Charles Schwab Challenge 2021 picks: Don’t be fooled by Abraham Ancer
You’re in the right place if you want sympathy for not betting Phil Mickelson last week. Join the club. Of course, who could’ve seen Phil’s historic PGA Championship victory coming . . . and we were all so happy for him. But as a historic 200-1 longshot, well, we’ll be kicking ourselves for eternity for not sprinkling on that—particularly those of us who bet him at the Wells Fargo in his previous tournament (Hennessey, ahem).
Lefty is back this week at the Charles Schwab Challenge, where he has won twice, and you can back him at 50-1 if you think those bombs will translate to Colonial Country Club, one of the oldest, classic venues on the PGA Tour. None of our handicappers are betting on Phil to go back to back. Most of our experts are also not betting on Abraham Ancer, who shot the low round of the tournament with a final-round 65 to finish T-7. It’s Ancer’s third straight top 10, but oddsmakers have caught onto him—he’s 20-1 to win at William Hill.
Most of our handicappers are fading Ancer this week despite the hot play—because that number presents no value. One member of our panel, again, Hennessey, is making a FOMO bet. He bet on Ancer at Kiawah, and like Phil, he doesn’t want to get burned a second week in a row.
Read on for the full analysis from our panel, which includes an anonymous caddie; Pat Mayo of Mayo Media Network; Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com; Brandon Gdula of numberFire/FanDuel and Lee Alldrick of FanShareSports.com.
Charles Schwab Challenge 2021 picks: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions (Odds from William Hill)
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Collin Morikawa (14-1) — Morikawa’s ball-striking has been insanely good—the stats show he has gained more than 11 strokes/tee to green in three of his past four measured starts. And he returns to a venue where he lost in a playoff last year. The kid should be motivated to add yet another win to his already impeccable resume.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Corey Conners (25-1) — Keep riding the heater and hope the putter doesn’t completely flop for the Canadian. He’s now dropped strokes on the greens in three straight events, which is typical, but there is something to his five consecutive events beginning in March where he gained putting. His longest career streak prior to that five-event run was two tournaments in a row.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Collin Morikawa (14-1) — Morikawa will have to shake the lip-out from last year that caused him to lose to Daniel Berger in a playoff here, but he striped the irons in his first appearance at Colonial, and with distance de-emphasized in exchange for iron play at this course, we have to consider Morikawa an elite option.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Patrick Reed (22-1) — Nobody played the weekend at Kiawah Island as well as Reed, who played the final two rounds at five-under par. That was the best score of anyone in the field, and he was one of only four golfers to go under-par on both days. Now he heads to Colonial Country Club where he finished T-7 last year. With these smaller greens and a par-70 layout, Reed should be able to lean on his short game to find success.
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Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Abraham Ancer (20-1) — The number is short and devoid of value, but this column is about picking winners. Nobody has played better than Abraham Ancer using combined strokes-gained metrics. I’m admittedly chasing the win, but already locked this bet in on Monday at 22-1. Colonial should fit Ancer’s overall game (ranking first in strokes gained/off the tee over the past 24 rounds per Fantasy National and first in SG/total, too).
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest assistant editor: Will Zalatoris (25-1) — At this point, I’m chasing the breakthrough win, and I doubt I’m alone. This is still a pretty good price for it, too, given how well he’s hitting it tee-to-green. Can we get one good putting week? If so, he’s going to win.
Lee Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Jordan Spieth (11-1) — Spieth comes into this event ranked second for SG/tee to green over the past two months and first for SG/total at Colonial. In his past 10 events, Spieth has posted five top-five finishes and will look to add another Colonial win this week.
Results from last season: Golf Digest's betting panel has been red-hot the past two seasons. Our experts have now predicted five of the past 15 winners—after going up 225.30 units last season. Our Stephen Hennessey predicted Jordan Spieth (11-1) at the Valero Texas Open. At The Players, Christopher Powers and Rick Gehman called Justin Thomas’ victory (18-1). That’s each of their second accurate predictions of 2021, with Powers hitting Koepka (50-1) and Gehman calling Daniel Berger at Pebble Beach (14-1). Pat Mayo nailed Collin Morikawa at the WGC-Workday three events ago at 33-1 in addition to Koepka at the WMPO. And Brandon Gdula also called Berger’s win at Pebble Beach. We’ll stop there! Be sure to check this column every week for picks from the hottest betting panel in golf!
Listen to Golf Digest's weekly betting podcast, "Be Right," where we interview the industry's leading experts (and sometimes sports icons) to help you make your bets and pick your fantasy lineups. And be sure to subscribe to "Be Right" wherever you get your podcasts!
