Sport is slowly making a welcome return to the schedules with golf the latest to break cover. In recent weeks, there have been exhibition matches involving the likes of Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson but now it’s time for the real thing.
The PGA Tour is back with the Charles Schwab Challenge 2020 getting underway on Thursday. With golfers having endured an extended break, we have a stronger field than usual for this invitational tournament so let’s get straight on and assess this year’s field.
Rory McIlory (+750 or 15/2 with Bovada) remains the number one ranked golfer in the world and the Northern Irishman leads the outright winner betting market by some margin. Rory went into the break as the form golfer with seven straight top fives across the world.
On the downside, this is his first appearance in the Charles Schwab Challenge and Rory can sometimes blow up when he has such a big market lead over the rest.
Behind McIlroy in the odds is another European: Spain’s Jon Rahm (+1200 or 12/1) was a runner-up in the Charles Schwab Challenge back in 2017. Rahm also tops the Power Rankings this week with that tie for second and a subsequent tie for fifth a year later.
The outright win market then starts to tighten up with Justin Thomas (16/1), Brooks Koepka, Webb Simpson and Bryson DeChambeau (all circa 25/1) available at similar prices. None of those players have won the tournament and Thomas is another player to be picking up the invitation for the first time. Koepka is making just his second appearance in the event but it is worth noting that he finished with a solo second on debut in 2018.
The big names continue as we move towards the end of this chasing pack. Dustin Johnson (25/1), Xander Schauffele and Patrick Reed (both 28/1) are all here this week in an extremely competitive field.
Two men who have enjoyed success at the Charles Schwab Challenge are Jordan Spieth and Justin Rose (both 40/1). Spieth claimed the title in 2016 after a tie for second a year earlier while Rose was the 2018 Champion. Both men are outsiders this week but are worth considering in the top 10 finish markets at the very least.
Rickie Fowler (28/1) is also in contention at the head of the outsiders, as is the defending champion Kevin Na (50/1). Na completed a comprehensive, four stroke victory ahead of Tony Finau in 2019 and it is worth recalling that he has made a 61 and two 62s in his last eight rounds here.
In a bunched set of outsiders, punters may also want to consider Marc Leishman, Gary Woodland, Collin Morikawa, Sergio Garcia and reigning Open Champion Shane Lowry. Australia’s Leishman is a favorite of ours in the top 10 finish market and, while he has yet to set the tournament alight, he is seven from seven in the Charles Schwab Challenge to date.
It really is one of the strongest fields there has ever been for this tournament but what will it take to win?
Our Charles Schwab Preview’s Predictions & Picks Verdict with Course & Betting Trends
This tournament first came onto the schedules as the Colonial National Invitational in 1946. This makes it one of the oldest events on Tour and it has gone through a number of name changes since that point. Known as the Charles Schwab Challenge since 2019, it is held at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
The course is a par 70 but it does have some length at a shade over 7200 yards. Twelve months ago, Kevin Na led the field in Greens in Regulation and in proximity to the hole. Both could be relevant stats again this week, particularly if the Fort Worth wind is in play.
There has not been a multiple winner since Zach Johnson completed the double in 2012 and repeat successes are relatively rare. Ben Hogan leads the way with five tournament wins while ten players have lifted the trophy twice.
The field is usually kept at 120 but, with golf returning after such a long and unexpected hiatus, it has been increased to 144 to meet demand. There are some absentees but the fact that Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have finally accepted an invitation shows the greater depth in 2020 and it will be tough to pick the winner.
Our betting pick for the title is Justin Thomas: There are a number of world-class golfers with tempting long prices but JT stands out. He has the form with two wins and five top-six finishes this season and, while this is his first visit, he has the stats to convert. Take Justin Thomas for the win and add these top 10 finish picks for what will hopefully be a profitable return to the fairways. These are our Charles Schwab Challenge predictions, having studied the odds from the best of the American offshore bookmakers: