Jordan Spieth is the most divisive player in fantasy golf and betting circles this week. Coming off a third-place finish at demanding Bethpage Black, Spieth is back in the Dallas/Fort Worth area at a venue where he owns a victory and two top-five finishes. The three-time major champion has been insisting in interviews over the past month that his game was close. Now he's playing as well as he has been in a year.
Is this the week to buy into Spieth? Our experts have taken stances—but they're on both sides. Two of our handicappers are fading the young Texan, while our statistician Lou Riccio is picking Spieth to win. Though it's hard to ignore Spieth's poor season ranks (169th in strokes gained/tee to green; 123rd on approaches; and T-87 on strokes gained/around the green), it's also hard to deny that Spieth looked really sharp last week in all aspects of his game. Most especially putting, as Spieth gained 10.6 strokes on the field on the greens, more than three strokes better than anybody else—and Spieth has been first on tour over the past month in strokes gained/putting. So is he back? Or can you profit at Colonial by fading him? That's for you to decide, and we have the expert takes to let you arrive at that opinion.
We continue to bring the best collection of golf expertise in betting circles, thanks to a partnership with the Action Network, a leader in premium handicapping data for sports bettors, which is becoming a must-follow in golf. Our weekly panel also includes a PGA Tour caddie, offering insight from the range and putting green at Bethpage, thanks to our partnership with The Caddie Network; two of the most respected fantasy golf experts, Pat Mayo of DraftKings and Brandon Gdula of FanDuel; and Columbia University senior lecturer and Ph.D. Lou Riccio, who uses predictive analysis and modeling to forecast winners in golf.
See who the panel feels strongly about, beyond Jordan Spieth, by scrolling for more.
Charles Schwab Challenge 2019 Picks To Win (Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook)
PGA Tour Caddie Guest Picker of the Week: Justin Rose (10-1) — I’m not going out on a very long limb here this week: I’m taking Justin Rose to defend his title at Colonial. I feel like this course just sets up so well for him. I’d like to get creative with picking someone else, but Rose is the favorite for a reason—he's the defending champ, highest-ranked player in the world (No. 3, and we saw his game return to form at Bethpage after a disappointing Masters. I just think he’s going to get it done.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National analyst: Francesco Molinari (16-1) — Accuracy and wedge play? That’s Molinari’s whole bag, baby. You’re even getting a break on his price because of how poorly he’s putted recently. Now, there is the risk that he’s morphed back into old Molinari, who is elite tee-to-green but can’t make 5-footers to save his life. Because, before his run over the past 12 months, that was exactly his deal. Despite gaining six strokes on approach and over two off the tee at Bethpage, per FantasyNational.com, the Italian bled everything back with a poor chipping performance (-1.5 strokes gained/around the greens) and a brutal putter (losing 4.4 strokes/putting). In fact, that’s two events in a row where he’s dropped exactly -4.4 strokes putting the field. Molinari does that this week, he’s finished, but we’ve been enough progress with his flat stick, especially on Bentgrass, that he should be able to flip the switch at Colonial.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire editor: Rickie Fowler (12-1) — Course history matters a little more here than most places. Fowler doesn’t have much, but he did finish 14th here a year ago. He did so while picking up 6.6 strokes putting and actually losing strokes tee-to-green. His approach play has been much better of late, and Colonial requires accuracy, a stat in which Fowler excels relative to his long-driving peers. Over the past 100 rounds, he’s 42nd in the field in fairways gained. Fowler is also an elite putter on bentgrass greens.
Dr. Lou Riccio, Columbia University: Jordan Spieth (14-1) — Is Jordan Spieth back? Colonial will be a great litmus test. The Dallas boy owns a victory here (2016) along with two runners-up (2017 and 2015). Spieth finally gained strokes off the tee at Bethpage Black, an impressive venue to do that. We've been waiting for him to turn it around, and if he could contend at Bethpage, he could absolutely earn his first win since the 2017 Open in the familiar confines of Colonial. We want to be backing him when he gets back to the winner's circle, and he looks to be close.
Golf Digest editors: Paul Casey (22-1) — Just take a look at Paul Casey's stats from the previous two weeks: Casey gained more than eight strokes off the tee the last two weeks at Bethpage Black and Quail Hollow. And the Englishman has gained more than three strokes against the field on approach shots the past two tournaments, per FantasyNational.com. His Masters MC will still be in the minds of many. But before the Masters, he won the Valspar. It's tough to overlook the world-class ball-striking stats of Paul Casey at a ball-striker's paradise, with decent value to these odds.
