For the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak began, the PGA Tour will be up and running this weekend with the Charles Schwab Challenge, the first tournament since The Players Championship was canceled after one round at TPC Sawgrass. The tour is headed to the Lonestar State and the field is packed with some big-time talent.
The event will take place with no fans in attendance at Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, Texas, and because it’s been pushed back from its usual date of Memorial Day Weekend, the field is much stronger than normal.
Similar to what we did to get you ready for The Match, we’re here to tell you what you need to know about the 72 upcoming holes, from viewing expectations, groups to focus on, betting odds and sneaky fantasy sleepers. Let’s ride!
Jim Nantz Returns
For the first time in about four months, the sports viewer will have Jim Nantz back on the air calling live action. Around here we desperately missed the NCAA Tournament and the back-to-back classic bookend weekends of the Final Four and The Masters called by yours truly.
In the meantime, Nantz has been kicking it virtually with a bunch of professional golfers doing interviews during CBS and the Golf Channel’s re-airings of classic tournaments. In his free time, Nantz has also been wishing high school students well.
Senior Shoutout Series for the High School West & East Classes of 2020! Just some people you might recognize, wishing you well! Here's one just for West, from sportscaster Jim Nantz of CBS Sports! ????? #WEareCHPS #ClassOf2020Strong pic.twitter.com/B8IsACxd8s
— Cherry Hill Schools (@ChpsTweets) June 9, 2020
Golf Channel will have coverage on Thursday and Friday from 3-6 PM ET and from 12-2 PM ET on Saturday and Sunday. CBS takes over on the weekend from 2-5 PM ET. If you want in on the early action you are going to need to invest in a subscription for PGA Tour Live.
Big Dogs Are Here
Due to its place on the calendar and lack of a huge purse, this is a tournament that a lot of big names usually skip as they prepare for the Memorial or set their eyes on getting ready for the U.S. Open. However, circumstances have presented us with some big-time star power this weekend.
Tiger Woods will not be present, but each golfer present in the top five of the World Golf Rankings will be in attendance (Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson). Luckily for us, four of these golfers are involved in back-to-back groups along with Jordan Spieth and Rickie Fowler and they’ll start their round when the television coverage begins on Thursday.
The odds are out and, as expected, World No. 1 Rory McIlroy is the heavy favorite at 15-2 with Jon Rahm coming in next at 12-1. Everyone else pretty much falls in line, but there are some big numbers behind the names of Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka.
DJ and Brooks are both sitting at 28-1 and feel to have some nice value at those numbers. Yes, Koepka usually saves it all for the majors but DJ has a ton of wins in his back pocket and nearly all of them happened at a non-major event.
Don’t be afraid to sprinkle some green on the big bombers.
Harris English is a UGA alum who currently sits at No. 155 in the World Golf Rankings, so on paper there is not much that sticks out about him playing in a field that is loaded being the PGA’s return to competition. However, when you look at some his recent results there are some things to like.
The 30-year-old was playing some very good golf before the hiatus with a handful of top-20 finishes. He is just outside of the top-50 in average driving distance so he’ll be able to hang with some of the big bombers. He currently ranks 5th on the tour in greens hit in regulation and that means plenty of birdie opportunities.
He is currently listed at 70-1 to win the tournament, but the real value could be betting him into the top-10 or top-20. If you have a daily fantasy golf lineup, you should give him some heavy consideration. As long as there is not a bunch of rust, he should be able to hang around and be in the thick of things.
Things are probably going to get a little wonky this weekend due to this being the first professional tournament many of these players have played in months, but the cream is always going to rise to the top. He still needs to prove it in majors, but Rory McIlory is usually a force on the links.
The odds won’t be great since he is a heavy favorite, but a bet to have him in the top-10 or top-20 feels like a lock. If you have the bankroll, don’t be afraid to spray the board with him to win and in addition to different top finishes. It would be a stunner if he missed the cut and the odds tell us we should firmly expect him to be in either the final or second to last group on Sunday.
You may have to risk a lot for not much return, but it is the best chance to win some cash this weekend.