The PGA Tour moves to the Colonial Country Club for the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational. Colonial CC is a Par 70 course like last week that plays just over 7,200 yards. There are similarities between Colonial CC and TPC Four Seasons: they are both Par 70 courses with only two Par 5s. This week, though, the golfers will see less water, more bunkers and much smaller greens. There is always a premium on accurate approach shots on Par 70 courses but with greens averaging just 4,400 square feet, accuracy will be even more important this week.
This is another week where we’re going to put a premium on ball striking and scrambling. Ball striking can come in the form of Strokes Gained: Approach or Greens in Regulation. The course can be attacked without a driver at all for most pros, but distance overall can be an advantage. Shorter approach shots typically leave shorter putts and with greens this small, it’s important to stick it close. When we go against the grain, we’ll be looking at some more distance-heavy guys that don’t spray it all over the course and can make up some ground with a steady short game or on the Par 5s.
Going With the Grain
If we’re looking at Greens in Regulation, we have to start at the top of the category with Tony Finau ($8,700) and Kyle Stanley ($7,400). Finau and Stanley are the only two golfers in the field that have hit more than 70% of greens in their starts since the Arnold Palmer Invitational. Finau has truly developed an all-around game and made huge strides in his iron game in 2017. Stanley has been consistent all year long as well, only missing one cut in his ten 2017 starts. They both make great options at affordable prices this weekend.
It’s going to be hard to avoid the two top Spaniards in the field this week. Jon Rahm ($11,800) and Sergio Garcia ($10,800) are worthy of consideration again. Jon Rahm has essentially only had one bad round in 2017 when he ended up with an MDF at THE PLAYERS Championship. In the 25 starts that count towards his Official World Golf Ranking, he’s only missed two cuts. Don’t overthink it, Rahm is going to be a smart play until he proves otherwise. Garcia is also in great form heading into Colonial. It’s been a few years since he’s played this event, but he had 13th and 16th place finishes to show for his efforts in his last few starts.
For those of us that tend to lean towards course history a bit more than just course fit, Zach Johnson ($9,800) makes for a strong play this week. He has played this event since 2009 and only has one start outside of the top-20 in that time. Johnson played well in the Wells Fargo Championship, finishing T18, and could use a course he’s comfortable with to get back on the right track in 2017.
Honorable Mention: Matt Kuchar ($10,100) and Xander Schauffele ($6,500)
Going Against The Grain
Kevin Tway ($7,100) has improved recently in his approach game. His long term numbers don’t look as great, though, which may lead to some people being tentative about rostering him. Even if Tway struggles on approach, he can make up for it with his scrambling and putting. There will be a time where he cools off a bit, but it’s hard to fade someone playing as well as he is.
The short game of Phil Mickelson ($8,800) is the stuff of legends. When there’s a course with small greens, it’s usually wise to play Lefty. Mickelson currently sits at 24th on tour in Strokes Gained: Around the Green. On top of all that, he hasn’t missed a cut since the NFL season started last fall. I wouldn’t put a ton of weight into it, but he did win this tournament in 2008. Phil will be a cash game lock for me this week.
Cameron Smith ($7,700) is our final Against the Grain candidate this week. Smith possesses a rare combination of skills when compared to other PGA Tour professionals. His Strokes Gained: Around the Green is elite, he is currently second on tour in that category. Smith is barely in the Top 100 in Strokes Gained: Approach and outside of the Top 100 in Strokes Gained: Off The Tee. His ability to get up and down and put himself in position despite his ball striking inefficiencies can prove to be extremely valuable this week.
Honorable Mention: Brian Harman ($8,500) and Wesley Bryan ($7,000)
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