2020 Charles Schwab Challenge Betting Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Outright Bets, Matchups, Props & Sleepers at Colonial
Cliff Hawkins, Getty Images. Pictured: Tony Finau
- Need golf betting picks for the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial? Our staff compiled their 15 favorite bets, from outright winners to matchups and props.
- We're skipping the top of the board this week in favor of some ball-strikers who should fair well on a short track like Colonial Country Club.
- Get our picks for golf's return below.
Golf bettors, the time has come.
The 2019-20 PGA TOUR season is set to resume on Thursday with the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Forth Worth, Texas and it’s hard to put into words just how good it feels to have four days of PGA TOUR golf to watch, and more importantly, bet on.
From outright bets to sleepers to props and matchups, here are our favorite bets for golf’s triumphant return at Colonial.
SPECIAL PROMOS FOR GOLF’S RETURN! Bet $1, Win $50 if Rory makes just ONE birdie … Win $50 if ANY PLAYER makes a birdie on Colonial’s first hole … and more!
Kevin Kisner +9000 ($10 bet wins $900)
There’s nothing easy about making a selection this week. Some of the bigger names in the field have relatively little experience at this course, while some of the lesser-knowns feel like even bigger longshots after the layoff. And so, I’m sticking with what we know and picking the 2017 winner here.
Even though he’s finished MC-52nd the past two years, Kisner was in the top-10 each of the previous three, proving this is a place where he can find success. Perhaps my favorite stat in making this pick is that Kiz owns a 66.25 final-round scoring average in four attempts, which shows he improves as he becomes more comfortable during the week. Just as important as any of this, though, is a major intangible in a week when intangibles are a more vital variable than usual.
If you lined up every player in the field at the starting point like thoroughbreds in the gates, Kisner would be the unruly one stomping his feet and bucking his jockey, ready to get out there and run the race.
I love that combination of his mentality and history here – and the relatively big number next to his name doesn’t hurt, either.
Justin Rose +5000
It’s hard to really back anyone with much confidence this week, but a couple of things are pointing my money towards Justin Rose.
First, he’s won here before so that’s always a benefit. But the more important thing may be his equipment change away from Honma.
Things just didn’t work out for him with the Japanese brand and his ball-striking clearly suffered, especially with his irons. He took the Honmas out of the bag in March and his ball-striking numbers started to turn around.
The three-month break should have allowed Rose to get back to his previous form and, when that happens, these mid-tier prices will be gone and Rose will be back towards the top of the board.
Abraham Ancer +8000; Collin Morikawa +5000
As I wrote here, I’m not a big outright bettor, and I think this week is especially tough to handicap. For what it’s worth, some of my favorite names on the board are Webb Simpson, Patrick Reed, Sungjae Im, Bryson DeChambeau and Collin Morikawa; if you can find them at elevated prices — Morikawa is 50/1 at DraftKings, for example — they’re definitely worthy of bets.
But Colonial definitely caters to longshots, and the layoff situation likely does, too, so I’ll go down the board a bit more to highlight another guy I really like: Abraham Ancer.
He has middling results here at Colonial, but I’m going to be looking at guys with excellent short games this week; scrambling and putting back-tested well here, which makes sense given the length of the course and its tiny greens.
And Ancer is one of the best scramblers in the field with his 64.0% long-term mark. He was excellent with both his short and long irons late in 2019 and early 2020, leading to multiple top-10 finishes, including at a WGC event.
Oh yeah — and he’s a Texas native, which could help him with the course, travel and the bentgrass greens. He has the talent, narrative and fit, so if you like outright bets, I think he’s too short at 80/1 at BetMGM.
And you know what, screw it: Morikawa is definitely in play at 50/1. There’s the two-for-one special you all deserve in this golf restart.
Ryan Palmer +7000 ($10 wins $700)
Joining us on The Action Network Podcast this week, I asked Palmer to sell himself to potential bettors on why they should play him this week. There’s an obvious connection here – he’s a member at Colonial and finished T-6 here a year ago, his fourth top-six result at this event since 2012.
But he offered three other reasons, too: 1) He’s in form, having posted a 64 in his usual game last Friday, despite a bogey on the last; 2) He’s more accustomed than most others to playing Colonial in its natural state, with no bleachers or corporate tents lining the fairways, so it should feel more comfortable; and 3) No fans means no ticket requests from friends and neighbors, no extra responsibilities that so often come with playing in a hometown event.
I was already on Palmer anyway, but even more so for all of those reasons.
Abraham Ancer +8000
Ancer should be fairly comfortable playing in Texas. Even though he plays under the Mexican flag, the 29-year-old was actually born in the Lone Star State and played his junior college golf at Odessa College before transferring to Oklahoma.
Ancer has been teeing it up alongside the likes of Scottie Scheffler and Viktor Hovland in a couple play events in the state. He didn’t win the event but it will likely be to his benefit to have competitive golf under his belt.
Adam Hadwin +12500
I think this week is especially tough to handicap but I do think this week caters to longshots; I would not be surprised at all if someone 100/1 or higher takes home the crown. Finding that person in such a huge field is obviously tough, and as a result I’ll likely invest more in plus-money matchups.
But #content, so I’ll give my thoughts on a golfer I think is interesting at a triple-digit number in Hadwin. He has boom-or-bust history here, placing in the top-50 each of his last two trips but banking a top-five back in 2015.
And the course fits him well: He’s one of the best putters in the field, and he’s solid in Strokes Gained: Approach over the last 30 rounds or so. If he’s able to hold the small greens — or if that’s just generally tough and it turns into a putting contest — he’ll be in good shape to be in contention, despite the tough field.
