Close contest for IBF return at Colonial
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2009 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial | Preview | 27 May 2009
The original Perry Maxwell and John Bredemus designed layout, altered in 1999 by Keith Porter, will play host to the event for the 62nd occasion. The tournament was first played in 1946 when Ben Hogan caimed the title on a golf course that would become synonymous with his name.
Despite measuring just over 7000 yards, the Colonial Country Club remains as one of the most highly regarded layouts on the PGA Tour, requiring quality ball striking to do well. The course was so well designed originally that it’s length has only increased by 20 or so yards in that time.
The newly crowned world number three, Paul Casey, and the world number six, Geoff Ogilvy, are the highest ranked players in the field after defending champion Phil Mickelson’s forced withdrawal due to the illness of his wife. Last year Mickelson produced a miracle shot from the left trees at the 72nd hole to set up a birdie and win the tournament by one shot over Rod Pampling and Tim Clark.
Furyk is the favourite following several very good finishes on tough golf courses of late including a 5th at the Players, 11th at Quail Hollow and 10th at Augusta National. His record at the Colonial Country Club is solid enough having been twice runner up in this event.
Casey arrives in Texas on a high after his huge win last week at Wentworth that took him to the top of the Race to Dubai money list and improved his world ranking from 7th to 3rd. He is playing this event for the very first occasion but if momentum and confidence count for anything he stands a good chance.
Ogilvy is having a great year, not having missed a cut this season and winning twice. The Australian did not play this golf course well earlier in his career but he did finish 7th last year and given the form he is in in 2009 he could easily improve his record at this great course.
Last week’s winner in Dallas, Rory Sabbatini appears back to his very best and as a winner of this event in 2007 then his chances look good again. It is always difficult to back up from a win the previous week but he has a lot going for him this week at this course.
Sean O’Hair has played this event just once finishing 26th last year. Prior to a missed cut at the Players Championship, O’Hair was in remarkably good form winning the Quail Hollow event and beating all but Tiger Woods at Bay Hill. That is hard form to dismiss.
Stephen Ames has a good record at the Colonial Country Club and brings some improving recent form to the event. He finished 9th two weeks ago in San Antonio and had his moments at Augusta before finishing 20th. Ames has recorded three top four finishes in his last five starts at Colonial.
Kenny Perry is a two time winner of this event and provided he has been able to get his late demise at Augusta out of his head the he is a potential winner. He has had a two week break since the Players Championship where he finished a reasonable 22nd.
Three players looking for their first wins on the PGA Tour, Tim Clark, Steve Marino and Ian Poulter, all have the credentials to do just that this week.
Clark was runner up to Mickelson last year and solid tournaments in recent weeks have him primed for what could be breakthrough week. Even prior to last year Clark gave every indication this is a golf course that suits his eye. He looked the winner in 2007 when he opened with rounds of 64 and 65 before finishing 12th.
Steve Marino is creeping closer to that important milestone of a maiden PGA Tour win and with two very good tournaments at this venue in two starts he has his opportunity this week. His final round of 66 last year will ensure he arrives at the Colonial Country Club with positive memories and he has played well enough in recent weeks for the dream to become a reality.
Poulter finished 15th in his only start at Colonial last year but his recent runner up finish to Henrik Stenson at the Players Championship served notice of his readiness for a win on the PGA Tour.
Baker-Finch won the event twenty years ago and is here this week because as a previous winner he will not be taking the place of anyone else in the field. His participation will attract genuine interest but not too much should be expected of him.