After Sang-Moon Bae impressively walked away with the Byron Nelson Championship a few days ago and with it his maiden PGA Tour title, we move onto the 4th Texan event on the PGA Tour in 2013. The Crowne Plaza Invitational played at the historic Colonial Country Club is one of only five tournaments that have invitational status, which shows you the high regard this event is held in. If you are wondering about all the talk surrounding the late Ben Hogan, he won this tournament five times and considered Colonial to be his home course.
Colonial itself does have a bit of a major feel as it is a challenge to all parts of your game, with tight fairways, a few doglegs thrown in and small bentgrass greens. The course is a par 70 and will be playing 7,204 yards this week. Some have compared this tournament to the Open Championship for the sort of test it does give you. The kind of golfers that have done well here in previous years tells you what sort of course it is with Zach Johnson, Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar and Jim Furyk all either winning or coming close to doing so. With many of Europe’s top golfers over in England for the BMW PGA Championship (See our preview) it will give one of the lower ranked players a chance this week. The highest ranked player in the field is WGC Accenture Match Play winner Matt Kuchar, who comes in ranked 12.
A recurring theme of late seems to be accuracy off the tee and this week is no different. The big hitters will have no real advantage off the tee. Getting the ball in play and giving yourself chances is paramount. Putting as well will be key. Greens in regulation are nice but if the short stick isn’t working they count for nothing. Just ask Charl Schwartzel last week. He ranked 1st in GIR at the Byron Nelson but still ended up finishing 3rd when he should have won quite comfortably! Last year, winner Zach Johnson ranked T37 in GIR but 1st in putts per round and 2nd in putts per GIR. This event will be won and lost on the greens.
Harris English (50/1 Stan James)
Now this is a bold 1st pick from us this week, but we really, really fancy English! We’ll start with his current form, which reads 6th, 33rd and 17th most recently. That finish last week did not do justice to how well Harris played over the first 3 days, and but for a +4 on the last day, the tournament could well have been his. So he will be wanting to put things right this week. At the Byron Nelson he ranked T30 in driving accuracy, T35 in GIR and a really nice T6 in putting average. It was his efforts with his short stick that really made us want him as out 1st pick, as we have said the tournament will be won and lost on the greens. Some say this event is not one for the younger generation, but Harris came here first time out and finished 5th last year. And his form leading up to it was nothing short of awful on the PGA Tour. This year he enters with confidence at an all-time high and the smell of that maiden PGA Tour victory in his nostrils.
Tim Clark (50/1 SkyBet)
For someone of the South African’s ability, we really do think we would be mad to miss out on such high odds! He really took our fancy when researching for the US Open in a few weeks (Our preview is now available) as he is a player who will keep the ball in play and regularly have birdie opportunities. Then we saw his course form at Colonial! Clark came runner up two years consecutively back in 08 and 09, so he will want to put those bad memories to rest. Last year he finished 19th showing he still has what it takes to play well around this vintage course. It is also said a good finish at the Masters will hold you in good stead this week, and Tim finished a very respectable T11. His statistics are incredibly suited for this course, 3rd in driving accuracy, 38th sand saves, 29th proximity to the hole, 36th total putting and 48th scrambling. A great bet for such high odds this week.
Hunter Mahan (40/1 Paddy Power)
Hunter a few weeks back hit one of the worst spells of his career which turned many people, including ourselves, right off him. But fear not, Mahan has been on the range and working with his coach and the results are paying off. The American looked really good 2 weeks ago at the Players where a 19th place finish did not do him justice. We watched all 4 days and Mahan was always in with a shout, of course till Tiger showed up. But as courses go that Hunter is suited for, this is right up there. He loves course management and plotting his way around, which is exactly what you need this week. His last two performances here have been 10th and 37th, which is more than respectable. He finds himself 32nd in driving accuracy, 8th in total driving, 18th ball striking, 1st in GIR 75-100 yards and 51st strokes gained putting. For someone of his quality, 40/1 in a field weaker than usual is too good to miss, so get on Mahan this week. We love his acting as well by the way…
John Huh (45/1 Bet365)
Now we apologise in advance for backing him purely because his last name always draws a laugh whenever you say it. The film Rush Hour always pops into our heads… For someone who is only 22, his performances have stayed under the radar somewhat and perhaps deserves more credit for what he has done. Just like English, on his maiden appearance here last year he also finished 5th, which is some going on a tough course. John definitely likes to manipulate his way around the course, something perhaps lacking from the younger generation with many just wanting to ‘bomb’ it off the tee. Like with all our picks, the statistics are really good for this course. 31st driving accuracy, 26th scrambling and 56th putting 15-25’. But just like English again, his performance at the Byron Nelson is what really convinced us. His T8 finish was really good to watch, he ranked T4 in driving accuracy, T3 in GIR, T14 in sand saves and T15 in putts per GIR. He is definitely peaking at the right time entering Colonial.
Josh Teater (200/1 Sky Bet)
We are writing this on Monday night and as we do, Josh Teater currently leads the British Open Qualifier at Gleneagles Country Club by 1 shot over Luke Guthrie. By all accounts Teater played some stunning golf in round one to post a -6 64 in very windy conditions. Now all being well Teater will continue to play well and carry that form onto Colonial! He will be buzzing with confidence after booking his place at this year’s open at Muirfield in July. We would also advise to jump on him while his odds are that high, because once word gets out about his performance at the qualifier, his odds will shoot down. His form before that on the PGA Tour is mixed, but he has made both of his last two cuts. And before making the cut here last year, he did in fact finish 16th in 2011. So maybe it is this time of year he loves! His statistics for someone at high odds are really respectable, 22nd total driving, 22nd all round ranking, 48th GIR, 17th total birdies, 25th ball striking and 54th in total putting. A cheeky shout this week at 200/1.
This week marks the start of the 1st of five majors on the Champions Tour. The US Senior PGA Championship is always a great watch and we have had a look through to see if anyone would catch our eye. And they did! So if you are a gambling man, have a look at these 3 selections.
Rocco Mediate (20/1 Stan James)
Bart Bryant (50/1 Paddy Power)
Ian Woosnam (150/1 Paddy Power)