The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial is rich with history and tradition on the PGA Tour, and with Ben Hogan being a five-time past champion, is respectfully dubbed "Hogan's Alley."
Despite corresponding with a marquee event across the pond, the European Tour's BMW PGA Championship, this tournament has once again produced a strong field.
Zach Johnson is the defending champion and won last year's event by only one stroke due to a bizarre rules violation.
It was his second win in Forth Worth in three seasons, but the putt he drained on the 72nd hole took on an added significance. Since Johnson did not re-mark his ball in the proper spot after letting playing partner Jason Dufner finish out, the two-stroke penalty would have resulted in a playoff had he missed.
Both Johnson and Dufner—who were members of the most recent American Ryder Cup team—have had relatively underwhelming 2013 campaigns thus far and are paired together for the first two days.
That is just one of the developments to watch for this week as competitors pursue the coveted tartan-plaid jacket awarded to the winner. Below is a breakdown of all you need to know about this tour stop, as well as analysis on the marquee groupings that will highlight the beginning of the action.
Note: All statistics and information, unless otherwise indicated, are courtesy of PGATour.com.
Location and Tee Times
Where: Colonial Country Club, Fort Worth, Texas
When: Thursday, May 23 to Sunday, May 26
Tee Times: The first group begins at 7 a.m. ET. Click here for the complete times for the first two rounds.
Purse: $6.4 million
FedEx Cup Points: 500
TV Schedule (h/t PGA.com)
Thursday: Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. ET
Friday: Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. ET
Saturday: Golf Channel, 1-2.30 p.m. ET; CBS, 3-6 p.m.
Sunday: Golf Channel, 1-2:30 p.m. ET; CBS, 3-6 p.m.
Groups to Watch
No. 15: Sang-Moon Bae, Zach Johnson and Jason Dufner
As mentioned before, Johnson has emerged victorious two of the past three times at this venue, and pairing him with Dufner only increases the hype. Both tied for 18th at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions back in January and both have since finished in the Top 20 just once.
Both of their games are heavily reliant on accuracy and iron play, which suits this venue well, so perhaps this is their week to get their seasons back on track.
Adding to the intrigue is the addition of Bae to this trio. It will be interesting to see how the 26-year-old responds after notching his maiden PGA Tour win at the HP Byron Nelson Championship last week.
If Bae's putting continues to be as extraordinary as it was in Irving, he has a great chance at keeping the momentum going.
The PGA Tour's official Twitter page highlighted just how amazing Bae was when putting from over 20 feet:
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Stat of the Day: Sang-Moon Bae made 23% of his putts from outside 20 feet this week. More: http://t.co/mwuHTy9p895/20/2013, 6:50:01 PM
The Korean's competitors could take notes from Bae on the greens, as Johnson and Dufner rank 101st and 158th in strokes gained putting respectively.
No. 16: Martin Laird, Kevin Streelman and Matt Kuchar
All three of these men have won on the PGA Tour in 2013, but Laird and Streelman are both playing better recently. Laird is coming off of a top five at the Players Championship, where Streelman finished as a joint runner-up after a tie for sixth and a share of third in his previous two events.
Since a tie for eighth at the Masters, Kuchar has failed to finish inside the Top 30 in his past three events, but this is a course that suits his game extremely well.
Making par here is more often than not the name of the game, and that's what Kuchar does best. Few are better at grinding, and that was no more evident than when Kuchar won the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February.
Streelman notched his first PGA Tour triumph at the Tampa Bay Championship, where he remained steady in shooting 10-under total.
Before a blistering 62 in the final round to beat out Rory McIlroy, Laird shot no better than two-under for the first three days in the Valero Texas Open.
There's reason to believe that any of these world-class players could win at Colonial, where recent past champions such as Johnson, David Toms and Steve Stricker have leaned on precision over power to navigate the difficult layout.
No. 27: Rickie Fowler, Charl Schwartzel and Davis Love III
Ball striking has been the biggest shortcoming in Fowler's season, as he ranks just 146th in greens in regulation percentage. Missing the cut at the Players Championship has him in relatively poor form entering this event.
However, Fowler did tie for fifth in the Crowne Plaza Invitational in 2012 and shot even-par or better in all four of his rounds—a consistency that has constantly eluded the promising American star.
From the end of last season to the beginning of this one, arguably no player was hotter than Schwartzel. After another extended lull, he resurfaced with a solo-third finish at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.
It really could have been better, though, considering how well Schwartzel struck it.
PGA TOUR @PGATOUR
Think about this next time you play golf: @CA_Schwartzel hit 28 consecutive greens in regulation last week at the @HPBNC. #TournamentRecord5/21/2013, 8:19:59 PM
Despite relatively inconsistent play over the past several months, the sweet-swinging South African ranks No. 2 in scoring average behind only Tiger Woods. It's only a matter of time before the 2011 Masters champion finds the winners circle again.
Another past major winner, Love, is on the back end of his illustrious career, and he's barely played at all in 2013 due to back surgery. Even with his final-round 76 at the Players, it was a gutsy return at TPC Sawgrass for the 49-year-old veteran.
Love has been one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour, as evidenced by his 28th consecutive appearance at that high-stakes tournament. With another week of practice under his belt, the Crowne Plaza Invitational will be a good measuring stick to see how Love can compete on the world's top circuit as the Champions Tour beckons.
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