Today's Free Picks for
Posted Wednesday, May 26
Cutoff time for this event is May 26 at 8:10 AM EST.
Streaming Subscribers: Watch on Sky Sports Golf Channel in the UK Sports group or the Sky Sports Group beginning at 4:00 PM EST on Thursday and every day thereafter.
The Charles Schwab Challenge
Something of a favorite with the players, Colonial Country Club is a golf course that rewards classic ball-striking – thus, it’s not for everyone. But ‘Hogan’s Alley’, as it has become known, has served up a variety of champions which includes Daniel Berger, Jordan Spieth, Kevin Na and Justin Rose, and it would be fair to say that each of those players exhibits excellence when approaching greens or finding a way to make a score from around them. The ‘skill over brutality’ aesthetic is enhanced by the fact that there’s just two Par 5s on this Par 70 track which measures 7,204 yards, and with rough best avoided again, the emphasis is on placement over power.
Colonial features thick tree-lines and acute doglegs, so the ability to shape the ball off the tee is welcome, while the Bentgrass greens are on the small side – nevertheless, they are fairly receptive to high-pitched approaches. Water is in play on six holes and there’s stacks of bunkers too, so while Colonial is not a major-standard test, it still does offer a decent challenge to the best in the world.
What We’re Looking For:
Some weeks require unadulterated brawn, and others call for smarts and strategy. The challenge presented by Colonial falls into the latter category, and so already we have a decent idea of who we want to be getting behind straight off the bat. The emphasis will – as tends to be the case at this layout – be on iron play.
Given the doglegging nature of some holes, there may be a requirement to hit some approaches out of the rough stuff – that is an okay strategy where misses are made in the right places. In the absence of rain, these Bentgrass greens will run fairly swiftly, and so there will be plenty of mid and short-range putts to be made at speeds that suit some more than others. The rough tends to be thick and difficult to play from too, and given that the greens are small, we really need our picks to be approaching from the short grass more often than not. We’re expecting mid-teens under par to win the day at the Charles Schwab Challenge, so any players you wager on have to have the game to get to such a score even if the wind blows hard in Texas.
To Win Outright: These are played at BET365 because of their cashout option.
Joseph Bramlett 200-1
Yet to produce a truly stellar performance on the PGA TOUR – thanks largely to the fact he putts like a club pro, Joseph Bramlett has still shown enough to suggest he has a bright future in the game. The Californian, who will be at home on Colonial’s Bentgrass greens, served up a season’s best at the Byron Nelson, where he finished T7 on the back of an excellent ball-striking effort. Lacking the consistency that will take his game to the next level, Bramlett does at least have other meaningful results to his name – not least the T18 in excellent company at the Farmers earlier this term. Tight, tree-lined courses laid with Bentgrass have served Bramlett well lately, so perhaps he can serve up another decent showing this week. At 200-1 while ranking 34th ON TOUR in Greens in Regulation, Bramlett is worth an Each Way bet (to finish in the Top-5) and to win outright. We’ll risk 0.2 units on both so the total risk is 0.4 units.
Richy Werenski 175-1
An excellent short game propelled Richy Werenski to his maiden PGA TOUR title in 2020 and a run through to the BMW Championship of the FedEx Cup playoffs. His class in the scoring phase of the game should stand him in excellent stead this week. Werenski ranked 57th for Birdie Average in the season just gone, and that is perhaps why he was able to win the Barracuda Championship under stableford conditions – going under par is a regular occurrence for the 29-year-old. Quietly having an above-average season, Werenski flashed on the board last week through three rounds before settling into a tie for 38th with a Sunday 75. Still, when he gets on a run of made cuts, he peaks and ends up getting very close. That could come sometime in the next couple of weeks and if he pops, we sure as hell don’t want to miss it (We’ll risk 0.2 units on both to win and to finish in the top-5 so the total risk is 0.4 units)
Matt Wallace 70-1
We’ve been banging the Matt Wallace drum for some time now, and he continues to deliver in what has been his best season yet. Forget the European Tour wins – the Brit has finally nailed down what it takes to be a consistent pro at the top end of the game, and that is the reason why he is an attractive proposition at these odds. An excellent iron player, Wallace finished with top-10s at the Texas Open and the Wells Fargo Championship and T18 at the RBC Heritage, and he looks ready to strike at a course which should maximize his areas of strength (We’ll risk 0.2 units on both to win and to finish in the top-5 so the total risk is 0.4 units)
Head-to-head Matchups for the PGA Championship
HEAD-TO-HEAD MATCHUP below is for 72 holes:
Thomas Pieters +112 over Chris Kirk (Pinnacle)
The Belgium bomber does not play on the PGA TOUR very often, but when he does it’s usually for major championships or other big-time events. In his career, Pieters has shown to do his best work when the lights get bright, as he has a bunch of strong finishes in big-time events. He boasts a T-4 at Augusta, a T-5 at the WGC Mexico and a T-6 at 2018 PGA Championship at Bellerive. Last week he missed his first cut of the season at the Byron Nelson, but that turned into a putting contest and he only missed by a stroke. Prior to that, Pieters posted four consecutive top-15’s on the Euro Tour and certainly looks primed to make a run at what should be quite the difficult test at Kiawah Island this week. He can absolutely send it off the tee and ranks 20th on approach in this field over his past 48 rounds. Getting him at a price to beat Chris Kirk is tremendous value and you might even want to sprinkle a bit on Pieters to win at 175-1 (Risking 2 units to win 2.24).
