Expert Picks for Crowne Plaza Invitational
If you go to the PGA's own site (PGATour.com), and you visit the attached page covering the course layout, you will be met with a list of quotes from some of the more notable names in golf history, all speaking about the beauty and challenge the resides at the Colonial Country Club in Ft. Worth, Texas. It speaks well of the allure and honor associated with the venue, but one particular quote brings the true focus of the layout into perspective. "A straight ball will get you in more trouble at Colonial than any course I know." - Ben Hogan Nothing could be more true, and it is that historic challenge that draws so many of the game's top golfers to take battle at this year's Crowne Plaza Invitational. Founded in 1936 and designed by Marvin Leonard, now famous as an innovator for his love of bentgrass greens, Crowne Plaza has been a target for the PGA Tour for many years, having served as the host of THE PLAYERS, the U. S. Women's Open, and the U.S. Open in the past. Their website notes the course endured widespread renovation last summer though changes were designed to maintain the same basic structure and focused demand (adding length and the occasional repositioned hazard), giving this season's field an updated version of the same historic layout these golfers have enjoyed for decades. A course sitting at 70 for par puts primary focus on the par-4 offerings at Colonial. There are some of the most challenging par-4 holes on the Tour at this track, and they can punish just as easily (if not worse) than they can reward. The list of recent champions includes several of the game's most respected names: Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Kenny Perry, Tim Herron, Rory Sabbatini, Steve Stricker, and this year's defending champ Zach Johnson. Many of those golfers return this week along with other top talents from the Tour, including Jim Furyk, Jeff Overton, Sean O'Hair, Ben Crane, Rickie Fowler, J.B. Holmes, Hunter Mahan, Matt Kuchar, Adam Scott, Scott Verplank, Jason day, Tim Clark, Anthony Kim, Jason Day, and many others.
Matt Kuchar [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #27
Kuchar has yet to shoot to the top of a leaderboard this season, but he's come close several times. We take that, along with his strong showing at Colonial last season (and his rise up the ranks over the last two) and we put big expectations on Kuchar's shoulders.
Jim Furyk [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #24
While the rest of the game's elite fluctuate around him, Furyk keeps pushing along looking for consistent play throughout. He's been up and down the leaderboard at Colonial over his time, but he certainly knows the track and he has the game to put that knowledge to use.
Jason Day [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #1
Day has become one of the best gambles in the game of fantasy golf, pushing a new level of performance to go with the power he's owned since Day 1. He seems to find low scores on every track he hits these days and it seems wise to expect he'll do the same at Colonial.
Sergio Garcia [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #15
Garcia's history on this particular track is as rich as any golfer in the field. He has an oversized check in the bank from this event and lately he's been on the rebound. We were in love with him last week and he finally pulled through on Sunday. This week he'll be on point throughout.
Hunter Mahan [Yahoo Class A] - World Ranking: #115
Mahan has earned rank among the finest golfers in the land and his presence all but demands consideration from the fantasy faithful (though his history at Colonial is somewhat concerning). His struggles at this course may be of worry, but his talents certainly are not.
Crane hasn't been as reliable this season as last, but there are signs he is headed in the right direction. Last year he used Colonial as one of several stepping stones to up his respect and we tend to believe he'll be within respect again in 2011.
Overton may be as volatile as any of the young golfers in this week's field, but he is also one of the more talented options of that group. He was a shining star on these links last season and we've seen enough positive work from his bag of late to think he can repeat.
Martin Laird [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #194
Laird appears to be one of the more sound wagers of the 2011 PGA Tour season. He's not in the mix every week, but he's working in the top ranks of the final leaderboards more often than not. His hot hand and stout performance have us believing in 2011.
Scott Verplank [Yahoo Class C] - Not Entered
There aren't many vets on the Tour calling Texas home these days, but Verplank is one of them. As such, he owns a long and impressive history on this Colonial track. He hasn't been as active this season, but on this particular track we simply don't care; it's a wonderful fit.
Zach Johnson [Yahoo Class B] - World Ranking: #17
The defending champ isn't playing so well these days, but there is plenty of reason to believe he can reverse his fortunes on this track. ZJ has been a persistent force of reckoning at Colonial over recent years and his history cannot and should not be ignored.
Sean O'Hair [Yahoo Class C] - World Ranking: #116
It may seem a bit early to call out the young Texan who has struggled over most of the season, but (a) he showed well at Sawgrass last week, and (b) Colonial may be his favorite links on Tour.
Marino cannot and should not be denied rank as one of the best options we tend to overlook each week. He played very well on these Colonial links over the bulk of the last three seasons, so we won't overlook him today.