Power Rankings: Charles Schwab Challenge


Power Rankings: Charles Schwab Challenge

Bryson DeChambeau, Viktor Hovland, Webb Simpson, Colonial CC member Ryan Palmer, defending champion Jason Kokrak and other past winners of the Charles Schwab Challenge will be among the celebrities to be discussed in Draws and Fades.

When considering which tournaments are the easiest to predict, the Charles Schwab Challenge ranks second alongside the Masters. (Given how the first major of the year has played out in three rounds since its November 2020 edition, it may no longer require the training that raises expectations. More on that another time.) The construct of a 120-golfer-limited invitational tournament helps, but next week’s Memorial Tournament presented by Workday, which also hosts 120 at the only course it’s ever hosted (Muirfield Village), doesn’t follow a familiar script.

Get a load of these… The final 19 winners ahead of the 2021 Charles Schwab Challenge had an average age of 36 and had averaged six starts at Colonial before their first win on the course. Last year, on his seventh appearance and within a week of his 36th birthday, Jason Kokrak prevailed. Keep in mind that this power ranking already topped both age and overall appearances. Kokrak just followed orders. (The exact timeframe of the last 19 winners before Kokrak dates back to the year after Sergio Garcia broke through in 2001. He is both the youngest first-time PGA TOUR winner at Colonial and the youngest to win his maiden appearance.)

Settling for finding the dartboard with a winner often defines what is acceptable, but Kokrak shared the dart. While there’s a two-point spectrum for just about everything, no forecasting technique can rely solely on such fundamental variables, despite being shaken last year, but the Fort Worth, Texas historic track caters to all abilities. Therefore, attributes that underscore the experience, such as age and overall appearance, are increased.

Colonial is a stock par 70 that tilts to 7,209 yards as it has since 2016. The 70.208 scoring average for 2021 landed in the cone of expectations while also reflecting stronger winds in the first and final laps.

Bentgrass greens average just 5,000 square feet and could reach 13 feet on the simpmeter. As such, approaches from the Bermuda rough, which can be as high as three inches, must be precise. Last year’s field averaged 7.90 (out of 14) fairways hit, approximately 11 greens in regulation per round, and three par breaks after hitting GIR. That ranked Colonial the third-toughest in all three of those measurements among all courses during the 2020-21 superseason.

It’s never easy, but Kokrak made it seem that way. He placed eighth in distance on all drives, fourth in accuracy from the tee, first in Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee, second in GIR, 10th near the hole and the second place in SG: Tee-to-Green. He also placed seventh in SG: Putting and fifth in Putting: Birdies-or-better.

Kokrak also finished T12 in par 5 scoring. The pair of par 5s – Nos. 1 and 11 – ranks annually among the toughest sets of any course, but that’s largely due to the 635-yard 11th hole. Just two years ago he was the eighth heaviest on the course relative to par. Last year it was fourth easiest and Kokrak played it in a bogey-free 2-under. He won by two shots.

Also, the overall score this week should be consistent with history at least until the weekend. Wet weather will give way to a dry opening lap on a turf that could be susceptible to low scores. The wind will also be light until the engine starts cranking on Friday afternoon. On Saturday and Sunday, daily highs will likely eclipse 90 degrees and gusts could exceed 30mph. It has what it takes to be how the 36-hole leader’s score relative to par for victory could be. So, again, wisdom and experience in the terms should play a role.


PGATOUR.com’s Rob Bolton summarizes and previews each tournament from multiple perspectives. As planned, look for his following posts.

MONDAY: power rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, draws and fades
WEDNESDAY: Pick ‘Em preview
: Medical renewals, qualifiers, reshuffles, rookie rankings

* – Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Selection for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, also released Tuesday.

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