Today's Free Picks for
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Posted on May 25 at 11:45 AM EST and are subject to change.
Charles Schwab Challenge
This is one of the weeks that the purists most look forward to. Despite being the best part of a century old, Colonial has stood the test of time – even by today’s standards, it cannot be overpowered thanks to a combination of doglegging, tree-lined fairways, thick rough and smaller-than-average Bentgrass greens.
Similarly to Southern Hills last week, Colonial was designed by Perry Maxwell and is due for an overhaul by Gil Hanse – that has been postponed until 2023. But even so, this is a fantastic golf course that offers a sterling test of ball striking. Measuring 7,204 yards for its Par 70, the dense rough and right fairways give Colonial a claustrophobic feel, and the fact that around a dozen of the holes could be considered doglegs also adds to the complexity.
Scores can be made but these pros will have to break the back of their round on the Par 4s, with just two Par 5s to play with. They’ll also need to play the stretch of holes from three through five – known as the ‘Horrible Horseshoe’ – in solid fashion too. These once again played over par in 2021, with a birdie-to-bogey (or worse) ratio of around 1:4.
With water in play on six holes, more than 80 bunkers and smaller-than-average Bentgrass greens, you can see why Hogan’s Alley – so-called because Ben Hogan won five times here during his career – is considered one of the premier layouts on the PGA TOUR rotation. Intriguingly, the last three winners of this event have set off at sportsbook odds of 60/1, 66/1 and 70/1 respectively, and that is music to the ears of long odds and sleeper pick lovers.
What We’re Looking For
It’s a week on the PGA TOUR where strategy and straight shooting could outweigh the need for bombs and birdies. The likes of Kevin Na, Kevin Kisner, Chris Kirk and Zach Johnson have all won here in recent memory, and so straight off the bat, one gets a feel for the kind of players that can thrive at Colonial. Success is not exclusive to the shorter hitters, but accuracy is very much the order of the day – Jason Kokrak (last year’s winner) and Daniel Berger, the 2020 champion, drove the ball further but still ranked comfortably inside the top-20 for the week in terms of fairways found.
These Bentgrass greens are typically easier to hold than one might think given that they are quite small, and making birdies on the Par 4s is key – therefore, quality approaches in the 125-175 yard range is key to setting up a birdie chance rather than a scramble for par. Hitting fairways and (Greens in Regulation) GIR is absolutely paramount at Colonial, allied to smart Bentgrass putting.
In terms of correlating courses, maybe TPC Potomac – the new home of the Wells Fargo Championship – will hold up. That’s a short Par 70 with penal rough and Bentgrass greens, while TPC Southwind (WGC St Jude) and TPC River Highlands (Travelers Championship) also share many similar characteristics.
Sebastian Munoz 60-1
Although it feels like a lot of time has passed since, you perhaps haven’t forgotten that Sebastian Munoz threatened to join the 59 Club in the opening round of the AT&T Byron Nelson. He ended up T3 there following a superb show of ball-striking, and the Colombian really does seem to love playing in Texas and the neighboring states. An excellent driver of the ball with quality through his irons and wedges, Munoz has the basic tools to thrive at Colonial – a T3 return here 12 months ago offers further evidence of that (Risking 0.3 units to win 18 units).
J.J. Spaun 140-1
Sometimes a sportsbook’s price on a player is too good to miss. The books are dismissing J.J. Spaun as an also-ran here, but this is an accurate fairway-and-green hitter who goes on hot streaks with the flat stick – he’s Colonial ready, that’s for sure. We’re not devastated by a missed cut on the number at the PGA, because in the rearview mirror you’ve got that win in the Texas Open a few weeks ago and a rock solid T23 in The Masters thereafter. At 140-1, J.J. is worth a small bet (Risking 0.2 units to win 28 units) Also risking (0.2 units to finish top 5 at 4.4 units).
Side note: If you’re betting a player to win and to finish top-5 at BET365, you should make two separate bets as opposed to the Each Way (E/W) bet. The reason is that BET365 offers cashout options but you will NOT be offered a cash-out if you have a Win and EACH WAY bet on the same ticket. Therefore, you leave the E/W option unchecked and place two separate wagers as shown below:
James Hahn 175-1
Back to back top-10s on the PGA TOUR suggest that James Hahn is grossly under-appreciated by the market here. His ball-striking at the latter of those, the AT&T Byron Nelson, was outstanding, and a round of 61 at TPC Craig Ranch was indicative of a player feeling wholly confident about their work. A poor season so far has been righted to some tune in recent weeks, and Hahn’s improved play – which has coincided with the switch to Bentgrass greens as well – suggests he has to be worthy of a small bet. Hahn ranks 15th ON TOUR in Approaches from 150-175 yards (Risking 0.2 units to win 35 units).
Scottie Scheffler -110 over Justin Thomas
After missing the cut last week at the PGA Championship and now three starts removed from his greatest win on TOUR, one has to suspect that Scottie Scheffler will be back in form here. Just 90 days ago, Scheffler was a fine young talent awaiting his turn in the PGA TOUR’s winner’s circle. Today, he’s a four-time champion, with an Augusta green jacket and a position as the world’s undisputed number one golfer to his name but this wager is more about fading Justin Thomas after that miraculous win last week that was not only exhilarating but had to be exhausting.
JT was eight strokes back at one point last Sunday. According to “odds”, he had a 1.2% chance to win the event heading into the final round. He made a furious rally and ended up in a three-hole playoff to capture another major. Not only is it an incredibly massive letdown spot, but he also had to deal with all the accolades that go with it in a very short time frame. Would not be a bit surprised if JT shows up in body only (Risking 2.2 units to win 2).
Total units wagered: 3.1
PGA Wagers (Risking 3.1 units - To Win: 0.00)