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Scott Shapiro's Charles Schwab Challenge preview

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May 26th, 2021

It will be impossible to top Phil Mickelson’s highly unlikely victory at the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island Golf Resort last week, but the Charles Schwab Challenge has drawn a solid field of golfers nonetheless. The event played annually in Fort Worth, Texas has changed sponsorship names regularly over the years, but has remained at Colonial Country Club since 1946.

Colonial is a much different track than the Ocean Course at Kiawah, measuring just over 7,200 yards. Accuracy off the tee, a strong approach game, scoring on par 4’s, and being able to get up and down are the skills I weighed most this week in North Central Texas, where Daniel Berger looks to make it back-to-back victories. Berger bested Collin Morikawa in a playoff last June to capture his third career PGA event. His win at Pebble Beach earlier this season was his fourth.

Berger, who barely made the cut last week at the PGA Championship, is among the top contenders for the 2021 Charles Schwab Challenge, with Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, and Morikawa listed as the three betting favorites on TwinSpires Sportsbook.

Charles Schwab Challenge 2021

Sun, May 30 2021, 8:00 PM

Spieth, Jordan

+1000

Thomas, Justin

+1200

Morikawa, Collin

+1400

Ancer, Abraham

+1600

Finau, Tony

+1600

Reed, Patrick

+1600

Berger, Daniel

+1800

Conners, Corey

+1800

Zalatoris, Will

+2200

Niemann, Joaquin

+2500

While I respect the chances of the top betting choices this week, they just do not offer a price I am comfortable with swallowing, especially less than a week removed from the year's second major. Instead, I will focus my weekly budget on a pair of golfers that are in search of their first career victory on tour.

Matt Wallace (+6600, +1100 Top 5, +200 Top 20)

The 31-year-old Wallace has yet to win on the PGA Tour, but is no stranger to finding the winner’s circle. He has tallied four victories on the European Tour, as well as eight other lifetime scores. The former Ohio Valley Freshmen of the Year from Jacksonville State University has had plenty of solid performances in the States since turning pro, including a T3 at the PGA Championship in 2019. He may not have the sparkling resume of Justin Thomas or Jordan Spieth, but he is a world class golfer nonetheless.

Wallace enters the Charles Schwab Challenge in strong form, having made five consecutive cuts, led by a third-place finish at the Valero Texas Open in early April and a sixth-place effort at the Wells Fargo Championship.

The Englishman rates out extremely well for Colonial, ranking 15th in the field over the last 24 rounds in strokes gained approach, 20th in strokes gained around the green, seventh in par 4 scoring, and 13th in birdies or better gained. If he can continue to gain strokes via the flatstick like he did the last two weeks, he has the potential to capture his first ever PGA win. I love the value he offers in all markets.

Talor Gooch (+9000, +650 Top 10, +250 Top 20)

The former Oklahoma State University star has had a solid 2021 campaign thus far, led by a fifth-place finish at the Players Championship back in mid-March. Since then, the 29-year-old has made the cut in four of five events, including a 44th place performance at the Ocean Course a week ago. He is a longshot for a reason, but has the type of game that could lead to a successful finish this week.

Gooch regularly gains on the field with his top tier approach game, as well as with his around the green play. Like many, he can be up and down on the greens, but has shown the ability to get hot with his putter like he did at TPC Sawgrass, where he gained four strokes on the field leading to his best placement of the year. If he can avoid spraying it off the tee, he has a shot to make a run at a big price in Fort Worth.

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