Charles Schwab Challenge 2021 picks: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win (Odds from William Hill)
Caddie: Brandt Snedeker (60-1) — This is a track where course history is huge. You need the ability to hit particular shots off the tee—a draw is necessary on a number of tee shots. And Snedeker has proven he plays really well at this golf course. He’s so good putting on Bentgrass greens, and you’ll need a hot putter to win this week. There are few better than this guy when the rock starts rolling.
Mayo: Maverick McNealy (150-1) — McNealy only seems to pop on courses with small greens. Outside of that he tends to miss the cut. But when he spikes, it’s on the front page of the leader board. Of his four cuts made in 2021, he’s earned T-2 and T-4 results at Pebble Beach and Heritage.
Gdula: Charley Hoffman (35-1) — Hoffman lights it up at Texas courses and Colonial in particular and is in really good form with his ball-striking data in recent events.
Gehman: Doc Redman (100-1) — It’s been a rough start to 2021 for Redman, but the metrics are certainly starting to turn around. He’s gained more than three strokes off the tee in two of his past three events and has gained strokes/putting in two straight. While those are admittedly low standards, his stat profile is starting to resemble that of late 2020 when he played his best golf.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Jason Kokrak (45-1) — As our guy Steve Bamford explained on his Golf Betting System podcast, you need a hot putter to win at Colonial—the past five winners have all ranked in the top 10 in SG/putting. Kokrak isn’t known as a great putter but has gained at least three strokes putting in his past three measured events and ranks fifth in SG/putting per Fantasy National over his past 24 rounds. The odds on Kokrak are decent enough to pull the trigger.
Powers, Golf Digest: Maverick McNealy (150-1) — Don’t think I need to add too much to what Pat perfectly said already. Small greens, bet Mav. If the putter cooks, like it often does for him, he should be in the mix.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Matt Kuchar (55-1) — Kuchar has three top-10 finishes here at Colonial so he clearly enjoys the course. It’s not surprising then that he ranks third for total strokes-gained at Colonial in the field this week. He also ranks 14th for opportunities gained over the last two months.
Charles Schwab Challenge 2021 picks: Players to Fade This Week (who will disappoint)
Caddie: Brian Harman (33-1) — You can’t tell me Harman is this much better than players priced above him. I’d rather bet a number of the guys at 40-1, 50-1 who have more firepower and played much better last week than Harman, who missed the cut.
Mayo: Abraham Ancer (20-1) — It’s all about the number. He shouldn be priced 10 points behind Zalatoris, Conners, and Niemann. Definitely capable of winning but these odds don’t reflect any value whatsoever.
Gdula: Will Zalatoris (25-1) — Zalatoris’ distance may not get him a ton of leverage this week, and the early returns are that his putting on bentgrass is a weakness compared to other surfaces. We’ve got better fits to pick from this week.
Gehman: Justin Rose (28-1) — Don’t be fooled by his T-8 at the PGA Championship; Rose actually lost strokes on approach last week and gained a staggering 11.73 strokes/putting. How outrageous is that number? Per the RickRunGood.com golf database, it’s by far the best putting performance for Rose since the start of 2015 and the eighth-best putting performance by any player during that stretch. He’s in store for some rude regression with the flatstick.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Tony Finau (22-1) — I’m one of the biggest Finau stans there is, but his performance at Kiawah gives me pause. He gained more than six strokes around the greens last week, which we know is a bit atypical for Finau (that’s his best around-the-greens number since 2018). His length will be an advantage here, but the ball-striking was OK—not great—at Kiawah, which tells me Finau isn’t hitting it well enough to win at this ball-striking venue.
Powers, Golf Digest: Abraham Ancer (20-1) — This pains me for a number of reasons, one being I’ve burned so much money on Abe (happily, mind you) and another being he was one of our best “Be Right” podcast guests of the season. But I won’t get suckered into him at 20-1 off that final-round 65 last at Kiawah, which he shot in benign morning conditions under zero pressure. Loved what I saw at Wells Fargo from him and I will absolutely bet him again when he gets back up to 35 or 40-1 where he belongs.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Abraham Ancer (20-1) — I don’t envisage Ancer to play awful this week but I don’t believe he should be the fourth favorite this week. There are a plethora of players with a better chance of winning this week than Ancer.
Charles Schwab Challenge 2021 picks: Matchups
Caddie: Corey Conners (-120) over Joaquin Niemann (Bet365) — Niemann has added a ton of distance lately, but accuracy isn’t his strong suit right now. Conners is a fairway and green finder, which is what you need here at Colonial.
Mayo: Collin Morikawa (-120) over Abraham Ancer (DraftKings) — One of the benefits of Ancer getting steam is they’re offering him in head to heads against the truly elite players in the field, and at a decent price. If a tie is a push in this scenario, I have Morikawa rated as a -155 favorite in this spot rather than the -120 being offered.
