Rory McIlroy headlines magnificent field for PGA Tour resumption in Texas
Social distancing in operation at spectator-free Colonial Country Club
PGA Tour golf is on the brink of returning after almost three inactive months and a top-class field has assembled in Texas for the Charles Schwab Challenge.
The tournament starts on Thursday – PGA Tour stars appearing for the first time since the Players Championship was abandoned after round one in the middle of March – and the world's top five all line up.
Rory McIlroy heads the Charles Schwab betting at a best-priced 8-1 and the world number one will face stiff competition from Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson and others. The Major-like feel of the ultra-competitive event has prompted many bookmakers to offer enhanced each-way terms in a bid to attract custom.
Paddy Power have laid down the gauntlet to their rivals with stand-out terms of a fifth the odds, the first ten places. Sky Bet are offering a fifth, the first nine places, while Betfair, BoyleSports and Hills are a fifth, the first eight.
Koepka has been subject to some early support with Power punters, shortening from 28-1 to 22-1 for the eagerly anticipated Lone Star State gathering. The world number three was struggling with a knee problem prior to the suspension in the golfing schedule, so his backers are hoping that the period of rest and recuperation will have done him good.
The 148-strong Charles Schwab line-up will have to adjust to some new PGA Tour directives at Colonial Country Club. All competitors and caddies will be tested for Covid-19, social distancing will be in operation, there will be no spectators, and flagsticks and bunker rakes must be cleaned immediately after being handled.
The marquee threeballs for the opening two rounds have been announced, with McIlroy, Rahm and Koepka together. McIlroy is making his Colonial debut, but Rahm finished second in 2017 and Koepka did likewise the following year.
The other mouthwatering threeballs which the PGA Tour have announced in advance comprise good pals Thomas, Rickie Fowler and Jordan Spieth, then Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Justin Rose, while Phil Mickelson tees up alongside US Open victor Gary Woodland and defending Colonial champion Kevin Na.
The PGA Tour moves to South Carolina next week for the RBC Heritage, followed by the Travelers Championship, then the Rocket Mortgage Classic. The European Tour resumes on July 22 with the British Masters at Close House Golf Club, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Tour chiefs are intending to stage three Majors this year – the US PGA in August, the US Open in September and the Masters in November. The Open will not be played until next summer.
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