Sobel’s 2019 Charles Schwab Betting Preview: Don’t Load Up on Favorites at Colonial
Soobum Im, USA Today Sports. Pictrured: Abraham Ancer
- Justin Rose is the betting favorite to win the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Golf Course in Fort Worth, Texas.
- Jason Sobel analyzes the field and explains why it's usually a good idea to steer clear of favorites the week after a major.
Let’s see… we’re coming off a pressure-packed major championship… where big drives and long approach shots were important commodities… then travel to a ball-striker’s paradise… where few of those same characteristics will be necessary…
Why does this all seem so familiar?
It’s because this was the exact same scenario last month, when 40 players competed in the Masters and headed straight to the RBC Heritage.
There were at least some geographic and turf-specific similarities between those events, but that won’t be the case this week, as more than 60 players travel from Bethpage Black, last week’s PGA Championship venue, to Colonial for this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge.
(Some tourneys are better left to simply referring to them by the course name rather than the newest sponsor that nobody can remember — like Torrey, Riviera and, yes, Colonial. Sorry, Charlie Schwab.)
Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it — or so I’ve heard.
It’s worth reviewing how those Masters competitors fared at Harbour Town the next week, with lower stress and a less formal vibe.
The results were mixed.
Three carryovers finished in the top-five, including runner-up Matt Kuchar (who was T-12 at the Masters), Patrick Cantlay (T-9) and Shane Lowry (MC). Two more (Kevin Na and Ian Poulter) finished in the top-15, a rate of 33.3% of the contenders having competed in the Masters.
Considering 30.3% of that field had played the previous week’s major, that’s a fairly consistent number.
It might not offer an extremely revealing trend, but it does suggest that we shouldn’t overly weigh those who competed the previous week, nor should we overly fade.
Before I get to those whom I like this week, a few words on those I’m staying away from.
The field odds start with the three R’s — Rose, Rahm and Rickie — which include the defending champion, a two-time top-five finisher and a three-time top-15 finisher, respectively. It’s not that I strongly dislike any of them, but their prices are too low for my taste.
If you want to start DFS lineups with one of those big names, I don’t mind the strategy — and I’d give the edge to Rahm over the other two.
Next on the hit list is Jordan Spieth, who finished T-3 at Bethpage, his first top-20 since last summer. Logic states that if he can play so well at a course which shouldn’t suit his game, then he should absolutely tear it up at Colonial, where he’s won and twice been runner-up.
While I think he’s made some great strides, I’m still not completely sold, especially in regard to last week. Spieth led the PGA field in strokes gained putting at an eye-popping number of more than +2.5 per round. Putting like that, though, is hardly sustainable — and Colonial tends to neutralize putting stats.
I’m still bullish on Spieth long-term and expect another step in the right direction this week, but I can’t ignore the ball-striking numbers that he’ll need to succeed.
Let’s get to the guys I do like this week, which doesn’t include too many of the favorites.
Bryson DeChambeau (+2500)
No, he hasn’t been very good lately, with no results better than 20th in his last seven starts. But this is your chance to claim the eighth-ranked player in the world at 25-1 in a tourney with average strength of field.
He hasn’t played great here in three previous tries, but a noted Ben Hogan disciple, this one probably means a little more to him than others.
Kevin Kisner (+3500)
Prior to last year, Kisner had finished 1-10-5 in his three previous starts at Colonial, a track which should be perfectly suited to his game. Like DeChambeau, he’s another guy who hasn’t played his best golf, but that only means he owns some inflated odds.
Emiliano Grillo (+5000)
Slowly, very slowly, it’s all starting to come together for Grillo. I like him to contend for a second straight year, but I’ll let you read all the way to the bottom of this column to see why.
Chez Reavie (+5500)
His track record here is horrible, other than a T-5 in 2011 and T-11 in 2013, which makes absolutely no sense.
Another ball-striker who should benefit from the shorter course, Reavie’s game should fit Colonial really well. I’m taking a stab here that he’s ready to figure something out at this one.
Joel Dahmen (+6000)
Everyone’s favorite FRL bet should be back at it again this week, where it would surprise virtually nobody if he opens up with a low one in the first round.
The difference after his runner-up finish at Quail Hollow is that he appears ready to finish it off now.
Abraham Ancer (+7000)
I’ve been saying for a few months that I think he’ll win this year and he’s slowly running out of chances. He could be a guy to watch at either new event in Detroit or Minneapolis, but this one feels as good as any of ‘em. I expect a nice week, if not that first PGA Tour win.
Sungjae Im (+7000)
About a month ago, I was talking about Im with another player who’d played with him. “He’s going to win this year,” the player told me. “Somewhere like Colonial.” Well, this week’s venue is somewhere exactly like Colonial.
And while he’s cooled off recently, that just means his odds have moved up to a meaty price again.
Si Woo Kim (+7000)
As we all know, the weekly leader in the high-ceiling/low-floor department, Kim is worth a shot anytime he’s teeing it up at a ball-striker’s course.
Russell Knox (+8000)
He’s lost his form just a little bit, with MCs in two of his last three starts, but like others on this list, that’s only driven up his price. If nothing else, he’s consistent here, with finishes of 20-24-21 in three career starts that should make him a nice plug-and-play DFS option.
J.T. Poston (+12500)
If the RBC Heritage serves as a strong corollary, then we should look carefully at Poston, who was T-6 at that event last month. He was also T-20 at Colonial this year and seems to be a much improved player this time around.
K.H. Lee (+12500)
Looking for the ultimate longshot?
My man Kyounghoon Lee makes a ton of cuts and has a propensity for playing his best golf on shorter tracks with some wind, which should be a nice descriptor for this week’s host venue. He’s 5-1 for a top-20 finish and should be very low-owned in DFS.
Kramer Hickok (+15000)
Ever since Justin Thomas made a name for himself instead of being known only as “Jordan Spieth’s good friend,” we needed someone to take over that role.
If Hickok, a University of Texas product who was once roommates with Spieth, gets into the mix, you’ll hear all about this connection.
Nick Taylor (+15000)
The results haven’t been great this year, especially in his last four starts, with nothing inside the top-50, but fresh off co-medalist honors at the U.S. Open sectional qualifier in Dallas on Monday, he should be riding some nice momentum into this event.
My Favorite Bet
Emiliano Grillo Top-20 (+170)
It doesn’t seem like much of an educated bet to take a guy to top-20 who hasn’t finished top-20 all year, but let’s just say Grillo is due and play the law of averages here.
He’s been trending in the right direction recently and should have good vibes coming at Colonial, where he posted a final-round 64 to finish solo third last year.
If there’s ever a spot for a strong ball-striker to kick his season into high gear, this is the one.