The Dean and Deluca Invitational preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
The final stop on the Texas swing takes us to Colonial CC. The BMW could be said to have taken some of the gloss off here – not that any of the big guns are teeing it up at Wentworth. Rory pulled out there but Dustbin and Jase decided to rest up leaving Rose to head the betting. What we do have is a weirdly paradoxical defending champ Jordan Spieth as favourite. There’s no way we are mounting up for Jordo nevertheless his situation is compelling. He’s changed his putter, which would be big deal with most players, but this is Jordan, just about the super freakiest putter ever. He’s also coming off two missed cuts and a monster 9 last week had nothing to do with his putter. I’ve been off him all year mainly because he’s in the trees a lot and while he’s no mug from anywhere that waywardness has to tell. Factor in that Colonial is his golf b…h with a scoring average of 67.31 and the fact he’s won this season and you begin to see how hard it is to fathom which Jordan will turn up. The event lends itself to proven, relatively older performers – Spieth was the youngest winner last year since Sergio in 2001 – so he fits the profile in one respect but even at the 14/1 on offer he looks poor value. Others at the front end include actual market favourite – yes favourite – John Rahm. It says something about the state of Spieth’s game and Rahm’s meteoric rise that Rahm’s on top. Like Speith though I can’t have him at the price. As stated Rahm is a force but he’s learning and he backed into his win and since then while he’s contended his inexperience and volcanic temper have prevented him from winning again. The form line looks very strong and I’d not want to lay him well over the market price but he looks more likely to come off the boil than progress. Thomas and Matsuyama come to mind.
Of the rest Sergio is third in but looks super inconsistent since the Masters. Casey bubbles below the surface and is a great scrambler, a prerequisite here so its said, without getting it done. Milky is an enigma and looks the best contender for an over 50 major but the decline, albeit subtle, looks set and his appearance here looks more like trying to find form for the US Open.
Colonial is no pushover even at a modest 7,200 par 70. Tree lined with tight fairways (average 26 yards at the 250) and small greens (average 4,400 sq ft) it can produce low scores if it stays calm. The end result is you need a ball striker who can scramble and whose putter turns up for the week. The course hovers in the late teens for difficulty over the seasons from over 40 plus courses.
Surprise the last two winners hit only half the fairways and scrambled / putted their way to victory. Can this pattern repeat itself? It must if Jordan is going to win.
Tony Finau 1pt win @ $40+ on
Kyle Stanley 1pt win @ $60+ on
Morgan Hoffman 1pt win @ $240+
Tony Finau has employed a play it and spray it strategy off the tee around Colonial to reasonable effect twice with 19th and 35th placed finishes. Back then though he wasn’t driving the ball like he is now with gains in accuracy off the tee reflected in his 2017 GIR of 72.22% and a strokes gained tee to green ranking of 4th at 1.656. Curiously he ranks a fraction behind Jordan in both categories and is 40/1 – plus he hasn’t had a 9 lately. The downside is he’s ranked 173 in strokes gained putting but with his aggressive approach he’ll be coming into these small greens with short clubs and this week that will be a huge factor. He missed the cut at the Zurich on 5 under, again at the players with a modest +3 and opened with a poor 75 at the AT&T but then produced three quality rounds to post a T13. A tour winner with three top fives this season including that best T3 in Texas, added to the fact he actually likes the place, makes him an attractive proposition.
Kyle Stanley is a former winner on Tour with some form around here and is hitting his best right now. A best effort in 2010 stands out to be fair as since then he’s struggled at Colonial. On the plus side experience does count here and he seems to have matured markedly from the player who looked like he just wanted to hit it hard. He comes here off the back of a T4 at the demanding Players and a T8 at the Shell. Like Finau he has some impressive stats – not least his 2nd ranked GIR – and a 17th in fairways hit- but is a relatively weak putter. Horschel and Day looked all over the place tee to green at the Byron Nelson yet contested the playoff with killer putting stats ranked 1 and 2. In contrast our picks are based on ball striking allied to great recent form which includes good putting. No one will make 400ft plus of putts this week simply because the greens are so small. Stanley’s putting at The Players was top notch and he’s ranked 42nd for scrambling. A solid alternative to the front runners.
Morgan Hoffman is our third pick based on his huge price, 200/1, allied to his recent form and an ability to go low. He’s 2001/ for a reason and that includes a lot of missed cuts. What he does have is a 64 around Colonial and a recent 62, a career low. The PGA Tour throws up a lot of good scores but 62 anywhere is special. Morgan doesn’t appear to have any great strengths statistically with only one positive figure – a modest 0.130 off the tee – but the overall package has served him well recently with a run of form that includes a T14 at the Zurich (including the aforementioned 62), a T12 at the Wells Fargo, and a T27 at the Byron Nelson. This steak runs to a 69.25 scoring average with a worst score of 72 and perhaps explains why he’s here this week.