(Results on the season: We’ve correctly predicted five of the season’s 25 events. Pat Mayo has correctly picked Bryson DeChambeau (12-1, Shriners); Matt Kuchar (60-1 at the OHL Classic) and Phil Mickelson (25-1 at Pebble Beach). Golf Digest editor Christopher Powers correctly picked Kevin Tway (55-1) to start the season at the Safeway Open. Lou Riccio called Rickie Fowler's win (16-1) in Phoenix and had a runner-up (Dustin Johnson) at the PGA. And Brandon Gdula has four picks of his who have finished runner-up. We're due for another winner.)
Sleepers/Dark Horses That Could Win at the 2019 Charles Schwab Challenge (odds from DraftKings Sportsbook)
PGA Tour Caddie: Scott Piercy (40-1) — Piercy is playing great golf as of late (actually all year) and last time he was in Texas he played 72 straight holes without a bogey, a couple weeks ago at the Byron Nelson. And he tied for second with that effort. If he were able to accomplish that feat this week, I think he’d be holding the big check on Sunday and slipping into that plaid tartan jacket.
Mayo: Brandt Snedeker (55-1) — Snedeker has been slowly getting his irons back into form over the past two months, and he found a way to not be a disaster off the tee at Bethpage, of all places. So that’s a plus. He’s gained strokes tee-to-green in four consecutive events and now returns to his best putting surface. It’s strange, Snedeker gets a lot of publicity over his Poa prowess, but he gains more strokes putting on Bentgrass than any other surface.
Gdula: Byeong Hun An (90-1) — An is an elite tee-to-green player, ranking top-13 in strokes gained/off the tee, approach, and around the green over the past 100 rounds on the PGA Tour. He just can’t putt well. However, his best surface is bent grass, yet he’s still a below-average putter on such greens. His odds have dropped enough for us to take a chance yet again.
Riccio: Joaquin Niemann (150-1) — The stats have pointed to Joaquin Niemann all season, and the 20-year-old hasn't quite put it all together. But he has excelled at ball-striking, a requirement at Hogan's Alley. Niemann has gained strokes off the tee in six of his past seven events. It's just a matter of time for him to get a win. While the results don't necessarily indicate he's close, it could all click any week for Niemann. My model has him in the top-10 most likely players to win this week. At 150-1 odds, we don't want to miss out.
Golf Digest editors: Ryan Palmer (45-1) — The Texan has a hot-and-cold history at Colonial. He does have three top-five finishes in his seven most recent starts here. But he also has two missed cuts and a T-70. We did see his game shine a few weeks ago in New Orleans, and now the Dallas resident is back in Fort Worth. He told our Golf Digest podcast that his confidence is sky high, and he wouldn't be surprised if he won a couple more times in the next few years. When he said that, you know this is one of the places he had in mind. We could see Palmer adding a stroke-play title to his team-play win from a couple weeks ago.
Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
PGA Tour Caddie: Daniel Berger (80-1) — This is an appealing number for Berger, so I wouldn't fault anyone for putting a few dollars on it. But this really isn't the venue for him. Berger has showed signs of life lately, but I need to see more before I can buy in. He was looking good at Bethpage, opening with rounds of 70-66, but struggled on the weekend with a pair of 78s. Like I said, I need to see more before I consider him ready to win again.
Mayo: Jordan Spieth (14-1) — Spieth has the course history narrative (finishing T-32, T-2, 1st, T-2, T-14 and T-7 in his previous appearances), which is always tricky with Spieth. But it’s going to take another yeoman’s effort on the greens to contend in a field this strong again this week. His strokes gained/putting mark (10.6) at the PGA Championship were more than three strokes better than any other player in the field—he didn’t even gain two strokes tee-to-green. Him appearing near the top of the odds is just respect to the name. No need to put your money anywhere near that.
Gdula: Jordan Spieth (14-1) — Spieth’s confidence may be back, but his ball-striking isn’t. He has gained 17.3 strokes over his past two events—but he’s actually lost strokes tee-to-green (-0.1). The putter is red hot, and that’s not the type of golfer I like to buy in on. I’m rooting for Spieth’s return, but this doesn’t set up as a week I’d want to chase him at a short number.
