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Charles Schwab Challenge picks

First Tee to Last Call: Throwing Fits & Clubs

by Conor Coughlin

It’s been a while since writing. If you haven’t been keeping up with our weekly YouTube show, “The 19th Hole,” you’ve missed out! We have been on fire lately!

If you have read any of my columns, you know that I am an avid golfer, so it will come as no surprise that this is my favorite time of year. Spring brings some of the most competitive golf to watch. It also ushers in the narrow window of the time that we in the upper midwest can get out and play golf ourselves.

I’ve played seven rounds so far this year. That may not sound like a lot, but we have yet to have a day above 75 degrees here. Three of my seven rounds were played in sub-60-degree weather with winds over 25 Miles Per Hour (MPH). Less than optimal conditions, I assure you.

I love to play, so I tolerate it, but it enhances my frustration with how I play from time to time. Despite golfing my entire life, I am not amazing at it. I hit some good shots, and I hit some bad shots. I drink my weight in beer and then hit the bar after the round. We often joke that we are the best scramble partners you could ask for, just good enough to win some pin prizes or second flights, but not good enough (nor serious enough) to win anything substantial.

That said, I chose to come into the season trying to take golf a bit more seriously and actually improve my game. The main change I decided to make is drastically reducing my consumption on the course. I have played four rounds stone-cold sober so far. Let me be the first to tell you it’s awful! The reason it’s awful is that everyone else is still drinking and blasting music and having a generally great time.

Nonetheless, I have committed to this pursuit. I don’t play golf blackout wasted ever; generally, a moderate buzz is the max. I am finding that being sober makes me a lot more irritable and way more focused.

Shaking off bad shots has become increasingly difficult. Not because I have some misconception of my talent level, but because I am just good enough to be dangerous. I know the proper way to hit a golf ball. I know how to shape shots (somewhat), what causes the mishits and what makes the good shots suitable.

Golf is a mental game, and when your mind is clear, it becomes an increasingly difficult sport. I have heard people say that, “golf is at least 50 percent mental.” It’s more like 75 percent mental if you are well-practiced at it. I’m finding myself overthinking things to mental exhaustion and frustration. After about a 20-year hiatus from throwing golf clubs, I am ashamed to admit that I have thrown a club on two separate occasions already. One of those occasions now requires a trip to the local golf outfitter to have my 8-iron reshafted.

I typically shoot in the mid-to-low 80s. On a scarce occasion, I will break 80. So far this season, those stats have held up, but I expected to be in just the low 80s and on track to shoot par or better by mid-summer. I am committed and focused on my goal as of this writing, but I’ll keep you posted on my progress in future columns.

Regardless, I can safely say that I have more fun rocking out and crushing beers than grinding out a round of golf like a Monday qualifier at a PGA event.

On to Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) golf, which I am slightly more successful at!

Onto the Green: The Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club Course Breakdown

Par 70
7,200 yards

This course, located in Fort Worth, Texas, requires accuracy because tree-lined fairways and bunkers are prevalent on most holes. In addition, the rough will play higher and more challenging this week, so this is not somewhere you want to be too wayward off the tee.

The greens are smaller than the tour average. But, in contrast to last week’s PGA Championship, the bunkers and run-offs are far easier to negotiate. Once you’re on the greens, they are far less undulating and pretty easy to navigate. Scoring will need to take place on the par fours.

Par threes are considerably stretched out, and the par fives are on the trickier side. The weather looks to be much calmer than in the last few tournaments. It will be in the 90s, so the course may dry out and play faster and tougher later in the day.

Key Stats

Strokes Gained (SG)-Approach
Strokes Gained off the Tee
Driving Accuracy
Par Threes over 200
Approach From 150-175 yards to Green
Par Four Scoring

Charles Schwab Challenge Picks

Viktor Hovland ($10,000)

I love Viktor Hovland. I especially love Hovland on a course where the scrambling and around-the-green game will play easier. Not to say that the stigma with Hovland’s short game holds up nowadays, but it’s still the part of his game that makes me nervous.

He is No. 1 in the field over the last 36 rounds for SG, and he is in the top 10 in almost every stat I used in my model this week. He rates out No. 1 overall for me. I am going to be heavily invested in Hovland this week.

Brian Harman ($7,800)

Brian Harman has done well for me each time I have played him, so I’m going back to well as one of my Charles Schwab Challenge picks. You have to be strategic when you use him. He’s not a long golfer, but he is accurate. I like to dial him up anytime that approach and par four scoring and accuracy are at a premium.

He’s No. 2 in par four scoring and No. 8 in driving accuracy in my model. That’s good enough for me at $7,800. I like shorter courses for Harman. His form has been excellent, and a top-10 finish is not out of the question.

Austin Smotherman ($6,300)

We were early to the party on Austin Smotherman, and I will keep banging the drum for him this week. He will be a name you start to hear more often with two top 25s in his last two starts and a three percent rostership on DraftKings the previous two tournaments. Smotherman is in the top 20 in almost every metric I looked at. The 2021 Simmons Bank Open champ scores points, and that is why we are here.

If there is one thing I am worried about, it’s his scrambling. Like Hovland, it’s somewhat mitigated here, and the rest of Smotherman’s game is tight. He’s trending in the right direction and at $6,300, I am happy to be early on him.

Other Golfers in My Pool

Scottie Scheffler ($11,200)
Justin Thomas ($11,000)
Will Zalatoris ($10,100)
Max Homa ($9,400)
Tom Hoge ($7,600)
Davis Riley ($8,400)

Dart Throws

Nick Taylor ($6,300)
Kurt Kitayama ($6,400)

“Last Call” Dart Throws of the Week

Chris Kirk ($7,900)
Daniel Berger ($9,000)

Cheers! Thanks for reading and considering my Charles Schwab Challenge picks. Good luck this week!

Conor Coughlin (@Cough_DFS)

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