2021 Charles Schwab Challenge Preview & Picks: Stats Point to Jordan Spieth, Gary Woodland, Matt Kuchar at Colonial Country Club
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Spieth
After a memorable 2021 PGA Championship, the PGA TOUR heads back to Texas to play the Charles Schwab Challenge. The 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge was the first event following the long layoff created by the COVID-19 pandemic and it did not disappoint as Daniel Berger bested Collin Morikawa in a playoff to emerge victorious.
Colonial Country Club is a 7,209-yard par 70 and features bentgrass greens. The difficulty of the event this week could be influenced by course setup or wind. It can play relatively easy or relatively difficult depending on pin locations and firmness of the greens.
The Charles Schwab Challenge is an invitational that will host 121 golfers this week, and the field is surprisingly strong considering it is the week after a major championship. Some notable golfers in the field include Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Daniel Berger, Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Patrick Reed, Will Zalatoris, Abraham Ancer and Louis Oosthuizen.
Past Winners at Charles Schwab Challenge
- 2020: Daniel Berger (-15)
- 2019: Kevin Na (-13)
- 2018: Justin Rose (-20)
- 2017: Kevin Kisner (-10)
- 2016: Jordan Spieth (-17)
5 Key Stats For Colonial Country Club
Let's take a look at five metrics key for Colonial Country Club to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.
1. Strokes Gained: Approach
Strokes Gained: Approach will be a major factor this week. It grades out as the most important statistic historically in events played at Colonial Country Club and that should be the case once again this week.
Approach Over Past 24 Rounds
- Collin Morikawa (+38.9) (+1400)
- Justin Thomas (31.7) (+1000)
- Corey Conners (+29.4) (+2000)
- Jordan Spieth (+28.2) (+800)
- Charley Hoffman (+28.0) (+4500)
2. Strokes Gained: Off The Tee
Both distance and accuracy will be important this week. Historically, shorter hitters who find the fairway have thrived at Colonial, but last year we saw a lot of the players in the star-studded field use big drives to eliminate the challenge of doglegs and fairway bunkers. The rough can be thick and penal so finding the fairway will remain important.
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee Over Past 24 Rounds
- Sergio Garcia (+20.6) (+8000)
- Cameron Champ (+18.3) (+15000)
- Jhonattan Vegas (+18.0) (+12500)
- Daniel Berger (+17.3) (+1800)
- Sungjae Im (+17.3) (+3000)
3. Par 4: 400-450
With seven par 4s on the course that are between 400 and 450 yards, I am targeting golfers who excel on these types of holes. With only two par 5s on the course, par 4 scoring will be even more important.
Par 4: 400-450 Over Past 24 Rounds:
- Chris Kirk (+19.0) (+6600)
- Emiliano Grillo (+16.8) (+6000)
- Will Zalatoris (+15.0) (+2500)
- Abraham Ancer (+13.7) (+1400)
- Jordan Spieth (+11.6) (+800)
4. Opportunities Gained
Last year, the course presented a lot of birdie opportunities due to how the world's best players were attacking the course. With equipment advances and recent strategic adjustments, I expect this course to be get-able once again. Golfers will need to give themselves plenty of birdie chances.
Opportunities Gained Over Past 24 Rounds
- Justin Thomas (+30.3) (+1000)
- Charley Hoffman (+20.7) (+4500)
- Collin Morikawa (+26.7) (+1400)
- Jason Kokrak (+22.5) (+4500)
- Will Zalatoris (+20.8) (+2500)
5. Strokes Gained: Putting (Bentgrass)
The bentgrass greens at Colonial are in immaculate condition and putters who roll it pure are at an advantage. Historically, great putters have thrived at Colonial.
Strokes Gained: Putting (Bentgrass) Over Past 24 Rounds
- Brendon Todd (+26.0) (+10000)
- Jason Kokrak (+23.3) (+4500)
- Ian Poulter (+22.3) (+7500)
- Cameron Tringlae (+19.0) (+6000)
- Andrew Putnam (+18.9) (+20000)
The Charles Schwab Challenge Model Rankings
Below, I've compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (27%), SG: OTT (22%), Par 4: 400-450 (17%), Opportunities Gained (17%), and SG: Putting Bentgrass (17%).
- Abraham Ancer (+1400)
- Jason Kokrak (+4500)
- Daniel Berger (+1800)
- Corey Conners (+2000)
- Cameron Tringale (+6000)
- Jordan Spieth (+800)
- Tony Finau (+1600)
- Collin Morikawa (+1400)
- Chris Kirk (+6600)
- Charley Hoffman (+4500)
2021 Charles Schwab Challenge Best Bets
Jordan Spieth (+800): For me to bet a guy at the very top of the board, he has to check all of the boxes. Jordan Spieth checks all of the boxes. Course history has proven to be extremely important at Colonial and there is none better (or even close) than Spieth. In his past six trips to Fort Worth, he has five top 10s including a win and two runner-ups. Do you prefer prioritizing recent form over course history? No problem. The Texan is currently scorching hot, averaging 5.2 strokes on approach per start in his past five starts. I don't see too much value on the board this week, which is another strong reason to hit the top of the board. Sometimes you just have to bet the favorite!
Gary Woodland (+4500): Gary Woodland has been showing flashes of returning to his peak form of a few years ago, and there is reason to believe he may be all the way back. In his past two starts, he has gained 8.1 and 4.4 strokes tee to green. The strong iron play has led him to contention in three of his past five starts. I also love that he can club down off the tee this week, which is a strategy that has yielded excellent results for him. Last month, Woodland placed sixth at the Valero Texas Open, showing he has a knack for Texas golf courses and bentgrass greens. Woodland also finished ninth at Colonial last year in his only start at the course. I have no doubt he can build off of that performance and win the Charles Schwab Challenge this week.
Matt Kuchar (+7500):
Kuch is back, baby! Matt Kuchar is another golfer who has flashed some recent form, including a 12th-place finish last month at the Valero Texas Open. Throughout his excellent career, Kuchar has been one of the best golfers in the state of Texas. Prior to the PGA Championship, Kuch gained more than 3.0 strokes putting in each of his past three starts. Historically, short plotters and great putters have won at Colonial and few fit that mold better than the 42 year old. Kuchar also had an outstanding showing at the Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club. With nine PGA TOUR wins on his resume, Kuch is a golfer who has extreme upside and win equity. You can be sure he will bring his A game this week in hopes for another successful trip to the Lone Star State.