05/20/2014

Moving forward to the Crowne Plaza Invitational this week, where players congregate to celebrate golf at Hogan’s Alley. As last week’s HP Byron Nelson was home to many first time winners (including Brendon Todd last week), a first-timer hasn’t won this event in 15 years.

Now as an invitational, this event has some interesting story lines:

– The start will be Adam Scott’s first start since being crowned as the #1 player in the world. He is also looking to complete the career Texas Grand Slam (winning the Shell Houston Open in 2007, the Byron Nelson in ’08 and the Valero Texas Open in 2010).

– TCU golfer Julien Brun will be skipping the NCAA National tournament, a controversial decision. Obviously, I wish him all the best in his start in Texas, but as Tripp Isenhour said on the Golf Channel this week, “he’ll have plenty of Colonials in his future….”. For those fortunate enough to play collegiate golf, only 4 years are afforded to play for a National title. I would’ve liked to see one of the nation’s best compete for a national title, but I trust the decision was hard for him regardless.

– 1974 champion Rod Curl was offered a special “champions’ choice” invitation that prompted the 70-year-old dad to make one more start. Why? His son, Jeff, is in the field this week.

Let’s get into some picks, people….

Two Weeks Ago: THE PLAYERS: Jim Furyk 2, Rory McIlroy T6, Kevin Na T38

Last Week’s HP Byron Nelson: Ryo Ishikawa T73, Keegan Bradley T29, Jordan Spieth T37


 Contenders

Ryan Palmer

Palmer’s 2014 has some footing to stand on. He currently sits in the 28th spot in the FedEx Cup rankings with a T7 at the Shell, a playoff-loss at the Honda Classic and a 2nd at the Humana. For the last few weeks, Palmer’s game has trended upward. He went from a missed cut, to a finish in the 50s, to a finish in the 20s.

Palmer is a member at Colonial. His caddy, Jim Edmonson is Colonial’s Club Champion. Palmer has two top-15 finishes here the past two seasons. I fully expect his success to continue here this week.

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 Marc Leishman

After a stretch of missed cuts in every April start, Leishman has started making a comeback. T23 and T3 at the PLAYERS and Byron Nelson have Leishman’s game trending towards the ceiling. Greens-in-Regulation are important each and every week on Tour, but this week, players with high GIR percentages have finished strong. At 7,200 yards, Leishman’s ranking of 2nd on the PGA Tour in GIR 125-150 yards will prove effective.

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Winner

Zach Johnson

There might not be an argument stronger for any other player in the entire field for success this week. He’s won this event multiple times and one-time, lit the course up for its tournament record, breaking 260 (21-under 259).

Zach Johnson’s season since his win in Hawaii has been fairly pedestrian– at least under Zach’s own expectations. He’s seen 3 top 10s, but only one since mid-January. He hasn’t threatened the winners circle. He’s played consistent golf, but nothing out of the ordinary. And out of the ordinary is what we’ve come to expect from perhaps the most ordinary man on the PGA Tour.

This week, within the confines of comfort, Zach will regain form. He’ll add another trophy to his mantle and another jacket to his closet. Let’s hope for no ball marking errors this time around…

Zach Johnson Wins Colonial

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