Rory McIlroy showed the world that he is standing up well to the pressure of being the world number one when becoming the first player to win multiple times at the Wells Fargo Championship last week. But Rory’s not here this week. With the exodus of many European Tour players to Wentworth the American stars of the PGA Tour will battle it out this week at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at the Colonial Country Club.
The par 70, 7,204 yard course requires a great deal of accuracy both off the tee and with approach shots. That should suit the world number two Jordan Spieth. The Masters champion has excelled on a number of different courses over the past two seasons but it is these sorts of tests where he can really stand out from the field. He’s by no means the longest hitter on tour but this season he ranks first in terms of scoring average, second for strokes gained and first for his putting average. If Spieth cuts out the blocks from the tee that have littered his driving this season he will be in and around the leaders this week and can be backed at 11/2 with Bet365 to win yet again this season.
Nobody has a better record at Colonial than Zach Johnson. He is a two-time winner and holds the 72-hole record around the Texan course. Famously, Johnson won the Masters without hitting any of the par-fives in two shots showing that his short game is one of the very best in the business. The 39-year-old was thought of as being one of the best putters around but he’s switched between equipment this season which has seen him struggle with the flat stick in recent months. A prodigious worker, Johnson will no doubt have been doing all he can to put his putting woes behind him so expect a ‘dialled-in’ (to use Tour-speak) Johnson at Colonial. Ladbrokes make him a 16/1 shot to win which is great value for the course specialist.
Ian Poulter hasn’t played at Colonial since 2010 as he normally opts to play at Wentworth at this time of year. However, he’s decided against returning to England to give the Crowne Plaza Invitational another shot instead. On the face of it, it looks good call. Poulter is the sort of golfer who enjoys hitting fairways and plotting his way around courses. For players of his ilk there are not enough challenges of the like of Colonial on the PGA Tour so they have to make the most of them. Poulter’s been solid this season with a number of top 25 finishes and is ranked third in terms of par-four scoring on tour this season. It is vital to pick and choose the right times to attack the par fours at Colonial so Poulter, along with caddie Terry Mundy, will have to have a rock-solid plan and carry it out to the letter. If he does that, he certainly has a chance at 45/1 with Coral.