decent putting, such as last year's ranking of 31st, should land him another high finish.
Michael Thompson - $6,800 (150-1)
Thompson has made the cut five of his past six visits, and he tied for 10th last month at Harbour Town. Thompson is ranked 18th in driving accuracy and 30th in strokes gained: putting.
Vaughn Taylor - $6,700 (Field, 15-1)
Taylor has cashed top-20 the past two years, and he tied for 17th two weeks ago at the Nelson right across the Metroplex. The classic shorter hitter, Taylor is ranked 25th in driving accuracy and an elite sixth in strokes gained: putting. He's also 35th in par-4 scoring average, impressive given his length.
Jonas Blixt - $6,500 (Field, 15-1)
Blixt has finished top-20 in three of his five visits, missing the cut just once. He tied for 20th at the Nelson earlier this month and for 30th last month at the Valero (he missed the cut at Harbour Town). Blixt is tied for 47th in par-4 scoring average.
Ryan Armour - $6,100 (150-1)
Armour has missed a bunch of cuts this season, but $6,100? We'll take a stab at that, especially for someone who tied for 14th at Colonial a year ago and does best on shorter tracks. Armour also made the cut last month at Harbour Town. He is ranked fourth in driving accuracy, sixth in scrambling and T47 in par-4 scoring average. $6,100? Really?