If there is to be a break in the pattern of PGA Tour winners coming from the middle regions of the Official World Golf Ranking, might it come at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial? Not a tournament that has offered world-class fields in recent years, the Colonial has, nevertheless, identified very accomplished winners. Since 2000, six winners have won major championships and all but two players who have donned the plaid jacket given to the winner have played in a Ryder or Presidents Cup. A year ago, Boo Weekley outdueled Matt Kuchar, winning by a stroke after weekend rounds of 66-66. And although, Weekley (pictured) returns to defend his title, we first turn our attention toward Kuchar. One of the hottest golfers in the world, Kooch, who has never missed the cut in seven starts at Colonial, has his sights set on more than just a victory. The No. 1 spot on the World Ranking is within reach.
Matt Kuchar’s PGA Tour record since the beginning of March
|Valero Texas Open||T-4||70-72-65-75—282||272,800|
|Shell Houston Open||2||66-67-68-72—273||691,200|
|HP Byron Nelson Championship||T-7||69-67-68-68—272||207,862|
Another player to focus on this week is Graham DeLaet, the PGA Tour leader in ball striking. Colonial CC isn’t a bomber’s paradise. Its tight fairways require precise tee shots and ball striking will be at a premium. The PGA Tour’s ball-striking stat – a combination of a player’s rank in greens in regulation and total driving (which is itself a combination driving distance and driving accuracy) – gives us a look at who might succeed.
PGA Tour leaders in ball striking
|Rank||Player||In Colonial field||Best finsih|
|1||Graham DeLaet||Yes||T-22 in 2013|
|2||Boo Weekley||Yes||Won in 2013|
|6||Kevin Stadler||Yes||7th in 2011|
|7||Justin Hicks||Yes||T-62 in 2013|
|8||Harris English||Yes||T-5 in 2012|
|9||John Senden||Yes||T-8 in 2011|
|10||Ryan Palmer||Yes||T-5 in 2012|
DeLaet, is an intriguing player. A two-time runner-up 2013-14, the Canadian member of the 2013 International Presidents Cup team has yet to win on the PGA Tour. Although the Colonial hasn’t crowned a first-time PGA Tour winner since Sergio Garcia in 2001, the three previous Texas events on Tour this year had not raised any hardware. Could this be the week DeLaet finally wins his first event? He has slowed down from his hot start – he had four straight top-10s earlier this year including his T-2s at San Diego and Phoenix. But despite poor performances at the Masters and the Players, he turned it around with a T-7 at last week’s Nelson. Here’s a look at the players in the top-10 at the Nelson who are in the Colonial field and how they fare in the Tour’s ball-striking stat and at Colonial.
How the Byron Nelson contenders have fared at the Colonial
|Player||Nelson finish||Ball striking rank||Best Colonial|
|Brendon Todd||Won||71||T-73 in 2012|
|Marc Leishman||T-3||T-86||T-44 in 2011|
|James Hahn||T-5||75||No cuts made|
|Boo Weekley||T-5||2||Won in 2013|
|Graham DeLaet||T-7||1||T-22 in 2013|
|Dustin Johnson||T-7||11||T-74 in 2008|
|Matt Kuchar||T-7||41||Second in 2013|
For additional proof of the importance of ball striking, a year ago Weekley was T-6 in fairways hit and T-5 in greens in regulation at Colonial. In the past six years, the winner of the Colonial has finished in the top 15 in both stats four times.
Accuracy and GIR rank of Colonial winner: 2008-2013
|Year||Player||Accuracy rank||GIR rank|
If DeLaet – or Kuchar or Weekley or anyone else from the top of the Nelson leader board were to play well this week - they’d join this list of players who have tackled the Texas Two-step with consecutive top-10s in the Metroplex.
Players with top-10 finishes at the Nelson and the Colonial since 2010
|Year||Player||Nelson finish||Colonial finish|
One name we haven’t mentioned is new World No. 1 Adam Scott, who’s playing in Fort Worth for the first time since a T-65 in 2011. Scott could make history this week. The Colonial is the only Texas event that he has not won, and he is looking to become the first player in PGA Tour history to win all four of the current PGA Tour events in the state of Texas.
Adam Scott in Texas events
|Colonial||2||0||2||T-64 in 2009|
|Byron Nelson||4||2||2||Won in 2008|
|Houston||6||2||5||Won in 2007|
|Texas Open||2||1||2||Won in 2010|
Players with wins in three of the four Texas tournaments
|Player||Colonial win||Texas win||Nelson win||Houston win|
|Ben Crenshaw||1977, 90||1973, 86||1983|
|Ben Hogan||1946, 47, 52, 53, 59||1946||1946|
|Phil Mickelson||2000, 08||1996||2011|
|Arnold Palmer||1962||1960, 61, 62||1957, 66|
|Corey Pavin||1985, 96||1988||1984|
|Nick Price||1994, 02||1992||1991|
|Sam Snead||1950||1948, 50||1945, 57, 58|
|Mike Souchak||1956||1955||1955, 64|
Scott is already in select company, eight of the other 12 players are members of the World Golf Hall of Fame. A victory at Colonial would put him in a class by himself. It’s certainly something worthy of No. 1.