Consecutive weeks on The PGA Tour have us going from the newest course to be played on the schedule to one of the oldest, yet the two courses are only separated by forty-five miles and connected by two of golf’s icons in Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan. Tour Rookie, Aaron Wise won last week at The AT&T Byron Nelson. This week it is The Fort Worth Invitational at Colonial Country Club where the late, great, Ben Hogan won five times.
The course is a classic, one of the more treasured gems on The PGA Tour schedule as it is the longest running single golf course to hold a Tour event that is not a Major Championship. Colonial Country Club hosted a U.S. Open in 1941 and began conducting this event in 1946. The course is a Par 70 and smaller by Tour standards. The golf course has never been able to be expanded to catch up with today’s size and length due to natural limitations surrounding the property. What it makes for is a shorter track where irons and fairway metals are commonplace off of the tee. Driving Accuracy is at a premium as is negotiating the twelve holes on the course that dogleg in each direction. The greens are smaller, fast, and do not feature much undulation. Like Ben Hogan, the golf course demands precision ball striking, shaping shots, accuracy, Scrambling, and a hot putter.
Colonial Country Club does not play into the hands of first-timers. History tells us that one needs to have experience and veteran savvy to be successful here. It is not a bombers paradise. When looking at past winners at Colonial, you will find for the most part, shorter hitters, plodders, and grinders who work their ball around the course, bring a solid wedge game to the table, hit greens in regulation, and make a lot of putts. We see a similar type of golf game play well at Harbour Town in Hilton Head, South Carolina, home to The RBC Heritage.. and if you consider the type of player Ben Hogan was, winning here five times and also winning The U.S. Open four times, a classic U.S. Open style design looks to also be a good indicator. While Colonial Country Club does cater to a shorter, more precision game, wind may be the course’s biggest defense. The forecast this week calls for very hot temperatures in the Fort Worth area but very little wind to speak of. Like Wise’s winning 23-under par score last week at The Byron Nelson, Hogan’s Alley too may yield a winning score of 20-under par or better.
Jordan Spieth (+9.26 Pinnacle) Spieth knows Texas golf having grown up and gone to school here. He won at Colonial in 2016. His tee to green game and scrambling ability is some of the best in the world but his putter continues to keep him out of contention.
Justin Rose (19.52 Pinnacle) This will be Rosey’s first time playing Colonial in eight years. He’s played four times prior and never missed a cut and he won a U.S. Open at Merion, another classic, Hogan-esque golf course.
Webb Simpson (+19.52 Pinnacle) Your PLAYERS Champion finished 5th here last year and 3rd the year before that. Obviously his game fits the course and he is a U.S. Open winner at another classic U.S. Open style course in Olympic Club but can he win in back to back starts?
Patrick Cantlay (+3000 5Dimes) Cantlay has two straight Top 10 finishes at Harbour Town but has only played here once in 2013 when he had to withdraw after just one round. He is 6th on Tour in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green.
Jason Dufner (+34.97 Pinnacle) Dufner is a great fit for this golf course, having finished runner up twice and 6th in 2016. He comes in off of a 5th place finish at The Players Championship.
Bryson Dechambeau (+36.16 Bookmaker) Dechambeau has two Top 5 finishes at Harbour Town and comes in with three Top 5 finishes in his last five starts on Tour. The head scratcher is he has missed the cut here in each of his only two appearances.
The Long Shots
Chesson Hadley (+4700 Bookmaker) While a bit of a lesser known, Hadley has been one of the hottest players on Tour for the last month. His last six starts go 11th-16th-4th-20th-7th and 18th. He was 7th here at Colonial last season.
Adam Hadwin (+5000 5Dimes) Hadwin has all of the tools to play well at this golf course. He hasn’t missed a cut all season and was 5th here in 2015. He also brings two Top 30 finishes at Harbour Town to make his case.
Brian Harman (+62.59 Bookmaker) Like Hadwin, Harman is another shorter, accurate hitter who should be a great fit for Colonial – and he has been. He’s made the cut in four straight appearances going 30th-10th-25th and 7th last year.
Adam Scott (+29.81 Pinnacle) For the second week in a row, I am taking the Australian and former Fort Worth Invitational Champion, Adam Scott. Scottie took 9th last week at The Byron Nelson and 11th the week before that at The PLAYERS. He is in the process of making a hard push to get into the Top 60 ranked players in the world, thus giving him an automatic bid into the field for The U.S. Open at Shinnecock next month. As of today, he is 61st in the rankings. Scott currently holds the second longest streak on Tour of consecutive Majors played at 67 and I don’t see him wanting to risk having to qualify for The U.S. Open. He’s won every Tour event in the state of Texas and ranks 4th on Tour in Greens In Regulation. He was first in the field last week in Strokes Gained: Tee to Green and 2nd in Proximity to the Hole. He’s never missed a cut here in five trips and won in 2014. I like the mission he’s on, his likeness for the course and Texas golf, and his current form.
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