Riccio: Bryson DeChambeau (28-1) — Coming off two straight missed cuts, Bryson has been off since the first round of the Masters. He lost strokes in every full-swing metric at Bethpage Black—and nothing really points to DeChambeau figuring it out right now. Nobody is taking away the fact he has four tour victories in the past 11 months. But Colonial figures to be a week where he works on his game more so to defend his Memorial title, rather than trying to win. There's too much other good value in this area than to waste money on Bryson.
Golf Digest editors: Jon Rahm (10-1) — We watched a very frustrated Jon Rahm trying to figure out his golf swing last week at Bethpage. He was a mess—hitting shanks (yes, it was from the deep rough), and fading hard on Friday to miss the cut. Rahm came into the PGA hot, so he was a popular play on the outright and daily-fantasy circuit. At 10-1, we'd much rather back Justin Rose, Francesco Molinari or Xander Schauffele in this range. Rahm's excellent course history is hard to ignore, but so is the ugly showing at Bethpage.
2019 Charles Schwab Challenge: Matchups
PGA Tour Caddie: C.T. Pan (-135) over Kevin Tway (Sportbet) — Colonial Country Club is a venue where position is everything. That’s very similar to Hilton Head where C.T. Pan won a few weeks back. Accuracy and strategy play more to C.T. Pan's game than Kevin Tway, which is why this is a bet worth taking.
Mayo: Rickie Fowler (-115) over Jordan Spieth (Bet365) — The Rickster is fine, don’t love him this week, also don’t hate him, but he rates out significantly better than Spieth, and you’re only having to lay the juice. I have this rated somewhere around -145 for Fowler.
Gdula: Paul Casey (-106) over Tony Finau (FanDuel) — Casey has a significant edge in accuracy over Finau, particularly in windy conditions. Casey also grades out better in greens in regulation and overall approach play over the past 100 rounds. He’s missed some big cuts of late, but other than that, he’s been stellar.
Riccio: Nate Lashley (+105) over Nick Taylor (Sportbet) — My model gives Nate Lashley, an alternate into this field, the 18th best chance of winning, as opposed to Nick Taylor, who ranks 71st in my model. And you're getting Lashley at plus money, which makes this a smart bet. Lashley ranks in the top-5 on tour in par-4 scoring, a crucial stat at a par 70. I'm high on Lashley and low on Taylor this week.
Action Network golf analyst, Bryan Mears: Joel Dahmen (+115) over Zach Johnson — ZJ will likely get some buzz as a former two-time winner at Colonial who theoretically fits the course well. But his last win was back in 2012, and in the last two years he’s missed the cut (2018) and finished 63rd (2017). The FantasyLabs Trends tool actually shows that course history is not very predictive at this track, so I’ll be looking to try and fade some guys who are overvalued for that reason. Further, Johnson has been in poor form of late, finishing just 54th at the PGA last week and missing the cut at Wells Fargo the week before. At Heritage the week before that -- which hosts a similar course to this one -- he hit just 54.2% of his greens.
He finished fine, but that was entirely due to a smoking hot putter. I haven’t been particularly impressed with the ball-striking of late, and that’ll be crucial at Colonial. Dahmen, meanwhile, is the opposite. He’s been striking the ball well and has been very accurate of late, but his putter has been dragging him down. Still, he has four top 20s over his last seven tournaments, including a runner-up finish at Wells Fargo. I think this matchup is closer than the odds indicate, so I’ll grab it at plus money.
To read The Action Network's entire breakdown for the Charles Schwab Challenge, click here.
Golf Digest editors: Kevin Kisner (+130) over Bryson DeChambeau (Sportsbook) — Bryson has never finished better than 40th in three appearance at Colonial, whereas Kiz feasts on this Perry Maxwell design. We'll continue to fade the cold player and back Kiz here.
(Matchup results last week: PGA Tour Caddie: 1 for 1 (Chez Reavie (-145) over Jimmy Walker); Gdula: 1 for 1 (Rickie Fowler (-118) over Francesco Molinari); Action Network: 1 for 1 (Brooks Koepka (-135) over Tiger Woods; GD Editors: 1 for 1 (Lucas Glover (-120) over Rafa Cabrera Bello); Mayo: 0 for 1; Riccio: 0 for 1.)
(Matchup results for the year: Action Network guest picker: 3 for 3; GD Editors: 12 wins, 6 losses, one push; Riccio: 10-6; PGA Tour Caddie: 9-10; Mayo: 8-8-2; Gdula: 8-9-1.)
