Charles Schwab Challenge picks 2023: It's time for this star to end his win drought
Apologies, but our luck finally ran out at the PGA Championship. Like many of you, we're kicking ourselves for not backing the ultimate major championship horse in Brooks Koepka. For those that did, a tip of the cap. Sometimes it's an easy game.
Our expert panel is eager to get back on track at Colonial, where a two-time major champion a few of us are high on has some unfinished business to attend to.
Scroll down to see who we like this week at the 2023 Charles Schwab Challenge.
Charles Schwab Challenge picks 2023: Our Experts’ Outright Predictions
Anonymous Caddie Picker of the week: Collin Morikawa (16-1, DraftKings) — This course suits Morikawa like a glove. He nearly won in the Covid year, and I think he’ll be more mentally rested than the other elites—coming off a strong ball-striking week but not going through the mental gauntlet of contending at a major.
Pat Mayo, DraftKings/Fantasy National, Mayo Media Network analyst: Collin Morikawa (16-1, DraftKings) — Morikawa didn’t lose an insane amount of strokes putting at Oak Hill, so that’s good enough for me to jump back on board. Even as the world’s most consistent iron player, it’s still shocking to see he hasn’t lost strokes with his irons since the 2022 Players. Yet, somehow, Colonial may be his most pin-seeking track. In three starts at the Charles Schwab, he’s averaging +6.7 SG/approach.
Brandon Gdula, FanDuel/numberFire managing editor: Sungjae Im (18-1, FanDuel) — Sungjae Im is super accurate off the tee and is a pretty good iron player even if he’s not quite at the elite level. Combine that with a good short game and some good results at Colonial (two top-15 finishes in the past three years), and he’s a good target toward the top of the board.
Rick Gehman, data scientist and RickRunGood.com founder: Tommy Fleetwood (33-1, Bet365) — It’s time – Fleetwood doesn’t have a PGA Tour win but that ends this week. His game is sharp and well-rounded, gaining strokes in all four major categories in each of his last three starts. Those events – PGA Championship (T-18), Wells Fargo Championship (T-5) and RBC Heritage (T-15) – are all majors or elevated events. Colonial will reward Fleetwood’s accuracy and precision off the tee and allow him to separate from the field with his putter.
Stephen Hennessey, Golf Digest dep. managing editor: Cam Davis (40-1, PointsBet) — Coming off a T-4 and a fantastic weekend at Oak Hill, Cam Davis’ game is a good fit for Colonial, where he finished seventh last year. The Aussie can separate himself off the tee, ranking fifth in this field in SG/off the tee over the past 36 rounds, per RickRunGood.com. He’s playing great golf since a T-7 at the Players, another golf tree-lined positional layout.
Christopher Powers, Golf Digest staff writer: Chris Kirk (40-1, BetMGM) — As a self-proclaimed Chris Kirk stan, I can’t not back my guy on a track that accentuates his best quality: tee-to-greening you to death. I’d prefer him at 50- or 60-1, but as a former winner here (2015) who has played very solidly since his Honda win, I understand having to pay a little premium.
Andy Lack, RickRunGood.com and Inside Golf podcast: Collin Morikawa (16-1, DraftKings) — It’s hard to believe that a player of Collin Morikawa’s caliber has not found the winner’s circle since the 2021 Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. While he is elite enough to be judged on his victories, this has still been an incredibly impressive season for the two-time major winner. Morikawa is coming off a 26th at the PGA Championship, where he gained over four strokes on approach, and he put together one of the best ball-striking rounds on the course on Sunday. Now he travels to a course that is far better suited for his skill set. Morikawa is an incredibly accurate driver of the ball, and he remains the best short-to-middle iron player in this field. While the short game and putting have certainly been a problem for him this season, he gained in both short game categories at the PGA Championship, an encouraging sign as he now heads to a golf course that should offer far more benign greenside areas and putting surfaces. Morikawa is simply too strong of a player to stay down for this long, and Colonial is the perfect spot for him to end his winless drought.
