The PGA Tour remains in Texas this week, specifically Fort Worth for the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational. The event is without a sponsor this season, but was last referred to as the Dean & Deluca Invitational.
Kevin Kisner won last year and is back to defend his title, alongside home favourite, Jordan Spieth and the trio of, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler, bringing four of the world’s top-6 players to this event. Both Rahm and Rose have opted for this event in favour of the European Tour’s flagship and Rolex Series Event, the BMW PGA Championship.
Rose has decided to play this event, as he needs to play one event he hasn’t frequented in the last four years on the PGA Tour, playing here last in 2010 when he finished T71.
This a relatively strong event, as players look to get some vital work in before the year’s second major, the U.S. Open which starts in three weeks’ time.
The Course and what it will take to win
Colonial Country Club, 7,209 Yards, Par 70
This course favours accuracy, which you would expect given it is just a 7,200 yard Par 70, so hitting greens will be vital this week.
If you do miss greens, you will certainly need to scramble well and once you’ve found the putting surface you will need to make more than your fair share of putts to come out on top.
Colonial Country Club offers a great golfing test year-on-year, which rewards accurate and consistent golf as opposed to other courses that can be overpowered, so expect a wide-range of golfers to contend on this course.
Despite Jon Rahm ranking 1st in Driving Distance last year, going against the mould and hitting driver off most tees on this less-than-driver course, this is still an event where shorter hitters can contend, levelling the playing field somewhat.
With the event being in Texas we will again have to be aware of the windy conditions and players may have to deal with some adverse conditions in that respect.
Course history is vital here, as debutants don’t often emerge victorious in this event, Sergio Garcia the last to win here at the first time of asking, in 2001.
Ultimately to contend here you need to find a way to hit plenty of greens or when you do miss them still make par or better. A good putting week is also going to be key to success, so a good week on and around the greens will be as vital as ever here.
Jordan Spieth 9/1
Jon Rahm 14/1
Justin Rose 20/1
Rickie Fowler 20/1
Webb Simpson 22/1
Jimmy Walker 33/1 (UniBet 6 places 1/5 odds) 1pt e/w:
It really does look like Walker has put the worst of his Lyme disease behind him, which was undoubtedly the reason for his loss of form, as opposed to any issues with his game.
A healthy Jimmy Walker is a huge talent and a serious threat to win every time he tees up, which wasn’t always the case. He was always a “nearly man” before his 2013 Frys.com Open win, but since winning there, he has not looked back. Five wins have followed including a major championship (2016 PGA Championship), and he looks to be ready to win again.
Walker was expected to play well in his adopted State last week and duly delivered, finishing T6 at the Byron Nelson, which was his third straight top-6 finish (T2 Players, 4th Valero Texas Open). Given his current form, and the fact he is playing in Texas once again, his chances have to be well respected this week.
It has been a mixed bag of course form here, but he has made the weekend in each of his four starts and whilst he has finished 29th or worse on three occasions, he did finish T10 in 2014. Given his best two finishes here have come during his last three starts, there are signs he’s getting to grips with Colonial.
Whilst he is now trending back towards the sort of price that we saw when he was winning with regularity, he is certainly playing well enough to get back in the Winners’ Circle and although there are some top players in the field this week, it is nowhere near the strength of the Players’ field, where he finished 2nd, albeit some distance behind Webb Simpson.
With this in mind, 33/1 looks fairly generous on a course he has played well in the past, especially with the way he is performing of late.
I am happy to ride the wave of form that Walker is putting together in the hope that it does culminate in a victory.
Chris Kirk 66/1 (General) 1pt e/w:
It has been somewhat of a comeback season for Chris Kirk, who has struggled on and off for the last couple of years, but the four-time PGA Tour winner doesn’t look far away from a fifth PGA Tour title and maybe a return to the scene of his last win will be enough to get him over the edge this week.
Kirk won this event back in 2015, and whilst he has not been in obvious winning form ever since, his five top-13 finishes this season give plenty of reason for optimism, especially on a course he enjoys.
Since changing back to his old clubs this season (mixed bag) following a difficult spell with PXG equipment, Kirk has looked a revitalised player and he will look to capitalise on a much stronger season, by etching his name on another trophy, following a three-year baron spell.
On seven starts at Colonial, Kirk has a win, a 5th, three more top-16’s and on all seven occasions has made the weekend, finishing no worse than his 67th place showing last year. I am happy to ignore last year’s effort, given his struggles with his clubs amongst other things and I fully expect him to revert to the same form which has led to great results here.
Kirk ranks 21st in SG: Approach-the-Green and 11th in Scrambling so he is right where he needs to be in those departments to perform well here, so an improvement on the greens is what will be required.
He currently ranks a lowly 131st in SG: Putting this season, which is nowhere near good enough, but on familiar greens this week, which he is capable of performing well on, we may well see the upturn in form he needs on the putting surfaces, if even only for this week.
Just two starts ago, Kirk finished in a tie for 8th at the Valero Texas Open, so if he can replicate his form that week as the Tour moves just down the road, he will have every chance of contending at this event once again.
At 66/1 I am happy to roll with Kirk who has played well enough where expected this season and a top finish here will certainly confirm he is nearing something like his best form.
Danny Lee 90/1 (Bet365) 1pt e/w:
Talking of a comeback season, Danny Lee is one player who has been struggling pretty much all season long, with both injuries and personal issues, but he overcame both of those in a big way with a 7th place finish at TPC Sawgrass and hopefully that will be a turn in his season.
A Texas resident, Lee will be keen to build on his effort at the Players with a good performance in his own backyard this week.
His form at this event suggests he loves playing close to home, as he has made 5/5 cuts here, which includes a course-best effort of 6th in 2017. His last three starts here now read 6-22-10 and if he can put together a week similar to that of his showing at Sawgrass, there is every chance he cracks the top-5 here for the first time.
This past weekend Lee announced that his partner is pregnant and how excited he was to be a Dad, so his personal life certainly looks to be in a great place right now. As we know off course distractions and issue can be as much as a factor as anything else, so with some good news off the course, we may well see an improvement on it, especially at this course that he clearly loves.
Lee’s pedigree is there for all to see, first becoming the youngest winner of the U.S. Amateur in 2008 , at just 18 years and 1 month, breaking the record previously set by Tiger Woods (this was again broken a year later by Byeong Hun-An), before winning the co-sanctioned Johnnie Walker Championship whilst still an amateur just months later.
He still has just one sole victory on the PGA Tour (2015 Greenbrier Classic) but he has had several top finishes including runner-up finishes at the Tour Championship, Puerto Rico Open and Volvo China Open, as well as several other top-5 finishes.
There is every chance at just 27 that Lee’s best is still to come, especially if he can consistently play injury-free.
At 90/1 he looks a touch of value after proving his game is still there at Sawgrass, especially when coupled with is fine course form.
Total Points Staked this week: 6
Profit/Loss for 2018: -66.4