Top 10 (odds from DraftKings Sportsbook)
PGA Tour Caddie: Xander Schuaffele (+200) — I think the X-Man is going to have a great chance to win this week, too (not just to finish in the top 10). There aren’t really any holes in Xander’s game, and I think we see a very strong showing from him this week. He’s had a great season to this point, evidenced by his No. 3 standing on the FedExCup list. I see that trend continuing at Colonial.
Mayo: Boo Weekley (+1100) — Yes, we're going with BOOO! Might as shoot for the moon with a top-10 and cover all bets for this week—and the next few, if it hits. With wins at Harbour Town and Colonial, Boo is one of the few with the TARTAN SLAM in his career, and really fits the template of the short hitters but ball-strikers but have done well at Colonial in the past. And he’s actually playing pretty well in limited appearances. In two starts so far this year, he’s finished T-35/T-25 (trending up!), and at Heritage, a competitive event, he finished third in the field in strokes gained/tee-to-green for the week. Dude just couldn’t make a putt. If Boo makes a few five-footers this week, he can surprise on the leaderboard come Sunday.
Gdula: Emiliano Grillo (+400) — Grillo is an accurate driver, and he hits fairways in windy conditions, as well (18th in the field the past 100 rounds). I’m honing in on proximity from 150 to 175 yards, and he’s third in that stat in the sample. Grillo’s best putting surface is bent grass, and he has finished 24th and 3rd here the past two years.
Riccio: Kevin Na (+500) — Kevin Na owns four top-10 finishes in 12 appearances at Colonial. He and his caddie Kenny Harms know how to play this course well. At 5-to-1 odds, these are really inviting odds. It appears Kevin Na's back from his injury, so you have to like these odds to finish in the top 10.
Golf Digest editors: Kevin Kisner (+350) — Kiz is a fairway finder and loves Colonial. He won here in 2017 and owns two additional top-10s. Ignore the missed cut at Bethpage: He admitted going into the week that Bethpage was too long for him. Colonial, also a par 70, is about 250 yards shorter and plays to Kiz strengths. Go with Kiz for a top-10.
(Top-10 results last week: PGA Tour Caddie: 1 for 1 (Patrick Cantlay, +400); Action Network: 1 for 1 (Matt Wallace, +1000); Everybody else: 0 for 1)
(Top-10 results for the year: Action Network: 2 for 3 (+800 and +1000 hits); Mayo: 7 for 19; Gdula: 5 for 18; PGA Tour Caddie: 5 for 19; GD Editors: 4 for 18; Riccio: 3 for 18)
Mayo: Despite being the most expensive player int he DraftKings pricing, and the reigning champion, and the No. 3 ranked player in the world, no one wants to pay for Justin Rose. Strange. Because it’s an invitational, and there are only 122 players in Fort Worth, the field is be smaller than an average event. For DraftKings purposes, this means a higher percentage of players will make the cut. Hence, the risk I’m willing to take by dropping down to Boo Weekley at the depressed cost to fit in two expensive players with Rose and Moli. It doesn’t need to be Boo, it can be a whole bunch of different players from down in that range: Doug Ghim, Kevin Streelman, Shawn Stefani, Ryan Armour; pick your poison.
Justin Rose ($11,200); Francesco Molinari ($9,800); Kevin Na ($8,000); Brandt Snedeker ($7,900); Boo Weekley ($6,400).
Riccio: We're filling the back end of this lineup with two guys, Nate Lashley and Denny McCarthy, who can make a bunch of birdies this week. Lashley is second on tour in par-4 scoring this season, and McCarthy is one of the top putters on tour this season. Add Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth, at the top of my model, and Tway and Niemann, who have the firepower to win, and you have a well-balanced lineup for Colonial.
Justin Rose ($11,400); Jordan Spieth ($10,900); Kevin Tway ($7,500); Joaquin Niemann ($7,100); Denny McCarthy ($6,600); Nate Lashley ($6,400).
Golf Digest Editors: Looking past the top-five players in this field allows you to build a lineup made up of consistent players, all who could theoretically win. We really like Casey and Kiz. Grillo and Dahmen are due for wins and figure to finish in the top 25. C.T. Pan just won a couple weeks ago at the RBC Heritage, which similarly rewards position off the tee. And Danny Lee excelled at Bethpage last week, so we know his game is sharp. Plus, Lee has never missed a cut in six appearances here, including a T-14 last year and a sixth-place in 2017. This should be a six-for-six lineup, with the chance to hit for more.
