US Stars Storm Texas For Crowne Plaza Invitational

The cream of the crop head to Forth Worth, Texas to take part in the Crowne Plaza Invitational – one of the most exclusive tournaments on the US circuit. In this preview I seek out the best value.

The Tournament
This prestigious event dates back to 1946 and is the most important of the tournaments held in Texas. It is one of only five invitational events on the PGA Tour, and so has a reduced field of around 125, rather than the usual 156, with only the top 80 on last season’s money list guaranteed an invitation. Amongst current players, Zach Johnson and Phil Mickelson have won this event twice.

The Course
The course at the Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth is similar to the TPC Four Seasons venue, the location for last week’s Byron Nelson Championship. It features tight fairways bordered by thick rough, so accuracy off the tee is vital. As at Four Seasons, there are strong cross-winds to contend with, and an ability to move the ball both ways is essential. The greens are small and quick and can take some getting used to, so it’s best to stick with players in good form with the short stick.

In The Bunker
Adam Scott inherited the world number one ranking on Monday and is to the fore in the antepost betting this week. He’s had a reasonable year, picking up three top ten finishes on the PGA Tour without yet tasting victory. But his record at Colonial does not inspire confidence. He’s played this event twice and has finished way down the field on both occasions, which is enough to put me off backing him at 16/1 this week.

Recommended Bets
Aside from a sixth at the Texas Open, Zach Johnson hasn’t managed to recapture the form he showed back in January, but he is the horses-for-courses candidate at Colonial this week. He’s won this tournament twice, has made the top ten on his last five attempts, and as a bonus, holds the tournament record. A week off after the Player’s Championship will have refreshed him and he’s a solid bet at 14/1.

Jordan Speith was hit and miss at Las Colinas last week, but we can overlook that performance given that he doesn’t have a good record there and was still recovering from the disappointment of throwing away his final round lead at the Players Championship. He remains one of the Tour’s top players in 2014, with three top tens in his last six outings and he showed a liking for the Colonial course when finishing in the top ten on his debut there last year. Back him at 16/1.

He flopped at the Masters and the Players Championship, but Graham De Laet has been pretty consistent this year. He leads the PGA Tour in Greens Hit and Ball Striking and secured a top ten finish at Las Colinas last week. He was going well at Colonial last year, before his final round let him down and it’s worth taking a chance on the improving Canadian at 28/1 to record his first Tour victory.