It's a coin flip to determine which winner is easier to identify – Brooks Koepka at a major or the man who slips on the plaid jacket at Colonial Country Club. Still, they're going to go ahead and hold the Charles Schwab Challenge, anyway.
Seriously, when Justin Rose triumphed at Colonial last year, he was positioned at the bull's-eye of what was expected. After Sergio Garcia broke through in his first appearance in 2001, the average age of the 16 winners was 36.56; Rose was 37. And each of the previous six champions had appeared no more than five times prior; Rose was making his fifth start.
So, for the third straight edition, ages and career appearances open every capsule for the golfers listed below. You'll find another trend, more on Colonial, how Rose won and other nuggets beneath the graphic.
Tuesday's Fantasy Insider will include two-time tournament champion Zach Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Tony Finau, Kevin Na and Matthew Fitzpatrick among other notables.
Going solely on the distinctive trending of the winners at Colonial, Louis Oosthuizen is the man to beat this week. He's a little over 36-and-a-half years of age and this is his sixth appearance. What's more, he placed T5 last year. Only three of the last 17 winners hadn't recorded at least one top 10 in a previous appearance, including Rose whose best finish was a T13 in 2005.
This is the classic profile of a classic track. Colonial is the longest-running host of any non-major. Ben Hogan won the inaugural edition in 1946, successfully defended in 1947 and prevailed thrice more. It's no wonder why it's one of Hogan's Alleys.
The Charles Schwab Challenge also has gone the longest of all tournaments with a cut without a first-time winner. That's aided in part due to the limited field reserved for 120, although winners prior to 2000 are added. As of midday Monday, Keith Clearwater (1987) and Tom Purtzer (1991) bump this week's field to 122. (If either withdraws, he will not be replaced.)
Colonial always has been a par 70 and scoring has cooperated over the years. Last year's field averaged 69.830 and it once again rewarded veteran ball-striking. Rose ranked T6 in fairways hit and paced the field in greens in regulation (57 of 72) and strokes gained: tee-to-green. He also checked up at second in proximity to the hole.
Bentgrass greens average just 5,000 square feet and are geared to reach 12 feet on the Stimpmeter, so average putters stand a puncher's chance. Once upon a time, Rose was very much below average, but a snapshot of his career turnaround was evidenced in finishing 21st in strokes gained: putting en route to his three-stroke victory. He also slotted fourth in putting: birdies-or-better.
The northeastern portion of the property is a three-hole loop known as the Horrible Horseshoe. It's anchored by the 481-yard, par-4 fifth hole, which has been Colonial's toughest hole in every edition since 2005. It averaged +0.291 strokes to par last year and it's annually among the hardest par 4s of the season on the PGA TOUR. The par-4 third (+0.129 in 2018) and the par-3 fourth (+0.018) aren't slouches, either.
Colonial's overall length of 7,209 yards remains unchanged, but Gil Hanse is getting closer to renovating the octogenarian layout. It's been over 10 years since it most recently underwent a makeover. Until then, only Mother Nature will influence decisions. After expected rainfall on Tuesday due to severe weather, the only elevated chance for inclement conditions returns on Thursday. Typically warm and humid air for late May is expected, so the primary challenge will come in the form of the gusty Texas breezes that will be sustained at 15 mph throughout.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done, Champions One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesdays.