Johnson Looking Strong for Crowne Plaza Invitational Fantasy Five


By Michael Weigand, PGA, ICG

The PGA Tour rolls into Hogan's Alley this week for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. Full of history, the event is the longest running tournament still being held at the original site.

Colonial Country Club resides in Fort Worth, Texas, not far from where Ben Hogan and Byron Nelson grew up. Hogan has long been associated with the tournament, not simply for it's proximity to his home and the place of his youth but also for the fact that Hogan won the event five times, more than any other player. Other winners include Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Weiskopf, Ben Crenshaw, Lee Trevino and Ian Baker-Finch.

Phil Mickelson has won the event twice and, in recent years, the champions' list includes Steve Stricker, Kenny Perry (twice) and Sergio Garcia.

The last two defending champions -- David Toms and Zach Johnson -- fit the mold of what's required for success at the short and tight Colonial Country Club. Driving Accuracy and a solid putting stroke are both at a premium at the historic layout. On those two notes, let's take a look at the players that should contend for this year's title.

Here now, our iCHOOSEGOLF Fantasy Five for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

Zach Johnson: The 2010 Crowne Plaza Invitational champ comes into this year's event in the midst of a solid season. Johnson hasn't missed a cut in 12 events this year. In his last three starts he has two runner-up finishes to go with a T69 result in which he had a rough Saturday round at the Wells Fargo Championship. It's easy to see why Zach's game fits well at Colonial. He's ranked 8th in Driving Accuracy, 22nd in Strokes Gained Putting, 35th in Birdie Average and 16th in Scoring. He's also 18th in Birdie or Better Conversion Percentage. Johnson hasn't won yet in 2012. Fort Worth would be a great spot to pick up that victory.

David Toms: The LSU grad comes to Colonial as the defending champion this year. Toms also comes to the tournament on the upswing. After missing the cut at Arnold Palmer's Invitational at Bay Hill, Toms has posted finishes of T50, T45, T15 and T10 - the last coming at the PLAYERS two weeks ago. David is ranked 2nd in Driving Accuracy and 34th in Greens In Regulation. He's also 12th in Scrambling - a skill that is typically necessary on the short but tricky Colonial layout. Keeping in mind that 2012 is also a Ryder Cup year, look for Toms to continue his good play in the hopes of nabbing one of the qualifying spots or a coveted Captain's Pick consideration.

Jim Furyk: Like Johnson and Toms above, Jim's game seems well-suited for the traditional confines at Colonial. He's ranked 3rd in Driving Accuracy, 12th in Strokes Gained Putting, 3rd in Scrambling and 6th in Scoring Average. He's missed only one cut all year (at the Honda Classic) and hasn't finished higher than T26 in his last six events. The task of any fantasy golf player is to try and find the guys who could win but, at the very least, could make the cut and grab a high finish. In this case, Furyk fills both of those roles.

Ryan Moore: In the ICG Fantasy Five, we often give you a "gut feeling" pick and, for this week, Moore is just that. He's playing well over the last two months with three top 10 finishes and no missed cuts in five events. His game also fits the Colonial Invitational requirements as he drives it straight (32nd in Driving Accuracy), hits greens (78th in GIR) and can make putts (35th in Birdie Average). Moore is also 40th in the All-Around category even though nobody talks about him. Don't be surprised if his name is mentioned frequently this weekend.

Gary Woodland: After a stellar 2011 season, Woodland decided to "fix" some things in his game with the help of instructor Butch Harmon. Those improvements have taken some time to come to fruition but the ship appears headed in the right direction now. Woodland is coming off a T24 finish last week at the HP Byron Nelson thanks to a 66 in the final round. His overall stats haven't looked great this year but Woodland has the game to contend at any time. Don't be shocked if that happens this week.

Other Notables: Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler and Matt Kuchar. The last four TOUR events have been won by these three gentlemen. In golf, as in life, it's wise to ride the hot hand. No hands are hotter than these fellas right now.


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