Crowne Plaza Invitational Betting Preview

English: An image of golfer Zach Johnson on to...

English: An image of golfer Zach Johnson on tour in 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The PGA Tour returns to Colonial for the 65th time this week for the Crowne Plaza Invitational, where Zach Johnson will look to defend his 2012 title.
2013 Crowne Plaza Invitational Fact Sheet

  • Course: Colonial Country Club Course
  • Location: Fort Worth, Texas
  • Yardage: 7,204 yards, par 70
  • Defending Champion: Zach Johnson
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Charl Schwartzel, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Jim Furyk and Jason Dufner

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
  • Sunday –  1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)

Key Storyline This Week
It’s difficult to believe that a tournament like the Crowne Plaza Invitational with history dating back to 1946 would be the lesser tournament played in a week, but that’s the situation we find ourselves in with the European Tour hosting the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth this week. Still though, most of the world’s best players are playing somewhere this week, so that’s really all that matters. With no real runaway favourite this week, many will feel like they have a chance, and with the way the course usually plays, you should be expecting low scores. The winning score of this event has only been in single digits three times in the last twenty years, with the last coming in 1999 when Olin Browne came away victorious.
Colonial Country Club
You’ll probably hear the term Hogan’s Alley a lot this week, and it really only references the success that Ben Hogan had on the track in prior years, winning the event five times. It’s a rarity these days, but Colonial has played host for all 65 years of this championship, and really, there hasn’t been a whole lot in the way of changes to the design since the tournament was initially contested in 1946. The layout has been stretched to just over 7,200 yards, but it still plays as a par-70, as Perry Maxwell and John Bredemus initially envisioned when they started building it in the mid-1930’s. Colonial typically ranks in as one of the hardest collections of fairways and greens to hit on the PGA Tour, and with greens averaging just over 4,400 square feet, players won’t be aiming at large targets. Thankfully for the players, the conditions aren’t supposed to be too bad, with a little bit of rain expected on Friday and minimal wind until Sunday’s final round, where it could blow at up to 25 km/h.
As far as holes to watch this week, Colonial is known for having difficult stretches of action, sandwiched between easy ones. For example, holes 3-4-5 ranked as the 8th, 6th and 1st on the handicap scale in terms of difficulty, while 12-13-14-15 came in as the 5th, 3rd, 2nd and 7th hardest on the course. Players need to take advantage of the two lone par-5’s on the course this week. The first hole has played as the easiest hole on the course in each of the last five years, and while the 11th is a beast at 635 yards, players should be able to just let it go. Even if it’s a three shot hole for most players, it should be an easy birdie hole.
Thoughts on the Favourites

  • Charl Schwartzel: Schwartzel’s an interesting play this week since he’s never seen the course. I’m not sure why he chose to abandon Wentworth this year since he’s played there every year since 2004, but last week was his first appearance at Las Colinas too and he ended up with a solo third. In a weaker field, I think he’s the most talented player out there.
  • Zach Johnson: Johnson’s a two-time winner on this course, and when he’s on, this is the type of course that he always does well on. The problem is that his trademark consistency has been completely absent in 2013, with three missed cuts and no top-10 finishes. Staying away from him until he shows some better form.
  • Matt Kuchar: One top-10 finish here in six events, and much like Johnson, he hasn’t had the kind of year that he would have expected. Since winning the Match Play in February, his T-8 at the Masters is his only top-10 finish, and he really hasn’t been close in other events. Not sure what to expect from him at all.
  • Jim Furyk: Tremendous track record here with seven top-10 finishes since 1996, including last year. Seems like a broken record, but he hasn’t had a quality year in 2013, and I would consider betting him, but the price simply isn’t good enough considering his start to 2013.
  • Jason Dufner: I thought he might break out last week at the Byron Nelson, but it didn’t happen as he finished tied for 33rd. Still looking for his first top-10 of the year on the PGA Tour as well, so despite his runner-up finish to Johnson last year, I’ll be looking elsewhere.

Suggested Plays
Charl Schwartzel (Best Odds 14-1 at bet365)
The only reason Schwartzel didn’t win at the Byron Nelson was because his putter betrayed him on Sunday. Players of his quality don’t let that happen twice in a row, and when you can get the best player in the field at this price, you take it.
Ricke Fowler (Best Odds 28-1 at Betfair)
I know he’s been cut in back-to-back events, but in shorter quality fields, you tend to look at the players with the most talent, and Fowler is right up there on that list. He’s improved every time out at Colonial, ending up tied for fifth last year.
Bo Van Pelt (Best Odds 35-1 at Bet Victor)
Things are slowly starting to come together for Van Pelt, who struggled to start his campaign. He’s never missed the cut in nine tries at Colonial, and has six top-20’s. Has picked up two top-10 finishes in his last three worldwide events.
Henrik Stenson (Best Odds 35-1 at Sky Bet)
Doesn’t have a great track record here, with his best finish being a tie for 27th back in 2010, but his finishes and stats in 2013 are pointing towards a win. He leads the PGA Tour in both driving accuracy and greens in regulation, and he’s finished inside the top-20 in five of his last six stroke play events. He has all of the skills to get it done this week and has that “go low” ability.
Tim Clark (Best Odds 51-1 at Betfair)
Doesn’t have the “go low” ability of Stenson or Fowler, but shouldn’t put himself out of contention either. It’s a rarity when he misses a fairway, and his scrambling and putting ability are better than most. Six top-20 finishes in eight tries, including back-to-back runner ups in 2008 and 2009.
David Hearn (Best Odds 265-1 at Betfair)
This is the real definition of a dartboard pick, as most people have no idea who Hearn even is. He’s only made 7 of 14 cuts in 2013, but he did end up tied for 13th here last year, plus the one thing that never seems to leave him is the putter. Outside of the missed cut a few weeks ago in Houston, he always seems to play well in the Texas area, and I think he’s a decent each-way bet at that kind of price.
Other Notes

  • I think Louis Oosthuizen could be a threat, but after pulling out of the Byron Nelson on Saturday night with a neck injury, it just doesn’t seem like a wise decision to place money on him.
  • It’s the 10th anniversary of Annika Sorenstam playing in the event in 2003. Sorenstam missed the cut, but became the first woman to play a PGA Tour event since Babe Zaharias played the LA Open in 1945.
  • Franklin Corpening and Jordan Spieth will be in the field this week as the two players selected by past champions to join the field. The Crowne Plaza is the only tournament that uses this as a way to fill out the field.
  • Sponsors Exemptions this week: Chad Campbell, Patrick Cantlay, John Daly, Steve Flesch, Steven Fox, Colt Knost, Davis Love III and John Peterson.
  • 70 players combining for 278 career PGA Tour wins are in the field this week.

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