Past results: We’re officially on fire, hitting five of the last seven winners on the PGA Tour. Brandon Gdula continues to carry the load, recently touting Jason Day to win the AT&T Byron Nelson at 17-1 for his fifth outright cash of the season. Hopefully, you’ve been tailing us, and by us we mean Brandon. Let’s keep it rolling at Colonial.
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Charles Schwab Challenge picks 2023: Sleepers/Dark Horses Who Could Win
Caddie: Carson Young (250-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Sergio Garcia made headlines for punching a U.S. Open ticket on Monday, but this PGA Tour rookie boat-raced the field in Dallas—shooting 63-62 and making 19 birdies across 36 holes to earn medalist honors by five. His game—fairways and putting—should suit Colonial well.
Mayo: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (65-1, DraftKings) — Despite missing the cut at Oak Hill, Bez remained on fire with his irons, gaining over two strokes per round Thursday and Friday. That makes four straight starts where he’s gained over four strokes with his irons. Now, at a course where distance is mitigated, the South African can ride a hot putter into contention.
Gdula: Brendon Todd (80-1, FanDuel) — Todd is always a name to take a look at when we get to courses that don’t demand driving distance. We don’t this week, and he has one of the most complete games in the field whenever we downplay driver. He’s a good value at this number.
Gehman: Joseph Bramlett (175-1, Caesars Sportsbook) — Bramlett has consistently been one of the longest hitters on tour but now he’s adding a few more weapons to the arsenal. He’s gained strokes on approach in 10 of his last 14 starts, according to the RickRunGood.com golf database. On top of that, he's proving to have an above average short game which has allowed him to earn three top-26 finishes in his last four starts.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Hayden Buckley (100-1, PointsBet) — Buckley has proven his game translates well to these types of courses—finishing runner-up at Waialae and fifth at Harbour Town. Only Scottie Scheffler hits it further with more accuracy in this field, per RickRunGood.com, with Buckley averaging 307.6 yards off the tee while hitting 62 percent of his fairways—ranking fourth in this field in SG/off the tee over the last 36 rounds. He’s also coming off a solid 26th-place at the PGA, so confidence should be high.
Powers, Golf Digest: Sepp Straka (110-1, PointsBet) — Sepp gained over 10 strokes on approach last week at Oak Hill and he now comes to a course where approach gods reign supreme. He’s missed the cut both times he’s played here, which is slightly worrisome, but off last week’s top-10 finish at Oak Hill, you’d think the 2022 Honda Classic winner would show up in the mid-tier range on the odds board. Instead, they’re giving us triple digits on him. Take it and say thank you.
Lack: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (65-1, DraftKings) — Christiaan Bezuidenhout has quietly been playing some strong golf this season, and this is a fine opportunity to buy low on a player that is coming off a better performance than his results indicate. Bezuidenhout did miss the cut at the PGA Championship, but did so while gaining nearly four strokes on approach. Like Morikawa, he now heads to a golf course that is far better suited for his skill set. The South African is quietly one of the best middle-to-short iron players and Bentgrass putters in this field, which is the perfect recipe for success at Colonial.
Charles Schwab Challenge picks 2023: Players We’re Fading
Caddie: Russell Henley (30-1, DraftKings) — This seems like a very short number with all the more elite players around him and the lack of course history.
Mayo: Viktor Hovland (14-1, DraftKings) — I’m just betting he’s spent after a grueling week contending deep into a major championship.
Gdula: Sam Burns (28-1, FanDuel) — Burns was a lot more dialed in last year for his win at Colonial. The form isn’t quite there this year, and he’s really leaning on the putter too much when finishing well lately.
