Five angles at Hogan’s Alley: Preview of the Charles Schwab Challenge

The PGA Tour heads to Texas after the drama of last week’s victory for Phil Mickelson in the second Major Championship of the year.

With a history not only stretching back to 1946, but also forever linked with the great Ben Hogan, the annual visit to the tree-lined fairways of the Colonial Country Club in Forth Worth is always a popular one.

The track is affectionately referred to as 'Hogan's Alley', in memory of his five wins, and he is far from the only great to have enjoyed a triumphant week there.

Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Bill Casper, Lee Trevino, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw, Lanny Wadkins, Corey Pavin, Phil Mickelson, Nick Price, Sergio Garcia, Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth have all lifted the trophy - it's quite an honours board.

It's an intriguing test, one that can trip up the big-hitters and one that is sometimes vulnerable to low scoring - seven players have posted laps of 9-under-par 61.

Let's take a closer look at five players who can thrive this week.

The course specialist

You think maybe Jordan Spieth likes Colonial?! His record at the track is so good it's hard to know where to start.

Finishing position? He's visited eight times, never missed a cut, never been close to doing so, has landed seven top 15 finishes, with two seconds and a win in 2016.

Getting into contention? He's not only got those three top two finishes, he was also second after 54 holes in his last two visits and got off to swift starts in two other appearances.

Scoring? He averages 67.72 per round (against a par of 70) and 66.50 in the first round. He's 25-for-32 at going sub-70.

Putting? He's ranked first for Strokes Gained Putting in the last two years and he has also twice led the Putts per Round rankings.

His form isn't bad, either, with seven top 10 finishes in his last 10 starts, five of them top fours, including victory in the Texas Open.

He's the 10/1 favourite with Paddy Power (eight places) and for good reasons.

Jekyll and Hyde

Charley Hoffman at the weekend really does resemble the lead character(s) in Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

First things first, the Californian is in a great run of form, landing seven top 20s in his last nine starts.

He also loves playing golf in Texas, missing just one cut in his last 29 strokeplay starts there, 18 of them top 25s.

He's tended to be solid at Colonial and so, given that consistency in the Lone Star State, he looks a good fit for any Fantasy line-up.

But here's another potential play: The Hoff at the weekend.

In his last 10 tournament appearances he's made nine cuts (he went home early last year).

Through that period, in the third round he is 9-for-9 at going sub-70 and averages 67.00 - pure Henry Jekyll.

But on Sunday? Never broken par and averages 71.33 - absolute alter ego Edward Hyde.

Remember these numbers if he makes the weekend (and recent form suggests he will).

The fast starter

In truth, it's a little demeaning to paint Kevin Na as a pace-setter because in 13 appearances at the course he boasts eight top 25 finishes including tied fourth in 2018 and victory in 2019.

But it is also true that he doesn't climb from the blocks when the gun goes, but instead explodes from them.

As Linford Christie memorably learned: Don't wait for G of the bang, explode with B of the bang.

A Thursday 65 on Na's debut in 2005 earned him a share of fourth and was a hint that there was more to come.

A 63 in 2006 gave him a share of the first round lead, a 64 in 2015 repeated that effort, and his 62 in 2018 left him one clear of the field on Thursday evening.

But his ability to go low around this design has been rubber-stamped at other times during the tournament.

In all, he has 13 scores of 66 or better, with the standouts later in the week a second round 62 during his win in 2019 and a last round 61 the year before.

In fact, rather absurdly, in just six circuits from the start of the 2018 event he recorded two 62s and a 61!

The bad news is that he carded 78-79 last week at the PGA Championship, but a big long course is not really his thing.

It might be more instructive to recall that he registered 61-65 at the weekend to win the Sony Open in January.

Some will be put off by last week's scores, others will be pleased it has helped keep his price high.

You can get 66/1 with Unibet (six places) that he goes on B of the bang again.

The neat fit

Who do the stats like at Colonial?

The last four winners at the course ranked top five for Strokes Gained Approach, the last six winners ranked top seven for Strokes Gained Tee to Green, and four of the last five winners ranked top four for Greens in Regulation - Collin Morikawa ranks first in all three categories this season.

The last five winners also ranked top three on the Par-4s and Morikawa ranks sixth on Tour.

He backed up the notion that this is close to his perfect test when shooting 64-67-67-67 to finish second last year - and he really should have won, but for a couple of dodgy putts.

He finished tied seventh at both Waialae and Harbour Town this year (both, like Colonial, are shortish with tight, tree-lined fairways), and he was also tied seventh last week at the PGA Championship.

He's best price 14/1 to win with William Hill (eight places).

Local knowledge

For 44-year-old Ryan Palmer this week feels kind of familiar.

Why so? Well, he's a member at the club and lives round the corner.

He'll be making his 18th appearance in the tournament this week and, in truth, a total of four top 10s is probably a little lower than he might expect given his advantages, but there is better news: all four have come in the last nine years (and on another occasion he was T14th).

He's lost a bit of form in recent weeks, but that's helped inflate his top 10 odd to 11/2 with Boylesports.

READ MORE: How and why Phil Mickelson won the PGA Championship

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