Crowne Plaza Invitational Tips

Steve Bamford’s Tips for the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

I’m on the hunt more than ever for the winner this week and Colonial offers a superb opportunity to get the deal done. The classic course of Texas, Colonial is forever linked with Ben Hogan and it unsurprisingly favours course experience and rewards the top quality players. First time wins here are extremely rare, but every year those searching for their first win contend like Brian Davis, Steve Marino and Tim Clark in recent years.

The Par 70 7,200 yard Colonial needs to placed in the same bracket as Augusta National, TPC Boston, Riviera, TPC Four Seasons and Coghill. Bentgrass greens, tree lined fairways and strategically placed bunkers make it a challenge, where course knowledge and damn good golf usually triumphs.

The recent champions list of Johnson, Stricker, Mickelson, Sabbatini, Perry and Flesch are all players who excel on Par 70 bent courses and have great records around the ultimate Bent challenge that is Augusta. Interestingly they also have ‘northern state’ connections of some kind. Great scoring is also a pre-requisite to win here so expect a 15 to 17 under total being required for victory. That level of red number scoring highlights that Colonial in the modern game is a relatively easy Par 70 where it’s only true defence is wind and the forecast is for plenty of it across all 4 days of play, so scoring should be up from last years winning total of -21, 259 strokes. I’ve plumped for a team of relatively experienced Bent positive players all of whom are due a win extremely soon:

Jason Day 1.5pt EW 18/1 with Paddy Power Free Bet £50 In Free Bets, get it here: Paddy Power Free Bet

Keen followers know that I always search for value but I simply can’t look past one of my favourite players Jason Day this week. Believe me, he’s the real thing and I’ve been raving about him from pre-Masters onwards. His 2nd place finish on debut at Augusta in April was a thing of legend and his two most recent performances have also more than impressed. Firstly a mature 9th place finish at Hilton Head on his post-Masters outing, where he contended on a course that was ultimately a little too tight. I then tipped Day at 55s last week at TPC Sawgrass and he part obliged with a strong 6th place finish on the most technical of courses. Back in his “home state” and as a member of Colonial, Jason will welcome the more open nature of this classical Par 70 so will be able to use his power off the tee and will enjoy the Bent greens which he thrives upon. Day is a Par 70 specialist who won down the road at TPC Four Seasons last year to capture his first PGA Tour victory. Result: T31

Sergio Garcia 1pt EW 35/1 with Bet365 Get £200 in free bets via this link: Bet365

My 2011 resolution as a tipster is to stick with key “target” players for periods of time and I’m sticking with El Nino for a second week after I tipped him last week at 60s. His 12th place finish at TPC Sawgrass was ultimately non-profitable but I’m an absolute believer this week. Why? Well he won his first PGA Tour event here back in 2001 so has good memories of this most classical of Par 70 tracks. Check Garcia’s CV and you’ll find that 5 of his 7 PGA Tour victories have been on Bent carpet and he’s a definite lover of key related tracks line TPC Four Seasons (winner 04), TPC Boston, Westchester (winner 02 & 04) and he’s also contended on the fastest of bent greens at multiple Masters and PGA Championships over the years. I think he’s due a win and the thought of Seve will only spur him on to greater things. However my only doubt was his ability to go low enough to get the job done here, on a course where great putting is key. However my fears have been negated by Sergio’s putting performance last week in Florida where he ranked Number 1 in both putting categories. Whisper it quietly… Sergio’s found the putter at last…! Now get yourself over to Bet 365 and grab the market leading 35/1…….quickly! Result: T16

Stewart Cink 1pt EW 40/1 with Paddy Power Free Bet £50 In Free Bets, get it here: Paddy Power Free Bet

Patience is a virtue and I’m sticking with Twitter’s No1 golfer as I’m 100% certain that his first victory since Turnberry 09 is due and it’ll happen on Bent greens. 1 Top 10 and 4 Top 20s so far in 2011 allied to a form line of 19-9-30-59-MC-12-11 highlight a player whose close to victory. Where Garcia’s problem has been the flat stick Cink’s game is in full working order apart from the driver which goes crooked at key points of tournaments. However his driving is slowly improving and wayward drives aren’t overly punished at Colonial where the rough is non-penal so the course suits. Led after 36 holes at Quail 2 weeks back and has a Colonial record that includes a 2nd and 4th plus recent finishes of 22-22-18-4. Like Garcia he’s due a victory and I’m expecting a contention performance this week. Result: T16

Jeff Overton 1pt EW 50/1 with BetFred Free Bet Get a £50 free bet via this link: BetFred Free Bet

Another player that I always keep close tabs on is Indiana’s Jeff Overton. The shock automatic inclusion in Corey Pavin’s Ryder Cup team last year, Overton now fights over Tim Clark’s old mantle of most talented player not to have won a PGA Tour title with luminaries such as Steve Marino, Kevin Na, Webb Simpson, Freddie Jacobson and Jason Dufner, all of which I’ve tipped in 2011! Where the aforementioned have all gone very close again this season, Overton has had an almost inevitable quiet start to the season, but things are starting to pick up. A form line of 44(Masters debut)/69/33/26 is progressive and Overton also grossed $186,000 when finishing 6th behind Sabbatini (a previous Colonial winner) at the windswept Honda Classic back in March which is worthy of note. It’s 100% crystal though that Overton is both a Par 70 and Bent green specialist. 13th here on debut was followed last year by a 3rd place finish. His CV also contains 2nd place finishes at TPC Four Seasons, The Old White Course and Sedgefield, plus a 3rd at Aronimink. I’m sure you’ll have noticed these are all Par 70 tracks with Bent greens. He’s a little obvious this week but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Overton in the mix again this week. Result: T65

Angel Cabrera 0.5pt EW 100/1 with Bet365 Get £200 in free bets via this link: Bet365

With Day as short as 18s I could have easily gone with 4 players across my 10 point selection this week, but something just tells me to have a little dabble on El Pato at a juicy 3 digits. Cabrera naturally won the Masters in 2009 and as recently as April contended at Augusta where he ultimately finished 7th. Cabrera always performs best on Bent carpet and his resume includes 3rd at Quail (2010), 4th at Firestone (2009) and 4th at TPC Boston (2009). The classical, short and open format of Colonial should suit Cabrera’s style of play and if he catches fire on the greens then watch out. A Champions List of Zach Johnson, Steve Stricker, Lefty, Rory Sabbatini, Kenny Perry, Steve Flesch and Tiger Woods all has one singular thing in common and that’s Augusta, so Cabrera challenging this week shouldn’t be a 100/1 shock. You’ve been warned! Result: M/C

Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 19:45BST 17.5.11 but naturally subject to fluctuation.

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