Golf: Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

Notebook: Corpening ties year's low round

May, 26, 2013
FORT WORTH, Texas -- In a week of exceptional rounds by those with close ties to Colonial Country Club, Franklin Corpening’s 8-under 62 on Sunday morning might have been best of all.

[+] EnlargeFranklin Corpenin
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesFort Worth native Franklin Corpening on Sunday made nine birdies, only one bogey and exceptional saves on his final two holes.
The Fort Worth native and TCU product equaled this year’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial low round that, coincidently, came from Colonial member and Colleyville, Texas, resident Ryan Palmer on Thursday.

Corpening, 28, made nine birdies, only one bogey and exceptional saves on his final two holes. He was rewarded with a hero’s reception after sinking his final putt, a 16-footer for par.

"The feeling is unbelievable to have so many friends, family members and club members out here," he said. “It was just a blessing, the whole situation.”

His tee shot drifted well wide of the fairway on No. 18, with trees, a pond and a scoreboard between him and a pin cut on the left side of the green.

"I actually had a pretty good line to the green and didn’t hit it very good but got super lucky," Corpening said. The shot finished 20 yards short of the green, in front of a trap.

Boo Weekley, winner of the 2013 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to share some great stories.

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After his chip shot, he allowed himself a peak at the scoreboard.

"I saw I was top 10 and said, 'Let’s just get this one for good old time sakes.' I hit a great putt and it went in."

Corpening finished in a four-way tie for 14th.

That old feeling: Crowne Plaza Invitational winner Boo Weekley admitted that giving up golf crossed his mind a lot in five winless campaigns.

But walking down the first fairway on Sunday, Weekley remembered what it felt like to be in contention in the final round.

"These butterflies feel good," Weekley said. "It felt good to have them again knowing that I have an opportunity to win this thing."

Annika Sorenstam joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what it was like to play in the Colonial, the state of the game of golf and whether she thinks Tiger Woods will break Jack Nicklaus' record.

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Wedge malfunctions: Runner-up Matt Kuchar lamented that he couldn’t get close with wedge shots in Sunday’s closing round. Kuchar made only three birdies, and his final one came after Weekley had already locked up the title.

"I feel like those are clubs that I can‘t wait to get in my hands, and today I just didn‘t; wasn‘t tight enough with the wedges," Kuchar, who finished 13-under, said. “No. 11 and No. 15 come to mind. A couple of the front side. The first hole was one."

"It is a tough pill to swallow when you wind up one shot short of a victory here on a course that I really, really want to put my name on that Wall of Champions," he added. "But it is great to see Boo playing great again."

Downfalls at No. 15: A chunked chip shot at the par-4 15th led to a double-bogey and proved to be the downfall for Scott Stallings. He relinquished his lead on that hole and settled for a tie for fourth at 11-under.

"Believe it or not, the approach I hit on 15 was probably the best shot I hit today and just ended up about two yards too far with an awful lie," Stallings said. “I was right where the fairway and the first cut come together, kind of a bunch of grass behind my ball and just a tough shot straight downwind."

Stallings’ chip hit the lip of the bunker and dropped into the sand. He left his first bunker shot in the sand, as well, and walked off with a six.

Defending champion Zach Johnson, a two-time winner at Colonial, also made a slip up at No. 15, when he three-putted from 65 feet for his only bogey. Johnson finished 12-under for third place, the fifth consecutive time he’s finished in the top 10 at Colonial. Only Ben Hogan has had a better run.

"What I did today was give myself a number of opportunities," Johnson, who broke par for the 19th time in his past 20 Colonial rounds, said. “I like what this golf course demands. It requires every club in your bag, every shot in your bag."

Tough stretch: Hole Nos. 3, 4 and 5 at Colonial are nicknamed the "Horrible Horseshoe." All three played over par this week and, statistically, they are the three-hardest greens to hit in regulation:

--No. 3, a 483-yard, par 4 dogleg left, played at an average of 4.16 and ranked second for fewest greens hit in regulation at 50 percent.

