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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Twofer Tuesday: Charles Schwab Challenge

In 2017 it was the Dean & DeLuca Invitational; in 2018, the Fort Worth Invitational; this year, the Charles Schwab Challenge. But you know the venue -- the legendary Colonial Country Club.

Defending champion Justin Rose

This event is an invitational with a limited field of 120. The defending champion Justin Rose is in the field, but the runner-up -- some unknown named Koepka -- is taking the week off this year. Big surprise, huh?

Colonial itself is a par-70 measuring just over 7200 yards and its main defense is the Texas wind, expected to be around 15mph this week. It's one of the courses bearing the moniker "Hogan's Alley" because Hogan won here a total of five times. And it has the record for being the longest-running host course at any non-major, having done so since 1946.

In other words, this course is a known quantity for anybody who's ever played it. Familiarity with the layout is no problem.

However, after a tough week at the Black, I'm not sure how anybody is going to play. The guys coming from the PGA may very well be gassed while the pros who didn't play last week may find their games a bit rusty for a course that tends to favor good ballstrikers. So I'm going to throw caution to the wind, throw the dice and just hope for the best.
  • For my Top10er I'm taking Graeme McDowell. He doesn't play here very often and, in his last visit (2017) he finished T29. But the Irishman has a win this season and after a T29 last week (+5) Colonial will probably look like a relaxing resort course. Plus, with the Open Championship in his sights I think he'll be motivated to improve his current OWGR position of 115.
  • And for my winner I'm taking Jordan Spieth. I know, one good T3 finish doesn't mean he's ready to win yet. But that T3 came at the Black, and he showed signs that he's beginning to just play shots instead of micromanaging them. Like Graeme, I think he'll find Colonial to be a welcome change. And this is almost a home game for the Texas boy, so why wouldn't he?
After all the excitement of last week -- and the relief that they won't have to face down the four-time major winner in back-to-back weeks -- I'm thinking these two may relax a bit and just play golf. If they do that, they could both do some serious damage to the field.

GC starts their coverage at 4pm ET on Thursday while PGA TOUR LIVE starts streaming at 8am ET. It should be quite interesting to see how the field recuperates from the thrashing Brooks gave them last week!

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