I am going to be very interested to see which parts of golfers’ games come back the quickest following this long layoff. I assume a lot of these guys have been practicing a ton, but will great putters get an unusual boost due to feel being more important than pure repetition?
Honestly who knows with all of these narratives. I’ll be focusing on golfers with good iron play and short games, and Hadwin fits that archetype at a big number. Why not?
(If you don’t want to take him as an outright bet, you can find him at plus money to be the top Canadian golfer; he just has to beat Corey Conners and Mackenzie Hughes.)
Matt Kuchar: Low Georgia Tech player -137 ($13.70 wins $10)
Due to the fact that 1) There are very few sports to bet on right now; and 2) People like to bet on sports, many books have ramped up wagering options to the extent of a major championship, with more to bet than a usual PGA TOUR event. If we dig deep, we can unearth some hidden gems — and this one is my favorite.
Now, -137 doesn’t seem like a great number for group betting like this, but let’s break it down further.
First, there’s the fact that Kuchar owns a nice track record here, with five top-25 results in 11 career starts. Second, there are only three other Yellow Jackets in the mix: Andy Ogletree, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion, who is making his first career PGA Tour start; Chesson Hadley, who’s missed the cut in four of seven starts this year; and Richy Werenski, who similarly hasn’t reached many weekends.
This one feels like a smash play in favor of Kuch, who could cash it for you by Friday afternoon.
Kevin Na Top-20 +240 ($10 wins $24)
I’m going to take a shot here with the defending champ to come up with a solid result this week. Na has finished inside the top 20 in five of his last nine starts at Colonial, including three of the previous four.
It’s a course that fits his precision style of play and even with the stronger field this year, I think his game should hold up well.
Dustin Johnson to miss the cut +235
DJ didn’t look particularly sharp in the TaylorMade Driving Relief, and while it’s hard to penalize him too much in a one-round charity event, it fits a trend. He wasn’t great even before the layoff, finishing outside the top-40 at the WGC-Mexico Championship.
He’s been down in general over the last year after being the world No. 1 prior to that. Honestly, he just hasn’t looked completely healthy after knee surgery back in September.
I think in general the market is overpricing a lot of the top golfers; it’s suggesting this is any old tournament when in reality there’s a lot of uncertainty. Some of them will be awesome and dialed in certainly, but others might be quite rusty — or in DJ’s case not completely back from the knee issues.
At +235, I think it’s worth betting him to miss the cut. Colonial is a really tough course that requires incredible precise shots given the small greens, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see DJ just not be 100% sharp in the first tournament back.
A bonus bet: Sungjae Im -145 to finish in the top 40. Im missed the cut last year, but it did give him a chance to see the course.
Prior to the layoff, he was as hot as any golfer, winning the Honda Classic and finishing third at the API. His short game was really on, which is especially important at Colonial. But really, this is just a bet on Im and his talent. He’s apparently one of the biggest grinders on tour, and those are the type of golfers I want to bet on following a long layoff.
Kevin Kisner (-120) over Bubba Watson (DraftKings)
I normally reserve plus-money options for my favorite H2H bets, but this one was too fun to pass up. I already outlined my reasons I like Kisner above — and yes, it should stand to reason that if I like him to win outright, I should like him in most matchups, as well.
But this one is particularly juicy. I can’t think of a better matchup than Bubba, who’s about as poorly suited to Colonial as any player to any host venue. There’s a reason why he hasn’t teed it up here since way back in 2008. Expect his fellow UGA product to lap him on the leaderboard this time around.
Marc Leishman (-120) over Gary Woodland (Westgate)
We don’t really have much to go off of with these two, but Leishman has made the cut in all seven of his starts at Colonial. Woodland, on the other hand, has only shown up once and he missed the cut.
Both were in pretty good form when the TOUR shut down but I’ll back the guy who consistently has this stop on his calendar and usually puts up a solid result over a guy who skips it year in and year out.
Rory Sabbatini (+100) over Jason Kokrak (Parx)
Sabbatini is a dog here because … of recent play, I guess?
That’s really the only explanation why Kokrak — who went MC, MC, 51st but then 18th prior to the layoff — is the favorite here. Sabbatini is the superior putter, which I normally discount but won’t this week, and has vastly superior course history: In his last four events, he has a Course Adjusted Round Score of 69.3 compared to 72.0 for Kokrak.
In fact, Kokrak’s history here is one of the worst in the field. He’s solid at scrambling but typically fits better at longer courses; Sabbatini is the superior ball-striker.
As I wrote here, due to the uncertainty this week I want to target plus-money players in head-to-head matchups: Among similar players, why not take the superior payout when it’s more of a toss-up than the market is indicating?
If I can get the superior golfer with superior history at plus odds? Even better.
Russell Knox (-135) over Bubba Watson (FanDuel)
If anyone needed a reset button before COVID-19 stopped sports, it was Knox, who missed four consecutive cuts. Prior to that, the Scotsman had not missed a cut in 11 consecutive events, finishing top 20 in four of them before Pebble Beach on Feb. 19.
A tough way to start the tournament.
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) March 12, 2020
Throughout the drought, Knox maintained a high scramble percentage and ranks 15th in GIR percentage this year. In four tournaments at Colonial, Knox has posted no worse than 24th and finished No. 8 last year.
And experience is something Bubba Watson does not have on his side in Fort Worth.
Watson ranks No. 4 in driving distance but 178th in driving accuracy, more specifically 218th in left rough tendency. That could find him out of bounds often with both par 5’s and all but four par 4’s shading a layout to the right.
Watson last played this event in 2008, accumulating just one birdie, four bogeys and a double. Considering approach to the green is a big component to Colonial, Watson’s strokes gained rank of 136th will have to improve to beat Knox at a rank of 15th on the 2020 season.