World No.1 Rory McIlroy will head 23 Major Champions teeing-up in Thursday’s starting Charles Schwab Challenge at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas.
McIlroy will lead out the current top-5 on the World Rankings onto the beloved Ben Hogan famed venue, with the Ulster golfer among 101 Tour winners including fellow Irish Graeme McDowell and Shane Lowry.
More importantly, the golfing eyes of the world will be on this Texas event given it’s the first PGA Tour tournament in some four months since the March 12th cancellation of the Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.
Not only is the event the first of four ‘no spectator’ events but around as few as 30 media have been approved to be present, with the media issued with a four-page list outlining the strictest conditions ever to be placed on working journalists.
Spainard Jon Rahm (World No. 2) has made three starts at the Charles Schwab Challenge, earning top-five results in 2017 (T2) and 2018 (T5). No. 3 Brooks Koepka also owns a runner-up in his lone start at the event, finishing second in 2018 after shooting a pair of 63s in the second and final rounds. McIlroy and World No. 4 Justin Thomas, who are also both in the top five in the FedExCup standings, are making their tournament debuts.
Both Koepka and World No. 5 Dustin Johnson are currently outside the top 100 in the FedExCup standings after missing significant time at the start of the season due to injuries (Koepka/213, Johnson/111).
FedExCup leader and 2019 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Sungjae Im will make his 15th start of the season. Im, one of nine players in the field currently ranked in the top 10 of the FedExCup standings, won The Honda Classic and finished third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard in the last two events completed before the season was suspended.
Two-time Charles Schwab Challenge champion Phil Mickelson, who won the event in 2000 and 2008, leads the field with 44 career wins on Tour.
When the PGA Tour released schedule adjustments for the remainder of the 2019-20 season on April 16, it was announced that the field size for the Charles Schwab Challenge had expanded from 120 to 144. However, winners of the event prior to 2000 who are not otherwise eligible are added to the starting field of 144.
There are four such players in the field played in accordance with strict health and safety guidelines and without spectators on-site. They include Keith Clearwater (winner in 1987), Tom Lehman (1995), David Frost (1997) and Olin Browne (1999).
Also in the field is prolific winner, Bernhard Langer.
And returning to the Texas course is reigning Asian Tour No. 1 Jazz Janewattananond who made his PGA Tour debut in the 2017 staging of the event, then known as the Dean and Deluca.
The Tour is also honouring those fighting in the U.S. fighting the pandemic, with players’ caddie bibs to feature the names of local frontline workers alongside the players’ names and each of the 148 players in the Charles Schwab Challenge field will represent 148 different frontline workers from across North Texas who have been working tirelessly since the pandemic began – often at the risk of their own personal health and safety – to meet the needs of those most directly impacted in the Fort Worth area.