Picks and tips: Morikawa out for revenge

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With another major in the rear-view mirror, it's time to turn our attention (once again) to the Lone Star State.

The PGA Tour returns to Texas this week for the Charles Schwab Challenge, where venerable Colonial Country Club plays host to a 121-man field. It's headlined by Jordan Spieth, a winner here in 2016 and twice a runner-up who notched a drought-breaking victory last month across the state in April and has three straight top-10 finishes in Texas. But also in the mix are the likes of Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa, not to mention defending champ Daniel Berger and newly-minted PGA champ Phil Mickelson.

The field isn't quite as star-studded as it was a year ago, when Fort Worth was the site of the Tour's return to competition after a three-month hiatus, but there are still plenty of viable options with 13 players coming in at +3000 or lower at PointsBet Sportsbook. One of those favorites headlines this week's selections, and he's got a bit of revenge on his mind:

To Win (odds via PointsBet)

Collin Morikawa (+1400): Last year Morikawa watched the trophy slip off his putter blade, lipping out a putt during a playoff to lose to Daniel Berger. This week he returns off a more than respectable T-8 showing in defense of his PGA title, his second straight top-10 as an individual and third straight finish of T-18 or better dating back to the Masters. Morikawa won earlier this year at The Concession thanks to his elite iron game, and that could be the key to another win this week.

Two of the last three years the winner at Colonial has led the field in SG: Approach, and that's the case for five of the last 11 champions. Last year, Morikawa was third in the category and nearly won. This season he's the best ball-striker on Tour, leading in both SG: Approach and SG: Tee-to-Green. In fact, using the new Edge Driver tools we can see that Morikawa is head and shoulders above the field tee-to-green: over the last 40 rounds, the SG gap separating him and second-place Spieth is the same gap separating Spieth from Sergio Garcia in ninth place.

Morikawa will be able to lean on the strength of his game and he'll have a score to settle with one of the Tour's most iconic layouts. I know Spieth is red-hot in Fort Worth, but I think Morikawa deserves to be the favorite this week.

Charley Hoffman (+4000): Don't look now, but the veteran is back from the abyss. Hoffman was outside the top 150 in the world rankings as recently as February but has since flipped the switch, finishing T-18 or better in each of his last four starts and six of his last eight. That run includes a runner-up finish at Valero, and Hoffman's stat line is bearing evidence to the turnaround: he now ranks ninth on Tour this season in SG: Approach, 15th in SG: Tee-to-Green and 16th in SG: Total.

Last year's post-pandemic edition was the first time in 12 Colonial appearances that Hoffman missed the cut. Prior to that, he had cracked the top 25 in three of his last five appearances including a T-13 finish in 2019 that featured a third-round 63. Hoffman's current form might even eclipse his game from 2017, a career year that included a Presidents Cup appearance, and at age 44 he may still factor for a fifth career victory - especially since 50 is the new 40 these days on Tour.

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Kevin Na (+6000): This is a feast-or-famine pick on a player who has this event circled every year. Na cruised to a victory at Colonial in 2019 and has finished inside the top 10 here three of the last four years. He's not exactly the most consistent player on Tour but did get a win earlier this year at Waialae, another course that emphasizes accuracy and shot-making over distance.

Na trails only Gary Woodland in terms of SG: Approach specifically at Colonial since 2014, and he's sixth in SG: Total at this venue across that span. Na's season-long ball-striking stats don't come close to those figures, but he does find a ton of fairways (23rd in driving accuracy). That will be of increased importance this week, and this is clearly a place where he feels comfortable and a course that can bring out the best in his game. With top-12 finishes this year at the Masters and WGC-Workday to go along with the Sony win, there's considerable upside.

Top Finishes (odds via PointsBet)

Ryan Palmer (+450 top-10): Palmer saw one of the Tour's longest active made cut streaks come to an end last week at Kiawah, but there's no better place for him to try to get back in the saddle. He's a longtime member at Colonial, as is his caddie, James Edmonson. The two have paired for some strong showings on their home track, with four top-10 finishes at this event since 2012. Palmer's play sometimes gets discounted because of his relative lack of wins (last as an individual came back in 2010). But a top-10 finish is certainly in the cards, especially since eight of his 14 starts prior to the PGA ended with finishes of T-17 or better. No one knows this course better than Palmer, and his early exit on the Ocean Course may have baked in some extra value on getting him into the mix once again this weekend.

Chris Kirk (+450 top-10): Kirk won this event back in 2015, and it remains his most recent Tour victory. After enduring some off-course hardships he got back into the winner's circle last summer on the Korn Ferry Tour and has played some stellar golf this year on the big tour, with four top-10 finishes over his last 11 starts. Kirk has been stellar at Colonial, never missing the cut in 10 prior starts and finishing inside the top 15 in two of four appearances since his victory. He boasts some solid stats this season, ranking 26th on Tour in SG: Tee-to-Green, and clearly feels comfortable around the Horrible Horseshoe. Kirk should be able to keep it in play off the tee and find plenty of greens, and he has shown this year that when his game is clicking he's often not very far from the lead coming down the stretch.

Brandt Snedeker (+300 top-20): I'm going back to the well with Snedeker, who continues to show some resurgent form and now heads to a course where he has never missed the cut in nine appearances and was a runner-up back in 2015. Snedeker had missed six of eight cuts before a T-6 finish across the state at the Valero, but that has now sparked the veteran to a run of three top-20 results in his last four starts including another Lone Star appearance two weeks ago across town at the Nelson. Snedeker can run both hot and cold but he seemingly has momentum on his side at the moment, and Colonial is the type of layout that should mitigate his lack of distance off the tee and allow his accuracy and short game to shine.

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