By News Team
25th May 2021
Some might think it’s a bit of ‘after the Lord Mayor’s show’ this week given it’s the first tournament after a Major, but they’ll need to think again as a great field has been assembled for the Charles Schwab Challenge at another cracking course in Colonial.
We’ve cast an eye over the players we think are worth keeping close tabs on.
A win doesn’t feel far off for Kokrak
Recent form figures of 49, 21, 13, 49 don’t exactly scream that a player is swinging well, but if you dig a little deeper there is plenty to suggest that JASON KOKRAK (45/1) isn’t far off really challenging for a second PGA Tour title. Having enjoyed a pretty stellar late February and March, where he recorded three top 10s in a row, results have gone off the boil somewhat, although the stats suggest his results don’t merit the way he’s playing. He finished inside the top 50 at both the Masters and last week’s PGA Championship – both of which weren’t bad efforts considering the quality of the fields. Last week’s performance can be ranked up too given he fell away in the final round having been only six shots off the lead after round three.
He’ll take great heart from his first three rounds at Kiawah Island, where once again his putting was superb (ranked 21st in the field). His stellar play on the greens is no shock either as he ranks seventh on the PGA Tour for Strokes Gained: Putting this season and that’s a forte that usually translates well at Colonial. Daniel Berger ranked 12th in putting when winning last year, while other former winners Kevin Na (2nd in 2019), Kevin Kisner (6th in 2017), Jordan Spieth (2nd in 2016), Chris Kirk (3rd in 2015) and Zach Johnson (3rd in 2012) have all ranked highly in that stat.
Furthermore, Kokrak has history at this track as he finished a solo third in 2020, where a second round 70 probably cost him. He’ll be hoping to go a couple better 12 months later.
Woodland’s chances look Rosey
It’s pretty amazing to think that former world number one Rose hasn’t won an event since the 2019 Farmers Insurance Open considering the level of play we had become so accustomed to from the Englishman. However, it’s been a very barren spell for the former U.S. Open winner with only a handful of meaningful finishes since. Yet over the past couple of months, there have been signs that Rose might be getting back to somewhere near his best. He finished second at the Saudi International and then led at the Masters after two rounds before a poor weekend cost him. He missed the cut at the Valspar, but finished in a tie for eighth at the PGA Championship last week, ending with a Sunday 67.
He’ll take great confidence from that showing, while he’ll also be in high spirits at returning to a course that he won at in 2018, while he finished third here last year. One could argue the performance last year shows how much he’s suited to the test that Colonial presents given he came into the event on the back of consecutive missed cuts and then proceeded to miss three of his next four. In short, he thrives around here and could be a big player if building on last Sunday’s effort.
Likewise, Woodland seems to be slowly coming out of the doldrums. The American has battled a hip injury for a while now and his form suffered as a result with five missed cuts in eight events at the back end of 2020 and into 2021. There have, however, been signs that the 2019 U.S. Open winner is over the injury and the results and performances seem to be turning favourably too. He finished in a tie for sixth at the Valero Texas Open, then was right in contention at the Wells Fargo where he eventually just ran out of puff to finish fifth.
He showed that was no flash in the pan, though, when putting in three really solid rounds last week and having birdied two of the first three, Woodland looked in a really good spot to challenge the leaders. However, he dropped six shots in five holes around the turn which ruined his charge.
Despite the poor end, Woodland will surely take great heart from that and he could easily go better than the ninth place finish he managed last year.