PGA Tour Picks: Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/22/2013
Before looking at this week's second stop on the mini-Texas Swing with the Crowne Plaza Invitational at storied Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, let's recap my recommendations from last week's Byron Nelson.
Yet again, a relative unknown took home his first PGA Tour victory, this time 26-year-old South Korean Sang-Moon Bae. The tournament looked like a rout on the front nine Sunday as Bae built a four-shot lead. However, he would give that back thanks to a double on No. 9 and bogey at No. 10. Keegan Bradley would catch Bae at No. 15 before falling back after missing a short birdie on the next hole to remain tied. Bae shot a final-round 69 to win by two. He was one of only three players to shoot all four rounds in the 60s.
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Bae joined the Tour last year, earning a little over $1.1 million, which he topped last week alone. This guy has major talent, however. He has 11 international victories, including three on the Asian Tour and three more on the Japan Golf Tour, where in 2011 he was the leading money winner. Bae is the fifth player of Korean descent to win on the PGA Tour. Interestingly, he may lose part of his career for a mandatory stint in the South Korean military. However, an Olympic medal in three years in Brazil or a major championship would exempt him from service.
I clearly didn't recommend Bae to win. I went with D.A. Points at 33/1, and he finished T12. So did Marc Leishman, whom I really liked for a Top-10 finish. I didn't get any Top 10s for the first time in weeks. I did hit on Jason Day (-110) head-to-head over Matt Kuchar, Bradley (-110) over Jason Dufner and Jimmy Walker (-125) over Robert Garrigus.
So now it's on to Colonial, otherwise known as (Ben) Hogan's Alley, which has hosted a Tour event annually since 1946. It also hosted the 1941 U.S. Open, which was notable as the first Open south of the Mason-Dixon Line. But Colonial is best known for when Annika Sorenstam played in this event 10 years ago. At the time easily the best player on the LPGA Tour, Sorenstam certainly didn't embarrass herself, shooting five over to miss the cut. She did beat 11 players who played the first 36 holes. She was the first woman to play in an official Tour event since Babe Didrikson Zaharias at in the Tucson Open in 1945.
It's not a great field this week with eight of the Top 30. Every European big name, including all 12 Ryder Cup members, is overseas for the flagship event of that Tour, the BMW PGA Championship. Most stars will play next week, including Tiger Woods, in Jack Nicklaus' Memorial Tournament. No. 12 Matt Kuchar is the highest-ranked player in this week's field.
Zach Johnson is back as defending champion. Johnson nearly had an epic mistake in 2012. He didn't properly re-mark his ball before his final putt on No. 18 Sunday. Apparently caught up in the emotion of the win, Johnson moved his original ball mark out of the line of Dufner's putt. But he never moved it back before his final 5-foot putt. Thankfully, Johnson was up three shots over Dufner because Johnson was assessed a two-stroke penalty; also it was good that it was relayed to Johnson before he signed his scorecard or he would have been disqualified. Johnson also won this event in 2010 by shooting a course-record 259, nine shots better than last week. To be fair, it was very windy last week.
Johnson rallied from a one-shot deficit after 54 holes in 2012, the fourth straight Colonial winner to come from behind on the final day. Before that, seven straight winners led through 54 holes.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Favorites
Charl Schwartzel and Johnson are the 14/1 co-favorites at Bovada. Schwartzel makes his debut here, just as he did last week at the Nelson with a T3 finish. He's second on Tour in scoring average. Johnson is money at Colonial as he also has a ninth and fourth since 2009 to go with those two wins.
Dufner and Kuchar are each 20/1. Dufner, Johnson and Bae will be paired for the first two rounds. Last year's runner-up capped a stellar four-week stretch in 2012 for Dufner, but he hasn't been the same since. Still no Top-10s this year, and he hasn't been good in three other trips to Colonial. Kuchar has one Top-10 in six trips to this tournament, a ninth in 2008.
Jim Furyk, Kevin Streelman and Rickie Fowler round out the favorites at 25/1. Furyk has seven Top-10s in 17 visits, including fourth last year. Streelman is having his best year by far. He won the Tampa Bay event and his T2 at the Players was his third straight Top-6 finish. He missed the cut here in 2012. Fowler was T5 a year ago, his best result in three trips.
PGA Tour Picks: Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Predictions
On the Top 10, I'd go with Streelman (+225), Johnson (+120) and Martin Laird (+225). Head-to-head, take Fowler (-120) over Bo Van Pelt (-110), Henrik Stenson (-130) over Ben Crane (even) and Charley Hoffman (-105) over Hunter Mahan (-125).
Recent history says there won't be a first-time winner here -- Sergio Garcia was the last to do so back in 2001. Bae was the eighth first-time winner in 2013. Laird is worth a look at 28/1. He already has a win in Texas (Valero event) this year and was T5 last time out at the Players. He could easily miss the cut, too, as he has done so six times already in 2013. He has two Top-10 finishes in two visits to Colonial.
I'd really like Stenson at 33/1 if he didn't fly in from Bulgaria. Never easy to play across the pond right away. He leads the Tour in fairways hit and greens in regulation. I am going with Tim Clark at 40/1. He's been a runner-up at Colonial twice, and wouldn't it be perfect if Clark won the same week that the worldwide anchored belly-putting ban was announced (he putts that way) effective 2016?
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