Colonial experts' picks

May, 22, 2012
Each week of the season, our experts will share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week's tournament: The Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, senior golf analyst: Bo Van Pelt
Van Pelt defines that title at this course. He has never missed a cut here and has been playing Colonial since 2007. After a seventh-place finish at The Players Championship, he's playing well and coming in rested.

Richard Durrett, writer: David Toms
He's the defending champion, but he always plays well at Colonial. He has seven top-20 finishes in 14 consecutive appearances on the tight course. He's second on tour in fairways hit, a critical stat at Colonial.

Farrell Evans, senior golf writer: Corey Pavin
The 15-time PGA Tour winner is now a full-time Champions Tour player, but it's hard to discount the 52-year-old at Colonial, where he is a two-time winner.

Bob Harig, senior golf writer: Jim Furyk
This will be Furyk's 17th time teeing it up in the tournament, and he has six top-10s. This will be his eighth consecutive appearance.

Kevin Maguire, senior golf editor: Zach Johnson
At the par-70 Colonial Country Club, Johnson's scoring average the past three years (12 rounds) is 66.58. His worst finish during that span? A T-9 in 2010. Colonial's narrow fairways were made for an accurate ball striker like the 2008 Masters champ.

Birdie Buster

Michael Collins: Rickie Fowler
One stat that jumped out about Fowler was his total driving rank: seventh. At a place like Colonial, where it's not about driving it long but driving it in the fairway, the maturity of this 23-year-old will shine. He knows how to "play" his way around a course.

Richard Durrett: Bo Van Pelt
He has 11 straight rounds in the 60s at the par-70 course and knows his way around it. He's made eight starts at Colonial and has reached the weekend every time.

Farrell Evans: Rickie Fowler
Jason Dufner is playing just as good as Fowler right now, but it's tough mentally to play well the week after winning. Fowler took off last week after a tie for second at The Players. He's ready to continue this week with the most consistent stretch of golf of his young career.

Bob Harig: Rickie Fowler
He heads into the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial having posted three straight top-10s, including a victory at the Wells Fargo Championship and a runner-up finish at The Players Championship. He tied for 16th at Colonial last year.

Kevin Maguire: Ryan Moore
After Moore narrowly missed out on one of those eight spots in the British Open qualifier on Monday, expect him to ride his strong recent play -- including two top-10s in his past three starts -- to a high finish at Colonial.

Super Sleeper

Michael Collins: Kris Blanks
His ranks of 145th in distance but 25th in accuracy are all you need to know. Give him a short, tight, tough course and back up. Coming off a missed cut at the Byron Nelson and a tie for 10th last year at this event should tell you he's hungry and champing at the bit to get back on the tee.

Richard Durrett: Charlie Wi
I know he hasn't had a great season, but Wi does have two top-four finishes and was runner-up a year ago at Colonial.

Farrell Evans: Dicky Pride
No one expected the 42-year-old journeyman with one career win to be on the leaderboard last week at the Byron Nelson. The former Alabama star is playing the best golf of his 20-year professional career. Pride will surprise more people this week on a Colonial course that his game suits perfectly.

Bob Harig: Harris English
He's never played the Colonial, but this PGA Tour rookie has some good karma going after Monday's performance at the nearby British Open qualifier -- where he carded an opening-round 60 and cruised to medalist honors by shooting 123 over 36 holes.

Kevin Maguire: Dicky Pride
After his second-place finish last week at the Byron Nelson Championship netted him $702,000, Pride locked up his PGA Tour card for 2013. So the definition of PGA Tour journeyman is officially playing with house money for the rest of the year starting this week at Colonial.


Michael Collins: Jason Dufner
Aka I'll Have Another -- I bet he'll say, "I should've gotten married years ago if I'd have known this was gonna happen!" But it's not all smoke and mirrors with Dufner. He ranks fourth in total driving and 12th in scoring average. Looks like he hasn't just cracked the victory seal, but he might have blown the cover clear off!

Richard Durrett: Zach Johnson
His game sets up nicely for Colonial, and he has two runner-ups in his past three events, including The Players Championship. Colonial is a shot-maker's course, and Johnson has the shots to get it done.

Farrell Evans: Zach Johnson

The 2007 Masters champion has two second-place finishes in his past three starts, including a tie for second at The Players. His last tour win came at Colonial two years ago, when he shot 64-64 on the weekend.

Bob Harig: Zach Johnson
The 2007 Masters champ has been playing well of late, with a runner-up finish at The Players Championship as well as the RBC Heritage. He's had three straight top-10s at Colonial and won the tournament in 2010. Seems like a good time for another Johnson victory.

Kevin Maguire: Hunter Mahan
His record at Hogan's Alley isn't the best (three missed cuts in his past five starts), but the 2012 Mahan isn't the version we've seen in years past. He's seventh on tour in driving accuracy, which bodes well for this week, when he's basically playing a home game.





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