--No. 4, a 247-yard par 3, played to a 3.11 average. Pros managed to land tee shots on the green at a 41 percent clip.

--No. 5, a 481-yard par 4 that is bounded on the right by the Trinity River, played to a 4.18 stroke average and was the third-toughest green to hit in regulation at 50.5 percent.

It’s in the hole: Texan Bobby Gates had a hole-in-one on the 194-yard, par-3 No. 13 with a 6-iron. It was the 29th hole-in-one in the 67-year history of the event. It was the only hole Gates played under par Sunday in shooting 77.

It was the 11th hole-in-one at No. 13, the most of any hole at Colonial. Two other par threes, No. 8 (194 yards) and No. 16 (192 yards), have been aced nine times in the event.

The remaining par 3, No. 4, has never yielded a hole-in-one in the tournament.

Driver woes: When Ryan Palmer shot a 62 on Thursday, he credited an aggressive strategy of using driver at almost every opportunity. The fact that three rounds later Palmer was still 8-under means the driver gets the blame.

"I’m disappointed with the way my driver let me down this weekend," Palmer said. "I had to hit more punch shots than I have since I’ve been a member here, and you can’t do that out here."

The resident of Colleyville, Texas, nevertheless moved up to a tie for 14th with a final-round 67.

Spieth cracks top 10: In his first shot at what should be many more Crowne Plaza Invitational visits, Dallas’ 19-year-old Jordan Spieth shot 67 and finished 10-under, in a four-way tie for seventh.

"I’m happy with the way I finished off -- two birdies in the last four holes," he said. "I was really, really striving to get a top-10 [finish]. I could have very well won this golf tournament."

Spieth and Corpening, playing this year as Champion’s Choices, earn automatic invitations to the 2014 Colonial because of their top-15 finishes.

Notes: Seven days after shooting a final-round 69 to win the HP Byron Nelson Championship, Sang-Moon Bae soared to a 77 on Sunday at Colonial and landed in a tie for 76th at 6-over. … John Huh of Lewisville, Texas, who tied for eighth last week at the Nelson, fired a final-round 65 and landed in a tie for 11th. … Colleyville, Texas, resident John Rollins closed with a 68 and tied for fourth at 11-under. … Dallas’ Martin Flores, playing again before a large group of hometown supporters, closed with a 71 and finished in a tie for 14th at 8-under.

Notebook: Local native Flores shoots 5-under in front of family, friends

May, 25, 2013
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Martin Flores grew up a golfing prodigy in Mansfield, Texas, yet doesn’t believe he ever attended the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial as a kid.

[+] EnlargeMartin Flores
Scott Halleran/Getty ImagesMansfield, Texas, native Martin Flores equaled the Crowne Plaza round of the day, a 5-under 65, with his friends and family watching.
“I was always practicing, trying to play out here,’’ the 31-year-old explained.

In front of family and friends on Saturday, Flores equaled the Crowne Plaza round of the day, a 5-under 65, and climbed into a tie for sixth at 9-under, two off the lead.

Matt Kuchar leads at 11-under. There is a four-way tie for second at 10-under.

“I think family and friends are two of the most important things in the world,’’ Flores said. “To be able to play in front of them and to be able to hang out with them for the week is something very, very special.’’

In previous Colonial appearances, Flores missed the cut in 2010 and finished in a tie for 26th last year.

Flores failed to find only two fairways in his third round.

“Putting the ball in position off the tee is critical out here,’’ he said. “It gave me the opportunity to go at some flags.

“Any time you shoot 65, I’m just happy to be where I’m at. I still have a lot of work to do. There are a lot of great players, and I’ve got to keep making birdies.’’

Flores will tee off in the third-to-last group at 12:45 p.m. CT Sunday, paired with Graham DeLaet.

Annika Sorenstam joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what it was like to play in the Colonial, the state of the game of golf and whether she thinks Tiger Woods will break Jack Nicklaus' record.

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Rolling along: Tim Clark matched Flores for round of the day with a 65 and is tied for sixth at 9-under.