Gdula: Jason Kokrak (-102) over Gary Woodland (FanDuel) — Kokrak's recent improvements with his short game seem to be sticking, and it has led to high levels of consistency that should pay off in matchups against the more volatile Woodland.
Gehman: Jason Kokrak (-110) over Justin Rose (DraftKings) — Rose gets the benefit of being a past champion, but his form is rather dismal at the moment. Kokrak struggled on Sunday at the PGA Championship, fading to T-49, but he has made 12 consecutive cuts and has four top-15 finishes during that stretch.
Hennessey: Corey Conners (-110) over Tony Finau (William Hill) — Yes, Conners really struggled early in his round on Friday, but aside from that, he kept up his electric ball-striking—gaining more than eight strokes tee to green over four rounds, per Fantasy National. If his putting comes back to what we saw in that stretch of his in March, this should cash.
Powers: Brandt Snedeker (-120) over Phil Mickelson (DraftKings) — I don’t see any scenario in which Phil Mickelson makes the cut this week. Sneds, meanwhile, has made four straight cuts, posting three top 20s during that span.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Charley Hoffman (+100) over Brian Harman (Bet365) — I really like Hoffman’s chances this week. Harman on the other hand ranks just 86th for opportunities gained over the last two months and just 38th for strokes-gained/tee-to-green.
Matchup results from the PGA Championship: Mayo: 1 for 1 (Will Zalatoris (-114) over Corey Conners); Gehman: 1 for 1 (Shane Lowry (-125) over Charl Schwartzel); Powers: 1 for 1 (Stewart Cink (-125) over Brendon Todd); Caddie, Gdula, Hennessey, Alldrick: 0 for 1.
Matchup Results this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Hennessey: 17-12-1 (up 4.35 units); Alldrick: 18-13-1 (up 3.43 units); Gdula: 17-14-1 (up 1.83 units); Powers: 14-14-4 (down 0.91 units); Mayo: 14-16-1 (down 3.14 units); Gehman: 12-17-2 (down 3.99 units); Caddie: 11-18-3 (down 6.58 units).
Charles Schwab Challenge 2021 picks: Top 10 (Odds from William Hill)
Caddie: Brandt Snedeker (+550) — Sneds has nearly won here (in 2015) and enters this week with some great form—finishing sixth at the Texas Open and top 20 the last time he was in Texas. It really seems like he has the confidence back in his full swing.
Mayo: Henrik Stenson (+1400) — Very sneakily hitting his irons well again after a long hiatus. He’s gained in four straight with his best performance coming a week ago (+5.8 SG/APP) against the strongest field of the year. And Colonial should hide his two biggest weaknesses: Distance and chipping. This course is all about accuracy, irons and putting. And the Swede does two of those three things very well.
Gdula: Abraham Ancer (+163) — Ancer has made all three cuts here and was 14th a year ago. He’s entering with great ball-striking and doesn’t need much distance this week. It’s a perfect recipe for him.
Gehman: Will Zalatoris (+200) — Zalatoris has been sublime this year, popping up on the first page of nearly every leader board. Since his debut at the U.S. Open, he’s been the third-best approach player on the PGA Tour behind only Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa. There are no “good courses” or “bad courses” for him because he makes a habit of beating 90 percent of the field no matter where he tees it up.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Charley Hoffman (+350) — You don’t have to wonder, “where the hell is Charley Hoffman!!!,” because you’ve been able to find his name near the top of the leader board at so many events in 2021. Hoffman’s back in Texas, where we know he plays great. I love a top-10 bet on Hoffer this week.
Powers, Golf Digest: Brandt Snedeker (+550) — I think I sufficiently talked myself into this while typing up my matchup bet. After a somewhat long slump, at least for Sneds, he’s back to playing good, solid golf, with a sixth at Valero, 11th at Valspar and a 17th at Byron Nelson. The putter is hot, the approach play is back, and he’s got some solid history at Colonial, with a runner-up, two top 20s and no missed cuts in his last six appearances.
Alldrick, FanShare Sports: Charley Hoffman (+350) — Hoffman ranks first in the field this week for strokes-gained/tee-to-green and eighth for opportunities gained. He has also made 11 of 12 cuts here at Colonial so is a big fan of the course.
Top-10 results from the PGA Championship: Powers: 1 for 1 (Brooks Koepka +400); Caddie: 1 for 1 (Jon Rahm, +150); Everyone else: 0 for 1.
Top-10 results from this season: Gehman: 7 for 29 (up 12.85 units); Powers: 5 for 29 (down 1.5 units); Hennessey: 4 for 29 (down 6 units); Gdula: 3 for 29 (down 10.5 units); Tour caddie: 5 for 29 (down 10.85 units); Mayo: 2 for 29 (down 14 units); Alldrick: 1 for 28 (down 22.5 units).
