|Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial - May 19, 2008
Crowne Plaza Invitational
at Colonial Notes
Phil Mickelson, the 2000 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial champion, is returning to Fort Worth for the first time since 2005. Besides his victory, Mickelson was runner-up in defense of his 2000 title and was eighth in 1994—his only other top-10 finishes in 12 starts.
Jason Day and Charlie Wi will play in this week’s tournament, the beneficiaries of the long-running tournament tradition of past champions voting two players into the field.
Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial champions have done well over the years with their at-large picks, and some choices have returned to win the tournament later in their careers. Other Champions’ Choice invitees who made their pro debut in Fort Worth were Davis Love III, Paul Azinger, Billy Mayfair, Mark O’Meara, Curtis Strange and Stewart Cink. In all, 66 of the former 101 selections (not counting this year's) have become PGA TOUR tournament winners, racking up 364 victories and 23 major titles.
Since 1990, the Hogan Award Banquet held just prior to the event honors the year’s top male collegiate golfer. On Sunday, May 18, the tournament announced that Oklahoma State's Rickie Fowler is the 2008 winner. The announcement came at a black-tie dinner featuring dignitaries from throughout the golf industry. Recent winners have included Hunter Mahan, Mark Wilson, and D.J. Trahan, who are playing in this week’s event.
History is against Rory Sabbatini successfully defending his title at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial this week. Since the inaugural event in 1946, only Ben Hogan has managed to return the following year and win. Hogan successfully defended his title twice — in 1947 and again in 1953.
In two starts at this event, Australia’s Nathan Green has finished in the top five both times. In 2007, Green tied for fifth. In his first start at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, in 2006, he tied for fourth. The last time an Australian won at Colonial Country Club was Ian Baker-Finch in 1989.
The last first-round leader of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial who went on to win came 19 years ago when Ian Baker-Finch opened with a 7-under 65 to take a one shot lead after the first round. Baker-Finch defeated runner-up David Edwards by four strokes.
Ryan Palmer is a sponsor's exemption this week, and his invite is coming at the right time. Last week at the AT&T Classic, Palmer tied for 10th, his top performance of 2008. Palmer held a share of the lead at one point in the final round at TPC Sugarloaf before two double bogeys on the last nine derailed his chances. Palmer is an Amarillo, TX, native who lives in Hurst, TX and plays out of Colonial Country Club, host site of this tournament.
E NOTES FROM THE PGA TOUR
- Colonial CC, site of this week’s Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, has played host to the tournament since its inception in 1946. Only one event on TOUR has been around longer and never moved—the Masters Tournament at Augusta National.
- While a Texas native has won the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial 10 times over the years, the last Texan to win at Colonial was Ben Crenshaw in 1990. More South Africans (Fulton Allem, David Frost, Rory Sabbatini) have won at Colonial over the last 30 years than Texans.
- With his victory last week at the AT&T Classic, Ryuji Imada became the fifth Asian-born player to win on the PGA TOUR. He joins a list that includes Isao Aoki, T.C. Chen, Shigeki Maruyama and K.J. Choi.
- More on Imada: He might not have been noticed by some, but he entered last week in 18th place on the FedExCup points list. With the victory, he’s now in third place behind only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
- One more on Imada: May has truly been a significant month in his golf career with most of his career highlights occurring during it. Here’s a look:
May 18, 2008 Won the AT&T Classic
May 20, 2007 2nd at AT&T Classic (losing playoff)
May 23, 2004 T4 Henrico County Open (Nationwide Tour)
May 2, 2004 Won the BMW Charity Pro-Am (Nationwide Tour)
May 20, 2001 5th at Henrico County Open (Nationwide Tour)
May 6, 2001 2nd at Rex Hospital Open (Nationwide Tour)
May 21, 2000 Won Virginia Beach Open (Nationwide Tour)
- There’s been only one multiple winner (Tiger Woods) through the first 22 events of the season. That’s the longest the TOUR has gone without producing two multiple winners since the 2002 season when it took 26 events to produce a second.
- The Senior PGA Championship will be held in Rochester, NY, this week and three local products enter after strong finishes last week. Jeff Sluman, a winner of the PGA Championship and a native of Rochester, finished a Champions Tour career-best third last week at the Regions Charity Classic. He’s joined by fellow New Yorkers Joey Sindelar and Mike Hulbert, each of whom finished T11 last week.
- While most of the Champions Tour membership will be competing at the Senior PGA Championship, rookie Fulton Allem will be at Colonial CC in Fort Worth for the Crowne Plaza Invitational. Allem was the winner in 1993.
- Four Champions Tour rookies are having standout seasons. Bernhard Langer leads the money list with Mark Wiebe (7th), John Cook (8th) and Jeff Sluman (13th) having a chance to finish at the top by season’s end.
- Brad Bryant didn’t win the Regions Charity Classic for the third consecutive year, but he did continue his amazing iron play at the tournament. Over the past three years, Bryant has hit 84.6% of the Greens In Regulation in the tournament (137 of 162).
- Ryuji Imada’s victory last week was the 227th PGA TOUR win by a former Nationwide Tour player and the 10th this year.
- Wayne Gretzky showed his golf skills at last week’s BMW Charity Pro-Am. Hockey’s all-time leading scorer teamed with hockey fan Chris Nallen to win the Pro-Am portion of the tournament. His wife, Janet Jones-Gretzky, won the Pro-Am side of the event last year.
- Nine of “The 25” hail from outside the U.S. with five players from Australia and one each from Canada, England, India and Norway.
- Fred Funk, although resting following knee surgery last week, is serving as the Honorary Chairman of this week’s Melwood Prince George’s County Open. Funk is a native of nearby Takoma Park, MD.