The Block Party made its way to Colonial Country Club on Thursday, and it did not go as planned.
Last week’s PGA Championship hero, club pro Michael Block, played in his first event following last week’s major championship madness at the Charles Schwab Challenge. We’ll cover his tough round below as well as dive a bit deeper into the rounds of some of the players at the top of this field.
The week after majors always feel like a bit of a breather, but there are plenty of stars in the field at Colonial to take a look at. Let’s get to a few of them, but let’s start at the top with our leader, Harry Hall.
1. Harry Hall (-8)
British Bryson (if you’ve seen photos like the one below, you know why this is his nickname) shot a preposterous 8-under 62 on Thursday and gained over eight shots on the field with his performance. To put it in perspective, consider the fact that only four players got to 4 under, and Hall doubled all of them up. The only player between him and those at 4 under is Harris English, who also had a tremendous first day.
The question now is whether it’s sustainable. The numbers say no. Hall led the field in putting Thursday, which is a tell for somebody who’s going to regress over the next three rounds. Hall’s best ever finish on the PGA Tour is a T8 at the 2021 Shriners. With horses surrounding him at Colonial, it’s difficult — even after the hot start — to see him improving on that.
Even Hall seemed a bit surprised by the performance, saying that he didn’t really see it coming. His only top 10s of 2023 are a T7 at the Puerto Rico Open and a T10 at the Mexico Open.
“I don’t tend to see anything coming,” Hall said. “But I played some good golf this season, and I’ve had a couple of top tens. Yeah, this feels nice to be on the leaderboard. Hopefully, I can keep the gap there between the rest of the field this afternoon.”
Others in contention
2. Harris English (-5)
T3. Tom Hoge, Adam Schenk, Robby Shelton, Andrew Putnam (-3)
T7. Michael Kim, David Lipsky, Austin Smotherman, Ryan Fox, Si Woo Kim, Billy Horschel, Sam Bruns, Scottie Scheffler, Chez Reavie, Dylan Frittelli, Emiliano Grillo, Ben Griffin, Max Homa, Kevin Streelman, Ben An, Carson (-3)
Whew, now you see why Hall holding on here is not a good bet. Hoge led the field from tee to green, English nearly gained a stroke in every statistical category, Burns bounced back from a brutal PGA Championship performance and Scheffler did his usual “made no putts but still shot 67” routine.
Obviously the No. 1 player in the world stands out here, but it’s more contention by committee that Hall has to be concerned with going into Friday and then onto the weekend. Scheffler is nearly an auto-three strokes gained at this point, which is going to result in contention and either a victory or a top 10.
His 10 tournaments so far this year look like this.
- PGA: T2
- Byron Nelson: T5
- RBC Heritage: T11
- Masters: T10
- Match Play: 4th
- Players: 1st
- Arnold Palmer Invitational: T12
- Phoenix Open: 1st
- American Express: T11
- Tournament of Champions: T7
Come on. That’s outrageous! And yet it’s happening because he has the most consistently great tee-to-green game in the world right now. He’s the heavy favorite for a reason.
Block Party over
It came crashing down on Thursday. After a media tour for the ages, Block was the only player to shoot worse than 77, and he shot 81. He started bogey-bogey-bogey before seemingly righting the ship with a pair of birdies on the way out. Following a shot off a bridge on the 10th in which he somehow made par, it got ugly. He closed double-double-par-double for the 11-over 81.
“It’s one of those days of golf,” Block said. “If you play golf, you know exactly what just happened. So I don’t really need to explain it too much because, if you are a golfer, you’ve had the day I’ve had. You understand the facts of where the lies aren’t good and the trees are in your way every time. Even your good shots are bad, your bad shots are worse.
“It is what it is. I’m going to live with it. I thought it was going to happen that third or fourth round last week at Oak Hill, and it never happened. It happened now, and I wasn’t surprised by it, to tell you the truth.”
He went on to say he was excited to see his kids tomorrow evening but added that he could shoot 58 or 59 to make the cut.
Charles Schwab Challenge Odds
Via Caesars Sportsbook
- Scottie Scheffler: 16/5
- Harry Hall: 10-1
- Max Homa: 12-1
- Harris English: 14-1
- Sam Burns: 16-1
- Andrew Putnam: 22-1
- Tom Hoge: 25-1
- Rickie Fowler: 25-1
- Si Woo Kim: 25-1
Scheffler is the heavy favorite because it feels like he can’t shoot anything worse than 67 at a regular PGA Tour event right now. The two guys I like, however, are Fowler and Kim at 25-1. Kim especially flushed it, and Fowler has been sneaky solid all year. I like those at 25-1 more than Scheffler at 3-1.
Rick Gehman is joined by Kyle Porter to break down Round 1 of the Charles Schwab Challenge. Follow and listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.