It is never easy to follow an all-time great performance, a challenge Colonial Country Club hopes to be up to as the host venue for this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge. A tournament dating back 75 years, with each edition being played at Colonial, the event will be headlined by PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson, who last week became the oldest champion in major championship history.
We certainly recommend watching the 50-year-old, as he hopes to keep the momentum going before next month’s U.S. Open, but it may stand out that he is not in our power rankings for this week. Sometimes tells us that he might not be 100% focused this week.
If he does keep it going, however, he will be doing so against an above-average field in Fort Worth. Here are the 20 we like best this week:
15. Cameron Tringale
The 33-year-old had been in the midst of a career season heading into last week’s PGA Championship, and since November had posted seven finishes of T18 or better, including a T3 at the recent Valspar Championship.
Looking to contend in a major for the first time, he got off to an excellent start at Kiawah Island, opening with a 2-under 70 to sit T8 after one round.
Then, Tringale had an all-time cataclysmic stretch of play on Friday. Starting his second round on the back nine, he was 1-under through four holes. His next five holes then went: triple bogey, par, quintuple bogey (a 10 on a par 5), quadruple bogey, bogey.
Shockingly, he was able to play his back nine (the front nine) in a bogey-free 2-under, but the damage had been more than done, and he fell 95 spots on day 2 to miss the cut. We like him to bounce back from that nightmare at Colonial, a course that matches his recent game well.
14. Matt Wallace
The 31-year-old Brit clearly needs some more work before contending on the major championship stage, but in his last three non-majors, he has looked more than comfortable, with finishes of 3rd, T18 (with two 65s), and T6.
His excellent iron play in 2021 is a good sign that he will be able to keep that heater going, as he ranks 10th on Tour in strokes gained: approach-the-green and T14 in strokes gained: tee-to-green. Wallace did not rank nearly as well in either at Kiawah Island, although that was largely based on one exceptionally-poor round.
13. Billy Horschel
This has been a hit-or-miss season for Horschel, who had a T2 in February sandwiched between a T53 and a missed cut, and a victory sandwiched between a T58 and a T50. His season trajectory might have finally flatted out, though, as a T23 at last week’s PGA Championship was his third straight top 25 finish – a tremendous result given that he opened with a 77.
Horschel is driving and putting well, but is that enough to contend at Colonial? All 12 of his rounds here have been in the 68-72 range. Better things feel close.
12. Scottie Scheffler
It says a lot about the standard the 24-year-old University of Texas product has set that he finished T8 at last week’s PGA Championship, and was basically ignored by CBS the entire weekend. His inclusion on leaderboards has just become expected.
Scheffler has five top 10s in his last 11 starts, including a solo-second at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match-Play which was held at Austin Country Club, a stone’s throw from where he grew up in Dallas.
You know what else is close to Dallas? Colonial Country Club.
11. Justin Rose
Rose has not been as consistently great lately as he was several years ago, when he hit No. 1 in the world and won an Olympic gold, but he keeps getting himself high major finishes, as a final-round 5-under 67, despite a bogey and a double-bogey on his back-nine, meant a T8, his 11th top 10 in a major since his one victory, at the 2013 U.S. Open.
The 40-year old has at least one major top 10 in every season since 2014, and even in that season, he had a T12 and a T14.
The Charles Schwab Challenge is obviously not a major, and it should be noted that the Brit has not posted a top-10 in a non-major since last June. That start, however, was a T3 at Colonial, where he held the first-round lead by opening with a 7-under 63. He also won the 2018 edition of this event by three strokes over Brooks Koepka.
10. Tony Finau
There were many surprises at last week’s PGA Championship, and not just that it was won by a 50-year-old having a terrible season.
What was not surprising, however, was that Finau found a way to play well enough to snag another high finish, this time a T8 at the PGA Championship. His streak of high finishes since his lone 2016 Tour win in Puerto Rico defies all laws of probability.
Statistically, he has been great, with the Tour’s seventh-best scoring average, and ranks inside the top 37 in five of the six strokes gained: categories. As usual, he is not winning, but he is placing well and drawing large checks on a consistent basis. He’s the guy you bet to place or show.
One of the eight runner-ups he has posted over the past four seasons came at Colonial in 2019, when Kevin Na exploded past him on Sunday with an otherworldly 9-under 61.
9. Corey Conners
Two majors down in the 2021 PGA Tour season, and Conners was highly-relevant in both. He was T8 at The Masters, which he followed up by exploding out of the gates at Kiawah Island to grab the first-round lead at the PGA Championship.
While a T17 was mildly disappointing, he was ranked in the top 10 in the field in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation, two things he ranks in the top 10 for on the season. He ranks 4th on Tour in strokes gained: approach-the-green, which bodes well for his chances at Colonial, and he had 14 top 25s on the season.
The 29-year-old Canadian was solo-8th here in 2018, with a third-round 63.
