Each of the top five players in the Official World Golf Ranking will be in the field this week at the Charles Schwab Challenge. This is a landmark occurrence for the event: since the OWGR began in 1986, Colonial has never even had the top-two players in the field at the same time, let alone the entire top five.
The last player to successfully defend his title at Colonial was Ben Hogan, all the way back in 1953. That is the longest active drought of any event on the PGA Tour without a back-to-back winner. Kevin Na, who won by four strokes last year, will try to break the streak this week in Fort Worth.
Rory McIlroy will be making his debut at Colonial this week. Four times since the beginning of 2019, McIlroy has played in a particular PGA Tour event for the first time. In those four starts, he’s finished in the top-five each time, including a win last year at the RBC Canadian Open.
The world number one, Rory was playing exceptional golf when play was suspended in March. In 14 starts since the 2019 Open Championship ended, McIlroy has finished in the top-five ten times and has a scoring average of 68.27. Since the beginning of last season, Rory leads the PGA Tour in strokes gained total, tee-to-green and off-the-tee.
Jon Rahm will make his fourth career start at Colonial – last year he missed the cut after finishing in the top-five in both 2017 and 2018. Rahm has made 45 birdies at Colonial over the previous three years, sixth-most of any player, and most of anyone with fewer than 12 rounds in that span.
Last season, Colonial Country Club yielded just 2.89 birdies per round to the field. The last time Colonial had a lower average for the week was all the way back in 2002. It was also the third-lowest average of any course on the Tour in 2018-19.
Putting has proven to be a bit more important for winners at Colonial than at other PGA Tour courses. Over the last 15 years, the average strokes gained putting rank for the champion at Colonial has been 10.6. Everywhere else on the PGA Tour in that span, the average is 13.5. Na was second in the field in SG putting in his victory there one year ago.
Could this be the venue where Jordan Spiethrediscovers his elite form? Since making his debut here in 2013, Spieth leads all players in this event in score to par, birdie average, one-putts and strokes gained tee-to-green. Jordan won this event in 2016 and has finished runner-up twice.
Justin Thomas will also be making his first career start in Fort Worth. JT ranks second on the PGA Tour since the beginning of last season in strokes gained tee-to-green per round. Only McIlroy has a better number in that span.
Collin Morikawa will look to keep one of the more remarkable streaks in the game today alive this week in Texas. Morikawa has played 21 straight PGA Tour events without missing a cut – 20 in a row since turning professional. The last player with a longer such streak to begin his PGA Tour career was Tiger Woods, who made his first 25 cuts as a pro in 1996-97.