The PGA Tour will resume play this week when Colonial Country Club plays host to some of the world’s best golfers for the 75th edition of the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Headlining the annual stop in Fort Worth, Texas will be local favorite Jordan Spieth, the 2016 tournament winner, and newly minted PGA Champion Phil Mickelson.
Mickelson and Spieth will be joined by top-20 ranked stars such as Justin Thomas, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, Daniel Berger, and Billy Horschel.
Known as a shotmaker’s golf course dating back to its opening in 1936, Colonial – the former home to Ben Hogan, more often than not, serves up a winner who is able to creatively craft shots as opposed to long bombers – hence the nickname “Hogan’s Alley.” Think players like former recent champions Daniel Berger (2020), Kevin Na (2019), Justin Rose (2018), Kevin Kisner (2017), and Spieth (2016).
Here are some more details to get ready for this week’s PGA Tour stop in Texas.
The Charles Schwab Challenge Skinny
Name: Charles Schwab Challenge
Dates: May 27-30, 2021
Where: Fort Worth, Texas
Course: Colonial Country Club
Distance: Par 70, 7209 yards
Architect: John Bredemus/Perry Maxwell (1936)
Format: 72-holes, stroke play, 36-hole cut
Winning Share: $1,350,000
Defending Champion: Daniel Berger
How to Follow the Charles Schwab Challenge
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The Charles Schwab Challenge History
Colonial Country Club is permanently tied to this event, but interestingly enough, the course got its professional start as the 1941 U.S. Open venue. The course showed its teeth right away, as the U.S. Open field was outright beat down. The winner of the tournament, Craig Wood, finished at +4. The tournament was so difficult that those at +15 finished in a tie for 10th.
At just over 7,200 yards, Colonial was considered lengthy at the time. Today, it plays as one of the shorter tracks on tour.
In the 1946 inaugural event, known initially by the name of the Colonial National Invitation, Ben Hogan stepped right up and claimed the first title, and then repeated again the next year. He scored five victories overall in this event, including the only back-to-back victories (1952-53). As a result of that success, Colonial is often referred to as “Hogan’s Alley.”
In addition to Hogan, event winners have included legends such as Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Lee Trevino, Ben Crenshaw, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Phil Mickelson, and Jordan Spieth.
Nobody has won more than twice, with the exception of Hogan’s five. Ten players own a pair of titles, with Zach Johnson (2010, 2012) accomplishing it most recently.
As an “invitational,” the Fort Worth event has a more exclusive field than most tournaments (121 golfers this year), and is given more freedom with its invites. The tournament famously has a “Champion’s Choice” invitation, where the previous year’s champion gets to grant two spots to players of their choice who otherwise did not qualify.
A Champion’s Choice has won on just a single occasion, when Dave Stockton took the 1967 title, finishing as the only man in the field under par (-2).
History: Title Sponsors
- Charles Schwab Challenge (2019-Pres)
- Fort Worth Invitational (2018)
- Dean & DeLuca Invitational (2016-17)
- Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial (2007-15)
- Bank of America Colonial (2003-06)
- MasterCard Colonial (1996-02)
- Colonial National Invitation (1995)
- Southwestern Bell Colonial (1989-94)
- Colonial National Invitation (1946-88)
History: Recent Winners
2020: Daniel Berger (-15)
2019: Kevin Na (-13)
2018: Justin Rose (-20)
2017: Kevin Kisner (-10)
2016: Jordan Spieth (-17)
2015: Chris Kirk (-12)
2014: Adam Scott (-9)
2013: Boo Weekley (-14)
2012: Zach Johnson (-12)
2011: David Toms (-15)
259 (-21) – Zach Johnson (2010)
5 – Ben Hogan (1946-47, 1952-53, 1959)
2 – Zach Johnson (2010, 2012)
2 – Phil Mickelson (2000, 2008)
2 – Nick Price (1994, 2002)
2 – Corey Pavin (1985, 1996)
2 – Bruce Lietzke (1980, 1992)
2 – Ben Crenshaw (1977, 1990)
2 – Lee Trevino (1976, 1978)
2 – Billy Casper (1964, 1968)
2 – Julius Boros (1960, 1963)
History: Colonial Country Club
Colonial Country Club was started 85 years ago in 1936 by Marvin Leonard, who had a keen interest in bringing bentgrass greens to his hometown of Fort Worth. When his initial plans to install bentgrass greens at an already existing Fort Worth golf club failed, Leonard came up with his vision for Colonial Golf Club. His vision became a reality in January 1936 when the club opened with approximately 100 members.
