Frazzled looks at Crowne Plaza Invitational from Colonial and has 3 picks this week headed by John Peterson.
Event & Venue
After taking in the Houston and Texas Open earlier in the year, the PGA Tour returns to Texas for two weeks, with the Crowne Plaza Invitational preceding next week's Byron Nelson Classic. They are contrasting venues in that Colonial is universally praised by the Tour players, while TPC Four Seasons is far from one of the favourite venues for many of the players.
Known as “Hogan’s Alley” after the legendary 5 times champion, Ben Hogan, Colonial stages this event for the 68th time this week. It was designed by Perry Maxwell and John Bredemus and has been the host venue for the US Open in 1941, The Players in 1975 and also the Women’s US Open in 1991. It was also the course chosen by Annika Sorenstam in 2001 to mark her debut on The PGA Tour, which prompted some interesting remarks from Vijay Singh in particular.
As usual the course will play to 7,204 yard this week and its traditional Pat 70. There are no reasons to tweak the venue as it is rarely dominated by the power hitters. It contains only two Par 5s which are the 1st Hole (easiest hole on the course last year) and the 635 yard 11th hole, which although the second easiest, is not a hole that will yield many eagles and is very much a 3 shot test.
Colonial is a tight tree lined track consisting of numerous doglegs, very well placed fairway bunkers, with water in play on six holes and small greens which average just 4,400 sq feet. Like TPC Four Seasons next week this is a real test of ball striking and driving accuracy is important from the point of view of finding the correct parts of the fairway rather than simply keeping it in between the rough. The approach shots will be very difficult, unless some precise locations are found from the tee box and it is one of the reasons why experience of this venue is very important this week. The average age of the winner since Sergio Garcia triumphed in 2001, is 38.5 years and this is very much a venue suited to the steady accurate golfer than can plot his way around the venue, rather than try and overpower it.
Greens in Regulation ("GIR") last year at this venue was 64.35% which was bang in the middle of the courses on the PGA Tour, but an important stat to consider this week is GIR from off the fairway. Very often it might be better to be on the edge of the fairway with the correct angle into the greens, rather than in the middle of the fairway. Players are likely to flirt with the rough in order to gain the best angle to the pin with their approaches and therefore the ability to play accurate irons from off the fairway will be very important this week. With blustery conditions forecast for most of the tournament, especially over the weekend, then precise ball striking will confer a big advantage this week and identifying players that have excelled at these Texas venues and have demonstrated their prowess in the wind in the past, should yield rewards. A strong week with the putter will also be very important, although identifying great ball strikers who can have a very good week on the greens is our preference, rather than looking at the best putters on Tour, who could be trying to hole as many putts to save par as they will be to convert birdie opportunities.
Experience is more important at this venue than nearly anywhere else on the Tour and the record of debutants is very poor, while on the balance of probabilities, it is unlikely that a player will shed his maiden tag here. However, as one of our picks illustrates, where the correct skill set is there and familiarity with the venue is known, then we will not be a hostage to these particular stats.
In summary, pretty much every facet of a player’s game will have to be in good shape on a course where power off the tee is of less importance than course management.
John Peterson is our first pick this week, even though there is a slight concern about his lack of "tournament" experience at this venue and that he is slightly shorter in the market than we hoped for. A number of good judges have highlighted him for this event and with very good reason. He has only played it once and that was when he shot an opening 64. He shot 71-71-69 over the following three days, which was very solid, but ultimately not low enough to contend when the winning score was -14 recorded by Boo Weekley.
Peterson may have been making his debut in the event, but he has a huge amount of experience of the venue, given that he is a Texas native and won a junior championship here in the past. He has played the course hundreds of times and similar to Ryan Palmer, that provides him with a very big advantage over many this week.
Peterson is a vastly improved player now compared with the 2013 version as well as he is having a very solid season, with 6 Top 25 finishes so far. These have included 16th in the OHL at Mayakoba, 11th in the Texas Open and 18th in the RBC Heritage, which can provide a somewhat similar test to here in terms of ball striking.
He also ticks the boxes in terms of what is required this week given that he ranks 22nd in Driving Accuracy, 45th in GIR and an excellent 2nd in GIR from off the fairway. He is also 19th in Ball Striking, 20th in Scrambling and 53rd in Proximity to the Hole. Given that there are only 2 Par 5 holes and 12 Par 4s, it is also significant that he ranks 16th in Par 4 Scoring Average, while his fast start in 2013 could be replicated given that he ranks 5th in Round 1 Scoring Average.
With this in mind, we will play Peterson in a number of markets. He is 70/1 with Bet365 and that is worth taking each way, while he is 15/2 with Coral for a Top 10 finish and 13/5 with William Hill for a Top 20 Finish. We will leave the first round leader bet out of this given the uncertainty about conditions, and play two of the above, although anyone that wishes to bet First Round Leader can avail of 70/1 with Betfred.
1.5 points each way John Peterson - Outright win at 70/1 with Bet365
2 points win John Peterson - Top 20 Finish at 13/5 with William Hill
Boo is our second pick this week and this former winner has already shown in the past that he can come back and regain titles at venues that he has been successful at. He is a dual winner of the RBC Heritage at Harbour Town and he is a player that can excel at these tight tee to green tests.
He was sensational here in 2013 when he beat Matt Kuchar and Zach Johnson and ranked 6th in Driving Accuracy, 5th in GIR, an excellent 5th in Putting Average and 3rd in Par 4 Scoring and something close to this will see him contend again this week. Again he is striking the ball well this season and ranks 74th in GIR, 23rd in GIR from off the fairway, 55th in Ball Striking and 51st in Proximity to the hole. When he is hot, he can greatly exceed these numbers as well.
He has produced some excellent displays this season, with a 7th in the Humana Challenge and a venue that you would not think is ideal, 3rd in the Zurich Classic and 16th in the Wells Fargo last weekend and with his form in this event, coupled with a history of excellent form in the South and on the Bermuda grass laid Florida swing venues (2nd in Valspar and Honda Classic in the past), then he could be overpriced for this week at 80/1 and is worth including in our staking plan.
1 point each way Boo Weekley at 80/1 with Betfred and William Hill
Freddie Jacobson is our final pick this week. He might not jump off the page as an excellent ball striker, but his form at this venue and at other Texas events is very solid and he has an outstanding around the green and putting game, which can prove crucial when recovering after missing these hard to reach targets.
Freddie had produced some solid golf here in the past, with 16th and 17th finishes, but he surpassed this last year, when he finished 3rd to Adam Scott. He produced 4 very solid rounds in the 60s and was -5 for the Par 4s and -3 for Par 3s. It was the fact that he did not go under par for the 8 longer holes that ultimately cost him, but it was an excellent week for him and at the prices he looks worth following this week.
Freddie is a winner on Tour, capturing the Travellers Championship in 2011 and he has also finished runner up in events such as the AT&T National and the Texas Open, while he was an excellent 3rd in the Northern Trust at Riviera in 2013 and that venue requires a lot of course management, shaping the ball both ways and around the green skills.
He has yet to really produce a solid week this year, but there was encouragement at the Zurich Classic and the return to a venue that he enjoys could bring about plenty of improvement. He lies 2nd in Strokes Gained Putting this year and 27th in Scrambling and if he can have a solid week with his irons, then his short game skills can propel him into contention. He is worth a small bet each way at 130/1 with BetVictor, while the 11/1 on Top European is also of some interest.
0.5 points each way Freddie Jacobson at 130/1 with BetVictor
1 point each way Freddie Jacobson at 11/1 (Top European) with BetVictor (1/5 odds first 3 places)