Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Preview, Picks + Predictions Plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #BallStrikinJesses

Just a short 31 mile jaunt from last week’s HP Byron Nelson Championship in Irving lives one of the most storied venues on the annual PGA Tour calendar- Colonial Country Club, host of this week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational.  Most notably, Colonial is dubbed as “Hogan’s Alley,” as the Hawk, Ben Hogan, himself was a five-time champion. 

The Colonial CC course is the second par 70 in a row for the Tour, checking in at a needs-more-than-just-yardage-to-defend-itself 7,204 yards.  No question that it’s a ball-striker’s paradise, as with tight tree-lined fairways, proper placement off the tee is of the utmost importance to leave attackable angles into the greens.  Defending champion Boo Weekley fits the mold perfectly of well-known ball-strikin’ Jessies to have won here, as he joined Zach Johnson (twice), David Toms, Steve Stricker and Phil Mickelson in the recent notables to have won here.  Going back further on the calendar you’ll find winner’s names like Tom Watson, Ben Crenshaw, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Arnold Palmer and of course Ben Hogan as other big names who have won here.  Yep, safe to say that donning that ugly tartan jacket puts you in great company.

A solid, but not spectacular week for my picks at the HP Byron Nelson Championship, as Keegan was only so-so finishing t-29th and Moore disappointed with an MC.  My Semi-Flier on Morgan Hoffmann was solid as he contended on Friday and Saturday before fading into a t-16th finish overall, and I was spot on about Harris English being a bust and missing the cut.  My Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week was on Paul Casey, which after his insane 27 on the back 9 on Friday I was feeling pretty good about my guarantee that he’d finish top 10 for the week, alas he faded on Saturday to a 73, and even a Sunday 68 had him still finish two shots outside the top 10 at t-16th overall.  Overall, still not too shabby of a week.

Now, let’s hop into some picks for this week:

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: Keegan t-29th, Moore MC)

Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson
– Zach’s current form isn’t anything overly stellar, with a t-26th at the PLAYERS and t-14th at the Wells Fargo Championship in his past two starts…..but, let’s see- solo 3rd, 1st, solo 4th, 1st and t-9th here the past five years = yes, please!  #NuffSaid #HorseForTheCourse

John Senden
John Senden
– Senden’s MC here last year and t-37th the year prior may scare some away from picking him this week, but seriously- it’s hard for me to think of a non-winner at this event who’s in the field this week that would be a better ball-strikin’-Jesse fit in to win this event than Senden (note that he did finish t-8th here in ’11).  He finished a sneaky t-11th last week at the Byron Nelson, already won earlier this season at the Valspar Championship and finished t-8th at the Masters.  In fact, he’s made all but one cut on Tour since October, not surprising when he ranks 15th in GIR, 41st in Driving Accuracy and 31st in Strokes Gained-Putting…with the latter being the most noted improvement in his game (he ranked 124th in this category last year).  Love for Senden to contend this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last Week: Morgan Hoffmann t-16th)

Louis Oosthuizen
Louis Oosthuizen
– Louis, not Larry, has always notoriously played well in streaks, most notably when he finished solo 3rd at the Shell Houston Open in ’12, then followed it up by losing in a playoff at the Masters to Bubba Watson.  Louis will likely fly under the radar again this week after he faded to a final round 74 on Sunday last week at the Byron Nelson, ultimately finishing t-11th, but if his back is finally healthy like he says it is, he’s worth a little bit of a gamble as he has nearly as much upside as anyone in the game.  He also finished t-19th here in his only appearance back in ’12.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last Week: English MC)

Marc Leishman
Marc Leishman
– Many will jump aboard this Aussie train this week following his solid t-3rd last week at the Byron Nelson, but just like he was the horse-for-the-course last week, he’s the inverse of that this week with his best ever finish here being a t-44th back in ’11 (this is his 4th appearance here).  Leishman ranks 127th on Tour in Driving Accuracy and 102nd in GIR, making him a definite pass this week.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last Week: Casey t-16th)

Boo Weekley
Boo Weekley
– Good ‘ol Boo.  I would’ve loved him as a great sleeper of a defending champ this week, and now love his chances even more following his t-5th last week at the Byron Nelson.  He’s an incredible 7th on Tour in Driving Accuracy and 4th in GIR.  Boo Weekley is my Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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