Clark on Tuesday declined to comment on the decision by golf’s governing bodies to outlaw the anchored putting stroke in 2016.

Following his brilliant third round, Clark denied using Tuesday’s ruling as extra incentive.

“I’m trying to just leave that behind me,’’ Clark said. “It’s been tough enough playing this year with that on my mind. At this point it is out of my hands. I’m just trying to focus on playing good golf.”

“Obviously, it is not a rule I’m in favor of,” he said. “I don’t think it makes any sense. There are so many different ways of putting. You are probably going to see some really weird and wonderful things coming out after this.’’

Popular spot: Hole No. 13 at Colonial is the place to be, especially on the weekend.

The par-3 over water -- playing shorter today at 160 yards -- has the feel of tournament unto itself. The hole is surrounded by skyboxes and the crowd can get raucous. Some fans make a day of it on the hole.

Lewisville, Texas, resident Chaz Page and three friends arrived at 10:30 a.m. CT, passing the time wagering on which golfer would land his tee shot closest to the pin.

“I was up $20 until it started raining,’’ Page said, his shirt still damp from a passing shower.

As to the allure of No. 13, Page said all the essentials are present: refreshments, restrooms and people watching. “This is my spot,’’ he said.

Rule violation: Jeff Overton was disqualified for use of a practice aid in the middle of his third round.

Tour rules official Mark Russell said during a wait between nines that Overton used the putting green as allowed. But because his round was underway, he was not allowed to use an alignment device, which he admitted to doing.

Overton was even par on his round and 4-under for the tournament when he was notified on No. 11.

Russell said one of the players asked a scoring official if Overton was allowed to use the device.

“I don’t think he was very happy,’’ Russell said. “But, you know, I would certainly expect that.’’

Spieth stumbles: With three birdies on his first five holes, Jordan Spieth reached 11-under in Round 3.

But the 19-year-old from Dallas played the final 13 holes in 4-over and finished with a 71. He dumped his tee shot into the water on No. 13 and walked off with a double-bogey. Spieth is tied for 14th at 7-under.

"I just made some mental errors -- just rookie mistakes that cost me four shots,'' Spieth said. "A couple of bad swings with some misjudging of the wind.''

He begins his fourth round at 11:45 a.m. CT, paired with Chris Kirk.

Notes: Fort Worth resident J.J. Henry, decked out in TCU colors, with purple pants and a white shirt, carded a 3-under 67 and joins Spieth at 7-under, tied for 14th. In 11 previous Colonial appearances, Henry did not finished higher than 22nd. … HP Byron Nelson champion Sang-Moon Bae is tied for 56th at 1-under. … Fort Worth native John Peterson made par on his first 11 holes before a roller-coaster finish of three birdies, two bogeys and a double-bogey on the way to a 71. Peterson is 4-under. … Quietly, Hunter Mahan of Colleyville, Texas, has made a steady leaderboard climb, carding a second 68 on Saturday. He’s in a tie for 24th at 5-under. … John Rollins, who also calls Colleyville home, closed out a 67 with birdies on No. 17 and 18. He’s 8-under, tied for fourth. … Tommy Gainey turned in Saturday's only bogey-free round.

Colonial suspended due to lightning

May, 24, 2013
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Play in the second round of the 67th Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial was suspended at 12:18 this afternoon due to lightning. A few players in the morning wave have not yet finished their second round.

Annika Sorenstam joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what it was like to play in the Colonial, the state of the game of golf and whether she thinks Tiger Woods will break Jack Nicklaus' record.

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Dallas teenager Jordan Spieth managed to complete his round and is one shot off the lead. The 19-year-old shot 67 today and is 8-under par.

Canadian Graham DeLaet currently leads at 9-under after a second-round 67.

Joining Spieth at 8-under is tour journeyman Steve Flesch, Josh Teater and overnight leader Ryan Palmer of Colleyville. Palmer was scheduled to begin his second round at 1:28 p.m. before the weather delay.

Flesch has three holes remaining in his second round.

