Diane Knox Balas: Our Pickswise golf analyst with her Charles Schwab Challenge best bets and course insights

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Diane Knox Balas


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Diane Knox Balas loves golf (she’s Scottish, so of course she does) but let’s just say she’s much better at analyzing golf than playing! The same cannot be said for her brother, Russell Knox, who’s a 2-time winner on the PGA Tour and fueled Diane’s initial passion for the sport. A seasoned TV and radio host, Diane has given out 8 outright winners since joining the Pickswise team in April 2022. Her general rule is she has to have three stand-out reasons for each pick and spends her time studying stats, playing form and little nuggets of information from golfers’ lives on Tour. Diane lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Garrett, son Greyson and two English Bulldogs Bowser & Barkley. You can follow her antics on Twitter @KnoxyDiane and Instagram @dianeknoxbalas. For Diane Knox Balas media enquiries, please email contact@pickswise.com.

After a thrilling PGA Championship at Southern Hills that came right down to the wire in a 3-hole playoff before Justin Thomas took the Wanamaker trophy, we’re heading back to the Lone Star State for the Charles Schwab Challenge. And they don’t come more old school than this. Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth hosts the tournament for the 77th time, making it the longest-running non-major to be held at the same course. Not only that, last year’s champion, Jason Kokrak, walked away with a customized 1946 Schwab Power Wagon!

I spoke to Jason Kokrak last week before the PGA Championship got underway, and he said Southern Hills reminded him a lot of Colonial. In fact, Ryan Palmer, who’s a long-time member of the Fort Worth course, called Southern Hills “Colonial on steroids”! And it’s no surprise as they’re both Perry Maxwell designs.

Last year, it was a battle between Kokrak and Jordan Spieth, but two late bogeys ended the Texan’s quest for the title, and Jason secured his second PGA Tour win. But Spieth has a fantastic record around here, and 2021 marked his third runner-up finish. After finishing second at the other Dallas event, the AT&T Byron Nelson, just two weeks ago, will this be the week he crosses the finish line on home soil?

We have a pretty stellar field teeing it up, with World No. 1 Scheffler coming off a missed cut last week, and Justin Thomas fresh off his major victory. Collin Morikawa, Viktor Hovland and Will Zalatoris complete the favorites at the top of the board.

Colonial Country Club: What you need to know

Colonial CC measures in at 7,209 yards and is a par 70. Like last week, we’re really looking for shot-makers, guys who can really navigate their way around the many doglegs and cap it off with great accuracy on their approach. 

With Kokrak being the exception, length doesn’t seem to be too important around this tree-lined course and the premium is really on accuracy – look at past champions Kevin Na, Chris Kirk and Daniel Berger. A real positional player will fare will, and someone who’s dialed in with their mid-irons. Even Kokrak clubbed down on a lot of holes last year to map his way towards the win.

The greens are relatively small, so proximity to the hole will be important, as well as the ability to convert and make a lot of putts. Having said that, the winning score doesn’t seem too wild here, with Kokrak getting to -14, Berger in 2020 at -15 and Na in 2019 securing victory at -13.

Players must watch out for the “Horrible Horseshoe” – holes 3, 4 & 5. The 5th hole plays as the hardest hole on the course year after year, a 481-yard par-4 with a dogleg to the right.

Knox’s Knockout Charles Schwab Challenge picks

Will Zalatoris (+2200)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook at time of publishing.

I am constantly impressed by Will, his game and his attitude. After losing in the playoff to Justin Thomas, he said it just shows him how close he is. Two runner-up finishes in majors in the last 13 months shows that Zalatoris can, and will, contend a lot going forward. Plus, after missing the cut at the AT&T Byron Nelson a few weeks ago, this Dallas boy will be looking to perform this week in Fort Worth. His iron game is so precise, and he leads the Tour in approach this season. He’s putting better and, as long as he’s not too fatigued, he should be able to rollover his PGA play into this week. At 22/1, I’m taking him.

Tom Hoge (+7000)

Odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.

What a run Hoge is having. Coming off a T9 at the PGA last week, his season now boasts four Top-10 finishes, including a win at Pebble Beach and a runner-up at the Amex. Tom is 6th on the Tour in Strokes Gained: Approach and 19th tee-to-green. He also ranks in the Top-10 in scrambling. He fought off fierce competition from Spieth and Patrick Cantlay for his debut win and seems to have a brilliant attitude every week. I don’t see Hoge slowing down any time soon.

Patton Kizzire (+15000)

Odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.

After making the cut last week in the PGA, Patton was very vocal on social media about his disdain for Southern Hills, calling it an “overrated golf course” with a “pitiful setup”. Well, let’s hope he can shake that off because Colonial is a course he did very well on last year, finishing in a tie for 3rd. His putter was the hot club, as seems to be the norm for Kizzire. Tee-to-green, he gained over 9 strokes on the field, and over 6 strokes in approach. His stats don’t really show much with his current play, but after a hot start last week I think Kizzire could contend this week on a familiar course.

Charles Schwab Challenge Prop Bets

Jordan Spieth Top-5 Finish (+300)

Odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.

I’m not picking Jordan as an outright two weeks in a row; I just can’t! But he does have a killer record in this tournament at Colonial with three runner-up finishes and Top-10s in 2020 and 2019, and the benefit of being able to sleep in his own bed this week. I’d kick myself if I missed out, so I’ll take him to finish Top-5 at 3/1.

Davis Riley Top-5 Finish (+900)

Odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook at time of publishing.

Another Dallas resident who’s in form and has featured a lot in my picks of late. We keep seeing excellent putting from this rookie, who ranks 12th on Tour. Plus, when it comes to current form there are few that are performing as consistently – he’s had five Top-10s this season, including a playoff loss to Sam Burns at the Valspar and a T9 at the Byron Nelson just two weeks ago. Let’s go a few better in Fort Worth this week.

Pickswise is the home of free expert Golf Picks and Golf Predictions. Our PGA expert picks go live every Monday or Tuesday, so check out our latest golf picks, best bets, and analysis for this week’s PGA tournament now.

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