After a hiatus of many months, and after a number of smaller warm up events around the world, the PGA Tour will get back underway this coming weekend with a stellar field of stars expected to the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth Texas to compete in the Charles Schwab Challenge.

While Tiger Woods may be giving the event a miss, a number of top stars will be in attendance for the event, which will have a much stronger field than usual given the dearth of competitive events of late. Indeed, to celebrate the return the PGA Tour have taken the unusual step of grouping the world’s top three ranked golfers, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka together in one group in what should be an incredible three-ball showdown.

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Let’s now take a closer look at the tournament coming up at the weekend, which will be unusual given that no spectators will be admitted to the course to watch many of the world’s finest golfers in action.

Charles Schwab Challenge – Tournament History

This tournament has been called the Colonial National Invitational for many years and has been renamed due to sponsorship of the event. It was first contested back in 1946 and is one of just five invitational tournaments on the PGA Tour each season.

Zach Johnson holds the record score at the tournament when winning in 2010 by a score of -21, while Kevin Na is the current champion of the tournament having won in 2019.

American golfers have an excellent record in the event with most recent winners including Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner, Chris Kirk, Boo Weekley, Zach Johnson, David Toms, Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson. Many players have won the tournament twice, including Mickelson, Zach Johnson, Lee Trevino, Billy Casper, Ben Crenshaw, Bruce Lietzke, Corey Pavin and Nick Price but only one player has managed more wins than that, Ben Hogan with five.

Only two players from outside the United States have won the event in the last 13 years, Justin Rose in 2018, and Adam Scott in 2014.

Although previous tournaments have seen just 120 players invited, this year’s event has been expanded to 144 competitors.

Colonial Country Club Course Overview

The Colonial Country Club was first founded in 1936 and five years later hosted the US Open Championship. Five years after that, the first Memorial Invitational was played on the course and it has been home to that event ever since, apart from in 1975 when it hosted the PGA Tournament Players Championship instead. It has also hosted the 1991 US Women’s Open.

A par 70 course, it gets off to a tough start as after the two opening holes, players hit “Horrible Horseshoe” the third, fourth and fifth holes, the latter of which is consistently voted as one of the most difficult holes to play on the PGA Tour each year. A 481-yard par four. However there are opportunities for players to strike back later in the round.

Currently, seven PGA stars, including last year’s winner Kevin Na hold the course record at 61.

A Star-Studded Field for the 2020 Tournament

Although always a popular event, the field for the 2020 tournament is incredibly strong as almost every top player in the world seeks to get back into some meaningful action ahead of the resumption of the season. Indeed, of the top stars in the world, perhaps only Tiger Woods is the only big absentee from the event.

To showcase the return of golf the tournament organisers have paired up a number of top players together for the opening rounds. The top three in the world, Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Brooks Koepka will make up one pairing, with Rickie Fowler, Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth in another very strong group, as is Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson and Justin Rose.

Phil Mickelson and Kevin Na will team up with the current US Open Champion Gary Woodland in another outstanding trio. Other players expected to start include Webb Simpson, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Reed, SungJae Im, Matt Kuchar, Matt FitzPatrick, Jason Day, Louis Oosthuizen, Sergio Garcia, Bubba Watson and Ian Poulter.

Who are Our Picks to Shine at the Charles Schwab Challenge?

With no form to base the predictions on, it is going to be even tougher than usual to pick a winner inthis event and as such, I am not really going to try. Instead, I would strongly suggest that punters use the each way market to place their bets with bet365, as the company is paying out on the top six finishers and equal in this event and that does give you a far better chance of landing a return than picking a single golfer to win.

The first of my three picks I am going to back is Justin Thomas (16/1). Of all the American players in this tournament, he is the one that was in the best form most recently and he has looked sharp in the warmup to the event.

The second is Rickie Fowler (35/1), with whom Thomas will be playing with in the first two rounds of this event. Fowler has never really performed at his best in this Texas event, despite enjoying plenty of popular support, but his game has been improving after reaching a low in 2019 and I think he could be in with a chance of doing well here.

If I was to pick a golfer to win, I’d have to look at natural talent and for me that means Rory McIlroy is a sensible pick even as the favourite to win the tournament at 8/1. The Irishman has looked good in a number of warm up events and was in great form before the break.