The Texan Swing concludes this week on the PGA Tour with the Crowne Plaza Invitational – also referred to as The Colonial – which will be played over Colonial Country Club. The course features tight, tree-lined fairways and small, hard greens making accuracy the key attribute to success around the 7,200-yard track.
A typically strong field has assembled for this event, including world number two Phil Mickelson. With Tiger Woods not in attendance this week, Lefty has the opportunity to gain bragging rights at the top of the world rankings with a good performance here and that’s motivation enough to give him serious consideration despite his single figure odds. I usually like to take on the tournament favourites on account of their usually skinny prices, but I can’t ignore the US Masters champion’s chances this week.
Mickelson has already won this event twice in the past and the last time he teed up here – 2008 – he shot rounds of 65-68-65-68. Following on from a poor start to the season, Mickelson of course won at Augusta and then finished second at Quail Hollow. He did perform worse than expected in the Players, but TPC Sawgrass isn’t a Mickelson-type course and back on this more conventional layout and having been refreshed by sitting out the two previous Texas events, Mickelson’s chances are obvious and at 8/1 I wouldn’t put off anyone from having a dabble on him this week.
The relatively unknown Bo Van Pelt is one of the most red-hot players in the game right now. Recent results of a tied third place at Hilton Head, a fifth at Quail Hollow and tied fourth at the Players Championship were augmented by the player cruising through his 36-hole qualifying tournament for the Open Championship earlier this week, where he shot a 10-under par total.
Having made his debut in 2004, Van Pelt has made all six cuts in this event since and his course record is good, with a string of solid finishes here. And with stats of 3rd in Total Driving, 6th in Greens In regulation, 1st in Ball Striking and 7th in Birdie Average, Van Pelt’s game seems tailor-made for this course. He’s a big price at 66/1.
Six top-ten finishes here and twice a winner already this season, Jim Furyk holds strong credentials to mount another bold bid. There’s no reason to think Furyk won’t be in contention once again this weekend over a course which clearly suits the American and 16/1 is a decent price.
Ben Crane was one my picks last week, and a poor third round knocked him out of contention. Crane recovered well on the final day to grab a share of 7th place and comes into this event having twice made the top 5 here. Already a winner this season when capturing the Farmer’s Insurance Open, Crane has been playing well throughout the season and at odds of 28/1 can be fancied to be competitive again this week.
Kevin Na is developing an unwanted reputation as a nearly-man; having posted a string of good finishes without ever getting his nose in front. A recent second at Bay Hill was just one of three top-10s this year and Na is another with good form over the course, having recorded three top-20s from four attempts. The course will play to his strengths and at 70/1 is another worthy of an each-way dabble.
It was disappointing to see Kenny Perry shoot a 73 in the final round last week after getting to within a couple of strokes of the lead, and I suggested before the Byron Nelson Classic that Perry was coming into some form. The veteran always seems to play well around this time of year and has already won The Colonial twice in the past. Just needs to get his putter working to be a threat this week at 40/1 and there’s every chance of that happening.
Newly crowned Players champion Tim Clark returns to action for the first time since recording that maiden Tour win at TPC Sawgrass and in choosing The Colonial, the course will fit his game perfectly. Clark finished as runner-up in both of the last two years and has only once failed to finish inside the top 25 in the last six years. With his confidence boosted as it is by such a prestigious win, he is another worthy of consideration. The one gripe about his chances is the price is nothing like it was in the Players Championship with layers offering just 22/1.
Towards the bottom of the market, Ryan Palmer will be playing over his home course here and the Sony Open winner will know the layout better than anyone. He’s been largely out of sorts since that win – 8 missed cuts from 14 starts tells its own story – but he did finish in a tie for 9th two weeks ago. Home field advantage could equally be a blessing or a curse but he is ranked 1st on tour for Final Round scoring; so if he can get in contention his 200/1 could prove massive, and he could be one for in-play betting.
Selection: Phil Mickelson
Savers: Ben Crane, Bo Van Pelt