Preview and Prediction for the 2015 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

Brendan O'Meara@@BrendanOMearaFeatured ColumnistMay 19, 2015

Preview and Prediction for the 2015 Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Who wants a Scottish kilt repurposed into a blazer? These guys at Colonial Country Club.

    Remember that time when Adam Scott was the No. 1 player in the Official World Golf Ranking? It was a brief stint, but soon after ascending to that coveted spot, he won the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial and seemed primed for a sustained reign atop the rankings.

    Then Rory McIlroy happened, and Scott, though still a consistently good player, made land fall in the A-minus category of professional golfer.

    Of the A-plus varietal, we get another dose of 2015 Masters champion Jordan Spieth.

    This should be a good one.

    Read on for this week’s forecast.

Where to Watch and Tournament Info

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Defending Champion: Adam Scott

    Where

    Colonial Country Club (Fort Worth, Texas)

    7,204 yards, Par 70

    What

    Total Purse: $6,500,000

    Winning Share: $1,170,000

    FedEx Points to Winner: 500

    When

    Thursday-Friday

    4-7 p.m. ET, Golf Channel

    Saturday-Sunday

    1-2:30 p.m. ET, Golf Channel; 3-6 p.m. ET, CBS

The Biggest Storylines

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    Will the Real Jordan Spieth Please Stand Up?

    Spieth has the worst kind of hangover: the victorious kind.

    This hangover makes a player sluggish and at times complacent. Since winning the Masters in record fashion, Spieth finished tied for 11th at the RBC Heritage (this after shooting like Ray Romano on Day 1), failed to advance out of his round-robin group in the WGC Match Play (where he didn’t make the weekend) and missed the cut at the Players.

    After the Players, Spieth said in Jason Sobel’s ESPN.com story, “I just simply have not worked hard enough since the Masters to have my game. I sprayed it everywhere this week. It was unlike me."

    He’s back in his home state and comes in with a chip on his shoulder of his own sculpting.

    Will the Real Jimmy Walker Please Stand Up?

    Ever since snagging his second win the year in the Valero Texas Open, Walker has been pedestrian.

    He finished tied for 38th in the Masters, tied for 52 in the Match Play and was cut at the Players. Now he comes back to his native state in an attempt to find his game again. He said on CrownePlazaInvitational.com:

    Well, it seems to be a golf course that if you want to score, you need to be in the fairway. The rough is up a little bit, and I know the greens should get a little quicker, little firmer. So the fairways will be a premium. If I drive it well this week, I think I'll play pretty well. I feel like everything is right there and my golf game feels good. I've been putting well and scoring. So it's just a matter of getting out there and doing it, really.

    Walker fell to No. 2 in the FedEx Cup standings, but that doesn’t matter now. What matters is getting back to how he played in the winter and early spring.

    Will the Real Adam Scott Please Stand Up?

    Scott is the defending champion. Those were sunny days when he climbed Mount OWGR before the water trembled and McIlroy surfaced from the ocean like Godzilla.

    Scott said in an Associated Press story (h/t Dallas Morning News):

    Maybe added a little pressure for myself, trying to play like a No. 1. But I think the important thing was I realized that didn't mean playing perfect, and I certainly didn't play perfect all week. But the way you come back and get it done, and I felt like I certainly played like one of the best players in the world out there on the back nine.

    This is the line on Scott since finishing tied for fourth at the Cadillac Championship: T35, T38, T52, T38, cut.

    That’s what you call down under for the Aussie.

    Returning to the site of last year’s win, back when he took over for Tiger Woods as the No. 1 player in the world, could be the dingo Scott needs to eat this baby.

The Favorites

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Zach Johnson

    Zach Johnson has had a quietly steady season. In his last six events, he has five top 20s including a top 10 at the Masters.

    He has won twice at Colonial and is the all-time earnings leader at this event.

    He'll have to lean on that past form at Colonial because much of his game has soured this year. He ranks 189th in strokes gained putting but 21st in driving accuracy, and that's key in these tight Colonial fairways.

    Jordan Spieth

    Spieth hungers for a return to form. He missed the weekend at the Match Play and missed the cut at the Players. He’s not playing like the Masters champ he is.

    What made him so tough leading up to and through the Masters was his GPS-specific driving and sinking just about any putt within 10 feet. It's like he was putting an iron ball at a magnetic hole.

    He's already recognized that he hasn't practiced as hard after the Masters. It's safe to say he put his grinder hat back on and will come out sharp in Forth Worth.

    In two tries at Colonial he has two top 15s. He'll contend and may force a playoff.

    Adam Scott

    At this time last year Scott was No. 1 in the world. Now he's 11th in the world and 109th in FedEx Cup points.

    Which Scott will we see? Mediocre Scott or great Scott?

    How does a guy ranked fifth in strokes gained tee to green have such a disappointing season to date? That 196th rank in putting has something/all to do with it. Earlier this year Woods was "between patterns." These days Scott is between putters as he tries to transition to the short stick after using the belly putter for years. 

    As for this event, it won’t be lost on him that he was No. 1 a year ago when he won this tournament in a three-way playoff.

The Dark Horses

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    J Pat Carter/Associated Press

    Jimmy Walker

    Walker has been in a slump, but he returns to Texas, the state of his last win: the Valero Texas Open. He started off the year hot and has cooled off in his most recent tournaments.

    It pays to be accurate at Colonial, and Walker has struggled a bit at hitting fairways. With a 53.79 driving accuracy rate, that could pose a threat to his success. Given his recent slump, a turnaround feels likely.

    Look for a top 10 here as he reboots to his default factory settings.

    Paul Casey

    Paul Casey can’t be ignored. He’s playing his best golf in years and had his best efforts in the Masters, finishing in a tie for sixth.

    He parlayed that effort to a tie for fifth in the Match Play, taking McIlory—the eventual winner—through after hours in the quarterfinals.

    Casey is in the top 100 in driving accuracy and in the top 15 in greens hit. Should he strike these pins down the way he has this season, he's a certain threat to wear whatever you call that blazer the winner gets.

    Ryan Palmer

    Ryan Palmer tied for fifth in this tournament a year ago and loves this course. He must love it since he shot a Texas-sized (Delaware-sized?) 62 in 2013’s opening round.

    In 2015, Palmer finished in a tie for second at Phoenix and in a tie for sixth at the Valero Texas Open. He’s back in Texas for more after missing the cut at the Players.

    Palmer has laser-like precision in the strokes gained tee to green and total, but that 84th ranking in strokes gained putting could/will be his undoing.

Prediction

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    LM Otero/Associated Press

    Winner: Zach Johnson

    Johnson makes some serious bank at this tournament, and he'll win for the third time this weekend. He last won it back in 2012.

    In 2013, he told PGATour.com, "I'm going to hopefully take some of those good feelings I've had over the last four years, not necessarily dwell on them, but embrace them and put them into play in some regard." 

    There’s horses for courses, and Johnson’s game fits likes Tetris at Colonial.

    Let’s see if Johnson can win this in a three-way playoff with Spieth and Palmer.

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