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Fort Worth Invitational: Preview & DFS Picks

The PGA Tour will head to Fort Worth, Texas this week for the Fort Worth Invitational, hosted by Colonial Country Club. The tournament has changed names once again as it will go without a title sponsor for this season. It was announced this week however that Charles Schwab, who already sponsors the final event of the PGA Champions Tour each season, will take over title sponsorship duties beginning in 2019. For the past 2 seasons, the invitational tournament, which is just 1 of 5 on Tour, was sponsored by Dean and Deluca. Before that, Crowne Plaza (2007-2017), Bank of America (2003-2006), MasterCard (1996-2002), and Southwestern Bell (1989-1994) all served as main sponsors at some point in time.

The tournament has always been associated with Colonial Country Club and longtime Ft. Worth resident/9-time major champion Ben Hogan since its inaugural event in 1946. As an invitational (along with The National, The Memorial, RBC Heritage and Arnold Palmer Invitational), Fort Worth’s field will be considerably smaller than a typical event- about 130 versus the usual 156-man field. The tournament has a few interesting caveats as well- in 2003 Anika Sorenstam competed in the Bank of America Colonial, becoming the first female in over 5 decades to compete on the PGA Tour. The tournament also features a “Champion’s Choice”, where former champions select 2 young players to get invites despite not otherwise qualifying.

The par-70 course measures just over 7,200 yards. It features a 635 yard par-5 and long par-3s. The course sports difficult, narrow fairways and tight greens. Past top finishers tend to have higher strokes gained: approach than worse finishers, and despite the average distance off the tee being 10 yards less than the typical PGA Tour event, the field averages hitting just 56% of fairways. Look for players this week who are good ball strikers (aka great iron players for those tough approach shots) and are accurate off the tee. The weather is brutal this time of year in the Fort Worth area as well- the expected forecast this week calls for lows in the mid 70s and highs in the mid to upper 90s, with high humidity levels as well.

Las Vegas Odds

Jordan Spieth 9-1
Jon Rahm 14-1
Justin Rose 18-1
Webb Simpson 18-1
Rickie Fowler 20-1
Matt Kuchar 25-1
Aaron Wise 28-1
Adam Scott 28-1
Jimmy Walker 28-1
Patrick Cantlay 30-1
Brooks Koepka 33-1
Bryson DeCahmbeau 33-1
Jason Dufner 33-1
Zach Johnson 35-1

Power Rankings

5. Brian Harman

Harman has been stellar at Colonial in his last 4 trips. In 2014 he finished T30, and in 2015 cracked the top-10. After a T26 in 2016, he finished T7 last year with a Sunday round of 65. Harman is a darkhorse this week, despite making 12 of 14 cuts this year with 7 top-10s (which leads the PGA Tour) in 2018. He  missed the cut at The Players, going 74-80, and shot an 81 on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship. He played well (T23) at the RBC Heritage- a similar course that tests driving accuracy and approach play. Harman shapes well for this course- he’s 21st in driving accuracy out of 200+ qualifying players on Tour this season. If he can keep it in the fairway, he should do well getting on the green- he’s 37th in ball striking and 22nd in greens-in-regulation. Once he gets on the green, he’s one of the top SG: putting guys as well (30th). Harman is definitely struggling as of late, but he sets up well for this golf course and has a proven track record to crack the top-5 of power rankings this week.

4. Jimmy Walker

Walker is the hot hand pick this week, coming in 4th, T2 and T6 in his past 3 starts and never shooting above a 71 in his last 12 rounds. He’s a combined -44 over that stretch as well. He had a great showing at TPC Sawgrass with a runner-up finish and going T18 in driving accuracy and T28 in putting. His other 2 recent starts have both come in Texas, where he played well at the AT&T Byron Nelson, finishing 15th in putting and 21st in greens-in-regulation. In the past 3 months, he hasn’t missed a cut and finished outside the top-35 just once over that time span. Despite poor driving accuracy stats this season, he sets up well for Fort Worth. He’s 36th in strokes gained: approach and 18th in strokes gained: putting this year. A good Texas golfer and hot as of late, Walker is bound to have a great week and contend for first place.

3. Jon Rahm

Rahm has only played at Colonial once, but when he did he tied for second place last season. Ignoring his T63 at The Players, which was largely due to a Saturday 77, Rahm has been on a tear this season. He’s made 12 of 13 cuts, 5 top-10s and sports 3 wins this season. Since mid-November he has only finished outside the top-30 once. He’s also dominated nearly every statistical category on Tour this season- and for this tournament some big numbers jump out. He’s first this season in percentage of yardage covered by tee shots, and second in strokes gained: off the tee. He’s tied for 24th in strokes gained: tee to green and 23rd in both ball striking and greens in regulation. In other words- he sets up perfectly for this course if he keeps the ball in the fairway. In fact, he’s 3rd this season in GIR: from the fairway, and has the least amount of qualifying holes for that stat out of the top-10 players. So if Rahm can keep it in the fairway, he’s slated to hit his greens in regulation and is a few putts away from winning.

2. Webb Simpson

Coming off a win at The Players, there’s no reason Simpson can’t go back-to-back. He’s made 12 of 13 cuts this season, and with the exception of the WM Phoenix Open, has not finished outside the top-37 this year. He boasts 5 top-10s, which include The Sony Open, The Honda Classic, Valspar Championship and RBC Heritage. At The Players he dominated in nearly every statistical category- first in driving accuracy, T5 in GIR, and first in putting average. He coasted to victory after a second-round 63 that put him in the lead, winning by 4 strokes over Jimmy Walker, Xander Schauffele and Charl Schwartzel (who are all in the field this week). Simpson has the stats this season to play well at Colonial- he’s 33rd in strokes gained: tee to green, 25th in strokes gained: approach and 5th in strokes gained: putting. Expect Simpson to carry his momentum into Fort Worth and bring home another made cut and potentially a top-20 finish once again, especially if he can get another low round in the middle of the week.

1. Jordan Spieth

It’s pretty simple- Spieth is the favorite to win this week. If he can putt well, he WILL win this week. In his last 3 starts at Colonial, he sports a win and 2 runner ups. He’s never finished worse than 14th in his 5 career starts here as well. He’s had an up-and-down season this year if you hold him to his own standards. With 10/12 cuts made and 5 top-10s, including solo 3rd at The Masters, you’d think he’d claim he’s happy with his game. But despite his great iron play this season and better consistency off the tee, he is an abysmal 190th in strokes gained: putting, which has prevented him from getting to the winner’s circle. In everything else though, he has been terrific this season. From the tee box he is 18th in strokes gained: off the tee and 17th in percentage of yardage covered by tee shots. His iron play has been just as stellar- 2nd in strokes gained: tee to green, 17th in ball striking, 7th in strokes gained: approach and 2nd in GIR. Again it comes back to putting- last week in his T21 finish at the AT&T Byron Nelson he finished in 7th to last in putting average out of all players who made the cut. At The Masters he finished 36th in putting and T53 at The Houston Open- so in both tournaments where he finished in 3rd recently, he still struggled with the flat stick. Hopefully Spieth, who’s a native of the area, will find some comfort on the Dallas-Fort Worth bentgrass greens and get his first victory of the season.

DFS Picks

Jimmy Walker -> $9,500

Matt Kuchar -> $9,300

Xander Schauffele -> $8,200

Brian Harman -> $7,800

Adam Hadwin -> $7,600

Ryan Palmer ->$7,600

Remaining Salary -> $0

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