Charles Schwab Challenge 2021 picks: One and Done
Gehman: Charley Hoffman — Hoffman is not only playing beautifully, earning (4) straight Top 17 finishes, but he is also the King of Texas. In his 49 career starts in the Lone Star State, he’s averaging $144,578 earned per start. That is the most of any golfer in this field who has played at least 35 events. His most recent trip was a runner-up at the Valero Texas Open just a few weeks ago.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Joel Dahmen; U.S. Open: Jon Rahm; Corales: Denny McCarthy. Sanderson: Sebastian Munoz. Shriners: Matthew Wolff. CJ Cup: Xander Schauffele. Zozo: Bubba Watson. Bermuda: Rasmus Hojgaard. Houston: Lanto Griffin. Masters: Rory McIlroy. RSM: Webb Simpson. Sentry TOC: Patrick Reed. Sony: Abraham Ancer. AMEX: Patrick Cantlay. Torrey: Jon Rahm. Waste Management: Webb Simpson. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis Invitational: Rory McIlroy. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Bryson DeChambeau; Honda Classic: Sungjae Im. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Jordan Spieth. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Daniel Berger. Valspar: Paul Casey. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. AT&T Byron Nelson: Sam Burns. PGA Championship: Collin Morikawa.
Hennessey: Abraham Ancer — I think I've used Ancer in most of my four OAD pools, but I'll burn him this week anywhere I can.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Phil Mickelson; U.S. Open: Hideki Matsuyama; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Harris English. CJ Cup: Kevin Na. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Doc Redman. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Tyrrell Hatton. RSM: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Justin Thomas. Sony: Ryan Palmer. AMEX: Scottie Scheffler. Torrey: Sungjae Im. Waste Management: Daniel Berger. AT&T Pebble Beach: Francesco Molinari. Genesis Invitational: Tony Finau. WGC-Workday: Xander Schauffele. The Players: Jordan Spieth. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Patrick Reed. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Dustin Johnson. RBC Heritage: Webb Simpson. Valspar: Charley Hoffman. Wells Fargo: Max Homa. AT&T Byron Nelson: Will Zalatoris. PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele.
Powers: Joaquin Niemann — Starting to look like his old, Hawaii self as of late. How PGA Tour would it be for a 22-year-old to win a week after a 50-year-old? Sign me up.
Previous weeks: Safeway Open: Brendan Steele; U.S. Open: Louis Oosthuizen; Corales: Adam Long. Sanderson: Sam Burns. Shriners: Jason Kokrak. CJ Cup: Daniel Berger. Zozo: Joaquin Niemann. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Houston: Russell Henley. Masters: Bubba Watson. RSM: Brian Harman. Mayakoba: Corey Conners. Sentry TOC: Harris English. Sony: Zach Johnson. AMEX: Matthew Wolff. Torrey: Tony Finau. Waste Management: Sungjae Im. AT&T Pebble Beach: Jason Day. Genesis: Hideki Matsuyama. WGC-Workday: Tyrrell Hatton. The Players: Tommy Fleetwood. Honda Classic: Adam Scott. WGC-Match Play: Matt Fitzpatrick. Valero Texas Open: Chris Kirk. The Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Kevin Kisner. Valspar: Patrick Reed. Wells Fargo: Patrick Cantlay. AT&T Byron Nelson: Will Zalatoris. PGA Championship: Rory McIlroy.
By The Numbers:
Courtesy of Rick Gehman of RickRunGood.com:
75 — This is the 75th anniversary of this tournament—first held in 1946—with every edition of the tournament being played at Colonial Country Club.
1 - The number of winners who have successfully defended their title (Ben Hogan 1946/1947 & 1952/1953). Daniel Berger will look to become the second man this week.
9.5 - The average finish of Jordan Spieth at this event in his eight starts. That’s the best average finish at any event in his career (minimum three starts).
+1.67 - The number of strokes gained per round by Charley Hoffman in 2021, second in this field to only Jordan Spieth.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, owner of the Mayo Media Network and host of The Pat Mayo Experience. (Subscribe for video or audio. Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2020 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and Golf Writer of the Year awards, along with the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Best Sports Betting Analyst award, and was finalist for four FSWA Awards in 2020 (Best Podcast, Best Video, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 21 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are third-most all-time. Mayo is on the board of governors at www.fantasynational.com.
Brandon Gdula, managing 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.
Rick Gehman is the 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.
Lee Alldrick of FanShare Sports started out writing an article highlighting the best bargain plays for fantasy golf under his twitter handle @DKGolfBargains. His success at this prompted FanShare Sports to enlist him as a guest writer, which evolved into him writing the weekly Under The Radar article. As a U.K.-based expert, Alldrick’s insight into European Tour regulars and low priced, low owned plays has provided an invaluable edge for readers when it comes to DFS GPPs.