8. Patrick Reed
At No. 8 in the OWGR, Reed arrives at Colonial as the third-highest ranked player in the field. He rebounded from a mediocre 74-75 start at last week’s PGA Championship with a 69-70 weekend that got him to even-par and a T17 result.
That makes four additional top 20s since he won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines, the site of next month’s U.S. Open, in January.
Reed does not post a lot of very-low rounds these days, but is just dead solid, makes few mistakes, and putts the lights out. He has improved his finish in his event each year he has played, with a solo-7th at last June’s edition. Only two of his 16 career rounds at Colonial have been over par.
7. Daniel Berger
Berger’s playoff victory at the first event post-COVID layoff event last year, was the start of a streak where the Florida State product had four top-3s in a six-start span. His results have been great in 2021 as well, with a win at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am among five top 10s in 15 season starts.
A Sunday 64 two weeks ago at the AT&T Bryon Nelson, which led to a T3 finish, gave him considerable momentum heading into the PGA Championship last week, but a horrific start: three bogeys and a double on his first four holes, resulted in a shocking 79. He did well to even make the cut, but again, he opened Saturday with two bogeys and a double, and from 13-17 on Sunday, he had three bogeys and a double.
Obviously, he needs to do a better job this week re-composing himself after a bad hole. He had very few of those last year at Colonial.
6. Sungjae Im
The 23-year-old South Korean got into the mix on Sunday at the PGA Championship, something he has already shown a penchant for in his young career, reaching 4-under with eight holes to go. Unfortunately, disaster struck for Im, as he hit approaches into the water on BOTH the 12th and 13th holes, both leading to double-bogeys that led to a T17 finish.
We do not expect that Sunday to be much of a setback for him; with the almost incomprehensible amount of golf he plays – last June’s Charles Schwab Challenge was 36(!) starts ago for him – we assume that he has a short memory. He would have to. Im was T10 here in his last attempt.
5. Justin Thomas
The world No. 2 is too good to fade this week, but he has just not looked right since winning THE PLAYERS Championship in March. He hit just ten fairways in his two rounds at Kiawah Island, both resulting in 3-over 75s, and he missed the cut by one stroke.
JT was in second place through 54 holes last year, just one back of Xander Schauffele, before a final-round 1-over 71 dropped him to T10. Thomas still ranks third in strokes gained: tee-to-green, and leads the Tour in scoring average.
Based on his history, he feels overdue for another high finish.
4. Collin Morikawa
The 24-year-old PGA prodigy gives the impression that absolutely nothing gets to him, but even he had to be unspeakably frustrated by losing last year’s Charles Schwab by missing a near-gimmie putt on the first playoff hole.
The world No. 5 was never in serious contention in his PGA Championship defense last week of his 2020 major breakthrough, but a Sunday 68 was enough for a T8, his second consecutive top 10 on Tour, and third top 20 since his late February win at the WGC-Workday Championship At The Concession.
A pristine iron player like himself cannot be ignored at this course.
3. Will Zalatoris
Just when we thought his run at The Masters had zapped his best competitive energy, Zalatoris was back on the first page of the leaderboard at the PGA Championship this past week, posting three rounds of even-par or better for a T8.
The most difficult part of that to get our head around is that it was actually his WORST result in his last three major starts, which comprised the second, third, and fourth starts of his major career. 17 made cuts in 19 starts, with 13 top 25s is almost unheard of for a 24-year-old in his first full-time season.
The Texas native is an elite shotmaker at a shotmaker’s course. This should be an excellent week for him.
2. Jordan Spieth
The 2016 Charles Schwab winner by three strokes and runner-up in 2017 has also posted results of T10, T8 the past two years, respectively, even in far from his best form. So yeah, he is pretty good at Colonial, which feels like the millionth event this season where he gets to be classified as “the local guy”.
Spieth was among the betting favorites at the PGA Championship last week, where he was gunning for the career grand slam, and he was a disappointment after three rounds of worse than par meant a T30.
It would probably be unreasonable to get too down on him for it, though; it was just his second result since January outside the top 15 (10 starts).
1. Abraham Ancer
Ancer got going just a little late at Kiawah Island, but when he did: wow. His final-round 7-under 65 was the low round for the week at the PGA Championship, catalyzing a T8 that marked his third straight top 10, and ninth straight finish of T26 or better.
He led the field in driving accuracy and had two rounds of 4.4 strokes gained or better tee-to-green. In addition, he opened with a 64 at Colonial last year, on his way to a T14.
The world No. 19 is playing as solidly as anyone at the moment, and while yes, you would like for him to have a victory on his resume if he is going to be ranked THIS high, we can only repeat what we have said about him: it’s coming soon.
Next Five: Joaquin Niemann, Kevin Streelman, Patton Kizzire, Joel Dahmen, Emiliano Grillo