Inside the Ropes
Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial
Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, TX
Colonial Country Club
Yards: 7,204 as per the scorecard
Par: 70 (35-35)
Average green size: 4,400 square feet
Stimpmeter: 11.5 ft.
Water Hazards: 3
Course Architect: John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell (1936)
Notes: Bermudagrass fairways, Bermudagrass and fescue rough; Bentgrass greens
Winner’s Share: $1,152,000 and 500 FedExCup Points
Defending Champion: David Toms defeated Charlie Wi by one shot to claim his 13th victory on TOUR and his first win since the 2006 Sony Open.
Date: May 24-27
Notes: Colonial is an invitational with 123 players in its published field
The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is the longest-running event on TOUR that has been played at the same site.
Colonial is the 10th-longest running active tournament on TOUR (1946).
Three of the last four winners at Colonial have been major champions. Phil Mickelson (Masters, PGA) 2008, Zach Johnson (Masters) 2010 and David Toms (PGA) 2011 have added a tartan jacket to their major championship trophies.
Zach Johnson holds the tournament record as he fired 21-under-par 259 on his way to victory in 2010.
David Toms was on fire last year as he tied the PGA TOUR record for low 36-hole score when he fired 124 (62-62) on Thursday and Friday.
As of Monday evening, 19 of the OWGR top 50 were entered in the field.
In the past ten years, only Steve Stricker (2009), Zach Johnson (2010) and David Toms (2011) have been victorious while trailing the lead after 54 holes. The last occurrence of a come-from-behind victory before this streak of three was Sergio Garcia chasing down and overtaking Phil Mickelson in 2001.
The 54-hole leader/co-leader has won this event 34 times in the 64 years it has been played. The trend has been quite the opposite on TOUR this year so we’ll see if the leader on Saturday can put it away on Sunday.
Young Guns versus Old Guns
In 22 tournaments in 2012 the “Young” versus “Old” argument is starting to trend towards the “Middle” as Jason Dufner strikes again for the not-too-old and not-too-young. I determined the age cut-offs in a very scientific method prior to this season starting. The “Middle” guys have now tied the “Young” guys 10-10 and the “Old” folks have two wins.
For the “Young”, in order of victory on the calendar, Johnson Wagner (31), Brandt Snedeker (31), Kyle Stanley (24), Bill Haas (29), John Huh (21), Hunter Mahan (29 at the time of his TWO wins), Rory McIlroy (now 23), Justin Rose (31) and Rickie Fowler (23) have cashed.
The “Middle” now has victories from Mark Wilson (37), George McNeill (36), Luke Donald (34), Tiger Woods (36), Bubba Watson (33), Carl Pettersson (34), Ben Curtis (34), Matt Kuchar (33) and now Jason Dufner (35) adds another.
The “Old” guys that have hoisted the trophy are Steve Stricker (44) and Phil Mickelson (41). Mickelson has now won an event in nine-consecutive seasons on TOUR.
So What? So Let’s Dance!
Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas has hosted the Crowne Plaza Invitational since 1946. This event has been played on these hallowed grounds, known today as “Hogan’s Alley”, every year since the tournament’s inception. Ben Hogan won the first two events played here in 1946 and 1947 to get the tournament off to a rousing start after it had hosted the 1941 U.S. Open, which was won by Craig Wood. Hogan went on to win three more times (’52, 53 and ’59) and cemented his legacy as one of the games greats at this traditional layout that was originally built in 1936.
The traditional layout is a shot-makers dream and a putter’s paradise. Bomb-and-gouge might go wanting this week as players will be penalized by errant tee shots, erratic iron play and loose putting. The fairways are tight and the greens have plenty of defenses with extensive bunkering. Those who find fairways, greens and make putts will be right in the hunt on Sunday, just like every week. Sounds easy right? The last three winners, Stricker, Johnson and Toms are all known for their steadiness off the tee, excellent iron play and super-solid putting. Neither of those three are going to be winning any “long-drive” contests anytime soon so there is a method to getting it around and up-and-down here. The average winning score since 2000 is 15.6 under-par and Johnson won here at 21-under just two years ago. Fantasy players should be looking for solid ball-strikers who make birdies and lots of them or players that avoid bogeys. Chez Reavie, who was T7 in 2011, led the field with 21 birdies. Toms and Wi finished with 20. Robert Karlsson finished T5 because he only made two bogeys on the week.
Every week we find that a course has a “Bear Trap” or “Green Mile” and this week is no different. Even the old beauty has her fingernails sharpened in some places and those places are holes three, four and five, known as the “Horrible Horseshoe”. If you can navigate those holes, your round should be off to a flying start. David Toms played No. 3 one-over-par; No. 4 in one-under-par and No. 5 even-par on his way to the title last year.
