Power Rankings: Charles Schwab Challenge
4 Min Read
Written by Rob Bolton @RobBoltonGolf
Michael Block isn’t the last man in the field at the Charles Schwab Challenge, but it wouldn’t have felt complete without him. The 46-year-old PGA Professional received a sponsor exemption to be among the 120 competitors at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
Colonial is the only course used since the tournament’s inception in 1946. Scroll or swipe past the projected contenders to learn what the field can expect, what has mattered to prevail and a drought related to champions that has entered its third decade.
Ryan Fox, Min Woo Lee, Si Woo Kim and 2015 champion Chris Kirk will be among the notables reviewed in Golfbet Insider.
What’s great about Michael Block is his humility, his self-awareness to embrace this valuable moment in his life, and his willingness and relatability in conveying his emotions. Oh, he’s pretty good at great, too. Not that he didn’t already know that, but it’s been beyond refreshing to consume and digest the who instead of the what. Lo and behold, we’re treated to more of both this week.
When Parker Coody ultimately turned down his sponsor exemption to focus on climbing the ranks on the Korn Ferry Tour at the Visit Knoxville Open, it was only natural for Block to plug the gap. Even better, his invitation was captured on video here.
As Block resets into the reality of a new challenge this week, as harsh as it seems to relay, he’s not a good fit for Colonial. That’s because he’s a first-timer. Not only is Sergio Garcia the most recent tournament debutant to win in 2001, he’s also the most recent breakthrough champion in the tournament. Of course, short of a victory, there always are consolations for Block, which already include an exemption into the 2024 PGA Championship. He’s also accepted another sponsor exemption into the RBC Canadian Open in two weeks. It’s a lot in a short period of time, but he’s made it clear that he’s built and has the necessary support for it.
Colonial always has been a par 70. Since 2016, it’s tipped at 7,209 yards, and it does again this week. It’s a hybrid of a test because all of the grass from tee to green is primarily bermuda, whereas the putting surfaces are bentgrass.
It’s also the last time that the course will be played the way it is. Pretty much immediately after the conclusion of the tournament, architect Gil Hanse and his team will begin a restoration that’s scheduled to be completed to present Colonial anew in time for the 2024 edition of the tournament.
In the meantime, this week’s test includes overseeded areas surrounding greens as an aid in advance of Hanse’s handiwork. Otherwise, the course is the same with its 5,000-square foot greens ready to run to 13 feet on the Stimpmeter and a pair of par 5s poised to test as usual. Nos. 1 and 11 held up for a sturdy average of 4.70 last year, easily inside the top-half hardest of all sets, which is customary.
The 2022 field averaged 70.721 on the scorecard, but that was as a result of a final-round average of 72.275 in winds that gusted to more than 30 mph. It’s why Sam Burns’ closing 65 was one of the best rounds all season. He finished at 9-under 271 before upending 54-hole leader Scottie Scheffler (11-under entering the finale) in a playoff. Incidentally, three golfers shared the 36-hole lead at 9-under, thus fulfilling the prediction in these Power Rankings that it could hold up to be low enough to win.
This week’s weather takes a back seat to the final version of Colonial pre-restoration, so scoring will drop. Favorable conditions are expected throughout. Save a mild threat of rain just into the weekend (and perhaps overnight, anyway), Colonial can present its best self once more. Light winds will accompany gradually increasing daytime highs in the 80s.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.com’s Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous perspectives. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
MONDAY: Power Rankings
WEDNESDAY: Golfbet Insider
SUNDAY: Payouts and Points, Medical Extensions, Qualifiers, Reshuffle
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.
Rob Bolton is a Golfbet columnist for the PGA TOUR. The Chicagoland native has been playing fantasy golf since 1994, so he was just waiting for the Internet to catch up with him. Follow Rob Bolton on Twitter.