The final stop of the four-tournament run in Texas takes place at Colonial CC in this week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational, with Zach Johnson the defending champion. ZJ’s won two of the last three editions of this tournament, and finished inside the top 10 in the last four. So what does that mean for this week?
In the statistical category, I took a peek at GIR, SGP and proximity. Take it for what it’s worth. As always, stats are the least important (in my mind) in terms of the stats/form/history equation.
This week's Dandy Dozen:
- Zach Johnson – I don’t know how you wouldn't start a list here. He’s the chalk. His T19 at THE PLAYERS in his last start was his best finish since a T18 at Kapalua. I’m not sure if that’s an indictment of his season or a sign that he’s rounding into form. I probably wouldn't trust him with a one-and-done (OAD), but he’s a must in the Yahoo! format and a prudent play in several others.
- Charl Schwartzel – He took a few knocks on the chin from the CBS broadcast team for his putting down the stretch at the Byron Nelson, but he only missed one putt inside 10 feet all day. He’s a rookie in this event, but enters off of his best finish of the year and ranks inside the top 30 in proximity and SGP and is 35th in GIR. Good formula at Colonial.
- Chris Kirk – He’s on a short list for a OAD, improving from T74, to T16 to T5 over his last three trips to Colonial. He’s been a rock all season, not missing a cut since January. I’m not overly concerned by his T50 at Quail Hollow and T55 at THE PLAYERS. That can be explained numerous ways. That he ranks 19th in proximity and seventh in SGP only adds fuel to my Kirk man crush this week.
- Kevin Streelman – It’s long overdue that he occupies a high spot on this list. Though he’s missed half of his four cuts here, he does have a T10 as recently as 2011 and ranks inside the top 25 in GIR, SGP and proximity. His form is as good as anyone’s in the world. Like those above him, I wouldn't talk you out of him in any format.
- Harris English – This is the type of course you would think he would do well on, and he came through with a T5 in his only start here last year. He had a T17 at the Byron Nelson that included a 4-over final round in the wind. Might want to check the forecast for strong gusts later in theweek, but if that doesn't look to be a factor he’s a good play. I absolutely could see him as the next non-winner to break through this week.
- Jim Furyk – What do we do with Jimmy? History is 13/17 with seven top 10s, two runner-ups and a fourth-place finish last year. He’s second on TOUR in proximity, but not all that efficient in putting (105) or GIR (70). I’m not totally convinced that history is a big deal with the veteran, but his last top 25 was a T25 at the Masters. Depending on your situation, there are other riskier picks with some nice upside.
- Bo Van Pelt – BVP’s a perfect 9/9 here, with sixth top 25s, three top 10s and a third in 2011. He sprinkled in a T6 at Quail Hollow in the midst of some otherwise average play. This could go a lot of ways.
- Ben Crane – His form is frustrating, meaning that it isn't trendy. Here’s a look at his last seven starts beginning in Tampa Bay (MC, T65, T4, T48, MC, T8, T57). All it tells us is that it “can” click for him. He’s 6/8 here with three top fives, and that doesn't even include a T10 last year. This pick’s loaded with risk, but you can see the rewards are clearly possible as well.
- Rickie Fowler – If I had any faith in his form, he’d be up there in the Kirk/Streelman/English range, but he doesn't have a top 30 on the resume since March. Reading that, I’m not even sure I should have him this high, but here’s why I do. T38, T16, T5 in his last three starts here.
- Jason Dufner – He’s not the same player he was in 2012. The putting isn't there, the accuracy with the irons aren't there and he’s just having a return to normalcy after an out-of-this-world year in 2012. Other than his runner-up here last year in the height of the biggest peak of his golfing life, he’s missed two cuts and tied for 59th. I suppose he could recapture the magic but, like Fowler, don’t go all in.
- Tim Clark – This is a perfect Tim Clark layout when his putter is cooperating. Length doesn't matter, and accuracy both off the tee and to the green do. He’s 7/8 with B2B runner-ups in ’08 and ’09 and six top 25s on the resume. You want to jump him up to around where BVP is? Ok by me.
- David Toms – Arguably one of the favorites here last year, but missed the cut as the defending champ. He’s got the bases covered in his 14 trips, with only two missed cuts and a second, third and fourth on the resume to join the win. Maybe he rounds it out with a fifth this year? If he does, it would mark a pretty dramatic spike in form that’s seen him pick up just one top 25 all season (T13 Masters).
Next 5: Charlie Wi, Henrik Stenson, Jeff Overton, Matt Kuchar, John Huh
There are several readers that email me with some frequency about some deeper gaming formats, and another one joined the list last week suggesting I take a look at something past the chalk. I’m game, so I've come up with something new. I’m calling it “Feeling Risky?” It's for those of you that want a calculated flier that is off the beaten path. To be on this list, it likely means a player clicks on one or two key categories but has a couple of deficiencies that make him a major risk/reward.
I’ll keep it in the three to five range every week, depending on who makes sense. Here’s the debut.
- Tommy Gainey – Finished third here last year and led the field in SGP and total distance of putts made. This year’s been a relative disaster after a career year in 2012, making 6/17 cuts and missing his last two. The book on Gainey has always been that the couple of weeks a year he’s hot with the putter, he can be dangerous. Maybe this is one of those weeks?
- David Hearn – He’s trended from T44 to T13 year-over-year at Colonial, and is a solid 27th in SGP. He’s made his last four cuts, including a T21 at New Orleans earlier in the Spring.
- Richard H. Lee – If you look at his trend as a whole since the beginning of his rookie year of 2012, it’s been a very slow and steady build. He’s currently 49th in GIR, 65th in proximity and 23rd in SGP. One week it’s all going to click, but he’ll need to snap a bad trend emerged following a T5 at the Heritage.
We’ll be back tomorrow to look at some games.