This week’s Charles Schwab challenge has turned into a scale model for 2022: Scotty Schaeffler is up front, and everyone else is following him. Schaeffler will claim his fifth win of the year on Sunday at the Colonial Country Club after firing two goals under 68 on Saturday giving him a one-stroke lead over Brendon Todd and Scott Stallings.
This does not seem to be the case for most of the day. Scheffler got off to a lukewarm start with 8- and 6-foot parallel strokes on the first two holes, shooting a par 35 in front before rolling onto his back. He chased after the first two on this side and closed in with another at the end to secure himself a place in the final duo on Sunday afternoon.
While that’s not unusual for Schaeffler this season, it is he is A different experience than what he has traditionally experienced on this golf course. Colonial isn’t necessarily tailor-made for the reigning Masters champion – he failed to finish in the top 50 out of two starting groups here – but his lead is no accident. Schaeffler leads the field from a tee to the green, and while he’s been putting it down well so far, he hasn’t been a heater the whole time through the first three rounds. In other words, that lead is sustainable on Sunday given the gap between Scheffler and a fairly average chase package, as well as how good he is to hit a golf ball.
Let’s take a better look at what’s at stake Sunday with Schaeffler in Fort Worth as he tries to continue what until now has been an entirely dream season.
1. Scotty Scheffler (-11): Schaeffler was out of the conversation for two brief days at Southern Hills a week ago when he missed the PGA Championship, but other than that point, he’s in full possession of the season. His last two months were almost comedic. It followed a victory at the Phoenix Open with T7 at the Genesis Invitational and another victory at the Arnold Palmer Invitational. He finished the T55 in The Players before two more wins in the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play, and of course in the Masters. AT&T Byron Nelson’s T15 felt like a complete failure, which should tell you what level he was playing at. Take another win on Sunday, and suddenly a professional heater has turned into one of the great seasons of the past four decades.
Additionally, if he takes the top prize of $1.5 million, it will be the second richest season in PGA Tour history after only Jordan Spieth’s 2014-15 season in which he took in just over $12 million. It should also be noted that there are still three months to go in the season.
The other competitors
T2. Scott Stallings, Brendon Todd (-9)
4 – Harold Varner III (-8)
T5. John Huh, Cam Davis, Chris Kirk, Patrick Reed (-7)
Like I said, the stalking group is not elite. Any of these guys are capable of winning the PGA Tour, of course, but none of them will put much fear in Scheffler. Todd actually shot Saturday’s round with two strokes on the rest of the field, and took all the damage he did to the course’s lead nine. If anything, it proved that there were a number players could shoot, but the odds of a golfer at the top of the board doing it while catching a Scheffler also aren’t high. Data Golf gives Schaeffler a 55% chance of winning this tournament.
Mito Pereira was a tragic figure last week. He doubled the last hole in the PGA Championship when a tie-breaker could have won it and was a ghost to carry him into a playoff. Pereira handled everything well In the aftermath, though, which has earned him plenty of fans going forward, they now have a chance to pull in their man on Sunday. Pereira is five men behind at Schaeffler, but he will try to do to the leaderboard what Justin Thomas did to him a week ago: come back from behind and score a victory.
Updated odds and options
Here’s a look at the new possibilities after 54 holes, via Caesars Sportsbook.
- Scotty Scheffler: -140
- Brendon Todd: 7-1
- Scott Stallings: 9-1
- Harold Varner III: 10-1
- Patrick Reed: 22-1
- Chris Kirk: 22-1
- Cam Davis: 35-1
It’s hard to know what to do with this. Schaeffler’s number isn’t great, but I’m absolutely convinced he’s going to win the championship and I don’t really trust the guys behind him unless you double their numbers. I assumed I’d take a ride on Reed or Kirk at 22-1 or Cam Davis at 35-1 and see if they play like last Sunday (it won’t, but that’s likely to be the play here).
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