Teater, a 34-year-old from Kentucky, reached 11-under 11 holes into his second round, but ran into tree trouble and bogeyed three of his last seven holes. Playing partner Boo Weekley got to 10-under, but went four over on his last five holes.

Zach Johnson incurs penalty on final green

May, 27, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- A confusing ending to the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial did not change the winner, only his margin of victory.

Zach Johnson was assessed a two-stroke penalty on the final hole for a failure to replace his ball in the proper place on No. 18. He was two feet away from the cup when he marked his ball and moved the mark to get it out of the line of playing partner Jason Dufner.

Johnson failed to move the mark back before tapping in his putt. He was thus in violation of Rule 20-7.

Happily for Johnson, he could afford the penalty. Instead of a par, he was credited with a double bogey six, but at 12-under, still finished one shot ahead of runner-up Jason Dufner (11-under).

Tommy Gainey thrilled with third place

May, 27, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Sunday's third-place finish delighted Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey, a likeable professional golfer looking to turn his season around.

On a difficult day for scoring, Gainey shot a 3-under 67 to finish at 7-under at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. He was the only contender to make a serious run at the leaders when he birdied five of his first 10 holes. A double bogey at No. 12 curtailed his charge.

While dealing with elbow and wrist injuries this year, Gainey made only three cuts and less than $100,000 in winnings.

“Hats off to the fans that have continued to support me,’’ Gainey said. “Without them, I couldn’t have done it. I want them to know I appreciate them standing behind me and there’s more good golf to come.

“I feel like I’m striking the ball well, but putting right now is at the top of the list,’’ Gainey said, a self-professed streaky player. “Three rounds in the 60s in four days, I’m happy. I’m on the road to recovery.’’

Corey Pavin plans on extending Colonial streak

May, 27, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Corey Pavin, finishing his 29th consecutive Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, said he has no intention of ending his streak next year.

“This is my favorite event on tour. The people are great, the members are so nice and I just love this golf course,’’ the 52-year-old said. “Any style of play can win at his golf course and that’s the mark of a great golf course. I plan on playing next year.''

Pavin is a two-time winner at Colonial, 1985 and 1996. He has finished runner-up twice.

On Sunday, Pavin played his final seven holes in 4-over and fell from the top 20 to a tie for 31st at 1-over. He finished with a 73.

2-shot swing on 11 puts Zach Johnson up 2

May, 27, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- No. 9 isn't the only hole that might sink Jason Dufner's chances of securing the DFW double. He bogeyed No. 11 after teeing off into the rough and then coming down in a bunker.

Meanwhile, Zach Johnson, who took a brief lead after No. 2 and then fell behind by two strokes after No. 8, suddenly finds himself in the lead at minus-15 and two strokes ahead of the faltering Dufner, who is plus-2 in today's final round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

Johnson birdied No. 11 with a beautiful putt of near 19 feet.

While Dufner is looking to become the first since Tiger Woods in 2009 to win back-to-back golf tournaments on the PGA Tour, Johnson is seeking his second Colonial plaid jacket in three years.

Will pivotal hole No. 9 decide champ?

May, 27, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- A double bogey for Jason Dufner, his first in the last 147 holes, has set up a dead heat with Zach Johnson heading to the back nine in this final round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

Dunfer's second shot on hole No. 9 landed on the green, but bounced back and splashed in the water. After dropping and getting within 18 feet, he narrowly missed the putt to drop back to minus-14.

Johnson made a nice save on the hole when his second shot, with his left foot on the edge of the bunker and choking down on his club, got onto the green. With a chance for a three-shot swing and the lead on hole No. 9, his 14-foot, six-inch putt lipped out, leaving Johnson to settle for the par and the tie.

For the round, Dufner is plus-1 and Johnson is even.

Still, no one else has made up much ground with Tommy Gainey and John Huh both at minus-7. Gainey is through 13 holes and Huh is through 10.

As for Johnson's course-record 21-under, that would appear to be safe for another year.

Kevin Na pleased with speed-up changes

May, 27, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Kevin Na said his attempt to speed up game is still a work in progress, but he’s happy with the changes he’s made so far.