Paul Casey ($9,300); Kevin Kisner ($9,200); Emiliano Grillo ($8,700); Joel Dahmen ($8,200); Danny Lee ($7,300); C.T. Pan ($7,300).
Gdula: With a short field and a lot of elite golfers, it’s a week to consider a top-heavy lineup. Cheaper golfers have a better shot to make the cut, but the studs are still likely to win. My favorite options at the top are Jon Rahm ($12,000) and Rickie Fowler ($11,800). To help fit them in, I’m targeting Byeong-Hun An ($9,100), Russell Knox ($9,100), Jim Furyk ($9,000), Corey Conners ($8,900), the risky Joaquin Niemann ($8,600), and Brian Stuard ($8,600).
Riccio: My FanDuel lineup:
Justin Rose_ ($12,200); Rickie Fowler ($11,800); Jordan Spieth ($11,400); Kevin Tway ($9,000); Joaquin Niemann ($8,600); Ted Potter Jr. ($7,000).
GD Editors: Similar build to the DraftKings lineup, except you get to add a stud in Rickie Fowler here who should make a ton of birdies on a track he's done well at before. Kevin Na has a great history here, and Charley Hoffman is a Texas savant.
Rickie Fowler ($11,800); Paul Casey ($10,900); Kevin Na ($9,700); Joel Dahmen ($9,600); Charley Hoffman ($9,300); Danny Lee ($8,700).
Opening odds to win (GolfOdds.com, Westgate Sportsbook):
Justin Rose 10/1
Jon Rahm 12/1
Rickie Fowler 12/1
Jordan Spieth 12/1
Xander Schauffele 16/1
Francesco Molinari 16/1
Tony Finau 25/1
Paul Casey 20/1
Bryson DeChambeau 25/1
Kevin Kisner 30/1
Louis Oosthuizen 30/1
Ian Poulter 30/1
Scott Piercy 40/1
Emiliano Grillo 50/1
Kevin Na 50/1
Chez Reavie 50/1
Brandt Snedeker 50/1
Matthew Fitzpatrick 50/1
Rory Sabbatini 50/1
Tyrrell Hatton 60/1
Zach Johnson 60/1
Billy Horschel 60/1
Abraham Ancer 60/1
Joel Dahmen 60/1
Si Woo Kim 60/1
Pat Perez 60/1
Ryan Palmer 60/1
Charley Hoffman 80/1
Russell Knox 80/1
Graeme McDowell 60/1
Jhonattan Vegas 80/1
Jason Dufner 80/1
Jim Furyk 80/1
Daniel Berger 60/1
Sungjae Im 80/1
Byeong Hun An 80/1
Matt Jones 80/1
Jimmy Walker 80/1
Danny Lee 80/1
Kiradech Aphibarnrat 80/1
Corey Conners 80/1
Branden Grace 100/1
Joaquin Niemann 100/1
Bud Cauley 100/1
Kevin Tway 100/1
C.T. Pan 100/1
Sam Burns 100/1
Bill Haas 100/1
Kevin Streelman 80/1
Trey Mullinax 100/1
Seamus Power 100/1
Brian Stuard 100/1
Brian Harman 100/1
Beau Hossler 125/1
Max Homa 125/1
J.T. Poston 100/1
Peter Uihlein 125/1
Martin Kaymer 125/1
Matt Every 125/1
Martin Laird 125/1
Aaron Baddeley 125/1
Denny McCarthy 125/1
Andrew Putnam 150/1
Michael Thompson 150/1
Nick Watney 150/1
Scott Stallings 150/1
Cameron Champ 150/1
Kramer Hickok 150/1
Ollie Schniederjans 150/1
Nick Taylor 150/1
Austin Cook 150/1
Kyoung-Hoon Lee 150/1
Ryan Armour 150/1
Patton Kizzire 150/1
Talor Gooch 150/1
Doug Ghim 150/1
Chesson Hadley 200/1
Colt Knost 300/1
Field (all others) 12/1
About our experts
Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia's Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA's handicap research team for three decades. His predictive analysis and modeling helps him make expert picks for our column.
Pat Mayo is known as one of the pre-eminent experts in daily-fantasy sports and golf handicapping specifically. Mayo is a 17-time fantasy sports-writers association finalist, the most of any writer this decade, and Mayo won the 2019 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Podcast of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Video award. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com. Here’s a link to watch his complete DraftKings preview of the 2019 PGA Championship.
Brandon Gdula, a senior editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 fantasy sports-writers association Golf Writer of the Year (congrats, Brandon!). Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast.