This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Charles Schwab Challenge
Course: Colonial Country Club (7,209 yards, par 70)
Winner: $1,350,000 and 500 FedExCup points
You would have gotten pretty stellar odds if you bet on the Charles Schwab Challenge to be the best field of the 2019-20 season to this point. The players seem just as ready to get back after it as the fans are starving for Live sports. That has led to 15 of the top-20 players in the World, including each of the top-five, heading to Colonial to do battle on what is still one of the favorite courses amongst players out on Tour. The 75th edition of this event will be held a few weeks later than it's traditional date on the schedule, which will make for a firmer course. Temperatures will be in the upper 90's with no threat of rain to slow down these fairways and greens. Winds are also expected to be down from what is typically seen in Fort Worth for this tournament. The winning score has reached at least 10-under in all but one edition since 2000, so birdies should be expected despite the possible rust and baked out conditions.
Key Stats to Victory
Colonial should be playing firm and fast this week, which will make length much less of a factor on this tight, classic design. Players should get plenty of wedge and short iron opportunities, so controlling distances will be essential coming into these small greens. Distance control is hard enough in mid-season form, let alone when it's been nearly three months since these players have played in a PGA Tour event. Short game is another area that is typically rusty after a long lay off, so players who have always been strong in that area would be who I would try to target. Last, but not least, is putting. I wouldn't call the greens at Colonial simple by any stretch of the imagination, but they are typically fairly easy to read and we've seen that it's usually the guys that are filling it up that are near the top of the leaderboard by Sunday afternoon.
FanDuel Value Picks
Jon Rahm, ($11,900)
Rahm has a chance to ascend to World No. 1 with a victory at Colonial. It is a place he has taken fondly to in his young career, with a runner-up in 2017 and a fifth-place finish in 2018. Over the last 10 years at Colonial, Rahm is also third-best in strokes gained per round. The 25-year-old has just one finish outside the top 20 in his last 17 starts worldwide, and has notched a ridiculous 10 top-3 results.
Webb Simpson, ($11,400)
A narrow, baked-out course is right up Simpson's alley. Literally his only weakness is that he doesn't hit it that far, but that won't be something to be concerned about this week. Simpson ranked seventh in SG: Approach, 31st in SG: Around, 13th in SG: Putting, seventh in proximity, and first in birdie average prior to the break. He also owns a pair of top-5s in his last three starts at Colonial.
Sungjae Im, ($11,200)
You could easily argue that Im was hotter than anyone prior to the suspension of play. The 22-year-old notched his first career PGA Tour victory at The Honda Classic, then followed it up with a solo third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational the very next week. Im has a very complete game for such a young player, as he ranks 12th in SG: Total, 10th in birdie average, and 10th in scoring average this season. He is also sitting atop the FedExCup standings, above quite a few other world-class players having terrific seasons. There really is never a bad week to insert Im into your lineup.
Jordan Spieth, ($10,000)
Colonial has been one of Spieth's best courses throughout his pro career. In seven starts he owns five top-8 finishes, including going T2-Win-T2 from 2015-17. Spieth has also gained 2.41 strokes gained per round at Colonial, which is nearly 0.6 strokes per round more than the next closest competitor over the last 10 years. The Longhorn got off to a slow start this season, so this break really came at the prefect time. Spieth's ball striking can be up and down, but that short game and putter almost never fails him. This is the week to buy low on the future Hall-of-Famer.
Longer Shots with Value
Kevin Na, ($9,800)
The defending champion can always be counted on to deliver at Colonial. He has only missed one cut in 12 starts, with five top-10's and eight top-25's. Na also ranks fourth at Colonial since 2010 in both strokes gained per round and birdies/eagles per round. He sits 11th in the FedExCup standings with a win at the Shriners Open and six top-25 finishes this season. The putter has been the difference, as Na ranks top-15 in SG: Putting, one-putt percentage, and putts per round this season.
Ryan Palmer, ($9,400)
Nobody in the field should be more ready for this week than Colonial member Ryan Palmer. The four-time PGA Tour winner has gotten tons of reps at this week's venue, as Colonial stayed open through the pandemic. You know the 43-year-old has to be dying to try to get a PGA Tour victory on his home course. He's been trending in this event with five top-15 finishes in his last eight starts. Palmer was playing some of his best golf prior to the layoff, as he sits 25th in birdie average and 26th in scoring average with six top-25's in nine starts.
Harris English, ($9,400)
English was having the best start to a season in his career prior to the suspension of play. In 11 starts, English had racked up five top-10's and seven top-20's. He ranks 11th in SG: Total, fifth in GIR percentage, and 13th in scoring average. The Georgia product has also finished inside the top-30 in five of his six career starts at Colonial, including a runner-up in 2016 and a T5 as a debutant in 2012.
Brian Harman, ($8,300)
As I mentioned before, length is not a prerequisite for success at Colonial as it is at a lot of other courses on Tour these days. That allows players like Harman to find success. Since 2014, Harman has the third-best cumulative score to par at Colonial, having finished at least T31 in each of those six starts. Harman made 10-of-12 cuts with five top-25's prior to the suspension of play this season. He currently ranks 20th in scoring average, 32nd in proximity, 30th in scrambling, and 17th in putts per round.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
There are going to be quite a few dart throws these first few weeks. There's really no other way to slice it. Most of these players have not taken three months off from competition since they joined the PGA Tour, so it's hard to predict exactly who will be coming out of the gate strong. This week I'm favoring my selections heavily on course history. Those players will know proper lines and club selections off tees, as well as where to miss it coming into these relatively small targets. Tony Finau, Sergio Garcia, and Kevin Kisner are other players who each rank inside the top-10 in strokes gained per round total at Colonial since 2010 who I would consider in lineups this week. Some cheaper options to round out lineups that might be worthy of taking a flyer on include Wyndham Clark, Chris Kirk, Carlos Ortiz, Brian Gay, and Jazz Janewattananond. No matter what happens this week, it's just good to be back.