We're back in Texas on the PGA Tour as a relatively strong field lines up for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. This is a specific type of test and Colonial rates as one of the tightest tracks on tour. If we look at the guys with consistent success here down the years, a pattern begins to emerge.
We'll start with course specialist Zach Johnson - 17.00 - who owns an amazing form line of 9-1-4-1-3 and comes here as the leading money earner at the Crowne Plaza Invitational. With a T9 at the Masters and a T13 at Sawgrass, you could argue that he and market leader Jordan Spieth - 7.00 - should be a little closer together in the betting. Jordan is a Dallas resident and will be eager to impress the home support. He has form of 7-14 in two starts at Colonial. Adam Scott - 26.00 - will defend the title he won last year.
The Course - Colonial Country club
A par 70 circa 7,200 yards long, as mentioned Colonial is one of the tightest tracks on Tour, rivaling Harbour Town. Fairways are tree-lined and some are dog-legged. Premium here is on precision over power. Guys who can split the fairways in half on a regular basis thrive at Colonial. A solid wedge / short iron game would be the weapon of choice on a course where proximity to the hole is vital when coming in to small, narrow, sand protected greens. Surfaces are generally grade A so those who roll it well with the flat stick tend to come to the fore. Putting from 10-15' will prove pivotal this week.
Note: Colonial Country Club has taken a lot of water recently. The 18th was completely underwater just 10 days ago so conditions may be soft and we could see some target golf.
Three from the pack
Ryan Palmer - 26.00 - is a local man and has been a member of Colonial since 2010. His caddy James Edmonson is also a member there. In fact he's a three time Colonial Club Championship winner and has a personal best of 62 on the track - the same score Palmer opened with in 2013 to take the first round lead. Ryan and James know the course inside out and Palmer says he feels comfortable over every shot at Colonial. Palmer has just finished hosting the Ryan Palmer Junior Invitational nearby so has been home for a few weeks. This is the tournament he says he "gears up for the most". Since taking up membership in 2010, his performances have shown marked improvement with a form line of 31-5-14-5. Palmer's official form may have dipped but from a bit of social media research - it would seem he's been up to his old tricks again in practice around his home track with a round of 61 - matching the official course record score and getting 1-up on Edmonson again!
Chris Kirk - 36.00 - closed the 2012 renewal at Colonial with a 65 to post a T5 finish. He owns form of 16-5-35-14 the last 4 years at the Crowne Plaza Invitational and looks just about to hit top form having been out in the last pairing at Sawgrass. A few interesting stats to throw out there for Kirk are the following: Kirk has ranked in the top 15 in putting from 10-15' on the PGA Tour in 2014 and '15. He was 6th in this stat in 2014. Over the last two years the American has ranked highly in approaches with the wedges and short irons. He was 5th in approaches from 150-175 yards last year and this season ranks 12th from 125-150 yards. Bearing in mind guys like Tim Clark and Zach Johnson - who excel here due to their proximity with their short irons and mid distance putting - these attributes may stand Chris in good stead.
Streaky birdie maker Kevin Streelman - 67.00 - is overpriced this week in my opinion. He has a recent top 10 at Colonial but it's sandwiched in between three missed cuts, hence the odds inflation. Streelman is a much different and more confident player after his win at TPC River Highlands last season where he finished 64-64 to claim the Travelers Championship title. Streelman set a record birdie streak of 7 in a row en route to victory. His stats fit the profile for the track in question: The American ranks 24th in driving accuracy and 15th in ball striking. Kevin was right in it at The Masters a few weeks back and continued his form with a closing 68 for T9 at Wells Fargo.
Three guys firmly on the radar here and David Toms - 101.0 - is a course specialist I always back at colonial. He has some sneaky form after injury with a T13 at Sawgrass. Toms ranks 15th in proximity. Another rounding into top form is Hudson Swafford - 151.0 - who ranks an eye catching 4th in proximity to the hole. Hudson was a big feature in the earlier stages in Zurich.
Chad Campbell - 201.0 - is creeping into form of late and as a humongous price gets the main vote here. Campbell is one of a number of guys who hold the official course record 61 here at Colonial. Texan Campbell recorded a top 10 in Zurich and was out in one of the last few groupings on Sunday at Wells Fargo but capitulated with an 81, leaving him firmly off the bookmaker radar. Chad topped the GIR% charts on the PGA Tour in 2014. He was also 35th in driving accuracy, 16th in ball striking and an eye catching 9th in proximity - key around Colonial. Runner up here back in '04, he's well worth a play in the sub markets too, such as first round leader.