Colonial Country Club ranked 22nd in difficulty on the PGA TOUR in 2011.
In honor of his five victories at Colonial
Jim Furyk: In his last 26 rounds on TOUR Furyk only has three rounds worse than par. Furyk would fit right in with the last four winners at Colonial as experienced players who have multiple win on TOUR. His results over those 26 rounds have yielded top 11 finishes four times, including P2 at TC. His last two events, the WFC and THE PLAYERS he was T26 and T25 respectively. I believe Furyk’s steady tee ball and superb putting will find him contending near the top as Sunday evening approaches. In 16 outings at Colonial, Furyk has made the cut in 12 of 16 starts and has hit the top 10 in six of those finishes. His best finishes are second and T2.
Zach Johnson: The 2010 champion and tournament record-holder has been excellent of late on TOUR and at Colonial. In his last three starts Johnson has finished second (RBC), T69 (WFC) and T2 (THE PLAYERS). In his last three starts at Colonial he’s finished fourth (2011), WIN (2010) and T9 (2009). He’s also made 12 consecutive cuts so there’s no point in over-thinking this selection.
Bo Van Pelt: After hurting his wrist and WD at the WFC, Van Pelt rebounded in excellent fashion at THE PLAYERS. He played the weekend five-under and finished T7 to alleviate and doubts I might have had with his game moving forward. He’s second on the TOUR in birdie or better conversion percentage and is second in strokes gained-putting. I really like his previous history here as he’s eight-for-eight in cuts-made with five of those landing in the top 25 and three finishes in the top 10.
Jason Dufner: Speaking of excellent golf, life is going swimmingly at the moment for Jason Dufner. He secured his first-ever TOUR win with a playoff over Ernie Els at the Zurich. The following weekend he was married. Sure he came back to Earth with a T68 at THE PLAYERS after his wedding/honeymoon but unfortunately for the members on TOUR, his golf game jumped right back with his win last week at the HP. With two wins in his last three starts I would be a bit silly to leave him out of the top five this week. Hop on the wave and enjoy the ride, I say. His play the last three times at Colonial (MC 2011, T59 2009 and MC 2007) doesn’t trump his recent form.
Rickie Fowler: The only player on TOUR that is hotter than Fowler right now is Dufner and it’s not by much. Fowler has a superb three-event stretch as well as he has finished T10 (Zurich), P1 (WFC) and T2 (THE PLAYERS). Winning overshadows everything on TOUR but don’t forget about Fowler’s excellent coming-out-party that he has been throwing the last month. An excellent driver of the golf ball and a smooth iron player, Fowler has finished T16 last year and T38 in 2010 in his two appearances at Colonial.
The Next-Best 10:
Matt Kuchar: THE PLAYERS champion backed up his excellent play at TPC Sawgrass with a T15 last week at TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas. Kuchar has made the cut in all five career appearances at Colonial and combined with his recent play, he’ll fit right in. Kuchar also finished T13 at VTO before his victory at THE PLAYERS. Kuchar’s ball-striking is his strength as he showed at THE PLAYERS and he’s made 18 consecutive cuts to lead the TOUR. He’ll be looking to pull a “Dufner” and win for the second time in three events.
David Toms: The defending champion has been heating up as of late and the wonderful memories of his first victory at Colonial will spurn him forward this week. After a disappointing three-tournament run where he finished MC (API), T50 (Masters) and T45 (Zurich), Toms bounced back with T15 (WFC) and T10 (THE PLAYERS) to start trending in the right direction. Last year Toms was T4 in fairways hit and T4 GIR. On top of that, his approach shots distance to the hole was second on the week. Toms putting numbers aren’t excellent but his accuracy from the tee and into greens makes him worthy of a look this week.
Hunter Mahan: He lives in Texas. He’s won twice already this year. His ball-striking is top-notch. There isn’t much not to like about Mahan this week except for his recent play and his history at this event. I would have ranked Mahan higher this week but he’s only broke par three times in 10 rounds since his victory at the SHO. He finished T53 (WFC) and MC (THE PLAYERS) in his last two outings. As for his record at Colonial, his only finish inside the top 10 was T10 last year. Class is permanent; form is temporary.
Geoff Ogilvy: There is no question that Ogilvy will win this year as we have seen the power of the moustache in 2012. The Aussie is quietly moving in the right direction as he looks to win for the first time since the 2010 HTOC. He’s now made eight cuts on the trot and had his best finish of the season with T12 at THE PLAYERS. He finished the weekend in five-under as he was T8 GIR. Ogilvy did not play Colonial last year but in the previous three years he finished T13, T59 and T7 and that sits well with me.
