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Crowne Plaza Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 05/21/2013

The PGA Tour remains in the Lone Star State for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. After coming directly after THE PLAYERS Championship two years ago, this is the second straight year the Colonial comes two weeks after and a week after the HP Byron Nelson Championship. The Colonial has had it share of exciting finishes as in the last seven years, three have been decided by a sudden death playoff with three others decided by just one stroke. Don't be surprised to see another close finish this year.

Colonial Country Club has hosted this event since the tournament’s inception in 1946, making it the second oldest PGA Tour event still being played at its original site with the Masters at Augusta National being the oldest. Colonial remains a shot-maker's course. A long drive is nice, but to win Colonial, a golfer must have a skillful touch on his approach and on the greens. Ben Hogan, who is memorialized all over Colonial, once said, "A straight ball will get you in more trouble at Colonial than any course I know."

After playing holes no. 1 and 2, Colonial jumps into a three-hole stretch referred to as the "Horrible Horseshoe", the three most difficult holes on the golf course that are shaped, well, like a horseshoe. After this, the track lightens up and players can go low here. Over the last seven years, the winner has achieved -12 or better with the four-day record being -21. Last year it was ranked 13th out of 49 in difficulty which was actually harder than normal as the field averaged 1.129 shots over par.

Given the fact that there is a two-week break between THE PLAYERS and the Colonial, the field this week is pretty strong although no where near as strong as it used to be. No player ranked in the top ten from the OWGR is playing this week while there are just three from the top ten of the FedEx Cup standings. However, 15 Major winners are in the field as well as six past champions of the Colonial since 1996 will be back to try and win again.

The defending champion is Zach Johnson (+1,500) as he surpassed Jason Dufner who came into Sunday with a three-shot lead. It was his second win at the Colonial as he also won in 2010 and those victories were sandwiched around a solo fourth in 2011. He obviously loves the track but 2013 has not been his year as his best finish is a T18 at the opening Hyundai Tournament of Champions.

Over the last 13 years, the average number of starts before winning here is over eight and Matt Kuchar (+2,000) could be ready as this is his seventh start at Colonial. He has yet to miss a cut this year and owns three top tens in addition to his win at the Accenture Match Play. His last three starts have been average with a T33 being his best of the bunch but he has never missed the cut at this event.

After opening the season with a pair of T6 finishes, Rickie Fowler (+2,500) has been rather inconsistent. He has a missed cut and a MDF in his last two starts but he took last week off so he should come in with better focus. We mentioned experience can be a big factor here and while Fowler doesn't have a lot, he does have a T16 and a T5 here the last two years.

Martin Laird (+3,000) is back in action after his T5 at THE PLAYERS Championship. He has missed six cuts this year but in addition to the top five at Sawgrass, he has a win which came in Texas at the Valero. He did miss the cut after that but it was at the Masters and it was the following week so the rest here should help. He has made two starts at the Colonial and both resulted in a T10.

Chris Kirk (+4,000) isn't exactly a household name but he is having a solid season and this could be a great setup for his second career PGA Tour win. He won the Viking Classic in 2011 and so far this year, he has two top tens after posting four in 2012. He finished T5 at Colonial last year which came after a T16 in 2011 so despite just two starts here, he has had success.

Jeff Overton (+6,000) will be our longshot pick this week. He is having a solid season and has missed just three cuts all year and his recent form has seen five straight weekends including a T7 at the Valero Texas Open. While his last two starts at Colonial have resulted in a MC and a T65, he did finish in a tie for third here in 2010 and a T13 in 2009 so the course certainly fits him.

Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial (all for One Unit)

Matt Kuchar (+2,000)

Rickie Fowler (+2,500)

Martin Laird (+3,000)

Chris Kirk (+4,000)

Jeff Overton (+6,000)

2012 Record to date after 36 events: +51.6 Units

2013 Record to date after 19 events: +0.6 Units

Hyundai Tournament of Champions -5 Units

Sony Open in Hawaii -5 Units

Humana Challenge - 5 Units

Farmer Insurance Open +3.5 Units

Waste Management Phoenix Open +19 Units

AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units

Northern Trust Open -5 Units

WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship +25.66 units

The Honda Classic -5 Units

WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units

Tampa Bay Championship -5 Units

Arnold Palmer Invitational -1.5 Units

Shell Houston Open -5 Units

The Masters -8 Units

RBC Heritage +27 Units

Zurich Classic of New Orleans -5 Units

The Wells Fargo Championship -5 Units

THE PLAYERS Championship -5 Units

HP Byron Nelson Championship -5 Units

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