Charles Schwab Challenge 2021 DFS picks: Why you shouldn’t overlook Patrick Reed
We’re all trying to catch our breath after Phil Mickelson’s amazing PGA Championship victory last week, but the PGA Tour schedule takes no days off in the summer. The tour heads back to Texas for the 2021 Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club. Last year, this was the first tournament back when golf returned and featured an absolutely star-studded field. This week offers a very strong top end of the field with Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa … and Mickelson as the headliners.
Colonial Country Club is a staple on tour, having hosted this event since 1946. It’s some of the strongest data set we have, and what we know is that Colonial doesn’t offer success to any one type of player. The course key stats at RickRunGood.com offer optimism to well-rounded players who can rely on their short game. With the average green size at only 5,000 square feet, you can expect plenty of missed greens along the way.
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Here are my favorite plays and strongest fades in each price range for the 2021 Charles Schwab Challenge.
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Price range: $9,000 and above
High Upside: Abraham Ancer ($9,700 DraftKings | $11,400 FanDuel)
Ancer’s 65 on Sunday was the best round of the day and he flew up the leader board en route to his T-8 at the PGA Championship. This is starting to become a trend for Ancer, who has earned three consecutive top-eight finishes and now heads to Colonial, which should be a decent fit for his game. He’s played this event on three occasions, never missing the cut, and earning his best finish (T-14) last year.
Safest Option: Will Zalatoris ($9,900 DraftKings | $11,200 FanDuel)
The attribute that is most “safe” and allows you to regularly contend is the ability to hit great iron shots. If you haven’t been paying attention to Zalatoris, he’s hitting iron shots at an unreal clip. Since his debut at the U.S Open, Zalatoris is gaining 0.93 strokes per round on approach. Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, only Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas have been better during that stretch. He’s an elite talent who can contend every week.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Tony Finau ($9,600 DraftKings | $11,500 FanDuel)
It’s always concerning when a golfer doesn’t look like themselves, and that’s what is happening with Finau right now. He’s leaning on his short game, gaining more than six strokes around the green in two of his past three measured events. He’s lost a total of 7.06 strokes/off the tee in his past five measured events. Compare that to his five events before that round stretch, where he gained a total of 9.84 strokes with the driver.
Pick To Win: Patrick Reed ($10,300 DraftKings | $11,700 FanDuel)
There are plenty of encouraging takeaways from Reed’s performance at the PGA Championship. The biggest takeaway was that he was 5-under over the weekend, the best score of anyone in the field. He was one of only four golfers who were under par each of the final two rounds. Now he gets a much better course setup at Colonial, where he’s never missed the cut in four trips and finished T-7 last year.
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$8,000 to $9,000
High Upside: Matt Wallace ($8,200 DraftKings | $9,800 FanDuel)
The past few starts for Wallace are starting to show significant improvements. He’s been excellent from tee to green, gaining strokes in that category in each of his past five measured starts. Even more encouraging, he’s gained strokes/putting in each of his past two starts after losing for five consecutive events.
Safest Option: Billy Horschel ($8,800 DraftKings | $10,400 FanDuel)
I can’t believe that Horschel is the “safe” option, but here we are! He’s made the cut in six consecutive events and earned four top-25 finishes during that stretch. His win at the Match Play obviously highlights that stretch, and he’s been much improved in many facets of his game. He’s made the cut in each of his three trips to Colonial.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Kevin Na ($8,400 DraftKings |$9,700 FanDuel)
Na infamously lost a contact lens on Thursday at the PGA Championship and didn’t play well after that. As much as I’d love to give him a pass for those holes, he still lost another 2.48 strokes to the field on Friday including -1.73 on approach and -1.53 putting. He’s now lost strokes on approach in seven of his past eight starts and relies on a scorching putter to find success.
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Pick To Win: Charley Hoffman ($8,700 DraftKings | $10,500 FanDuel)
Hoffman was solid (again!) at the PGA Championship, finishing T-17 and shooting the fourth-best score from Friday to Sunday. That’s his fifth consecutive top-20 finish and his seventh top 20 in his past eight starts. He’s third in this field in SG/approach since the start of 2021, per the RickRunGood.com database. It’s only a matter of time before he adds a trophy to his mantle.