Corey Conners -110 over Matthew Fitzpatrick
We have to trust that Conners is a steal of a price to beat Fitz. Fitz just never seems to do well on these long courses and usually doesn’t even put his hat in the ring for them. Dude ranks 168th ON TOUR in Driving Distance so he’s at a big disadvantage right off the tee at just about every hole.
This course demands length off the tee, supreme accuracy off the tee and a solid approach game into the greens in order to post competitive scores. Over the last 50 tracked rounds, Conners ranks first in good drives and second in Fairways gained. As far as his approach, over the last 12 rounds he ranks ninth and in the last 50 rounds he ranks 7th. From a ball-striking standpoint, there is no denying he is an excellent fit for the Ocean Course. The only concern with Conners is his putting, which is historically bad and what holds him back from being one of the elite players on TOUR. One can speculate that the perceived slowness of the paspalum greens will help Conners, but at the end of the day nobody truly knows how this type of grass will play. Regardless, this is a great fit for Conners and not such a great fit for Fitzpatrick (Risking 2.2 units to win 2).
Cameron Smith +100 over Patrick Cantlay
We wanted to have some action on Cameron Smith but at 40-1 to win outright and 8-1 to finish in the Top-5, there is better value out there. That doesn’t mean Cameron can’t win. Smith is playing the best golf of his career at the moment. Very quietly, Smith is up to No. 25 in the world and seemingly always gets overlooked in these big time fields. Considering he has three top-10’s at Augusta and an additional T-4 at the US Open at Chambers Bay, it’s only a matter of time before the market wakes up on just how great he is. This week may very well turn into a battle of the short games, and very few have been better than Smith in that department of late. Smith ranks fifth in this field in SG: Around-the-Green and third in SG: Putting both over his past 16 rounds. He also quietly ranks 27th on approach in that same time frame, and it seems his game is in a very good place at the moment.
Cantlay favored over Smith? Plain and simple, he’s missed four consecutive cuts in individual, stroke-play competition and he’s gone 10 consecutive rounds without a red number (Risking 2 units to win 2).
Others to consider for DFS or to win Outright:
Gary Woodland 90-1
Blessed with knowing what it takes to win a major, Gary Woodland’s tiptoeing back to form has come at an excellent time. Pebble Beach, the scene of his U.S. Open triumph in 2019, shares plenty of characteristics with the Ocean Course, and it’s noteworthy too that Woodland has solo second places on the ledger at the coastal Tournament of Champions and at the CIMB Classic – played on Paspalum, of course. Solo fifth at the Wells Fargo Championship and T6 at the Texas Open, Woodland has been talking positively about his game of late – could he cash in this week?
Tyrrell Hatton 60-1
If he can keep a lid on his simmering emotions, Tyrrell Hatton looks to be a major champion in the making. The Brit has now compiled seven wins worldwide, and that ability to get over the line in all manner of conditions will bode very nicely for him now and in the future. A two-time champion of the Alfred Dunhill Links in Scotland, Hatton does not fear the wind – indeed, exposed conditions are where he thrives. Paspalum will be quite new to him as it will be for many, but from tee-to-green Hatton has the game to navigate the long and windy Ocean Course.
Ryan Palmer 150-1
A renowned wind player and an excellent driver of the ball, Ryan Palmer comes gift-wrapped at a very agreeable price this week. You have to go back six months or more to find the last time the Texan last missed a cut, and his success has come from some excellent all-round performances. It’s been a while since he contested the thick end of a tournament, but T17 at Sawgrass and T34 at Augusta confirm that Palmer is on the brink of something more substantial in the near future. If nothing else, you will struggle to find any player at a sub DFS price in this range with such a strong formline over the medium term. Dude ranks 21st OMN TOUR in Total Driving, 40th in Scrambling and 48th in SG: Tee-to-Green.
Total risk is 7.20 units and we'll update this once the event is officially over.
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The Charles Schwab Challenge (Risking 1.2 units - To Win: 0.00)