First, all of our hearts are very heavy for the devastation that has struck Oklahoma. It is too heart-breaking to think about all of the families in Oklahoma City, and at the time this is being typed there are still 24 children unaccounted for at Plaza Towers Elementary School -- where there are seven confirmed dead (all children). It's just unfathomable. If you'd like to donate to relief efforts, here's information on the Red Cross efforts.
The Tour moves a driver-wedge down Interstate 30 to Hogan's Alley this week for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial Country Club, where the fairways are firm and doglegs are tight. Mr. Hogan won five times here -- and that should tell you a little about what's needed to navigate the track: great ball-striking. But it also favors the player who can move it right to left -- recent champs/drawers of the ball include Zach Johnson, Rory Sabbatini, Steve Stricker, Kenny Perry and David Toms.
It will be hot and mostly dry in Dallas Thursday through Sunday, with Friday being the only day currently marked with the potential for weather. IF that holds, the course should play firm and fast and the scoring could be in the -18 to -20 range, threatening the tournament record.
Notable WD's this week include Louis Oosthuizen, James Driscoll and Brian Harman. Onto the picks:
1. Charl Schwartzel. As I mentioned last week, he just seems ready to break out. He hasn't sniffed a cutline in 2013 and could have won at Las Colinas but missed a handful of short putts on a windy Sunday. He won't do that every day. The only fear with Charl is that he hasn't played here before, but he hadn't played Las Colinas before last week and managed a 3rd place finish. Colonial was made for his classic game.
2. Freddie Jacobson. Freddie's game probably makes Mr. Hogan cringe from above, but there's little doubt he's become one of the more sure bets on Tour to cash in a good check. He's a mall-kiosk ATM: lots of top-25's (8 out of 10 events in 2013). And he doesn't do it in a pretty way: 166th in fairways hit, 149th in GIR%, 170th in total driving, 167th in ball striking, etc. So how is he 4th in scoring average? Because he gets his ball up and down from everywhere (15th in scrambling) and putts the lights out (8th in SG-Putting). He's the guy you hate to be paired against in a match game, but that's why I love watching him score his ball.
3. John Huh. I really like where his game is heading. Coming off a T8 at the Nelson, he travels to a course where he placed T5 in 2012. His results would be a lot better this year if it wasn't for his dismal final-round scoring. With a 71 in tough conditions at Las Colinas, he looks to be over those issues.
4. Zach Johnson. Set the 72-hole scoring record here when he won in 2010. He also won last year during his great run. His game is rounding into form, with five consective cuts made, including a T19 at The PLAYERS. He's hovering.
5. Kevin Streelman. Probably the most consistent guy on Tour right now (3rd in FedEx Cup standings) with a win and a pocketful of high finishes since. He's a solid ball-striker who is playing the best golf of his life right now, and there's no indication that will end anytime soon. I'm starting to think of him as a legit darkhorse for the US Open at Merion, but that's a 10-Fer for another day. Finished T10 here in 2011, just like…
6. Martin Laird. He won in San Antonio last month and had a T5 at The PLAYERS two weeks ago. He plays a right-to-left game and has had success here, including T10 in both 2011 and 2010 (he skipped last year). Is driving it straight and hitting a lot of greens.
7. Henrik Stenson. Mr. Ballstriker (1st in ball strking and total driving) probably won't know what time zone he's in after bouncing from The PLAYERS to the Match Play in Bulgaria and quickly back to Texas. I don't care how used to travel you are, that's tough on the 'ol body clock. But his recent results can't be ignored (three top-5's in his last five events) and he should be comfortable at Colonial, where's he's two for three in cuts made.
8. Ryan Moore. As I've mentioned before, his stats don't measure up to his results. He consistently posts top 10's, including two so far in 2013, and his game should be a match for Colonial. Although his high finish here was a T26 last year, he tends to heat up in the summer months and he had a T6 at Wachovia three weeks ago.
9. Rickie Fowler. Last two years at Colonial: T5 and T16. Plays a right-to-left game and can really sling it around some of these doglegs. When he finished T16 in 2011 he was coming off a MC at The PLAYERS, like this year, which is shaping up a lot like his 2011. Experience at Colonial CC counts, and he's 3/3 in cuts made with a worst finish of T38.
10. Graham DeLaet. I want to move him higher, I really do. He's coming off a T10 at the Nelson and his big-hitting, right-to-left,2nd-in-GIR% game should eat Colonial alive. And this is right about where I expect him to finish this week.
Player to avoid: Scared to mention anyone here after getting torched with my Keegan Bradley swipe last week, but it's time to get back on the horse. So avoid Jason Dufner, as I mentioned in the Stock Report yesterday. He hasn't had a top 10 on Tour since the Wyndam last August, and his putting is almost unwatchable right now. Hopefully he'll pull it together soon.
Last week: A solid 9/10, with picks like Schwartzel, Marc Leishman (like him this week, too), and Harris English carrying the day. Still outweighed in my mind by advising to pass on Keegan. Sorry about that.
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