$7,000 to $8,000
High Upside: Doc Redman ($7,200 DraftKings | $8,700 FanDuel)
We are starting to see positive signs for Redman returning to his late-2020 form. He’s gained more than three strokes/off the tee in two of his past three events and has gained strokes putting in his last two. Those are obviously small milestones, but he’s laying the foundation similar to how he played last year. He’s coming off a T-9 at the Byron Nelson, and there’s a case to be made that avoiding the grueling Ocean Course might’ve been actually a positive.
Safest Option: Matt Kuchar ($7,600 DraftKings | $9,600 FanDuel)
Phil Mickelson is winning golf tournaments and Matt Kuchar is on the safe list … what year is it?! Despite a missed cut last week, Kuchar has been on a great run with top 20s at the Byron Nelson, RBC Heritage and Valero Texas Open. He also made a deep run in the Match Play event before finishing third. His driver is now tour average (big improvement) and he’s gaining strokes on approach. This should be a much better setup for him than Kiawah Island offered last week.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Kevin Kisner ($7,200 DraftKings | $9,100 FanDuel)
The popular champion here in 2017 will be an appealing option down in this price range, but I’m concerned. Kisner has failed to make the weekend in six consecutive events and doesn’t have a single facet of his game to lean on. Even his putter, which has historically been his weapon, is losing strokes over his past five measured starts.
Pick To Win: Chris Kirk ($7,600 DraftKings | $9,100 FanDuel)
I certainly have concerns about Kirk’s short game, but I still believe he’s the best option in this tier. Since the start of the year, he’s been one of the better ball-strikers on the PGA Tour, gaining strokes on approach in nine of his past 14 measured events. He’s flashed the ability to get hot with the putter, which he will certainly need this week at Colonial.
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$6,900 and below
High Upside: Richy Werenski ($6,800 DraftKings | $8,100 FanDuel)
After four individual missed cuts in a row, Werenski is starting to find his groove again. He had a deep run (third) at the Zurich Classic and now has a top-40 finish at each of the Wells Fargo Championship and PGA Championship. His metrics in the past two starts are looking strong, gaining strokes from tee to green. He certainly lacks consistency, but he’s worth consideration.
Safest Option: Vincent Whaley ($6,200 DraftKings | $7,200 FanDuel)
This run for Whaley has to stop soon, but he’s by far the most reliable option at this price point. He’s only $200 from being the minimum price! Since the Puerto Rico Open, Whaley has made nine consecutive cuts, which is now the fourth-longest active streak on tour. Each of his past seven finishes have been between 26th place and 36th place offering a hair of upside at a bargain price.
Most Likely To Disappoint: Scott Piercy ($6,800 DraftKings |$8,300 FanDuel)
While his recent T-11 at the Wells Fargo Championship can offer some reason to be positive, I’m not buying on Piercy this week. Since golf returned at this event last year, Piercy has played a total of 21 measured events. He lost a total of 35.5 strokes putting over those 21 events with no signs of turning it around anytime soon. His path to success is much narrower than many of his peers.
Pick To Win: Luke List ($6,900 DraftKings | $8,900 FanDuel)
Since the start of 2021, List is gaining 0.44 strokes per round on the field. His equivalent peers are all priced about $500 more expensive, and List is doing it in a sustainable way. In his 13 measured starts this year, he’s gained strokes off the tee in 12 of them. He’s even turned into a “not as bad” putter. If he can find a warm putter this week, he can certainly make plenty of noise.
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Rick Gehman, founder of RickRunGood.com and the RickRunGood YouTube Channel, is one of the industry’s leading experts on golf DFS and gambling. Gehman is co-host of the First Cut Podcast and appears regularly on the Pat Mayo Experience golf podcasts. Follow him on Twitter: @RickRunGood.