Expert picks: Crowne Plaza Invitational


This week the PGA Tour heads to Colonial CC for the Crowne Plaza Invitational. David Toms defends his title against a field that includes Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler among others. Each week a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' host Gary Williams; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Zach Johnson: He has two runner-up finishes in his last three starts, and he has three top-10s in his last three starts at Colonial, including his win in 2010 where he set the tournament record.

Group 2: David Toms: The defending champion again enters Colonial in good form. Off a T-10 finish at The Players, Toms is primed to capture his fourth top-15 finish here in five starts.

Group 3: Kevin Stadler: Solo seventh a year ago, he's had a solid season for a Group 3 pick, with three top-10 finishes. He also enters the event off a T-25 showing at TPC Sawgrass.

Group 4: John Mallinger: He made the cut and finished T-40 a year ago, but look back another year and you'll see a T-13 at Colonial. He has had a decent year, with a runner-up finish a few months ago as well as a T-24 last week at the HP Byron Nelson.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Zach Johnson: The 2010 champion just finished T-2 at the Players and loves Colonial.

Group 2: David Toms: He's a safe play this week. He won last year and has only one MC here since 1998.

Group 3: Harris English: Likely to be a popular pick this week because of his 60 in British Open qualifying, English thrives on tree-lined tracks.

Group 4: Rod Pampling: A mixed bag this season, Pampling has five top-12 finishes here in his last seven starts.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Zach Johnson: The 2010 champion is the prototypical player for Colonial, with his fairways-and-greens game and steady putting, and he's been on an impressive roll lately having finished runner-up in two of his last three starts.

Group 2: David Toms: He made magic last year following his heartbreak at The Players and is playing well again, having finished T-10 at TPC Sawgrass.

Group 3: Harris English: Not sure which player will show up this week, the guy who struggled on the weekend at The Players (79-77) or the one who scorched Monday's British Open qualifier (60-63). But if there's any chance of the latter, you have to pick him.

Group 4: Andres Romero: The Argentine's game is still a work in progress, but he was solid on Monday at the Open qualifier (T-3), tied for 29th last week at the Byron Nelson and has the kind of ball-striking game that plays well at Colonial.

Jason Sobel

Group 1: Bo Van Pelt: Five top-10 finishes this year and a solo third here last year should mean another big week.

Group 2: Ben Crane: Last five starts at Colonial - MC, T-3, T-46, 5th, T-4. Home cooking should help.

Group 3: Chad Campbell: Texas native is a ball-striker extraordinaire on a course that suits him.

Group 4: William McGirt: Playing his second-favorite PGA Tour course (Quail Hollow is first) makes him a solid underdog pick.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Rickie Fowler: Colonial is a ball-striker's course, and Fowler's ball-striking was razor sharp in winning Quail Hollow and contending at The Players. He'll work the ball nicely around Hogan's Alley.

Group 2: Ben Crane: With all the focus on slow play, Ben Crane gives us comic relief, emerging to put the struggle for speed into a humorous perspective.

Group 3: Pat Perez: The Arizona kid plays well in Texas, and plays well at colonial. He's a good driver of the ball and that bodes well at Hogan's Alley.

Group 4: Tim Clark: Yeah, it's a flier, but Clark looked like he was coming around at The Players with a T-25 finish. He's still a straight and true driver of the ball.

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Zach Johnson: No-brainer pick. Co-runner-up finishes in two of his last three starts entering this week. Top-10 finishes in his last three appearances at Colonial, highlighted by a win in 2010. Owns the tournament record of 21-under 259.

Group 2: David Toms: The defending champion is coming off a T-10 finish at The Players. He's cashed in his last eight starts at Colonial, where his tee-to-green talent shines.

Group 3: Harris English: No chance I'm not all-in after his brilliant performance at International Final Qualifying-America at Gleneagles on Monday. The hook is that he loves courses with fairways flanked by trees.

Group 4: Tim Clark: There are a couple of other temptations in this group, but the South African shared 25th place at The Players for his first top-25 finish since returning from elbow surgery. He's also a two-time runner-up at Colonial (2008, 2009).

 **Join Fantasy Expert Rob Bolton for a live golf chat Wednesday at 12:00p ET at**

Tune in to Golf Channel this Thursday-Friday from 3-6PM ET for live coverage of the Crowne Plaza Invitational.