Top Storylines Heading into the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

Fred Altvater@@tolohgolfrContributor IIMay 21, 2013

Top Storylines Heading into the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

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    A statue of Ben Hogan adorns the grounds at the Colonial Country Club where Hogan won the Crowne Plaza Invitational five times and resided in the Fort Worth area.

    Colonial Country Club is a tree-lined, 7,200-yard, par-70 golf course that requires players to work their tee shots both left and right around daunting dog-leg fairways.

    The last three winners—Steve Stricker, David Toms and Zach Johnson—are all excellent ball-strikers and can control their golf ball on tight golf courses.

     Here are the major storylines heading into the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, which begins on Thursday, May 23.

Sang-Moon Bae Wins the HP Byron Nelson Championship

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    Sang-Moon Bae won his first PGA Tour event at the HP Byron Nelson Championship in his second season on the PGA Tour.

    In his rookie season last year on the PGA Tour, he lost in a playoff to Luke Donald at the Transitions Championship.

    Bae is no stranger to the winner's circle, as he has won eight other events on the Asian and Japan Golf Tours.

    New coach Rick Smith has helped Bae simplify his approach and gain the confidence to compete on tour. 

Keegan Bradley Fails to Win at the HP Byron Nelson Championship

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    The golf gods giveth and the golf gods taketh away.

    Keegan Bradley shot a course-record 60 at the HP Byron Nelson in the first round on Thursday, May 16, but he could not hold on for the win on Sunday.

    After having held the lead through the first three rounds, the odds were that he would collect his fourth tour win and second HP Byron Nelson title, but could not finish it off.

    Bradley collected his first win on tour at this event in 2011 before going on to win the PGA Championship later in the summer.

    He made three bogeys and only one birdie in the final round on Sunday and struggled mightily on the greens.

Peter Uihlein Gets First Professional Win in Europe

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    Playing on the European Tour, former U.S. Amateur champion Peter Uihlein got his first professional win at the Madeira Islands Open last weekend. 

    While most of the top European players were either in Bulgaria at the Volvo World Match Play or taking the week off prior to this week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth, Uihlein was able to win the opposite field event.

    Uihlein's win qualified him for this week's BMW PGA Championship, one of the European Tour's premier events. The win also gave him full exemption in Europe, but he will also seek a sponsor exemptions on the PGA Tour. 

The Crowne Plaza Invitational Offers an Eclectic Field

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    The Crowne Plaza is one of only four invitational tournaments on the PGA Tour. The invitational status allows the Crowne Plaza to entertain a smaller field and only the top 80 ranked players are guaranteed a spot in the field.

    The field this year at the Crowne Plaza includes Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Jim Furyk, Matt Kuchar, Tom Lehman, Davis Love III, Hunter Mahan, Corey Pavin, Charl Schwartzel and Vijay Singh.

    The field is loaded with young players like Jordan Spieth, Patrick Cantlay, David Lingmerth, Luke Guthrie, Morgan Hoffman and Scott Langley all seeking their first wins on the PGA Tour.  

There Have Been Eight First-Time Winners on the PGA Tour in 2013

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    The PGA Tour has completed 21 tournaments so far in 2013 and there have been eight first-time winners.

    Russell Henley, John Merrick, Michael Thompson, Scott Brown, Kevin Streelman, Billy Horschel, Derek Ernst and Sang-Moon Bae all got their first wins this year.

    The field at the Crowne Plaza includes a host of young players seeking their first wins.

    Who will be the next to break through this week in Fort Worth?

Zach Johnson Is the Defending Champion

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    Zach Johnson will defend his 2012 win at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

    Last year, he held off Jason Dufner, who was the hottest golfer on the planet, for his second Crowne Plaza title in three years.

    The tight fairways of Colonial Country Club favor a solid ball-striker and a player who can create shots that fit close quarters.

    Johnson can control his ball as well as anyone in the world and his game is perfectly suited to Colonial.

Clear Skies Are Predicted for the Weekend in Fort Worth

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    The forecast is predicted to be in the high 80's for ideal playing conditions at Colonial Country Club.

    Heavy winds can complicate play this time of year in Texas, as we saw last week in the HP Byron Nelson.

    Sunny skies and winds in the 10-12 mph range are forecast for the Fort Worth area Thursday through Sunday.

GMac Wins Volvo Match Play in Bulgaria

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    Graeme McDowell won the Volvo Match Play Championship that was held on the Thracian Cliffs Golf & Beach Resort in Kavarna, Bulgaria, last week.

    The images of this beautiful golf course were simply awe-inspiring and the Bulgarian Bureau of Tourism had to be the big winner last week.

    McDowell was runner-up in the Volvo Match Play to Nicolas Colsaerts last year, but prevailed over Thongchai Jaidee in the final match this year.

    With his win this year at the RBC Heritage on Hilton Head, GMac appears to be ready to contend for a second U.S. Open title at Merion in four weeks.

USGA and R&A Announce Rule Change

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    The USGA and the R&A announced last November a proposed change to the rules of golf pertaining to the "anchored stroke."

    The governing bodies of golf felt that the anchoring of a club against some part of the body does not constitute a free-swinging stroke. Anchoring the club is contrary to the completion of a legal golf swing.

    The USGA and the R&A both announced via their websites and a press conference on Tuesday, May 21, that rule change 14-1b will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.