Power Rankings: 2020 Charles Schwab Challenge
Golf Channel’s free-to-play game is back for another year, and the 2020 season has officially resumed.
Located in the NBC Sports Predictor app, Golf Pick ‘Em gives fans a chance to win cash and prizes by predicting how some of the top PGA Tour stars will fare against each other on a weekly basis. The focus will be on choosing between a series of seven head-to-head matchups as well as selecting an overall tournament champion and winning score.
Players can compete for weekly cash prizes, with a $50,000 jackpot available each week for any players who earn a perfect score. But there will also be at least $1,000 awarded each week in cash and prizes, even if there is no player with a perfect score. So be sure to download the NBC Sports Predictor app and make your free selections each week!
The contests resume this week with the Charles Schwab Challenge and will continue through the Masters in November. Here’s a look at some of the players to keep an eye on when making your Pick ‘Em selections as the Tour returns from a three-month hiatus with a loaded field in Fort Worth:
1. Jon Rahm: While Rahm missed the cut at Colonial last year, his first two trips were nothing short of stellar: a runner-up in 2017 when he lost by a shot and a T-5 finish the following year. The Spaniard has been red-hot since last year’s U.S. Open, finishing outside the top 15 just twice in 18 starts while winning three times. While there are no sure things post-quarantine, he’s got the right combination of form, ability and course history to top the list.
2. Rory McIlroy: McIlroy is making his maiden voyage to Fort Worth, and like many in this week’s field he’s tackling the Horrible Horseshoe for the first time. But there was no doubting his No. 1 ranking before the coronavirus hiatus, with seven straight top-5 finishes dating back to October and including his WGC win in Shanghai. The Ulsterman got a few reps in for charity during last month’s TaylorMade Driving Relief match, and he’ll likely be a factor among a loaded field at Colonial.
3. Justin Thomas: Thomas is one of several notable debutants this week at Colonial, but there’s no doubting that he was playing some of the best golf in the world prior to the shutdown. The former world No. 1 racked up three wins since August, including a memorable playoff victory at Kapalua, and had top-6 finishes in two of his three most recent starts. Thomas ranks fifth this season in total strokes gained, and if he has had enough time to trade in his microphone for some practice time on the range, he seems likely to make the most of his first trip around Hogan’s Alley.
4. Webb Simpson: Simpson’s playoff victory in Phoenix highlighted a torrid stretch of consistent results, with five straight top-10 finishes marking some of his best play since lifting the U.S. Open trophy. His time at Colonial has been notably hit-or-miss, with a trio of missed cuts. But both times he made it to the weekend he contended, finishing T-3 in 2016 and fifth the following year. Simpson’s strength is his iron play, one that should shine brightly this week.
5. Jordan Spieth: What Spieth lacks in current form he more than makes up for with his affinity for Hogan’s Alley. A winner here in 2016 with a memorable finish, Spieth also finished T-2 in 2015 and 2017 and has racked up five top-10 finishes in seven trips. The Texas native won’t have the usual fan support this week in Fort Worth, but few are better equipped to balance the ball-striking and putting requirements to thrive at Colonial. Spieth was showing glimmers of hope before the shutdown, notably a T-9 finish at Pebble Beach in February.
6. Sungjae Im: When we last were tracking Tour action, Im was one of the hottest hands. His breakthrough win at the Honda Classic highlighted a strong spring and was quietly followed by a third-place showing at Bay Hill. The reigning Rookie of the Year is now among the top 25 in the world, and his elite iron play makes him an instant name to watch on a layout like Colonial. Don’t let last year’s missed cut weigh too heavily when making lineup choices.
7. Kevin Na: Na’s runaway win last year capped a run of strong form at this event, one that includes a fourth-place showing in 2018 and five top-10 finishes since 2007. He’s missed the cut here just once in his last 12 appearances dating back to 2005, and three of his last eight rounds here went for 62 or better. Na compiled three top-20 finishes in seven starts this year, highlighted by a T-9 finish in Mexico, and was T-36 at Bay Hill in his most recent start.
8. Brooks Koepka: Koepka made the most of his lone prior appearance at Colonial, finishing second in 2018 behind a red-hot Justin Rose. That week he posted not one but two rounds of 63, displaying a knack for going low on a layout that packs plenty of punch. Koepka had struggled this spring to rebound from a nagging knee injury, and he’s now gone more than nine months since his last top-10 finish. There may still be some lingering rust for him and many of the biggest names in this week’s field, but if he plays anything close to the level he reached two years ago he’ll be in the weekend mix.
9. Tony Finau: Finau’s gaggle of near-misses includes last year at Colonial, when he couldn’t keep pace with Kevin Na. That marked his best result in Fort Worth, but it’s been a course that clearly suits his game: four trips, four finishes of T-34 or better. This year Finau has kept up the consistent form, finishing T-6 at Torrey Pines before an emotional playoff loss in Phoenix where he lost a late lead.
10. Rickie Fowler: Fowler has a strong history at Colonial, having cracked the top 15 three times before. That includes a T-14 finish two years ago, when he carded all four rounds in the 60s. He has three top-20 finishes in six starts this year, with a T-18 result at Bay Hill in his most recent official start, and got in a few competitive swings during last month’s charity match at Seminole.