Two Texan golf icons, Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan were linked for many years on the golf course and in friendship. They are paired again on the PGA Tour schedule as we shift this week from the AT&T Byron Nelson to Hogan's Alley for the Dean & DeLuca Invitational at Colonial Country Club.
The tournament sponsor, Dean & DeLuca, is only in its second year but historic Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, will host the event this week for the 72nd time. Formerly known as the Colonial, it is the longest running non-major tournament on Tour to be held at the same course and, interestingly enough, the course has changed very little over all these years.
The late, great Ben Hogan won this tournament five times and thus the course has become known as "Hogan's Alley." Hogan was one of the best ball-strikers to ever play the game and the course still favors those characteristics, rewarding those who hit crisp, accurate shots that find greens in regulation. The golf course is not long. It is tree-lined with smaller greens and has 12 holes that dogleg. It is far from a bombers' course. The big hitters this week will often be hitting irons and 3-woods off of the tee. Colonial Country Club is a test in touch and precision, much as Hogan's game was. Scrambling, Putting, Ball Striking, and accuracy will prevail -- but don't rule out experience.
The tournament has not seen a debut winner since Sergio Garcia in 2001. Very much like many classic designs on Tour, one has to log a few rounds at Colonial before becoming a contender. Jordan Spieth is the defending champion and was just 22 at the time, but it was his fourth visit to the event. Other than Garcia in 2001 and Spieth in 2016, every winner in between has been at least 30 and many into their 40s. A battle-tested sharp shooter as Hogan was is still a great formula for success at Colonial.
The weather does not look bad but some of that traditional Texas wind is supposed to show up for the first three days of the Invitational with speeds in the neighborhood of 15-20 mph.
Jordan Spieth (+1257 Pinnacle): The defending champion has missed the cut in three of his last five starts on Tour, but his record in Fort Worth is tough to fade as he's never missed a cut and has placed 1-2-14-7 in his four trips. His scrambling has dipped this season, ranking 119th on Tour.
Jon Rahm (+1415 Bookmaker): Rahm is making his debut at nearly every course he visits in 2017, and it hasn't much fazed the young phenom. The last time we saw him, he was shooting 82 at The PLAYERS on Sunday to finish 72nd. Rahm has five Top 10s on Tour this season and a win.
Sergio Garcia (+1802 Pinnacle): The Masters champion is still showing signs of his usual brilliance but is also mixing in quite a bit of inconsistency. Much like his track record here as he won in 2001, has missed the cut three times and has not teed it up at Colonial since 2011 and 2012 when he finished 16th and 13th.
Jason Dufner (+2713 Bookmaker): Dufner possesses a game that includes much of what it takes to win here -- and it has showed as he has three Top-10 finishes at Colonial in the last five years. Dufner also has two Top 15s in Texas this season with a 13th last week at the Byron Nelson and a 12th at the Houston Open in April.
Tony Finau (+3800 5Dimes): Finau is by all means a bomber, but he hits a ton of greens and it has resulted in a 34th and a 19th here in just two tries. Another who has shown an affinity for Texas this season, going 34-3-13 at Houston-Valero-Nelson.
Marc Leishman (+4000 5Dimes): Australians + Wind + Texas = Success. We saw Jason Day get to a playoff last week and it continues to be true that Australians, who are typically good wind players, continue to flourish in the Lone Star State. Leishman is no exception with a 13th last week and has never missed a cut in six tries at Colonial.
The Long Shots
Pat Perez (+4050 Bookmaker): It is a great story to see what Perez has done this year. By far his best ever year on Tour, he now has five Top-10 finishes and was 18th at the Masters and 22nd at the PLAYERS. Perez has three Top 10s here, including a 5th place in 2015.
William McGirt (+6000 5Dimes): Accuracy, Scrambling and a pure ball-striker, McGirt definitely fits the mold. He's only missed the cut once in six tries, but his best finish here is just 21st. He will defend his title next week at the Memorial.
Graeme McDowell (+9500 5Dimes): The Northern Irishman has had an excellent season as he tries to regain his major championship form from years past. He's only missed two cuts in the last seven months and it feels like he is going to win again sometime soon. He has veteran experience for sure, but this is his first ever visit to Colonial.
Sung Kang (+8500 5Dimes): For the second time in three weeks, we may have a Korean-born winner on the PGA Tour. Kang really turned his season around at the Genesis Open back in mid-February, having only missed one cut in individual competition since. He also seems to have quite a liking for the state of Texas, taking 2nd at the Houston Open, 6th at the Valero and 20th last week at the Byron Nelson. Kang also finished 30th at the PLAYERS and 11th at the RBC Heritage. Obviously, he arrives in excellent form. This will only be his 3rd time playing Colonial, missing the cut last year and finishing 37th in 2012. He hits a lot of greens, putts very well, scores well on the Par 4s and is an excellent scrambler. He may still lack in age and experience to take top honors at Colonia,l but with how he's been going I like him to be on the first page of the leader board come Sunday -- and at this price, Kang is worth a shot.Talk Golf Betting In Our Forum