Stat attack!: Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial preview

By John AntoniniMay 21, 2014, 1:43 am

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

 Tournament Place Scores Earnings
 WGC-Cadillac Championship T-13 69-74-74-74—291 $110,000
 Valspar Championship T-38 73-71-69-74—287 23,940
 Valero Texas Open T-4 70-72-65-75—282 272,800
 Shell Houston Open 2 66-67-68-72—273 691,200
 Masters T-5 73-71-68-74—286 342,000
 Heritage 1 66-73-70-64—273 1,044,000
 Players T-17 71-71-69-71—282 135,333
 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
 3 Hudson Swafford No  
 4  Billy Horschel No  
 5 Bubba Watson No  
 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
 2013 Boo Weekley T-6 T-5
 2012 Zach Johnson T-27 T-37
 2011 David Toms T-4 T-4
 2010 Zach Johnson T-10 1
 2009 Steve Stricker T-15 T-6
 2008 Phil Mickelson T-33 T-5

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
 2012 Jason Dufner Won 2
 2012 Jonas Blixt T-3 T-10
 2012 Ryan Palmer T-9 T-5
 2011 Rod Pampling T-8 T-10
 2010 Ben Crane  T-7 T-3
 2010 Jeff Overton T-2 T-3
 2010 Scott Verplank T-5 T-5

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

 Tournament Starts Top-10s Cuts made Best
 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  

 Bruce Crampton

1965 1964   1973, 1975
 Bruce Devlin 1966   1969 1972
 Ben Hogan 1946, 47, 52, 53, 59 1946 1946  
 Gene Littler 1971 1956   1977
 Phil Mickelson 2000, 08   1996 2011
 Byron Nelson   1940 1944 1946
 Arnold Palmer  1962 1960, 61, 62   1957, 66
 Corey Pavin 1985, 96 1988   1984
 Nick Price 1994, 02 1992 1991  
 Adam Scott   2010 2008 2007
 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.


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McIlroy 'committed to everything ... ran out of holes'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 7:08 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Rory McIlroy summed it up: “I don’t really feel like it’s a defeat. I feel like it’s a good week.”

McIlroy, in search of his fifth major, tied for the lead at The Open late on Sunday at Carnoustie when he made eagle on the par-5 14th hole. An hour later, he had made five consecutive pars to close out a 1-under 70 and tie for second place with Justin Rose, Kevin Kisner and Xander Schauffele.

That group ended two shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. McIlroy thought it was realistic to squeeze one more shot out of his round, but he never though it was possible to squeeze out two.

“I committed to everything,” he said. “I hit the shots when I needed to. I made good swings on 17 and on 18. I just ran out of holes.”

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

McIlroy hasn’t played poorly this year, but this hasn't been a year that would rank as a total success. He took the Arnold Palmer Invitational in March and collected a second-place finish at the BMW PGA Championship. He had a legitimate chance to win the Masters before a terrible Sunday round, and then missed the cut at the U.S. Open last month at Shinnecock Hills.

Sunday at Carnoustie, McIlroy bogeyed two of his first five holes and quickly became an afterthought. When others faltered, McIlroy birdies Nos. 9 and 11, then eagled 14 to vault back into the picture.

“I’m happy with how I played,” he said. “I didn’t get off to a great start, but I hung in there, and I battled back.

“So I’ll look back at this week and be very encouraged about what I’ve done and the golf that I played. I feel like that will stand me in good stead for what’s coming up.”

McIlroy is scheduled to play the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in two weeks, followed by the PGA Championship and the FedExCup Playoffs.

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Edoardo, other pros congratulate Francesco on Twitter

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:54 pm

Francesco Molinari played a bogey-free weekend at Carnoustie to claim Italy's first claret jug.

His rock-solid performance in the final round earned him his share of social media plaudits.

Here's a collection of Twitter hat-tips, and we start off with Frankie's brother, Dodo.

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Woods: Fan who yelled had 'tipped back a few'

By Jay CoffinJuly 22, 2018, 6:37 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Tiger Woods stood on the 18th tee and thought he needed birdie to have a chance to win The Open. He pulled driver out of his bag, a sign he wanted to boot the ball as far down the fairway as possible.

Woods took a mighty swat and - right in the middle of his downswing - someone yelled. Woods flinched.

Luckily his ball still found a decent spot just off the right of the fairway.

Full-field scores from the 147th Open Championship

Full coverage of the 147th Open Championship

“I’ve had things like that happen a lot in my career with people who just tried to time it,” Woods said Sunday at Carnoustie after shooting 71 to tie for sixth place. “They tipped back a few, and it’s late in the day.

“Unfortunately, that’s part of what we have to deal with in today’s game. People are trying to yell out things to try to be on TV or be in social media or whatever it may be. That was too close to the game of play.”

Woods hit his approach to 6 feet and missed the birdie putt. He tapped in for par to shoot even par and finish 5 under for the week, in a tie for sixth.

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Pros melt down on Twitter as they watch Tiger

By Grill Room TeamJuly 22, 2018, 6:30 pm

Tiger Woods mounted a final-round charge and, for a little while, took the outright lead at Carnoustie on Sunday.

His fellow pros were watching and tweeting like your average fans.

We compiled some of their missives below:

Woods would go on to finish in a tie for sixth at 5 under par for the week.