We normally reserve this premium content for the golf majors, but since the Coronavirus has deprived us all of so much, we figured we’d treat you to a special edition of Ten to Win.
For the newcomers, we are about to provide you with a list of 10 golfers who are playing in the Charles Schwab Challenge this week at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth Texas. Place your bets accordingly.
The Charles Schwab Challenge, which will be referred to as The Colonial for the rest of this post, has a storied history dating back to 1946 when Ben Hogan won the first edition. It’s list of past champions includes most of the giants of the game from: Hogan, Snead, Palmer, Trevino, Crenshaw, Nicklaus, Mickelson, Spieth and the immortal Steve Flesch.
Colonial was the home course of Ben Hogan, and many of the greats have played this tournament over the years to honor him. Except, apparently Tiger. We are only assuming he never played the tournament because he never won the tournament. And the list of tournaments Tiger has played and not won is pretty short. Regardless, Ben Hogan was the ultimate ball striker, and the list of champions over the years reflects that same trait. This will not be a bomber’s paradise. Precision ball striking will reign over the course of 72 holes. For evidence, let’s look at the list of champions since 2010:
Zach Johnson (2X), David Toms, Boo Weekley, Adam Scott, Chris Kirk, Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner, Justin Rose, Kevin Na
Of that group, three showed up on the top 100 in driving distance last year on Tour (Rose, Scott, Spieth), one is on the Champions Tour (Toms), two may not even still play golf (Weekley, Kirk), one did the Three Amigos dance with Mickelson at a President’s Cup (Kisner), one shot a 16 on a single hole in a PGA event (Na) and one beat us in a game of Pop-A-Shot at the Ann Arbor Buffalo Wild Wings (Johnson).
Despite their obvious deficiencies, these guys hit a lot of greens and have great short games…or did when they won the tournament. So, it stands to reason that hitting greens and making putts is a successful formula for winning at Colonial. You won’t have to bomb the ball the accomplish those things either.
Now, we should also mention that Colonial usually doesn’t have a great field due to where it falls in the typical golf calendar, and, well, who really wants to go to Texas? This year is an exception though, as everyone is eager to get back on the course and make absurd amounts of money for doing something the rest of us spend absurd amounts of money to do. With 7 of the top 10 in the world teeing it up, the field has the look of a major.
Without further ado, here are 10 to Win the Colonial (in alphabetical order):
Abraham Ancer – The last time we saw Ancer, he was being schooled by Tiger in singles at the President’s Cup, highlighted by an early walk (Ed. Note – that video may have been slightly edited for dramatic effect) from The Big Cat on the final putt. That set the tone for an epic Sunday comeback for Team USA, but shouldn’t diminish the week Ancer had in Australia. He proved to be an elite putter that week, and that ability will serve him well at Colonial. We’re looking for Ancer to have a big season.
Bryson DeChambeau – The scientist played his college golf at SMU, so he’s bound to be familiar with the course. For some golfers, they probably spent a majority of the past three months relaxing, playing the occasional round of golf with friends and generally just enjoying the break that they don’t normally get because, well, they have tons of money and they are generally normal humans. Well, DeChambeau is not a normal human, and we’re fairly confident he has no friends to hang out with so we’re predicting he’ll be one of the most prepared participants in this week’s tournament.
Harris English – We really don’t think he has any chance, but he shares a first name with our son, so he gets an honorary selection this week. However, he is currently 5th in Greens in Regulation this season, so you’re telling me there’s a chance! Come on Harris!
To give you some insight into the in-depth research that this site undertakes, we wrote an entire paragraph for Harris which did not mention a single thing about his ability to actually play golf. Then, later, we noticed the Top 5 GIR ranking. Learn something new every day.
Viktor Hovland – A rookie on the PGA Tour, Hovland has already proven to be a future star. He won the Puerto Rico Open for this first PGA Tour win, but on the way to victory he recorded a triple bogey in the final round. When asked about it, his response was, “I just suck at chipping.” Me too, Viktor. Me too. Regardless, he’s a personable guy with a ton of talent. While many of the bona fide stars on tour are likely using this week as a tune up to get back into form, a rookie is going to be hungrier to play well, accumulate some FedEx Cup points and earn some money.
Sungjae Im – If we think DeChambeau doesn’t have friends, what about Im who literally lives in a hotel with his parents and can barely speak English? My man has been playing some golf. He’ll be ready to go, and he is currently in the top spot of the FedEx Cup rankings this season, so he’s been on form all year. Plus, he plays every tournament. He’s a machine.
Dustin Johnson – Ok, let’s be honest. There’s no way DJ has been practicing golf. When he played in the charity match with McIlroy, Fowler and Wolff, he was playing as if he was late for his nightly booze cruise. Which, he probably was. So, the chances he’s been grinding to get his mid-irons dialed in are somewhere between 0 and 0. That said, if there is a golfer who can roll off his yacht, walk on the course and shoot a 66, it’s DJ.
Rory McIlroy – We imagine Rory’s preparation is the perfect blend of DJ and Sungjae Im. He hasn’t exactly been grinding away, but if anyone can win a tournament without their best, it’s Rory. One of the most impressive feats of Rory’s career was showing up 10 minutes before his tee time in Sunday singles at Medinah for the Ryder Cup and beating Keegan Bradley, who had been one of the hottest players for the US team. That sparked the Miracle at Medinah comeback for Europe, and burnished Rory’s legacy as one of the most talented players to ever tee it up. This season, he’s finished in the Top 10 in every tournament he has entered, is first in scoring average, second in driving distance, second in Shots Gained Tee to Green and second in total Shots Gained. Is that good? Yes. Yes, it is.
Jon Rahm – Rahm was runner up at Colonial in 2017, so he’s played the course well and this season he ranks third in the Stokes Gained statistic this season. For the novice golf fans (who presumably stopped reading this post long ago), the Strokes Gained stat measure on a per round basis, how many strokes better (or worse) a golfer was than the field at a specific event.
Justin Rose – Rose won here in 2018, so he knows what he takes to win this event. More importantly, Rose and his wife have sponsored a series of tournaments for women on the Ladies European Tour this summer. As much as we joke about the amount of money the men on the PGA Tour make, most professional golfers are week to week earners and without the ability to host tournaments, they are in a tough spot to earn a living. Good on him and he deserves a good finish this week. And yes, it’s that kind of insightful analysis you can’t get anywhere else.
Jordan Spieth – Listen, Spieth has been flat out bad over the last 12-18 months. We get it. But there was a stretch of time not that long ago where he was being discussed as someone who might win double-digit majors. And if there was ever a tournament that Spieth could turn things around, it is The Colonial. He played in this tournament as a high schooler, and from 2015-2017 he finished T2, 1, T2. So, it’s a home game for Spieth and maybe, just maybe, he can find the lost magic.
Ok, friends, let’s enjoy some golf. Aside from just being able to enjoy live, current sports that actually mean something, we’re interested to see how the telecast may differ from what we’ve grown accustomed to over the years. Without fans, our hope is that they show more actual golf shots, some added cameras and microphones to get new/different angles and access, and of course, Charles Barkley. He should be on every golf telecast. He doesn’t even have to leave his house. Just turn on his tv, hand him a microphone, feed him, give him some cold beer and let the man live!