Strokes gained/tee-to-green has emerged as one of the key stats in predicting victory on the PGA Tour. At Colonial CC, site of this week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational, this stat is particularly telling. Each of the last 10 winners at Colonial has finished top-10 in strokes gained/tee-to-green the week they won, with six of them finishing first or second in that stat.
At around 7,200 yards, Colonial doesn’t require the kind of distance needed at other PGA Tour stops, and the greens are less treacherous than most. A look at the last five winners—Adam Scott, Boo Weekley, Zach Johnson (twice) and David Toms—further emphasizes ball striking; only Johnson in 2012 finished outside the top 10 in GIR percentage. However, Johnson still managed to finish seventh in strokes gained/tee-to-green. He also led the field in putts and finished second in distance of putts made.
With ball striking statistics in mind, principally strokes gained/tee-to-green, here are the picks for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Also included are odds from GolfOdds.com and a look at each player’s irons.
Paul Casey 30/1
Casey has experienced a kind of reemergence this season, finishing in the top 10 five times thus far. His WD after the first round of the Players Championship came on the heels of a marathon week at the WGC-Cadillac Match Play, where he was sick Saturday night before Rory McIlroy eliminated him Sunday morning. No concern there. Casey finished T13 at Colonial CC in 2010 and fifth in 2009. This season, he’s 18th in strokes gained/tee-to-green and 15th in GIR percentage at 69.9 percent.
Casey’s irons are a split set of Nike Vapor Pro Combo (4-6) and Nike Vapor Pro (7-PW). Here’s a video of the Englishman showing off his set.
Ryan Palmer 25/1
Palmer has two top-fives at Colonial CC since 2012 and lives in nearby Colleyville, Texas. He has four top-five finishes on tour this season. Palmer ranks 11th in strokes gained/tee-to-green, 13th in driving distance and seventh in scoring average (70.122) this season. The 38-year-old hasn’t won since the 2010 Sony Open, but that could change if he has a good ball-striking week.
Palmer is playing Titleist 710 AP2 irons.
Zach Johnson 12/1
The two-time Crowne Plaza champ has an affinity for winning Texas events multiple times (having also won the Valero Texas Open twice). His putting this season hasn’t been as good as past years, but he’s shown he can win this event in different ways—in 2010 he did it tee-to-green; in 2012 he putted his way to victory. Johnson is 19th in strokes gained/tee-to-green this season, and Colonial fits his game—precision, not length, is key.
Johnson’s irons are Titleist 714 AP2s.
Check back Monday to see how our picks fared and which club(s) played the biggest role in determining a winner.