Welcome to our weekly PGA Tour gambling-tips column, featuring picks from GOLF.com’s expert prognosticator, Brady Kannon. A seasoned golf bettor and commentator, Kannon is the host of the HeatStrokes podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @LasVegasGolfer, and you can read below to see his favorite plays for the Charles Schwab Challenge, which kicks off Thursday at Colonial Country Club, in Fort Worth, Tex. Keep scrolling past Kannon’s picks, and you’ll also see data from Chirp, a free-to-play mobile platform that features a range of games with enticing prizes, giving fans all kinds of ways to engage in the action without risking any money.
Two weeks after wrapping up the AT&T Byron Nelson, in McKinney, Tex., we are back in the Lone Star State for the Charles Schwab Challenge, at Colonial Country Club — an iconic Fort Worth course that has long been associated with Nelson’s buddy, Ben Hogan. The run of legendary names will continue next week at the Memorial, a course built by tournament host, Jack Nicklaus. Nelson. Hogan. Nicklaus. That’s three of the best to ever play the game, represented over a four-week stretch on Tour.
Colonial Country Club has hosted this event since 1946, making it the second-longest running host course in the men’s professional game, after Augusta National. It also hosted the 1941 U.S. Open. Colonial was designed by Perry Maxwell, whose vaunted body of work includes Southern Hills, site of last year’s PGA Championship. For the pros, it now plays as a par-70, measuring a shade over 7,200 yards. This stretch of the schedule reminds me of the transition from the Masters to the RBC Heritage — a shift from mammoth Augusta National to a tighter, tree-lined track in Harbour Town. Now, we come off of big, bad Oak Hill and the PGA Championship, to a smaller, more accuracy-based test.
Hogan won here five times, and the course has been dubbed “Hogan’s Alley” in his honor. He finished 3rd here at the 1941 U.S. Open. That success is not surprising, as Colonial demands precise ball striking — not that it doesn’t call for good scrambling and putting, too. The fairways are Bermuda, and tree-lined doglegs abound. The greens are small and feature bentgrass. The skill sets I looked at this week are: Strokes Gained: Approach and Greens in Regulation Gained, Driving Accuracy and Good Drives Gained, Hole Proximity from 125-200 Yards, Strokes Gained: Par 4s from 350-450 yards, Scrambling, and Strokes Gained: Putting (bentgrass).
As for correlated courses, I believe there are strong connections between Colonial and Austin Country Club, where they play the WGC Match Play; Harbour Town; and Waialae Country Club, home to the Sony Open in Honolulu.
One other note about Colonial that could prove useful going forward: as a former U.S. Open course that requires accuracy and shot-shaping, it chould serve as a harbinger for next’s month’s U.S. Open, at Los Angeles Country Club. At very least, it is worth noting who performs well here this week as we plan ahead. The skills needed at Colonial should transfer to LACC.
We’ve had a nice two-week run in this column, landing correctly on Jason Day at the Byron Nelson and Brooks Koepka at last week’s PGA Championship. I have six selections this week in an effort to keep the winning trend going. I played these for an outright win as well as a Top 20 finish.
Russell Henley (40-1)
Henley is No. 1 in this field over the last 36 rounds for Good Drives Gained. He is very accurate off the tee. He is 25th in Greens in Regulation Gained, and 10th in Hole Proximity from 125-150 yards. Henley has won the Sony Open to go along with a runner-up finish and three Top 20 finishes. He has two Top 10s at Harbour Town, and three Top 10’s at Sea Island. He missed the cut by a shot last week at the PGA Championship. Now rested, he comes to a course that ought to better suit his game.
Chris Kirk (42-1)
Kirk has won at Colonial before. He’s also won at Sea Island, and has two runner-up finishes at the Sony to go along with a third, a fifth, and a 10th place finish. He’s excellent on the par 4s, ranking 10th in this field over the last 36 rounds on par 4s measuring 350-400 yards, and fourth from 400-450 yards. Kirk also ranks No. 1 in this field in proximity from 125-150 yards.
Cam Davis (42-1)
Davis comes off of a fourth place finish at the PGA Championship, his highest finish in a major. I think he uses that momentum here this week, where he finished seventh last year. He also has two Top 10 finishes at Harbour Town. Over the last 36 rounds, Davis ranks 17th on the Par 4s measuring 350-400 yards and he’s also 17th in this field for Hole Proximity from 150-175 yards.
Si Woo Kim (47-1)
A winner earlier this season at the Sony, Kim has also finished as high as runner-up at Harbour Town. Over the last 36 rounds, Kim is fifth in this field for Hole Proximity from 150-175 yards and 11th from 175-200. He is also 34th in Scrambling and 27th in Good Drives Gained.
Nick Taylor (90-1)
Taylor has a Top 30 finish here at Colonial, a Top 25 at Harbour Town, and a seventh and 11th place finish in Hawaii. His stats are very solid over the last 36 rounds, ranking 15th in Scrambling in this field, fifth on the Par 4s between 400-450 yards, 34th in Hole Proximity from 150-175 yards, and 38th in Greens in Regulation Gained.
Hayden Buckley (100-1)
Coming off a positive PGA Championship where he flirted with the first-round lead and ended up with a 26th-place finish for the championship, Buckley should be able to improve this week against a lesser field. Over the last 36 rounds, he is fifth in this field for Greens in Regulation Gained, fifth for Good Drives Gained, and ninth on the Par 4’s measuring 400-450 yards. Buckley has a runner-up and a 12th place finish at the Sony and just recently finished fifth at Harbour Town.
Full Tournament Head-to-Head Matchup (28-22-3 YTD)
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