CS CHALLENGE: After a PGA Championship that saw birdies galore and some good old-fashioned Sunday afternoon drama, the Tour now returns to its regular schedule with the Charles Schwab Challenge, an event that as has changed names a few times but will forever be known as “Colonial” to both the guys in the field and the local Fort Worth, Texas fanbase.

Colonial, of course, refers to Colonial Country Club, the classic tree-lined track that has played host to this tournament since its inception in 1946, making this the longest running non-major PGA Tour event to be held at the same venue. Originally designed by Perry Maxwell and John Bredemus in 1936, Colonial is a straightforward test that prioritizes accuracy over distance, with tight dog-legs, problematic Bermuda rough, and water that comes into play on several holes. A par-70 that measures 7,240 yards, it usually ends up being a mid-iron fest due to the many par-4s that force the players to hit their tee shots in the same area. That means there are very few gimme birdies at Colonial, which is why the scoring is always kept in check here and you very rarely see anyone challenge the 20-under mark, with the winning number usually in the 10-15 under range. Emiliano Grillo’s 9-under 271 was good enough to get the job done last year.

Colonial is also known by another name– Hogan’s Alley, after the Ft. Worth native who won this tournament a record 5 times and is perhaps the most legendary ball-striker in the history of the sport. This is still Ben Hogan’s tournament in many ways, and a statue of the Wee Ice Man looms large over the grounds of the club. There will be plenty of Hogan-related cut-ins during the telecast this week, I promise.

Another Texan who is known for his ball-striking prowess and is well on the road to legendary status is here this week and is the clear favorite on the BETDAQ exchange, as Scottie Scheffler, fresh out of the slammer and coming off a T8 at the PGA, will attempt to win for the 5th time in his last 7 starts. Scheffler is currently trading at 4.0– an awfully short price until you remember who it is we’re dealing with. It’s probably a pretty decent bet to be honest, though we’ve decided to go with these three instead:

WIN MARKET

Recommendations to BACK (odds in parenthesis)

Max Homa (22.0)- Though he has yet to win this season, Homa has been knocking on the door with increasing regularity, with a T8 at the Wells Fargo and a T3 at the Masters among his last four starts. He played solid golf at Valhalla, finishing the week at 8-under and a tie for 35th, and now he comes to a place that really fits his game nicely in Colonial. Homa controls his distances with his short-to-mid irons as well as anyone in the world– the stats back this up– and Colonial features a steady diet of these types of shots, to small targets that require precision. Even the best iron players will be chipping more than usual this week, but that suits Homa well, as he’s 24th on Tour in strokes gained around the green. He’s found the top-30 in 3 of his past 4 performances here and he snuck into the top-10 last year, so he clearly knows his way around the course and understands exactly what needs to be done this week. I like his chances and the price is reasonable.

Christiaan Bezuidenhout (50.0)- Despite firing a 2nd-round 68 last week Bezuidenhout still narrowly missed the cut at the lowest-scoring PGA Championship we’ve ever seen, but it was his first MC since early March, as the 30-year-old South African has really come into his own and is playing some of the best golf of his career. He reeled off five consecutive top-30 finishes prior to last week, including a T9 at the Valspar, a T13 at the Players, and a T16 at the Wells Fargo. He’s one of the best iron players on Tour, ranking 13th in proximity to the hole on approach, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he has a nice record at Colonial which includes a T21 last year and a T15 in 2022. He’s also been rolling it brilliantly, ranking 3rd on Tour in putting average and 2nd in 1-putt percentage, and when you combine those two things– elite iron play and elite putting– you get a player who’s awfully dangerous at a straightforward old-school track like Colonial. This feels like a great price for Bezuidenhout.

Mark Hubbard (110.0)- A Hubbard win this week would be hugely popular in the locker room, as the 34-year-old is one of the most well-liked guys on Tour and has yet to taste victory in 215 career starts. His game has definitely been on the upswing these past couple of years and he’s yet to miss a cut in 14 starts this season, logging a pair of top-5s and seven finishes of 31st or better. He has a solid record at Colonial which includes zero missed cuts in five career starts and a 9th-place finish last year, so this is definitely one of the spots on the schedule where he feels comfortable and has shown that he can contend. With the combination of good current form and a nice course history, Hubbard stands out among the triple-digit options. He’s a live one this week.


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