This article is part of our PickGuru Golf series.
Charles Schwab Challenge
Colonial Country Club is set to host this tournament for the 77th time, making it the longest-running non-major event on Tour to be contested at the same course. It is one of the classic designs in the United States, and those who teed it up last week at the PGA Championship will be getting a double dose of Perry Maxwell, who also designed Southern Hills. Ben Hogan won the Charles Schwab Challenge five times, making him the only player to take home the title more than twice.
Profiling the Winner
Colonial is one of the ultimate shot-maker's courses out there. It forces you to work the ball both directions both off of the tees and into the greens. Like Southern Hills, the rough won't be overly long, but it features thick bermudagrass that make controlling approach shots difficult. The greens aren't overly large and are relatively flat for the most part. This was the first course in Texas to introduce bentgrass greens, and the putting surfaces are among the favorites for PGA Tour players.
There's only two par-5s on the course, so scoring opportunities will be relatively limited again this week. The forecast will provide its own challenges, as early-week precipitation will give way to dry conditions for the four tournament rounds. The winds will pick up quite a bit over the weekend, and that should affect scoring for those who make the 36-hole cut. Scrambling will be more straightforward than at Southern Hills, but players should be forced to play more shots around the greens because the high winds will decrease the number of greens in regulation
Overall, we are looking at driving accuracy, SG: Approach, and scrambling being the keys to success at Colonial. Those are quite similar to the primary stats to consider at Southern Hills. However, don't expect the same picks, as I don't like betting on players who contended at a major the week before.
Guru Verdict: This is low-key the easiest category of the week to pick. Spieth is a respectable putter away from being the best player in the world. The swing changes he put in over the offseason have finally started to click and he has been hitting it particularly well over a stretch that saw him win the RBC Heritage and finish second at the Byron Nelson. Spieth putts better at Colonial than anywhere else, making this the perfect spot for him to regain his confidence with the flat stick. The Texan has made the cut in all nine trips here, and he has posted seven top-10s, including a win in 2016 and three runner-up results.
Guru Verdict: Berger had a pretty poor showing at Southern Hills, so he will be eager to get back into contention. The Florida State product won the 2020 edition at Colonial and really has the ideal game for the kind of test players will have this week. Berger ranks 18th in SG: Approach, 26th in SG: Around-the-Green, 15th in driving accuracy and 13th in scrambling. Finau is another interesting option. He doesn't have the game that screams success at Colonial, but he has six top-35 finishes in as many starts at this course.
Guru Verdict: A lot of people probably wouldn't guess that Kirk ranks seventh on Tour in SG: Tee-to-Green. When you go down the list in that category, you find the best of the best and those who have found the winner's circle this season. As a past champion at Colonial and having made 11 straight cuts at the Fort Worth course, things are set up for Kirk to get back in the win column. Homa is probably in the best form of this group with nine straight made cuts, a stretch that includes a win and seven top-25s.
Great Britain & Ireland
Guru Verdict: Rose has started to work his way back after a few years of spotty results. He is coming off a stretch that saw him collect three top-26 finishes in four starts, including a T13 at the PGA Championship. Rose has become one of the better putters on the PGA Tour and is also ninth in Par-4 Birdie-or-Better percentage. The Englishman loves Colonial, going 8-for-8 in cuts made here and notching a win in 2018. Poulter is the only other player in this group with significant experience at Colonial.
Guru Verdict: I like Munoz to emerge on top of this category. He has made nine straight cuts on the PGA Tour, including a T3 a couple weeks ago at the AT&T Byron Nelson – also in Texas. Munoz has been solid from a ball-striking perspective and ranks 47th in SG: Tee-to-Green. He scored a third-place result last year at Colonial. Bezuidenhout is a sleeper in this group. He is gaining strokes in every category and has made 10-of-12 cuts in 2022 while posting five top-25s.
Guru Verdict: Harman has a very underrated record at Colonial. After missing the cut in his first try here, he has reeled off eight straight finishes of T31 or better. It's really no surprise given Harman's make-up. He hits a lot of fairways and is one of the better short game players going. Harman is gaining strokes in every category this season and finished top-35 in five of his last six starts.
Guru Verdict: NeSmith comes in with the best form among this group. He made five of his last six cuts, which included a pair of top-3 finishes. NeSmith has the precise iron play that will play to his advantage at Colonial, as he ranks 28th in SG: Approach and 21st in GIR percentage. Cink hasn't been great this season, but his record at Colonial is impressive, as he has made the cut 16 times in 18 appearances and has scored 12 top-26 finishes.
(Editor's Note: Here are a few more opinions from RW's Len Hochberg and PG's Matt Hardy)
Premium Picks: Jordan Spieth
World Elite: Daniel Berger
US Stars: Chris Kirk
Great Britain & Ireland: Justin Rose
International Stars: Sebastian Munoz
US Contenders: Brian Harman
Wild Cards: Matthew NeSmith