Golf on the PGA Tour is back and what a way to start with the Charles Schwab Challenge at the iconic Colonial Country Club.

With all of the top-five in the world rankings teeing it up this week, golf fans are in for a real treat at the first event back.

Lack of course experience could count against McIlroy

As mentioned, all of the top-five in the world are in action here and unsurprisingly the world number one, Rory McIlroy, is the 8/1 favourite. He hasn’t finished out of the top-five in his last seven events and has only finished out of the top-10 once since August’s BMW Championship.

He has done well after a break too, with a tie for third at Torrey Pines earlier this year coming after a nine-week lay-off. However, he has never played at the course before and that could be a negative. Debutants have a poor record and historically winners have already played the event eight times on average and it’s rare to see someone win their first PGA Tour event here.

The other market leaders

Some time-off should hold no fears for Jon Rahm (12/1) who was out of action for seven weeks before winning the DP World Tour Championship last season on the European Tour. He missed the cut here last year but was second on debut in 2017 and fifth the following year.

It’s hard to know what to expect from Brooks Koepka, but despite his recent poor form, he’s still one of the world’s best and is 28/1 to be the victor come Sunday evening. He was runner-up here two years ago and although he has a patchy record after a break, the time off might have been just wanted the 30-year-old needed.

Dustin Johnson, 28/1, is another whose challenge is hard to weigh up. It’s been very much feast or famine for the American with a number of top-10s dotted in with plenty of below-par outings since he won the WGC-Mexico Championship last season. He does, however, usually hit the ground running and could be a dangerous contender.

Thomas and Simpson favoured

Providing he gets to grips with Colonial quickly, which as we know isn’t the easy of tasks, world number four JUSTIN THOMAS looks sure to go well at 16/1. He has played well at new courses in France and Scotland before, though, so the fact this is a new track shouldn’t be too much of a concern. He won the Tournament Of Champions in January having not played since October, so he should be raring to go and could take plenty of beating as he seeks a second victory of the season.

The other competitor who looks worthy of support is ‘Mr Consistency’ WEBB SIMPSON. The 34-year-old has become one of the sport’s most reliable players and the fact he’s only won six times in his professional career is quite astonishing given how dependable he’s become. To give you some context, he’s only missed one cut since the beginning of 2019 and has only finished out of the top-20 six times. He’s 11/10 to repeat the feat here.

He has rarely struggled when returning from an extended time off with PGA Tour finishes of a tie for seventh and a solo-second coming after respective gaps of six and seven weeks. He has course form too with a best finish of a tie for third and is 22/1 for victory.

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