Matchup Minute: Backing Collin Morikawa in a battle of ball-strikers at Colonial
3 Min Read
Written by Reid Fowler @reidtfowler
We are on the brink of the Charles Schwab Challenge, held at Colonial Country Club since 1946. Even though the tournament name has gone through many iterations since the location has stayed the same – making it the longest-serving non-major venue on the PGA TOUR to host an annual tournament.
The fairways at Colonial are tight and tree-lined, making any miscues of the tee challenging to recover from. The greens are below average in size, measuring 5,000 square feet, but the average greens in regulation (GIR) hit here is close to the TOUR average over the previous five years. Initially, we would think that smaller greens result in a smaller percentage of GIR, but it doesn't. Over the same timeframe, the highest distribution of approach shots has come from 125 to 175 yards, which are relatively easy scoring opportunities for these guys. Like other traditional layouts on TOUR, like Pete Dye's Harbour Town Golf Links and TPC Sawgrass, Strokes Gained: Approach-the-Green will be the predominant statistic that will lead to success.
Here are some matchups to consider this week in Fort Worth, with odds via BetMGM Sportsbook unless otherwise noted:
Collin Morikawa (+105) over Viktor Hovland
Getting one of the best iron players over the last two seasons at plus money is an opportunity we shouldn’t overlook. This season, watching Morikawa “feels” like he’s not playing well this year, but a 26th at Oak Hill last week – where he gained in every major stroke gained category – is a promising sign that this could be the week where it all comes together. We should also feel fantastic backing Morikawa because he’s averaging 6.7 strokes with his irons across three starts at Colonial that feature a playoff runner-up in 2020. Hovland’s amazing, but the mental fatigue from being so close again in a major might weigh him down as the round progresses.
Justin Rose (-122) over Russell Henley
A top-10 finish at last week’s PGA Championship with three top finishes here (20-3-1) provides good signs to believe in this year’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am winner. Rose was fantastic last week, gaining 4.6 strokes with his irons and almost the same amount on the tough-to-hit greens at Oak Hill. Colonial isn’t as tough as last week’s major venue, but the greens here aren’t much bigger; those hitting greens in regulation with their mid-long irons will do well. Henley’s a great ball-striker, but Rose should have some positive momentum heading into this week’s tournament. You can find this matchup at FanDuel.
Round 1 3-ball: Chez Reavie (+320) over K.H. Lee and Cameron Champ
Reavie played fantastic golf last week, jumping up 74 spots after the opening round at Oak Hill. Strong iron play and a solid putter allowed Reavie to record a top 40 at a major, which didn’t look promising after Round 1. Last season’s 27th here could’ve been much better with an agreeable putter, but this year Reavie’s found something on the greens. We should be willing to ride the hot flat stick against Lee and Champ this week in the opening round.
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