One & Done: Charles Schwab Challenge
May 22, 2019
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
- Paul Casey will be one to watch this week at Colonial Country Club. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
So, here we are. Jordan Spieth is sitting on the tee for the Charles Schwab Challenge. Are you gonna take a whack at him? Of course you are!
More impressive than his three-way T3 at the PGA Championship – if that's possible given his recent slide – is that he telegraphed it. He proclaimed that the slump was a thing of the past and he delivered on the rhetoric. It's why I wrote in the Power Rankings that he walked the walk.
Because I was looped into the daily roundtable discussion among the writers last week, I was particularly tuned into his performance. In other words, instead of monitoring traffic as a whole, I was fixated on how he was saving strokes on a track that will expose all kind of weaknesses. Spieth led the field in strokes gained: putting, co-led in bogey avoidance and ranked fourth in scrambling. He missed only four tries inside 10 feet. In sum, he did what he does best amid tee-to-green work that was, well, average.
When you scroll to Future Possibilities below, you'll see that the U.S. Open is the only tournament that ranks higher than the Charles Schwab Challenge beside his name. Two things about that. First, that's my subjective analysis for long-range planning. Second, even though he can't be ruled out to contend in or even win the U.S. Open, the field will be deeper than this week's 122-man free-for-all at Colonial, and Pebble Beach will have rude greetings for wayward drives. Head to head, Schwab is the better investment for him given what we've learned to date.
That Spieth needs a line of defense at all speaks not just where he sits on the trajectory of his career but to the difficulty of golf itself. Time and again, I've written or stated that can't-misses like Spieth, Jon Rahm and Joaquin Niemann are going to face adversity at some point. When they're cookin', it seems impossible – think even of Luke Donald as a veteran in 2011 – but never permit this to escape your thought process. Always do your best to take a step back and appreciate the successes as they're occurring, for they're forever fleeting.
Speaking of Rahm, he'd have been my pick at Colonial except that I've already burned the Spaniard. He's picked the place apart in two previous visits and he's been in fine form throughout 2019. Regardless of your position, give him the baton.
As you'll note in the table, I've pivoted to Spieth, who also presents wonderfully no matter your ranking. Just check your opposition's board for possibilities and decide whether this is the time or if it's worth waiting a little longer as he heats up (read: the time is now.)
Paul Casey lines up like Rahm. Invest as confidently depending who's still available to you.
Justin Rose defends, but you'll want him when he's humming along again or, worse case, at the TOUR Championship where he's been a beast. That's easy.
Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele, Ian Poulter and Kevin Kisner are solid options if you're chasing and feeling the clock. Each brings a modicum of firepower that you'll need to make a dent in your deficit.
If you've yet to find a seat on either bandwagon for Rory Sabbatini or Scott Piercy, you'll find their queues in two-man formats where each continues to make sense … because each continues to contribute.
Because there are always question marks among the notables, even though Francesco Molinari, Bryson DeChambeau and Ryan Palmer appear in the Power Rankings, none angles strongly enough to warrant consideration in a traditional format. If you're pacing in a two-man game, then Palmer could win a tiebreaker as the tail of the tandem.
Emiliano Grillo, Bill Haas, Matt Jones and Matt Every also set up nicely in two-man games.
Rank Expert Pick Comment 39th
I trust him, plain and simple. He also won't need to wield the driver as often at Colonial. Given my margin, I'd settle for a top 25, but I'm holding my breath for much, much more. That's a good place to be when he's the one striding to the plate. 90th
Paul Casey Veteran ball-striker played in the final group here in his last visit (T10, 2017). With exception of the majors and THE PLAYERS, is racking up top finishes for fun and has five top-10 paydays since February. 91st
On the Mark
Jordan Spieth His game is trending in the right direction, and I have to use him somewhere. Colonial is a good fit. 143rd
C.T. Pan High correlation between Harbour Town and Colonial. So I'm going with the RBC champion.
Jordan Spieth I failed big time by reacting to others choices last week - taking Koepka off my plate in a bid to be different. This week I stay the course with my initial gut feeling. Time both Spieth and I bury the slump. 679th
Paul Casey Colonial is famous for being a ball-striker’s course. Paul Casey is #6 in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green. I see him picking up his second win of the season.
NOTE: Select golfers committed to the tournament are listed alphabetically. Future tournaments are sorted chronologically and reflect previous success on the courses on which the tournaments will be held in 2018-19. The numerical values in parentheses represent the order of relative confidence of where to use each golfer if multiple sites are listed (e.g. 1 for strongest, 2 for next-strongest and so on). To present weighted confidence in real time, numerical values will not change all season no matter how many tournament remain listed for each golfer. All are pending golfer commitment.
Byeong Hun An … Memorial (1)
Daniel Berger … Travelers (1)
Paul Casey … Travelers (1); TOUR Championship (3)
Bryson DeChambeau … Travelers (4); John Deere (7)
Jason Dufner … Charles Schwab (6); Memorial (5); U.S. Open (2); Wyndham (8); TOUR Championship (10)
Tony Finau … Memorial (2)
Rickie Fowler … Memorial (5); U.S. Open (10)
Branden Grace … U.S. Open (4)
Emiliano Grillo … Charles Schwab (3)
Bill Haas … Charles Schwab (2); Wyndham (6)
Brian Harman … Charles Schwab (1); Travelers (5); John Deere (4)
Charley Hoffman … Charles Schwab (6); Travelers (1)
Billy Horschel … Wyndham (6); TOUR Championship (1)
Zach Johnson … Charles Schwab (5); John Deere (1); Open Championship (2); TOUR Championship (8)
Kevin Kisner … Charles Schwab (2); Memorial (6)
Martin Laird … Barracuda (2)
Francesco Molinari … Open Championship (1; defending)
Kevin Na … Charles Schwab (3); Wyndham (5)
Ryan Palmer … Charles Schwab (4)
Scott Piercy … Canadian (7; last winner at Hamilton in 2012)
Jon Rahm … Charles Schwab (1); TOUR Championship (7)
Justin Rose … Charles Schwab (7; defending); Memorial (4); Open Championship (8); TOUR Championship (2)
Xander Schauffele … Open Championship (4); TOUR Championship (1)
Brandt Snedeker … Charles Schwab (7); U.S. Open (5); Travelers (9); Wyndham (1; defending)
Jordan Spieth … Charles Schwab (5); Memorial (13); U.S. Open (4); Travelers (9); Open Championship (6); TOUR Championship (8)
Kevin Streelman … Memorial (4); Travelers (7)