Sunday golf returns with the final round of the Charles Schwab Challenge and in-play expert Martin Matthews has dig out a two-ball selection.
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
While world events have of course meant that live sport has been far from most of our minds of late, for those of us who love our golf it’s been a long three months without any meaningful action.
This week, however, the PGA Tour has roared back to life with a vengeance and The Charles Schwab Challenge, which had promised much based on the stellar field in town, has certainly delivered.
Concerns about a lack of atmosphere through the absence of fans have faded in to the background and we have been treated so far to 54 holes of top notch action at a ‘getable’ Colonial CC, which has offered up softish greens and a distinct lack of the wind you come to expect in Texas.
At the start of the week with so many ‘out of the norm’ factors in play anyone trying to predict the outcome of the event, including yours truly, was taking a huge leap in to the unknown. In the end though the solution has been pretty much as you would expect in any week when you have a field that wouldn’t look out of place in a major – the cream by and large has risen to the top.
To this end we have a stacked leaderboard, which is headed up by major champion in waiting Xander Schauffele on -13, who holds a one shot lead over five players, including three former Major Champions, Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Gary Woodland. Making up this group we then have Branden Grace and Collin Morikawa, while a further shot back on -11 is the pair of Daniel Berger and Harold Varner III.
Looking at Schauffele firstly and while he is a four time winner already on the PGA Tour all of these victories have come from off the pace and on the three occasions he has either held the outright or co 54 hole lead to date, at this years Sentry ToC, last year’s Tour Championship and the 2018 Open Championship, he has failed to convert.
Still a young man At 26yrs old it is only a matter of time before Schauffele delivers from the front on a Sunday and today may quite possibly be the day he does so, however at a generally available 7/2 I am not rushing to back him with so much quality lurking behind.
Of those on -12 Schauffele’s nemesis at Kapalua in January Justin Thomas is looking to be the first debutant to win at Colonial since Sergio Garcia in 2001 and it would be a brave man who would rule this serial winner out from finding a way to add another trophy to his cabinet.
It is worth noting though that in contrast to the leader who has been at his strongest off the tee through the week, Thomas only ranks 48th in this department hitting just 18 of 42 fairways to date, and if he is to win you would think he needs to improve in this area on a day when the wind is expected to freshen slightly.
With regards to Spieth much was made of the Texan’s stellar record at this event prior to the off and it was enough to lead both Ben Coley and myself to chance him for the week in our pre-tournament previews and when he stiffed another iron shot at the ninth yesterday for a tap in birdie things were starting to look seriously good.
On the back nine however, which had served him so well earlier on Thursday and Friday, things started to unravel and a horror bogey when faced with a wedge from 81yds out in the fairway on 15 was a prelude to a very jittery finish. On this course the 26yr old can never be ruled out and it may just be that playing in the third last group takes a bit of the pressure off, however to post his first win since Birkdale in 2017 he will need to call on all his renowned mental strength and the hot putter, which sees him leading the field in that category this week.
In all honesty picking the winner here is minefield, Woodland had been rounding in to form nicely before the break, Morikawa is peppering pins for fun as usual and like Thomas looking to win on his debut here, Grace has had a taste of victory again this year and of course a win for 36 hole leader Harold Varner III would be hugely popular. Berger meanwhile has just posted his 27th consecutive round of par or better on tour and I haven’t even mentioned the host of players on -10, which include world number one Rory McIlroy, former Masters Champion Patrick Reed and the ‘beefed up’ Bryson Dechambeau.
From that point of view I will ignore the outright market and instead turn my attention to todays two balls in the hunt for value and inparticular the one teeing off at 1820 BST featuring COREY CONNERS and Justin Rose.
Former world number one Rose is entitled to be favourite based on his pedigree and his previous win here, however 2019/20 had been a season to forget for the Englishman prior to the break and his opening day 63 was built very much on the hot putter.
Since then it has been a very mixed bag from Rose, only improving on his day one score by three shots and his long game deserted him somewhat on Saturday.
In contrast Conners, who was eighth here a couple of years ago and bagged his maiden tour title in Texas last year, has been a model of consistency all week and he has outscored Rose for the past two days.
Seventeenth on tour in final round scoring averages the Canadian is clearly comfortable on tour on Sundays while Rose who languishes 220th in this category this season is obviously struggling with his confidence at the business end.
Rose has enough class of course that he could find something today and even go on to lift the trophy, however despite Thursday’s start his game is clearly not where he would want it to be and at decent odds against I am happy to make Conners my recommendation today.
Posted at 0908 BST on 14/06/20
We are committed in our support of responsible gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.