Na made a nice Sunday move with a 4-under 66 to finish at 2-under.

While contending at The Players Championship two weeks ago, Na's hesitation over shots was well documented.

“It wasn’t like I was playing slow on purpose,’’ Na said. “But I got a lot of compliments this week. A PGA Tour rules official stopped by to tell me that he thought what I was doing this week was fantastic.’’

Na said he’s never been slow choosing a club, but in his old routine he would stand over the ball until he was comfortable, waggling the club several times.

"Now, I don't think. I just swing. I’ve put a lot of effort into it and I think my time to hit shots is less than half,’’ he said. “There are still times when I back away, but in the wind, everybody does that.

“I knew making changes wasn’t going to be easy and it still isn’t easy. But it is something I need to do.’’

Na made all pars on his second nine after shooting 4-under 31 on the outward nine.

“Today I was absolutely striping it,’’ Na said. “I felt really good. On the back nine, I couldn’t keep my foot on the gas pedal, but I had chances.’’

Back to a dead heat at Colonial

May, 27, 2012
UPDATE: With a second consecutive birdie, Jason Dufner pushed back into the lead at minus-16 after six holes, one stroke ahead of Zach Johnson, and right back where they started the final found.

FORT WORTH, Texas -- We're all tied up at minus-15 through five holes at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

Zach Johnson took over the lead on No. 2 and Jason Dufner has come back to tie things up on No. 5 with an 8-foot putt for birdie while Johnson made par, his fourth consecutive par.

Johnson's course record of 21-under remains under attack.

This remains strictly a two-horse race. Tommy "Two Gloves" Gainey has made a nice run, going 4-under through nine to get to minus-8. John Huh is minus-6 through six and Tom Gillis is minus-6 through five holes.

Zach Johnson strikes first, takes lead

May, 27, 2012
UPDATE: Through four holes, Zach Johnson continues to hold a one-stroke lead as he and Jason Dufner both made par on holes 3 and 4.

FORT WORTH, Texas -- 2010 Colonial champ Zach Johnson wants a second plaid jacket and he struck first in Sunday's final round, taking a one-stroke lead with a birdie on hole No. 2, while third-round leader Jason Dufner bogeyed the hole.

Both made par on hole No. 1.

Johnson tied Dufner twice in the third round, but never managed to take the lead.

Dufner is looking to become the first golfer since Ben Hogan in 1946 to win the Dallas and Fort Worth PGA Tour events in the same season. He won the HP Byron Nelson Championship last week and has won two of his last three starts.

Johnson, meanwhile, set the course record of 21-under with his championship two years ago.

10 playoffs have been needed at Colonial

May, 27, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- If 18 holes aren’t enough to settle what is expected to be a two-man battle between Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson for the Crowne Plaza Invitational title, a sudden death playoff will decide the champion.

In Colonial’s 63-year history, 10 titles have been decided by playoffs. The last playoff was in 2009 when a Steve Stricker birdie on the second playoff hole defeated Tim Clark. Steve Marino exited what began as a three-man playoff after the first hole.

A playoff in 2007 also involved three players. Rory Sabbatini with a birdie defeated Jim Furyk and Bernhard Langer on the first extra hole.

The first two Colonial playoffs used an 18-hole format Monday -- 1959 (Ben Hogan over Fred Hawkins) and 1962 (Arnold Palmer over Johnny Pott).

The playoff format switched to sudden death for the third playoff in 1983 when Jim Colbert took down Fuzzy Zoeller. It required six holes, making it the longest sudden death playoff at Colonial.

Other Colonial playoffs: 1984, Peter Jacobsen over Payne Stewart; 1986, Dan Pohl over Payne Stewart; 1992 Bruce Lietzke over Corey Pavin; 1994, Nick Price over Scott Simpson; 2006, Tim Herron over Richard S. Johnson.