Jonas Blixt: He shouldn’t be a secret in your fantasy leagues anymore after his last three weeks on TOUR. After MC at the VTO, Blixt has played 11 of his last 12 rounds in par or better to finish T13 (Zurich), T9 (WFC) and T3 (HP) last week. He struggles a bit with the tee ball but his putting is where he makes his money. He’s 16th in total putting and is 26th in the all-around scoring. Welcome to the big leagues, Jonas!
Ben Crane: Crane’s best finish since his second at WMPO is only T17 at the Masters (nine events played) but his recent history at Colonial finds him on the list this week. Sure, he was MC last year but he was T3 (2010) and fifth (2008) in two of the last three years. He also carded a T4 in 2006 so he seems to like the even years on the calendar. This sets up well for 2012 as does his birdie average which is 16th on TOUR this year. His birdie or better conversion percentage is 5th and he is 13th on the par-fours in birdie or better. As the only member of the “Golf Boys” not to win this year, I would expect the pressure to be mounting, but I think Crane can handle it.
Ryan Palmer: Palmer has hit the top 10 in two of his last three starts with T4 (Zurich), MC (THE PLAYERS) and T9 (HP) last week. I’m going with current form over history this week as Palmer has made six of eight cuts at Colonial but his best finish is only T15 in 2008. The Colleyville, Texas resident will thrive on the greens this week if his putter lives up to its ranking of 12th in strokes gained-putting. Last week Palmer was T3 with 18 birdies and was T13 GIR so I’m looking for that to carryover to this week.
Pat Perez: Perez is probably more well-known for his temper instead of his golf game but I think he’ll fit right in this week at Colonial. After consecutive MC’s, Perez was T25 (THE PLAYERS) and T9 (HP) last week so I’m moving him up this week. Perez is a birdie machine (11th on TOUR) and an excellent ball-striker (20th). Oh, and in his last four events at Colonial, he’s finished T62, T10, DNS, sixth and fourth. Not saying I don’t like Pat Perez, but I never let my “love” or “hate” of a guy’s personality get in the way of taking points off my buddies in my league.
Bill Haas: He’s finally made it back on my radar in the right direction. Since Haas’ dramatic playoff victory over Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson waaaaaaaaay back in February, he has only hit the top 25 once in six FFSP (full-field stroke-play) events (THE PLAYERS). In his last event, THE PLAYERS, he was T3 in driving accuracy and T19 GIR on a tough golf course and I believe that will translate well this week at Colonial. Last year on his way to T8, Haas finished third in GIR and was T3 with 52 pars. Haas likes Colonial as he was also T13 in 2010.
Stewart Cink: Usually with a field this deep I won’t stretch this far for a pick in the top 15 but Stewart Cink’s record here is too good to “save” for later. In 14 career starts Cink has made every cut. In 10 of those starts he has hit the top 25 and also has two-career top five finishes. So why is this stretching? In 12 events in 2012 Cink has made the cut eight times and only two finishes in the top 25. His birthday was Monday. He whipped up some barbecue. He’s heading to a place where he’s had excellent finishes. Texas is known for barbecue. This sounds like a Stewart Cink kind of place!
As we dig a little deeper this week we hope to strike it rich…
Rod Pampling: Pampling has played 10 events at Colonial and has made the cut eight times. In those eight cuts-made, he’s hit the top 10 four times, including T10 last year. He’s lived in the suburb of Flower Mound so Pampling knows these parts awfully well. Another who fits the horse-for-course category.
Kris Blanks: The good news: T10 (2011) and T13 (2010) in his only two starts here. The bad news: He’s only made nine cuts in 16 events and has only one top 25. Classic horse -for-course, plus he’s funny on Twitter. So he has that going for him, which is nice!
Gary Woodland: He just wrapped up his best round and best finish of 2012 last week at HP so I’m taking a chance this week that he keeps it going. Confidence is a funny thing on TOUR and usually when these guys get a sniff of playing well it snowballs. Woodland has overcome a wrist injury that saw him exit the Masters after an 85. He failed to break par in his next start at THE PLAYERS but last week saw him match or break par in three of four rounds. We’ll see what translates from last week.
Tim Clark: Another bit of a stretch as Clark is battling back from injuries but his fine record at Colonial is worth considering. In seven events at Colonial, Clark has hit the top 25 five of the six times he’s made the cut. In 2008 and 2009 Clark finished T2 so he knows his way around this track. Clark finished T25 (THE PLAYERS) his last time out and is only making his eighth appearance of 2012 as he tries to get back on track after elbow surgery.
