2024 Charles Schwab Challenge First-Round Leader Picks: 3 FRL Bets

2024 Charles Schwab Challenge First-Round Leader Picks: 3 FRL Bets article feature image

Via Aric Becker/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Hoge of USA walks up hole number 16 during the first round of THE CJ CUP Byron Nelson at TPC Craig Ranch on May 2, 2024 in McKinney, Texas.

Here's everything you need to know about 2024 Charles Schwab Challenge first-round leader picks — our expert's three FRL bets for this week's PGA Tour event in Fort Worth, Texas.

With the PGA Championship in the rear-view mirror, we now look forward to this week's 2024 Charles Schwab Challenge. Colonial Country Club hosts once again, which it has done annually since 1946.

Colonial is a par-70, 7,289-yard track designed by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell that underwent a renovation following last season led by Gil Hanse and Jim Wagner.

Find my 2024 Charles Schwab Challenge first-round leader picks below.

2024 Charles Schwab Challenge First-Round Leader Picks (FRL)

Usually, my strategy for targeting first-round leaders is looking for golfers who tee off earlier in the day. The first wave almost always scores better than the second wave, which makes sense considering that the greens only firm up as the round progresses.

The earlier a golfer tees off, the more soft greens he faces that are much more receptive to his shots. However, the weather calls for rain and wind throughout the day on Thursday, and I don't think either wave will have a clear advantage over the other.

Max Homa +3500 (bet365 | 0.15 Units)

Thursday Tee Time: 8:55 a.m. ET

That brings us to Max Homa. He is the third-best golfer in this field, and this wager gives us an opportunity to extend his outright number from 22-1 to 35-1 due to the increased volatility of the FRL market.

However, I like Homa in this market far more than the outright market anyways because I don't think he is going to outperform Scottie Scheffler in Texas over four days. With that said, he certainly possesses the skill set to outscore him in one round.

Homa has made the weekend in 19 of his past 20 tournaments, boasting 12 top-15 finishes over that stretch. He has failed to win an event over that stretch, which is another reason I trust him more in the FRL market than the outright one.

Additionally, Homa has improved his play at Colonial year-over-year, finishing 23rd in 2022 and ninth last season. Therefore, I wouldn't be surprised at all to see his name toward the top of the leaderboard on Thursday.

Brian Harman +5000 (FanDuel| 0.15 Units)

Thursday Tee Time: 8:44 a.m. ET

Brian Harman tees off in the group immediately prior to Homa, and the Champion Golfer of the Year has made the weekend in 16 of his 18 tournaments since winning his first major championship.

Harman boasts six top-12 finishes over that stretch, so we know the tools are there to compete. It is no secret that the best club in his bag is his putter, which I mention because the flatstick was ever-important here last season.

Four of the top-five finishers at Colonial last year ranked among the top nine in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting, the only statistic or metric in which such a trend occurred. Like Homa, I don't necessarily trust Harman against Scheffler over a four-day sample size, but I could see him leading after the first round at 50-1.

Tom Hoge +5500 (FanDuel | 0.15 Units)

Thursday Tee Time: 1:56 p.m. ET

Tom Hoge is my final FRL target this week. The majority of handicappers in the golf world would agree that, in a vacuum, the most important isolated strokes gained metric is on approach, and there is only one golfer who outranks Hoge this season in Strokes Gained: Approach (Scottie Scheffler).

Hoge is just ahead of Corey Conners, Tony Finau and Xander Schauffele with his irons, and that is a hell of a list of golfers to be associated with in such a key metric.

Hoge hasn't won on Tour since 2022, which is part of the reason why I prefer him in the FRL market as I trust him far more on a Thursday than I do on a Sunday. He's in good form with 13 weekend appearances over his past 14 tournaments, posting seven top-20 finishes over that stretch.

The upside is there, but perhaps not the finishing ability, which is why I will take a shot on Hoge this week in the FRL market at 55-1.

Here's my full betting card for the Charles Schwab Challenge, and you can find more of my thoughts on this week's tournament on the Links + Locks Best Bets podcast:

  • Scottie Scheffler Outright Winner (+280 at FanDuel) – 0.35 Units
  • Justin Rose Outright Winner (+6000 at FanDuel) – 0.35 Units
  • Maverick McNealy Outright Winner (+6600 at BetMGM) – 0.35 Units
  • Lucas Glover Top 10 (+550 at bet365) – 0.21 Units
  • Webb Simpson Top 10 (+1100 at bet365) – 0.21 Units
  • Matt Kuchar Top 20 (+500 at bet365) – 0.20 Units
  • Max Homa FRL (+3500 at bet365) – 0.15 Units
  • Brian Harman FRL (+5000 at FanDuel) – 0.15 Units
  • Tom Hoge FRL (+5500 at FanDuel) – 0.15 Units

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