Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial
Colonial Country Club
Ft. Worth, Texas
Colonial Country Club
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Bentgrass; 4,400 square feet on average.
Rough: Bermudagrass and fescue at 3”
Water Hazards: 3
Course Architect: Perry Maxwell and John Bredemus (1936
Winner’s Share: $1,152,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Boo Weekley pounded the fairways and greens into submission and even made a few putts as he defeated Matt Kuchar by one shot and Zach Johnson by two to don his first tartan jacket.
Dates: May 22-25
Notes: Colonial’s invitational field welcomes all defending champions regardless of current status on TOUR.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 21 of 27 events in 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes and Brendon Todd have won for the USA.
Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed four victories along with South Korean Seung-yul Noh and German Martin Kaymer. Mike Weir tried to add the Maple Leaf flag to that group this week!
S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones and now Todd are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had eight in 27 events so far in 2014. #onpace
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33), all first-timers, flew the flag before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Since the first major, Matt Kuchar (37) and J.B. Holmes (32) have also added to the Prime Timers.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer (29) and now Brendon Todd, 28, to the twenty-something party!
Australian John Senden, 42, won at Tampa Bay for the only W for the “Old Guys” this season. Canadian Mike Weir, 44, was second. When he briefly led last Sunday, this was the first time since 2007 that he had been in the lead on TOUR. #timeflies
Pay Attention: It’s FREE!
Colonial has been a TOUR fixture since 1946 making it the longest running event on TOUR at the same site.
The last player to win here in their first try was Sergio Garcia in 2001.
Garcia is the only first-time TOUR winner in quite some time on this track so experience will factor greatly this week for podium finishes.
In the last decade Rory Sabbatini (South Africa) is the only non-American winner.
Only three editions since the turn of the century have finished in extra holes on Sunday.
Boo Weekley became the fifth champion in a row to come from off the pace as Matt Kuchar was the 54-hole leader.
Ben Hogan is the only player to defend his title on these grounds. To the surprise of nobody, he did it twice (1946-47; 1952-53). #HogansAlley
The course record is 61, set last by Chad Campbell in 2004.
Zach Johnson destroyed windless Colonial in 2010 to the tune of 21-under-par 259.
The last winning score in single-digits-under-par (-8) was Olin Browne in 1999. #birdiesboys
Brand-new, World No. 1 Adam Scott is in the field this week and looks to become the first player in TOUR history to win all four Texas events in his career.
Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson are the only players on TOUR with multiple victories in the 2013-14 season. Only Texan Jimmy Walker has a chance to add to his haul of three titles this week.
This Will Win You a Bar Bet
Boo Weekley has three wins on TOUR. All three of them have awarded a tartan jacket as a prize (RBC twice, Colonial).
Past Champions Since 2000
2013 Boo Weekley -14
2012 Zach Johnson -12
2011 David Toms -15
2010 Zach Johnson -21
2009 Steve Stricker -17
2008 Phil Mickelson -14
2007 Rory Sabbatini -14
2006 Tim Herron -12
2005 Kenny Perry -19
2004 Steve Flesch -11
2003 Kenny Perry -19
2002 Nick Price -13
2001 Sergio Garcia -13
2000 Phil Mickelson -12
Inside the Ropes
Colonial shot on to the national scene in 1941 as it became the first golf club south of the Mason-Dixon Line to host a U.S. Open. Craig Wood was the victor that week and five years later Colonial joined the TOUR’s rotation. Since 1946 Colonial has hosted an event every year on TOUR making it the longest running event on the same course. It’s the 10th-oldest event on TOUR.
Colonial was designed by Perry Maxwell, an Oklahoman who studied at St. Andrews and worked with Dr. Alistair Mackenzie. Maxwell has plenty of design credits to his name but Colonial and Prairie Dunes, the host of the NCAA Men’s Championship this week, are his two most famous. His help in moving Augusta forward after the death of Mackenzie shaped that course for years to come.
Colonial also has the distinction of being the only course to host a U.S. Open and THE PLAYERS Championship (1975). It has also hosted a U.S. Women’s Open (1991).
Colonial is consistently lauded by TOUR members because its design has stood the test of time. Players never get tired of having to shape shots both ways and enjoy having their creativity rewarded. With fairways that are tree-lined and narrow, the course has the player’s attention from the first tee. As the round progresses, Texas wind can rear its head and greens that are only 4,500 square feet become more difficult to hit. With three inches of Bermudagrass and fescue, the rough could factor this week as well. Ben Hogan once said, “A straight ball will get you in more trouble at Colonial than any course I know.”
On the front side, Colonial lulls the player to sleep as the first hole is the easiest on the course and the second hole is third-easiest. That’s where the fun stops. The “Horseshoe” is right around the corner as holes Nos. 3, 4 and 5 play as the second-hardest, third-hardest and hardest, respectively. With only two par fives on the card, it will be imperative for the players to make up shots on those holes but the players who can make par-four birdies will always have the upper hand. Only two of the last four champs have played all four rounds in the 60s.
Recent Course Ratings
2013: 24 out of 43; -.105 strokes below par
2012: 13th; +1.129
2011: 22nd; +.082
2010: 41st; -1.459
2009: 34th; -.814
2008: 25th; +.328
2007: 41st; -.722
As noted, only Sergio Garcia in 2001 has won in his first trip around this classic track. The rankings above show that Colonial is not “hard” in the penal sense but is hard in the challenging sense. Players will be required to think, create, react and enact shots around the win, history, trees and small, quick greens. Youngsters have factored in the past in the top 25 but none of them have cracked the code to slip on the tartan jacket. Experience will be the order of the day this week for me.