Gehman: Sam Burns (28-1, DraftKings) — The reigning champ is struggling right now, missing the cut in Charlotte and never sniffing the cut line in Rochester as his last two starts. He’s been much more inconsistent this year, working through equipment changes and bad swings. Maybe he finds the magic of Colonial by returning to a place with good vibes, but I’ll take a pass on simply that hope.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Sungjae Im (18-1, PointsBet) — Sungjae’s game was trending up until the PGA Championship. I’m willing to forgive someone who had just traveled back from Korea after his win, but he played realllly poorly at Oak Hill, losing over three strokes on approach in two rounds.
Powers, Golf Digest: Tony Finau (14-1, DraftKings) — Putter has gone ice cold since Mexico and he didn’t look sharp in many other areas at Oak Hill, either. Pass.
Lack: Sam Burns (28-1, DraftKings) — While Sam Burns is no stranger to success as a defending champion, I have some major concerns about his current form and ball-striking in general. Burns is coming off a fairly disappointing missed cut at the PGA Championship where he lost nearly four strokes on approach, and of the elite players, he enters this week as by far the worst overall short to middle iron player. He’s obviously found success at this tournament before, but Burns is a hard man to trust right now given the nature of his recent results.
Charles Schwab Challenge picks 2023: Matchups
Caddie: Justin Rose (-108) over Russell Henley (FanDuel) — Rose is a past champion at Colonial this year and coming off an elite performance at the PGA Championship. I’ll double down on my fade of Henley with this one in which the wrong player is the favorite.
Mayo: Christiaan Bezuidenhout (+100) over Brendon Todd (DraftKings) — It’s tough going against Todd, whose game fits this course perfectly, but he doesn’t have a finish better than T-27 all year in an event where he doesn’t gain at least five strokes putting. Not gaining that many is something I’ll bet against.
Gdula: Hayden Buckley (-126) over Ryan Fox (FanDuel) — Fox’s length won’t do as much this week as it will in other weeks, and Buckley holds a big edge in past-50-round form.
Gehman: Cameron Davis (-134) over Brian Harman (Bet365) — The last year for Davis has been spectacular. Since this event last year, he’s gained +0.81 strokes per round which is better than Sam Burns and Rickie Fowler. That also includes a five event missed cut streak where he revealed an illness that kept him from feeling 100 percent. His driver is a weapon right now and he’s coming off a confidence building Sunday 65 at Oak Hill.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Justin Rose (-108) over Russell Henley (FanDuel) — I’m riding with our caddie on this one. Over the past 36 rounds, Rose is the second-best player in this field per the strokes-gained numbers, per RickRunGood.com, gaining 1.61 strokes per round. Henley, on the other hand, is about a stroke behind Rose’s numbers.
Powers, Golf Digest: Rickie Fowler (-110) over Sam Burns (DraftKings) — Last week was a minor hiccup in an otherwise steady comeback season for Fowler, who I expect to return to top-20 form this week at Colonial, where he owns three top-16 finishes in his career. As for Burns, yes, he’s the defending champ and he’s proven at Valspar that he can be a horse for a course. But last week’s numbers are capital UG ugly and he’s now missed back-to-back cuts.
Lack: Chris Kirk (-130) over Taylor Moore (DraftKings) — There’s a ton to love about former Charles Schwab Challenge champion Chris Kirk, and this price over Taylor Moore is far too short for me. With seven top-20 finishes in 12 appearances at Colonial, Kirk’s course history speaks for itself, and he is also coming off a top-30 finish at the PGA Championship where he gained strokes in both ball-striking categories. Moore, on the other hand, lost nearly six strokes ball-striking last week and missed the cut badly in his only appearance at the iconic Perry Maxwell track. This is an easy one.
