Last week's PGA Championship was a wild ride, culminating in history as 50-year-old Phil Mickelson captured the trophy. It's an incredibly high bar, and because of that, this week's Charles Schwab Challenge has its hands full this week. However, the field is good, the golf course is tremendous and the U.S. Open (!) is around the corner, so the post-PGA lull should be brief if not entirely non-existent.
Let's take a closer look at this week's contest with odds provided via William Hill Sportsbook.
Event: Charles Schwab Challenge | Date: May 27-30
Location: Colonial Country Club -- Fort Worth, Texas
Three things to know
1. Lefty playing with house money: Lefty returns just four days after holing out for the most historic win of his career. He'll surely still be riding high from his PGA Championship win, but it will be fun to hear him reflect on the last few weeks and begin to formulate his plan for the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. It will also be fascinating to see what he has left in the tank after what was one of the most emotionally-draining weeks of his entire career. It would honestly be surprising if he made the cut this weekend, but much crazier things have happened in just the last five days.
2. Full circle: It's not quite been a year since the PGA Tour returned to competition at this tournament in early June, but it's close enough to mark a sort-of one-year anniversary. This time last year it was very difficult to envision what the next full year of golf would look like, and while there have been speed bumps and starts and stops along the way, I think it's probably gone far better than anyone could have imagined. Mickelson's win at the PGA at Kiawah was a nice bookend to the entire thing as crowds have started to return in bigger numbers -- as they will again this week at Colonial.
3. Spieth is kind of … due? You could make the argument that Jordan Spieth should have won the Masters and could have won the PGA if not for an unusually-cold putter at both events. He's been the best player in the world since Jan. 1 -- only Paul Casey is also over 2.0 strokes gained per round -- and he's won at this golf course before. Despite Mickelson's recent heroics, Spieth will be the main event because of both his recent form as well as his relationship with fans in the DFW area. If you want to get even more specific, his putting will be one of the things I'm watching over the first two rounds because of how confident I am (and you should be) in the ball-striking. If he putts average, he'll contend.
Grading the field
This is a low-key tremendous field with Collin Morikawa, Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Will Zalatoris, Justin Thomas and defending champion Daniel Berger joining Spieth and Mickelson as the preeminent names to watch at Colonial. I'm a bit surprised given its proximity to the Memorial next week and the U.S. Open two weeks after that, but I'm also glad that the PGA and U.S. Open are close enough together that some of the biggest names are unwilling to take too much time off like we sometimes see after the Masters. Grade: A
Charles Schwab Challenge picks
|Winner (25-1): Someday I'll stop taking Texans who hit it great to win events in Texas. Today is not that day. Zalatoris has been the third-best iron player in the world since April 1 (see below for the only two guys ahead of him). My concern with him is that his driver can get a little wayward, which can be an issue on this course, but if he dials it back just a little and hits any putts at all, he'll be there at the end.|
|Top 10 (+138): Morikawa is one of just two golfers who have been better iron players than Zalatoris since April 1. He's coming off a top-10 finish at the PGA while putting it average, which is really all I need from him this week to be lurking around the top 10 again. He lost to Berger in a playoff at this tournament last year, and one encouraging thing he has in his favor is that he's a much better putter on bent greens like these than he is overall. Spieth is also a good option here, but Morikawa is on a better number.|
|Sleeper (45-1): Grillo has been flushing it of late, and this is the type of course that rewards elite iron players (again, he's between Morikawa and Zalatoris in strokes gained on approach shots since April 1). He finished T2 at the RBC Heritage a few events back, which is not dissimilar to Colonial in that it's a short course that demands great iron play and short game. I think he thrives this week in Fort Worth.|