The Tour moves to Texas for two events in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. First up is the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. This is the 67th year this event has been played at Colonial. Only the Masters can claim to have been played on the same course longer than that. The course is iconic. Just look at the list of champions. Every great player with the exception of Tiger Woods has won at Colonial. Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Billy Casper, Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus all notched a victory there, and Ben Hogan won five times.
Colonial was once considered one of the toughest venues on Tour, but the course has no room to add yardage, so advances in technology have wiped out many of the course’s defenses. The only reason the course is still relevant is because of all the doglegs: 12 holes swing around and long hitters have to throttle back with fairway woods and irons. This makes Colonial somewhat of an oddity on Tour: it’s short, but long hitters can’t overpower it, so accuracy off the tee is needed to set up proper shots to the greens.
Shot making — which is becoming a lost art on the PGA Tour — is key. Expect experienced players to do well. The last 18 champions had a total of 189 PGA Tour wins with their victory at Colonial. That’s an average of 10.5 wins per champion. The Senior PGA Championship is being played this week, so all the best senior players will be at French Link, right? Wrong. Four golfers over 50 are playing at Colonial: Tom Watson, Kenny Perry, Corey Pavin and Vijay Singh. Their games work at Colonial because length (and therefore age) isn’t a factor.
Jordan Spieth is back after taking a week off, and it will be interesting to see if he is still hot. Colonial is a perfect course for him, since he doesn’t hit it far and does most of his damage with his wedge and putter. He finished T14 last year and T7 in 2013.
Zach Johnson, David Toms and Steve Stricker have also seen success in this event, while defending champion Adam Scott is trying to find his way on the greens as he prepares for the anchor-putting ban taking effect at the beginning of 2016. Patrick Rodgers is in the field at Colonial after finishing tied for second at Wells Fargo. He needs to win about $45,000 in his next three starts to gain full PGA Tour membership.