Matchup Results from the PGA Championship: Caddie: 1 for 1 (Steele (+100) over Spaun); Gehman: 0 for 1; Hennessey: 0 for 1; Lack: 0 for 1; Powers: 0 for 1; Gdula: 0 for 1; Mayo: 0 for 1
Matchup Results from this season (Wins-Losses-Pushes): Gehman: 18-9-2 (up 7.66 units); Hennessey: 17-11-1 (up 4.71 units); Lack: 11-8-0 (up 1.82 units); Caddie: 15-12-2 (up 2.27 units); Powers: 14-14-1 (down 0.42 units); Gdula: 12-16-1 (down 5.87 units); Mayo: 10-16-0 (down 6.55 units)
Charles Schwab Challenge picks 2023: Top 10s
Caddie: Nate Lashley (+1300, FanDuel) — Lashley’s at his best on shorter, tree-lined courses that require accuracy off the tee and precision with wedges and short irons—look at his win at Detroit Golf Club and his good history at Pebble Beach. He’s been playing consistent golf lately with four straight finishes inside the top 35.
Mayo: Dylan Wu (+1200, DraftKings) — A lot like Bez, HOT FIRE DYLAN should benefit from a course which prioritizes accuracy over distance. He’s gained on the greens in six of seven starts and is right around one stroke gained on approach per round since the beginning of April.
Gdula: Denny McCarthy (+410, FanDuel) — McCarthy is a great putter and a slight positive in the other three tee-to-green stats despite being shorter-than-average off the tee. We don’t need distance too much this week, so he gets a pretty substantial boost.
Gehman: Justin Rose (+260, DraftKings) — Rose has turned in five straight made cuts with four of those being top 25s – highlighted by a T-6 at the Players and T-9 at the PGA Championship. He’s been splendid all-around and now returns to Colonial where he won in 2018, finished T-3 in 2020 and T-20 in 2021.
Hennessey, Golf Digest: Hayden Buckley (+700, PointsBet) — Hedging my outright here with a top-10 based on those strong top-10 finishes on correlated courses for the 27-year-old.
Powers, Golf Digest: Emiliano Grillo (+700, DraftKings) — I did it, I finally hit a top 10 last week (thank you, Bryson). There’s no stopping me, and Emiliano Grillo, now. He’ll need to make a few putts to actually contend this week, but his all-world iron play should give him plenty of looks so it’s worth a bet at 7-1 on a potential ceiling week with the flat stick for the Argentinian.
Lack: Stephan Jaeger (+450, DraftKings) — While I do believe that this tournament will be won by one of the players at the top of the odds board, Stephan Jaeger is an incredibly appealing option to find himself in the mix over the weekend. Jaeger is coming off a strong ball-striking performance at the PGA Championship, and has now gained over 3.5 strokes ball-striking in four straight starts. The 33-year-old has found repeating success before at shorter, positional golf courses and I love the combination of recent form and course fit that the German has to offer this week.
Top-10 results from the PGA Championship: Powers: 1 for 1 (Bryson DeChambeau +900); Everybody else: 0 for 1
Top-10 results from this season: Hennessey: 7 for 29 (up 13.95 units); Gdula: 9 for 29 (up 13.2 units); Gehman: 8 for 29 (up 7.6 units); Mayo: 6 for 26 (up 2.1 units); Lack: 6 for 19 (up 2.9 units); Caddie: 7 for 29 (up 0.4 units); Powers: 3 for 29 (down 10.9 units)
Charles Schwab Challenge picks 2023: One and Done
Gehman: Min Woo Lee — This is a fairly awkward spot on the schedule. The purse is too small to use Scheffler, Finau, Morikawa or Homa. It would be logical to use Fowler, Rose or Sungjae but I’ve already burned through that trio. It leaves me to go out on a limb with Min Woo Lee who has been a volatile golfer this season. His season is highlighted by a T-6 at the Players and a T-18 last week.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Emiliano Grillo. Sanderson Farms Championship: Sam Burns. Shriners: Taylor Montgomery. Zozo: Sungjae Im. CJ Cup: Matt Fitzpatrick. Bermuda: Denny McCarthy. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Aaron Wise. RSM Classic: Brian Harman. Sentry TOC: Cameron Young. Sony Open: Hideki Matsuyama. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Jason Day. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Scottie Scheffler. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Sungjae Im. API: Rory McIlroy. Players: Jon Rahm. Valspar: Justin Rose. WGC-Match Play: Cameron Young. Valero: Rickie Fowler. Masters: Jordan Spieth. RBC Heritage: Collin Morikawa. Zurich: Kurt Kitayama. Mexico Open: Ben Martin. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. Byron Nelson: K.H. Lee. PGA Championship: Xander Schauffele.
