The PGA Tour shifts right back to the Dallas-Fort Worth area for the Charles Schwab Challenge at historic Colonial Country Club. Unfortunately for this tournament, it faces the unenviable task of following a major championship. That being said, it’s played on a world-class layout and nine of the top 20 players in the world rankings have decided to give it a go.
Previously the PGA Tour had back-to-back stops in the Dallas area, but the PGA Championship moved to May, causing the Charles Schwab and the AT&T Byron Nelson to be split apart. It is the only metropolitan area in the country that boasts two PGA Tour events in each season.
Designed by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell, Colonial (aka Hogan’s Alley, named after longtime Fort Worth resident and five-time winner Ben Hogan) is a tree-lined ball-striker’s paradise where shorter hitters can also perform well. That gives more of the field a realistic chance. In recent years, longer hitters, such as Adam Scott and Justin Rose, have earned the esteemed plaid jacket, as have straight and shorter hitters like Zach Johnson and David Toms.
The par-70, 7,209-yard layout, which played as host to the 1941 U.S. Open, features the “Horrible Horseshoe,” which consists of holes 3 through 5. Generally, they are the hardest three holes at Colonial. The 4th hole is a 247-yard monstrosity of a par 3 that has never been aced in this tournament, which has been ongoing with a couple of exceptions since 1946.
Several players come to mind who could contend. England’s Paul Casey, at odds of +2500, owns four top-10 finishes this season, including a triumph in the Valspar near Tampa earlier this season. He also ended last week’s PGA Championship with a 69 in brutal conditions that saw only two players better that score. Casey is sixth on Tour in strokes gained tee to green, which should be an asset here.
Another Englishman entered is Matthew Fitzpatrick, a fantastic ball-striker who fits the mold for this tournament. At the age of 24, the 2013 U.S. Amateur winner is making his Colonial debut. He’s won five times on the European Tour and is a nice +5100.
Defending champion Justin Rose, now ranked third in the world, comes off a missed cut at the PGA and should rebound since he’s fresh. I would consider him in his matchplay odds for the first two days for that reason.
One definite long shot I like is Joel Dahmen. The University of Washington product, who is a cancer survivor, finished second in the recent Wells Fargo in Charlotte and rates a juicy +6600. I expect Dahmen to get a win sometime in the not-too-distant future. That will be a great story when he does.