Wednesday, May 22, 2013
W2W4: Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial
By Richard Durrett
ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's time for the second half of the North Texas PGA Tour golf swing and that means a trip to the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. It's a classic course that requires smart play off the tee and an ability to move the ball around.
Here are some golfers to watch as the tournament gets set to begin:
Zach Johnson: He's the defending champion and has won this event twice in the last three years, so you have to put him on a list of contenders. He took the lead with a first-round 64 on Thursday and ended up in a fight to the finish with Jason Dufner, who had won two of the previous four events, including the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Dufner had a triple bogey on the 15th hole, helping Johnson hang on for the victory.
Johnson has made the cut in all seven Colonials he has played and though he doesn't come in particularly hot, he's always a threat in Fort Worth. Johnson finished tied for 19th at The Players Championship a few weeks ago.
Henrik Stenson: At Colonial, it's especially important to keep the ball in the fairway and hit greens in regulation. So Stenson is a safe bet since he leads the PGA Tour in both categories. He has played in three Colonials and his best finish is tied for 27th. But his swing is solid these days and he has been playing at a high level. He was tied for fifth at The Players Championship.
Kevin Streelman: Playing the hot hand here. He won in Tampa and has three top-6 or better finishes in this four cuts made since then. Streelman finished tied for 10th in 2011, posting three straight rounds in the 60s after opening with 72. He's in the top 25 in most of the major statistical categories and is clearly feeling confident about his game.
Matt Kuchar: He has been nearly automatic when it comes to making the cut with 16 straight and counting. The question is whether he can back it up with a strong weekend to get a win. He certainly has proven he can get into contention. And he likes Colonial. Kuchar has made six straight cuts in Fort Worth. He was tied for 33rd in the HP Byron Nelson Championship last week. He was tied for eighth at the Masters in April.
Jim Furyk: He seems to have a game suited for Hogan's Alley. Furyk was the runner-up in 1998 and tied for second 2007 and has top-10 finishes in seven total Colonials, including a fourth-place showing last year. Furyk, who just turned 43, has two top-10 finishes in 2013, including a tie for third at the Texas Open in April.
Charl Schwartzel: He's making his first time through the North Texas swing and so far is on a roll. He was third at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. Schwartzel brings a major winning resume and a driver with accuracy. He was tied for fourth in total driving last week. That should help him at Colonial. Schwartzel knows what to do when in contention.
Marc Leishman: We had him as one to watch at the Nelson last week and the Australian tied for 12th, his first time outside the top-10 in his last four starts. He has made the cut in both of his previous Colonials and, like Streelman, is playing well right now.
Charley Hoffman: There's something about this North Texas swing that seems to make Hoffman comfortable. Actually, golf in Texas period. He was tied for seventh in the Nelson last week, and was in the top 20 at the Houston Open and Texas Open. In fact, he was third in San Antonio at the Texas Open last month. Hoffman was in the top 15 last year at the Colonial and has made all four cuts in Fort Worth.
Others to watch: Rickie Fowler (tied for fifth last year); Sang-Moon Bae (Nelson winner feeling good about his game…we saw what that did for Dufner at the Colonial last year); Chris Kirk (tied for fifth last year and is a cut machine); Angel Cabrera (just seems to hang in and is tough to bet against).