Kevin Na setting final round pace at 4-under

May, 27, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Kevin Na appears to be playing a different Colonial Country Club course from the rest of the field so far in the final round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

Na capped off a 4-under 31 on his opening nine by spinning a 123-yard approach on No. 9 to within seven feet and then sinking the putt for his fourth birdie. He’s moved into a tie for 16th place at 2-under.

Na has been working on speeding up his pre-shot preparation time and reducing the waggles that crept into his game. The problem with waggles was magnified when he contended in The Players Championship two weeks ago.

In Friday’s second round, Na became angry after being notified he was being put on the clock by PGA Tour rules official because of slow play. The 28-year-old resident of Las Vegas opened with a 70 on Thursday and followed it with 71s in the next two rounds.

In addition to his birdie on No. 9, Na made birdie putts at No. 2 (4 feet), No. 6 (26 feet) and No. 7 (28 feet) and recorded pars on his other five holes.

Scores running high for early starters

May, 27, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Early starters in Sunday’s final round of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial are finding birdies difficult to come by so far.

At present, 16 of the 36 players on the course are over par. Gary Christian shot a 6-over 41 on the first nine and Andres Romero had a 40.

Only eight players are currently under par. Kevin Na is 2-under and the other seven are 1-under. The field has been whittled to 72 players.

Conditions this morning are very similar to the previous three days with winds 10-20 mph from the south, only with fewer clouds a little more sunshine. The temperature is forecasted to reach the lower 90s with winds increasing to 15-25 mph by the late afternoon.

W2W4: Round 3 at Colonial

May, 26, 2012
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Now things start to get serious as the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial moves to Round 3. Here's some key things to watch:

* Jim Furyk, tied for 17th place at 2-under, said the greens have been extremely "soft and receptive" in the first two rounds and that the fairways are "lush and greener" than in some years past, which is why the leaderboard is stacked with low scores. He said the grounds crew has had to keep the greens soft because of the gusty winds the first two days and he wonders if the wind dies down and the greens brown out some if scores will reflect the faster surface and go up. The forecast calls for winds to be steady at 20 mph - 30 mph today, but to be fairly calm Sunday at about 15 mph and with gusts up to 25 mph.

* Tournament leader Jason Dufner (11-under) continues his quest to become the first player since Ben Hogan in 1946 to win both Dallas-Fort Worth tournaments in the same season. Dufner won the HP Byron Nelson last week. He is also trying to become only the 15th golfer to win both tournaments at any time. Dufner tees off at 12:50 p.m. and will be paired with Zach Johnson (9-under).

* Speaking of Johnson, not only is he targeting the lead today, he will also look to extend his consecutive rounds in the 60s at Colonial. After Thursday's 64 and Friday's 67, he's up to 14 in a row.

* John Daly somewhat surprisingly made the cut for only the second time in the last seven tries, so he sticks around Fort Worth for another two days and there's nothing wrong with that. On Friday, Daly (T21st at 1-under) wore a crazy pair of orange-and-black swirl pants with a bright orange shirt (you can identify his girlfriend because she's the one wearing the matching shorts). No telling what he'll (they'll) have on today. Daly was looking pretty good until he bogeyed No. 14 and No. 15, part of a three-bogey, four-birdie Round 2. He tees off at 10:44 a.m., paired with Sergio Garcia.

* If you don't mind a pack of wildly dressed teenage boys (a bit of an exaggeration) joining the gallery, check out 23-year-old phenom Rickie Fowler (4-under). He's in contention, just seven shots back. If you're navigating the course, he's the one wearing the electric Puma ensemble. He tees off at 12:20 P.M.

* An interesting story is Tommy Gainey, who is tied for third at seven-under. The South Carolina native appeared in 2005 on the Golf Channel's "Big Break vs. Europe" and "The Reunion," sort of the golf reality TV equivalent to Dallas Cowboys receiver Jesse Holley getting a training-camp invite off of Michael Irvin's reality TV show a few years back. Gainey, 36, is the first Big Break alumnus to earn a PGA Tour card. He is looking for his first career win. He tees off at 12:40 p.m. in the second-to-last pairing, playing alongside Bo Van Pelt.