Brendon de Jonge: De Jonge had an excellent week of ball-striking his last time out as he finished T15 at THE PLAYERS. He was T8 in driving accuracy and T12 GIR. He also was 17th in strokes gained-putting which helped vault him to his best finish since T12 at Humana back in February. He’s made six cuts on the bounce so he’s playing some decent golf. His record here isn’t the envy of many, T56 (2011) and T59 (2010) but he did open with 64 last year.
Golfers I am taking a pass on this week
Nick Watney: After opening with rounds of 68-64 (“he’s back”) at Quail Hollow Watney closed the weekend two-over (“oh sh!t, he’s not back!”) and finish eighth at WFC. In his last trip out Watney opened the first two rounds three-under before playing the weekend at THE PLAYERS in six-over to T56. In the last seven years at Colonial he’s played just three times and has finished T27 (2010) MC (2007) and MC (2005). In nine FFSP events in 2012 Watney has hit the top 10 once.
Aaron Baddeley: Since his 12th place finish at WGC-CC at Doral, “Badds” has not been “good” to the fantasy golf world. His last five events he has MC three times and his other two finishes were T65 and T40. This is his first time at Colonial since 2006. In his three starts here he’s finished MC, T6 and T50. I can’t stretch this week.
Kyle Stanley: He’s 12th in the FedExCup rankings but make sure you take a deeper look before adding him this week. Since leaving the West Coast, Stanley has played seven events and made the cut in three of them. His finishes are T51, T75 and T60. He’s been absolutely no help in any kind of format for two months.
Sang-Moon Bae: After P2 at TC, Bae has struggled to find any form on TOUR. In his five events since TC he’s MC twice, WD once and finished T37 and T57. His OWGR and his FedExCup ranking are an identical 39th but we haven’t seen that early season play recently.
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: Crowne Plaza Colonial/BWM PGA European Tour
Group 1: Jim Furyk/Lee Westwood
Group 2: David Toms/Matteo Manassero
Group 3: Pat Perez/Victor Dubuisson
Group 4: Tm Clark/Anders Hansen
Ned said, “…
Ned Brown is a long-time contributor for Rotoworld Golf. He’s had documented success in Yahoo!’s game for years. Even if you’re confident in your selections for that game, give his insight a read. Now, Ned also provides us with his Golf Channel fantasy game selections as well!
Full Disclosure: I am NOT Ned! He’s smarter and better looking!
Zach Johnson-- Johnson has been playing his best golf of the season in recent weeks with a second place at the RBC Heritage and a T2 at THE PLAYERS. He has top-10s in his last three starts at Colonial, with a T9 in '09, a championship in '10 and a fourth place last year.
Jim Furyk-- I'm going to save a start on Matt Kuchar and use Furyk in this spot. Kuchar is a hotter golfer right now, but Furyk has a nice history here of six top-10s in 15 career starts.
Matt Kuchar, Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na, Nick Watney
Rickie Fowler-- Fowler has been on fire over the last month which has resulted in a T10 in New Orleans, a playoff win at the Wells Fargo and a T2 at THE PLAYERS.
David Toms-- He this week is the defending champion and his game has started to heat up with a T15 at the Wells Fargo and a T10 at THE PLAYERS.
Bo Van Pelt-- Van Pelt was dealing with a wrist injury about a month ago, but he showed he was past that injury last time out when he tied for seventh place at THE PLAYERS. His recent record at Colonial is very good, with a T10 in '10 and a third place last year.
Bill Haas-- It's very tempting to use a hot player like Jonas Blixt in this spot. At this point, I'm going with Haas because he seemed to break-out of his mini-slump at THE PLAYERS and he has nice recent history at Colonial (T13 in '10 and T8 in last year).
Jonas Blixt, Hunter Mahan, Brian Davis, Ken Duke, Marc Leishman, Geoff Ogilvy
Jason Dufner-- His second win in the last three weeks should put him into the field of the Ryder Cup. I'd like a better past history at Colonial, but he is way too hot at this point to sit.
Pat Perez-- It wasn’t easy to separate Pat Perez and Ben Crane this week. Both have three career top-10s at Colonial and both are starting to round into form. I'm going with Perez based on his T9 last week at the Byron Nelson.
Ben Crane, Jeff Overton, Charlie Wi, Carl Pettersson, John Senden
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: HP Byron Nelson Championship/BMW PGA European Tour
Group 1: Zach Johnson/Luke Donald
Group 2: David Toms/Ben Curtis
Group 3: Pat Perez/Soren Kjeldsen
Group 4: Tim Clark/Anders Hansen
“And another thing…”
The analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat with GolfChannel.com's Ryan Ballengee on Wednesday at NOON, ET. They will be breaking down the field at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter.