Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Sluman's experience will help at Colonial
By John Hawkins
Once the home to a crucial stop on the PGA Tour, the Bank of America Colonial has struggled in recent years to generate buzz. It wasn't just pot luck that Annika Sorenstam chose to play here in 2003. This venue has become undersized amid the latest equipment revolution, meaning the short-and-straight set has a better chance at Colonial than virtually any other course.
Kenny Perry, one of the most accurate long drivers in the game, has won two of the last three Colonials -- both in routs with a winning score of 19 under. Perry's high ball-flight allows him to take shortcuts over trees and hit less club into Colonial's small greens. There is no overstating such an advantage, but few bombers have the length and accuracy to claim such an edge.
Perry has just returned from knee surgery, however, so I'm going with Jeff Sluman, who has two thirds and a second here since 1998. Sluman finished T-13 last week in Dallas, jumping into contention after a third-round 64, then faltering with a 70 Sunday. More warm, dry Texas weather should translate to firm fairways, negating Sluman's lack of distance, and his excellent short game should prove invaluable. This is a course that requires more local knowledge and experience than most -- it hasn't had a first-time winner since Keith Clearwater in 1987. If you're looking for a veteran control player with good par-saving instincts, Sluman certainly qualifies.
John Hawkins is a senior writer for Golf World magazine.