Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial
Colonial Country Club
Fort Worth, Texas
Colonial Country Club
Yards: 7,204 as per the scorecard
Par: 70 (35-35)
Rough: Bermudagrass at 3”
Water Hazards: 3
Course Architect: John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell (1936)
Winner’s Share: $1,152,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Zach Johnson outlasted Jason Dufner by one shot for his first of two victories in 2013 and the second of his career at Colonial.
Dates: May 23-26
Notes: Colonial is an invitational field of only 136 golfers. Seventy of these players have won TOUR.
Texas has a very proud golf history and it’s on display again this week as the TOUR moves to the final of four stops in 2013. Last week, the HP Byron Nelson was the ninth-oldest tournament and this week, the CPIC checks in a No. 10.
Colonial Country Club is the longest running site as host course on the PGA TOUR. It has hosted a tournament every year since 1946. Guess who won that year? Remember, any time anyone asks you a golf trivia question that has to do with the state of Texas, you answer Ben Hogan. You will be right over 95% of the time.
Colonial is often referred to as “Hogan’s Alley” as the native son won this event five times in his career.
After Zach Johnson’s second win here last year, he joins 11 other multiple winners in Colonial’s proud history. He joins Kenny Perry, Phil Mickelson, Corey Pavin, Nick Price, Bruce Lietzke, Ben Crenshaw, Al Geiberger, Lee Trevino, Billy Casper, Julius Boros and of course, Ben Hogan.
Sergio Garcia is the only player in the recent past, 2001, to win in his first time out at Colonial. Veterans, baby…
Americans have won nine of the last 10 events at Colonial. Rory Sabbatini in 2007 disrupted the streak.
There are eight former champions in the field this week.
Keith Clearwater 1987
Tom Lehman 1995
Corey Pavin 1985, 1996
Steve Flesch 2004
Tim Herron 2006
Rory Sabbatini 2007
David Toms 2011
Zach Johnson 2010, 2012
In 10 of the 19 stroke-play events this season the 54-hole leader (or co-leader) have gone on to victory. Last week was the SEVENTH week in a row where the 54-hole leader(s) have not held up their end of the bargain as Keegan Bradley couldn’t hold off Sang-Moon Bae.
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods FOUR TIMES (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33), Horschel (26), Ernst (22) and Bae (26). The young folks (30 and younger) now have nine victories; the 30-somethings have 10 victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have their two wins. Tom Gillis and Angel Cabrera both finished T12. Both are in the field this week again.
Rank and File
This week, as of Monday afternoon, 16 of the top 50 OWGR are teeing it up this week.
Designed by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell in 1936, Colonial burst onto the scene in 1941 as the first golf club south of the Mason-Dixon Line to host a U.S. Open. Craig Wood was the victor but the man who really put Colonial on the map was none other than Ben Hogan. Hogan won the first two TOUR events on this course (1946, 1947) and in the next 12 years, he racked up three more victories to tally five for his career. Hogan’s Alley was born.
Over the years, Colonial hasn’t changed much from the original design as smallish greens are heavily protected by bunkering and the fairways are tight and tree-lined (HARRIS ENGLISH, BABY). The Bentgrass greens will run true and online as we’ve seen superb putters Johnson, Toms and Stricker claim the last four titles here. If you’re not a premium putter, you better be a lights-out ball-striker as proven by such winners such as Sergio Garcia, Phil Mickelson and Rory Sabbitini have proven.
Colonial has ranked 13th-hardest in 2012; 22nd in 2011; 41st in 2010; 34th in 2009; 25th in 2008. Zach Johnson was as hot as the weather in 2010 when he blazed Colonial it for a tournament record 259 (21-under-par). The worst score fired here in the last 10 years was 268 (12-under-par) and Zach Johnson also shares that accomplishment with Tim Herron.
The winning formula this week will be guys who find fairways and greens and hole a ton of putts. Sound familiar? The trend points to experienced, patient veterans who might sacrifice a few yards of distance for clean lies in the fairway. Bentgrass greens for the second week in a row will be an advantage for the guys who prefer slick, true lines. Colonial is defended by tree-lined fairways, well-bunkered and small greens and most importantly, wind. I’ll keep an eye on players who don’t spray the ball off the tee, play solid iron shots and make plenty of birdies. It took 21 to win last week! If you look at the list of winners here, it’s all guys with multiple trophies on their shelves.
Let see who’s going to factor this week.
Top 10, Plus One
Jim Furyk: He’s made 13 of 17 cuts in the last 18 years and has hit the top 10 an astounding seven times. In 60 rounds here he’s been par or better in 44 of them. His accuracy with his driver and iron play combined with his course experience makes him a no-brainer this week. It’s hard to believe that he hasn’t won here yet. His best finishes are second and T2 and was fourth here last year. Permanent marker.
Charl Schwartzel: Coming off his worst stroke-play finish (T55) at THE PLAYERS since last season’s PGA (T59), Schwartzel wasted no time in getting his house back in order. Sure, he’d never played at TPC Four Seasons Las Colinas but that didn’t stop him from smashing GIR and finishing solo third. He hasn’t teed it up at Colonial either but he has plenty of class to win anywhere, anytime. He’s 35 in GIR and 29th in strokes gained-putting.
Kevin Streelman: Making his fifth start at Colonial, there are not many hotter players teeing it up this week. In his last six starts Streelman has finished T2, T6, T3, MC, T21 and win. The only MC there was Augusta so I’m not holding that against him either. He was T10 here two years ago and is 22nd in driving accuracy and 23rd in GIR. Oh, and he’s 19th in strokes gained-putting as well. Did I mention that he’s my one-and-done selection this week? YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Henrik Stenson: It’s hard to look away from the guy who leads the TOUR in total driving and GIR so I won’t! And I won’t look away from a guy who’s also 27th in total putting. There’s no point! He’s played eight events, made six cuts and finished in the top 10 in three of those. His last time out he was T5 at THE PLAYERS.
Marc Leishman: Speaking of guys just on fire, Leishman has been just that so I’m not too concerned with his past rounds at Colonial. He’s banged four top 10s in a row and has played 14 of 16 rounds at par or better. There’s no point in overanalyzing this one, folks. Ride him until he falls over.
Harris English: Steve Stricker’s caddy Jimmy Johnson is on the bag this week again for English. The two must get on just fine because their last outing together was T6 at Zurich. English backed that up with a solid T33 at THE PLAYERS and was cruising along last week at HPBNC before his 74 on Sunday knocked him back to T17. English hits it a ton and that helped him last year to finish T5 in GIR and T5 in the final standings. He enjoys tree-lined courses and he proved that last week and last year. It doesn’t hurt either that Johnson and Stricker won here in 2009.
Matt Kuchar: It’s hard to leave out a guy who’s made 16 cuts in a row so I’m not! It’s not very often that Kuchar throws out three meh starts in a row so I’m not banking on him doing it four straight times! The last time he rattled off three starts outside the top 25 he toughened up at banged a T10 at The TOUR Championship. I understand gamer’s frustrations because Kuchar, as a premium player, premium results are expected. He’s not on any “sleeper” lists…
Fredrik Jacobson: Another week, another week on the main list as the Swede has now made nine cuts in a row in 2013. He knocked off a month’s worth of rust and injury with T48, his worst finish on the weekend this season, with T17 last week at HPBNC. Take the consistency and run.
Chris Kirk: He’s now seen the weekend in 10 straight events and with his short game, it’s not a surprise. At all. Kirk is seventh in strokes gained putting and he’s third in scrambling so that’s his formula for success. He’s also seventh on TOUR in scoring average and he destroys par fours. In his last two starts at Colonial he’s finished T5 last year and T16 in 2011.
Zach Johnson: A site for sore eyes. Johnson returns to Colonial hoping this will be the event to spring his 2013 into action. He showed signs of life as he played three of four rounds at THE PLAYERS under par and finished a season-best T19 (full-field events) his last time out. Johnson absolutely kills Colonial as his worst finish in seven starts is T30. His last four starts are Win, T4, Win and T9. He owns the tournament record as well. If the dam breaks, it’s this week. If he doesn’t fire this week, I will have doubts moving forward as he’s past halfway in his season.
Rickie Fowler: Does anyone keep track of how players do in tournaments where they are the spokesman or endorser? I know GMAC won the RBC and they’re on his bag. Somebody should do a study on this. Anyhow, Fowler is aging like fine Red Bull at this tournament as he’s finished T38, T15 and T5 last year in his only three starts. He’s played nine of 12 rounds at par or better and this course obviously fits his eye. Fowler is also looking to rekindle some magic since he hasn’t fared better than T32 in his last four starts. He’s an excellent driver of the golf ball and his short game is ace.