2023 Charles Schwab Challenge Dark Horse Picks: Bet Patrick Rodgers & Tom Hoge at Colonial
Via Andrew Redington/Getty Images. Pictured: Patrick Rodgers of the United States plays his tee shot on the fourth hole during the first round of the 2023 PGA Championship at Oak Hill Country Club on May 18, 2023 in Rochester, New York.
The PGA Tour heads to Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas for the 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge as Sam Burns looks to defend his title. He won in a playoff on an electric 40-foot putt that gave him the victory over good friend Scottie Scheffler last year.
Scheffler is the betting favorite this week with odds shorter than +500, but I’ve found value on other players further down the odds board whose statistical profiles are trending in the right direction.
I believe improvements in key areas of their game should be rewarded by the course setup this week.
2023 Charles Schwab Challenge Dark Horse Picks
Patrick Rodgers Top 10 +700 (bet365) | +650 BetMGM (Ties Paid in Full)
Patrick Rodgers is a sneaky top-10 play this week because of his improved approach play coupled with his strong putting and driving off the tee.
Historically, Rodgers has been poor on approach. Between the 2016-2017 and 2020-2021 seasons, he ranked between 165th and 180th on the PGA Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach, with a SG: Approach value between -0.323 and -0.529 per round.
Thankfully, Rodgers is a bomber who rolls the ball well with his putter, so he impressively managed to keep his PGA Tour card despite those consistently ugly approach numbers.
But something has changed for Rodgers over the past two seasons as he moved up to 94th on Tour in SG: Approach at +0.091 SG per round in 2022. He is slightly worse than that this season at 121st in SG: Approach at -0.065 SG per round, but he’s still significantly better than he has been historically.
Nonetheless, Rodgers has remained strong off the tee and on the greens in 2023 as he ranks 35th in SG: Off the Tee (+0.345) and 47th in SG: Putting (+0.285). Couple this with his career-best SG: Around the Green (+0.22) of 39th, and he is beginning to put the pieces together.
This week’s venue at Colonial Country Club features the sixth-smallest greens on Tour, which means there is an emphasis on approach play to small targets. This course hasn’t been kind to Rodgers historically, as he lost an average of 0.839 shots on approach per round prior to last season and made just two of five cuts. But he did post a top-15 finish in 2020.
However, in Rodgers’s improved approach season in 2022, he gained 0.5 shots on approach per round. If he can continue his improved approach play, he should have opportunities to go low in Fort Worth.
The flat greens and relatively easy short game shots around Colonial should also help Rodgers score. His driver gives him an extra gear that the past two winners of this event — Jason Kokrak and Sam Burns — utilized in their victories.
Rodgers loves these greens as he has gained strokes putting in each of the six events he has played at Colonial. He also enters with strong putting form with strokes gained on the greens in each of his last five events while finishing in the top 10 twice in that span.
Combine his improved approach play, strong driving and putting, and his career-best around the green game, and I love the value on Rodgers to finish in the top 10 this week at +650 on BetMGM (where all ties are paid in full) and at +700 on bet365 (play him down to +550 for a top-10 finish).
His lack of a top-tier approach game is what makes me believe his ceiling is in the top-10 market, unlike my next dark-horse pick.
Pick: Patrick Rodgers Top 10
Tom Hoge +10000 (FanDuel)
I love Tom Hoge at 100-1 odds this week at Colonial. That’s in large part because of his elite approach game. The TCU Horned Frog ranks third on the PGA Tour in SG: Approach this year (+0.998 SG per round), and Colonial is a course tailor-made for elite approach players who can putt.
Surprisingly, Hoge has poor course history at the Charles Schwab Challenge as he finished T17 in his tournament debut here in 2016 but has yet to finish better than T40 in his five most recent starts (including three consecutive missed cuts). The TCU golf team plays frequently at Colonial, so even though he hasn’t historically performed well here, he should have a level of comfort and familiarity with the course.
While Hoge has been a strong approach player for years, he’s among the top five on Tour for the first time in his career. He’s 0.3 strokes better this year than last year on approach, when he finished 11th on Tour at +0.664 SG: Approach.
He’s also a significantly better putter than ever. Last year, Hoge was dead average in SG: Putting (-0.009 per round) as he ranked 105th on Tour. This year, Hoge ranks 55th on Tour while gaining 0.260 shots on average on the greens this season. This would be the first season where he cracks the top 90 in SG: Putting since he joined the Tour in 2015.
Because of his below-average to average historical putting numbers becoming a strength and his strong approach play becoming elite, Hoge has great value at 100-1 odds at FanDuel to win outright this week.
Pick: Tom Hoge Outright
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