The PGA Tour has been on COVID-19 hiatus since The Players Championship was cancelled after one round in mid-March. A stack of postponements and cancellations followed; next week would have seen the staging of the US Open, which has been rescheduled to September.
But the world’s best golfers will be back on the links – and punters will be back in the game, with PGA betting odds returning – at the Charles Schwab Challenge in Texas this weekend.
PGA heavyweights Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas and Brooks Koepka are among the superstars on deck at the Charles Schwab Challenge; however, the great Tiger Woods will take at least another week off.
Australian Adam Scott, the world number six, had an impressive win at the Genesis Invitational in February, but is not due back on the tour until July. In the meantime, two more golf guns from Down Under, Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith, and former major winner Jason Day will be flying the Aussie flag.
Here’s how the PGA betting and PGA odds are shaping up ahead of the resumption.
Charles Schwab Challenge: 11–14 June
Also known as the Colonial National Invitation Tournament, the Charles Schwab Challenge is hosted by Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, and is one of the PGA Tour’s five invitational tournaments. It was first staged in 1946 and counts some of the greatest names in golf history among its previous winners, with Ben Hogan prevailing a record five times between 1946 and 1959. Kevin Na won the event in 2019.
Our tips for the Charles Schwab Challenge:
World number one Rory McIlroy is the pronounced favourite to take out the 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge according to PGA odds. The four-time major winner from Northern Ireland has finished in the top five of all six tour events he has entered this season, including a victory in the WGC-HSBC Champions in November. McIlroy has been the undisputed best player on the planet since the start of last year, and is the best equipped to find his groove quickly. The PGA Championship winner in 2012 and ’14, McIlroy is also miles in front in the PGA Championship odds market.
Jon Rahm only turned professional in 2016 but has been a force on the PGA circuit over the past couple of years, surging to second in the world rankings. The burly Spaniard will be eager to add to his three career PGA Tour wins – he last saluted at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in April last year. Two seconds and a third this season should have Rahm primed to hit the links running in Fort Worth.
Justin Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, was ranked number one in the world in January 2019 but has slipped to 14th. The English veteran was in a rut before the tour was suspended, missing the cut in three of his last four tournaments and finishing 56th in the other. Rose will be looking towards a visit to the Colonial Country Club – where he triumphed at this event in 2018 – to spark a form revival.
RBC Heritage Open: 18–21 June
Usually held in mid-April, a week after The Masters, the rescheduled RBC Heritage Open could draw a stronger field than usual to Harbour Town Golf Links in South Carolina. The Heritage began in 1969 with Arnold Palmer the inaugural winner, while fellow legends Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Bernhard Langer and Greg Norman claimed victory in the tournament’s first two decades. Taiwan’s unheralded Pan Cheng-tsung banked his maiden PGA Tour win at the 2019 RBC Heritage Open.
Bryson DeChambeau was one player who would have been frustrated by the tour’s coronavirus suspension. The 26-year-old powerhouse was in superb form before the shutdown, racking up top-five finishes in his last three tournaments. Although just 12th in the world rankings, DeChambeau is on the fourth line of PGA odds for this week’s Charles Schwab Challenge and shapes as a big chance for his sixth PGA tour win at the Heritage.
World number three Brooks Koepka has endured a season marred by injury and poor form, failing to make the top 40 in any of the five tournaments he’s played. But the 30-year-old has been one of the dominant golfers of recent seasons, winning the US Open in 2017 and 2018, and the PGA Championship in 2018 2019, while also tying for second at the US Masters and tying for fourth at The Open Championship in 2019. Koepka will be eager to rediscover his best touch ahead of the upcoming majors – he is on the second line of PGA betting in US Open and PGA Championship odds.
Tiger Woods’s crowd-pulling name will be missing from the Charles Schwab Challenge leaderboard, but he is tipped as a strong chance to return to action at the Heritage – a tournament he hasn’t played in 20 years. The G.O.A.T.’s incredible comeback triumph at the 2019 Masters Tournament is still fresh in our mind, and he produced some encouraging results earlier this season – including winning the Zozo Championship. A victory in the Champions for Charity event alongside Tom Brady, rolling arch rival Phil Mickelson and Peyton Manning, suggested Tiger is in good touch. Punters routinely scroll to Woods’ USPGA odds before any given tournament.
Travelers Championship: 25–28 June
First held in 1952, the Travelers Championship takes place at the TPC at River Highlands course in Connecticut. Bubba Watson won the Travelers Championship for the third time in 2018, while journeyman Chez Reavie was a surprise victor last year. Greg Norman (1995) and Marc Leishman (2012) are among just six non-American winners of the tournament.
Texas’s finest, Jordan Spieth, won this tournament in 2017, just a month before claiming his third major at The Open Championship. But he has been on the wane ever since, failing to bank a tournament win and slipping to 56th in the world rankings. A top-10 finish at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in February was encouraging but he was outside the top 50 in his last two tournaments before the season went on hiatus. Spieth is a rank outsider in USPGA betting at present but that latent ability can’t be too far away from resurfacing.
Queenslander Jason Day finished tied for eighth at the 2019 Travelers Championship during an up-and-down season. That unreliable form has carried into this PGA Tour season, where he came fourth at the Prebble Beach Pro-Am before missing the cut in his last two outings. The 2015 USPGA Championship winner is chasing his first tournament victory since 2018. He’s an underdog to keep an eye on in PGA odds, however.
Webb Simpson’s landmark achievement was winning the 2012 US Open – and he recently re-entered the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time since that triumph. After starting the season with four straight top-10 finishes (including a second and a third), the 34-year-old American won the Phoenix Open in February. He’s found a long-lost level of consistency – which is reflected in PGA betting odds.
Rocket Mortgage Classic: 2–5 July
The Rocket Mortgage Classic made its debut last season at the Detroit Golf Club as part of the Open Qualifying Series. Nate Lashley was the inaugural winner, finishing six strokes ahead of runner-up Doc Redman.
Expect to hear a lot more of Sungjae Im in the near future. Just 22, the South Korean prodigy won his first PGA Tour event at the Honda Classic in March and came third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational a week later. Consequently, Im heads the FedEx Cup standings – and his PGA odds are getting slashed with every tournament he plays.
World number four Justin Thomas already has two PGA Tour wins under his belt this season, taking out the CJ Cup in October and the Sentry Tournament of Champions in January. The 2017 PGA Championship winner has struggled for consistency at times, but six finishes inside the top six in nine tournament starts means he’s a threat any time he walks out on the course.
Another player on the rise, Tyrrell Hatton clinched his maiden PGA Tour win at the Arnold Palmer Invitational – the last completed tournament before the season was suspended. That momentous victory followed on from a couple of sixth places at the CJ Cup and WGC-Mexico Championship, prompting golf experts to hype up the Englishman and punters to jot down Hatton’s name in their USPGA betting tips.
Memorial Tournament: 16-19 July
Golf icon Jack Nicklaus established the Memorial Tournament in 1976, played at the Muirfield Village Golf Club course he designed. Nicklaus won the event twice, but Tiger Woods smashed ‘The Bear’s’ record by taking out the Memorial five times between 2000 and 2012. Bryson DeChambeau was the 2018 winner after a play-off, while Patrick Cantlay edged Adam Scott by two strokes to prevail at the 2019 Memorial Tournament.
World number five Dustin Johnson won the 2016 US Open and has been a runner-up at the other three majors – two of them in 2019. But the South Carolina native has been waiting 16 months to add to his 20 career PGA Tour titles. It’s been an underwhelming season so far – seventh place at the Sentry Tournament of Champions and 10th at the Genesis Invitational are Johnson’s only results of note – but it’s only a matter of time before he rebounds to top form and again provides punters with excellent PGA betting value.
Warrnambool-born Marc Leishman has been on the pro golf circuit since 2005, racking up five PGA Tour wins. Four of those have come since the start of 2017 – including a superb victory in the Farmers Insurance Open in January, finishing one stroke ahead of Jon Rahm. Leishman also finished second at the Arnold Palmer Invitational just before the shutdown. Punters have been driving the 36-year-old’s PGA odds down accordingly.
One of golf’s all-time greats, Phil Mickelson has won the Masters Tournament (three times), PGA Championship and The Open Championship, and has finished second in the US Open an eye-watering six times since turning pro in 1992. The 49-year-old – currently ranked 61st in the world – missed the cut in four of his last five tournaments, but a third-place finish at the Prebble Beach Pro-Am proved he is still capable of matching it with the young guns every now and then, even if it’s not reflected in his PGA betting odds. Seeing Tiger Woods out on the course will surely inspire ‘Lefty’.