Hennessey: Justin Rose — Irons were absolutely dialed at Oak Hill, gaining nearly five strokes for the week. With the course history, it feels like a great week to deploy the Englishman.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Cam Davis. Sanderson Farms Championship: Denny McCarthy. Shriners: Emiliano Grillo. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Sungjae Im. Bermuda: Mark Hubbard. Mayakoba: Viktor Hovland. Houston Open: Jason Day. RSM Classic: Brendon Todd. Sentry TOC: Patrick Cantlay. Sony Open: Matt Kuchar. American Express: Brian Harman. Farmers: Will Zalatoris. AT&T Pebble Beach: Seamus Power. WMPO: Collin Morikawa. Genesis: Justin Thomas. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Keith Mitchell. Players: Rory McIlroy. Valspar: Adam Hadwin. WGC-Match Play: Tyrrell Hatton. Valero: Nick Taylor. Masters: Scottie Scheffler. RBC Heritage: Jordan Spieth. Zurich: Sahith Theegala. Mexico Open: Gary Woodland. Wells Fargo: Xander Schauffele. Byron Nelson: Tyrrell Hatton. PGA Championship: Jon Rahm.
Powers: Tommy Fleetwood — I’ve given up on betting Tommy Fleetwood, but this feels like a nice way to use him. There’s no reason he can’t win here with his skill set.
Previous weeks: Fortinet Championship: Sahith Theegala. Sanderson Farms Championship: J.T. Poston. Shriners: Sungjae Im. Zozo: Hideki Matsuyama. CJ Cup: Tyrrell Hatton. Bermuda: Russell Knox. Mayakoba: Thomas Detry. Houston Open: Sepp Straka. RSM Classic: Davis Riley. Sentry TOC: Xander Schauffele. Sony Open: Gary Woodland. American Express: Cameron Young. Farmers: Taylor Montgomery. AT&T Pebble Beach: Maverick McNealy. WMPO: Sungjae Im. Genesis: Collin Morikawa. Honda: Chris Kirk. API: Will Zalatoris. Players: Patrick Cantlay. Valspar: Justin Suh. WGC-Match Play: Tom Kim. Valero: Matt Kuchar. Masters: Tony Finau. RBC Heritage: Rickie Fowler. Zurich: Robby Shelton. Mexico Open: Luke List. Wells Fargo: Viktor Hovland. Byron Nelson: Tom Hoge. PGA Championship: Brooks Koepka.
About our experts
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. Mayo helped create the golf stats and research website Fantasy National along with the Race for the Mayo Cup One and Done contest. Mayo won the 2022 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year and is a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time. Follow him on Twitter: @ThePME.
Brandon Gdula, managing editor and analyst for NumberFire, a FanDuel daily-fantasy analysis company, recently won the 2018 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. Gdula also co-hosts the DFS Heat Check podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @gdula13.
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.
Andy Lack is a PGA Tour writer and podcaster from New York City who now resides in Los Angeles. He hosts Inside Golf, a twice weekly podcast focused on the PGA Tour, betting, daily fantasy, golf course architecture, and interviews, as part of the BlueWire podcast network. As well as contributing to Golf Digest, Andy is also a data analyst and writer for RickRunGood.com, where he covers PGA Tour betting and daily fantasy. He came to Golf Digest’s betting panel after previously writing for Golf.com, the Score and GolfWRX. In his free time, Andy can likely be found on a golf course. Follow him on Twitter: @adplacksports