The golf course at Colonial Country Club was designed by John Bredemus of Texas and Perry Maxwell of Oklahoma. The par-70 course, currently at 7,209 yards, is bordered on the northern edge by the Trinity River (Clear Fork) with the rest of the course surrounded by the neighboring residential area.
The course length in 1941 was 7,035 yards, considerably long for the era.
In the late 1930s, Leonard began talks with the United States Golf Association (USGA) to conduct the U.S. Open at Colonial. After guaranteeing the USGA $25,000, Colonial was granted the rights to the 1941 edition, won by Craig Wood, the winner of that year’s Masters.
In 1942, Leonard decided to sell the club to the members of Colonial. His first attempt to sell to the members was rejected, but he eventually sold the club to the members on December 31, 1942, when it took its current name, Colonial Country Club.
In addition to the annual PGA Tour event, the course has hosted three major or significant professional golf events: the 1941 U.S. Open, the 1975 Tournament Players Championship (won by Al Geiberger), and the 1991 U.S. Women’s Open (won by Meg Mallon).
Look Back: 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge
Daniel Berger followed an opening round 5-under 65 with two rounds of 67 to reach 11-under going into Sunday’s finale, which left him in a tie for 7th place – just two strokes back of four-time Tour winner Xander Schauffele.
Berger stayed near the lead all day, playing his first eight holes in 3-under and making the turn at 2-under. While many on the leaderboard experienced roller coaster back-nines, Berger played the back bogey-free, and grabbed the tournament co-lead (with Schauffele and Morikawa), and solo-clubhouse lead, at 15-under by sinking a clutch 10-foot putt on the final hole of regulation.
Morikawa could have eliminated Berger in regulation, but was unable to convert a 7-foot birdie putt on No. 18, and so the two finished 72 holes deadlocked.
Schauffele, meanwhile, became unconscious with his putter briefly on the back nine, nailing lengthy putts on Nos. 14, 15, and 16, but as it often goes in this unforgiving game, his three-footer for par on No. 17 lipped out to drop him one stroke off the lead. He was then unable to finagle the birdie he needed on the 18th, and had to settle for a solo third-place finish.
The Berger-Morikawa playoff lasted just a single hole. Going back to No. 17, Berger carded a par, and with Morikawa standing over a three-foot par attempt of his own, a second playoff hole looked inevitable. However, just as Schauffele had done a short time ago, Morikawa’s gimme putt lipped out, ending the tournament with Berger as the champion.
It was the third victory of Berger’s career. Coincidentally, all three victories came during the second week of June, with the first two coming in back-to-back years at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis.
Final Top-5 Finishers
Pos-Name-To Par (Final Rd)
1. Daniel Berger -15 (-4)
2. Collin Morikawa -15 (-3)
3. Xander Schauffele -14 (-1)
3. Jason Kokrak -14 (-6)
3. Justin Rose -14 (-4)
3. Bryson DeChambeau -14 (-4)
The Charles Schwab Challenge Field
As the first event following the PGA Championship, the field is not exactly top notch. But it does include a few marquee players who will enter with something to prove, namely Justin Thomas who once again flamed out in a major.
Thomas, the field’s top-ranked player at world No. 2, needs to start showing up in majors, and as one of only two starts he’ll make before next month’s U.S. Open, he needs to put in four good rounds this week.
World No. 6 Collin Morikawa enters in pretty good form, off a top-10 at the PGA, and before that a top-10 at Hilton Head. Same with Patrick Reed who finished with a top-20 at the PGA, which followed a T6 (Wells Fargo) and T8 (Masters).
Like Thomas, defending champion Daniel Berger will be looking to rebound after a T75 finish at the PGA.
Another player looking for a bounce back will be world No. 21 Lee Westwood, who collapsed over the weekend at Kiawah Island, shooting rounds of 75 and 77 to fall to T71.
Home favorite Jordan Spieth enters in good form, despite a slip on Sunday with a 74 which dropped him from the top-10 to T30.
All eyes will be on Phil Mickelson, though, as he enters Colonial off an historic win at the PGA Championship. The now world No. 32 is now fully exempt for this season and five full seasons thereafter, taking him through the 2025-26 season, when Phil will be 56 years old.
Full field coming…
Carey Hoffman contributed to this preview/post. | Credits: PGA Tour Media, Getty Images