By Will Martin
The two week sojourn of golf that brought Texas into the spotlight has now come and passed, and not without a little bit of history being made in the process.
Last week the city of Ft. Worth took center stage with a star studded cast of PGA players along with the added caveat of having the #1 ranked golfer in the world-Adam Scott-to partake in the weeklong festivities. According to Jay Betsill in attendance for the 2014 Crowne Plaza Invitational was 32% higher with the added attraction of a #1 in the field.
When the cut was made on Friday, Adam Scott barely crept into the conversation as he sat at even par with a short game that was suspect at best. From Thursday through Saturday there was a 45 hole stretch where the Aussie made only one bogey. Scott also fared well on the Horrible Horseshoe (at Holes 3 through 5) to be considered for a shot come Sunday.
If Saturdays in the PGA Tour are the proverbial moving day then Sunday was ideal for moving on. When play began Sunday there was a four way tie for first between Chris Stroud, Chad Campbell, 2011 champion David Toms, and 22 year Japanese phenom Hideki Matsuyama. There were 36 golfers all within 4 strokes of the top spot so Sunday was made for mandatory watching.
It should also be noted that in the 67 times the Colonial had been played prior to 2014 the third round champion/co-leader went on to win the plaid 35 times. Also the third round leader/co-leader has gone on to win 14 of 27 stroke play events this season. Brendon Todd turned that trick at the Byron Nelson one week ago.
It also helped that the weather was incredibly cooperative with cloud cover and ample breeze from Thursday onward. Seven under was your lead score Friday and Saturday. Many a golfer looked to have a chance to win the 2014 Colonial. My pick Matt Kuchar didn’t make the cut. I thought perhaps Jimmy Walker might do well as a local guy.
Certainly Chad Campbell from Colleyville had some people believing we’d see an American winner. However, with the rains enjoyed earlier in the week reads and flag placements made putting resemble trying to stab a fork into jello the first time-unsuccessful.
There were so many putts that were six foot or less that were missed by many a golfer. On Sunday it seemed that Jason Dufner and Adan Scott would miss easy putts from short distances. The fun would commence on the last hole for Jason Dufner as he sank a 26 foot birdie putt to get to nine under and climb into a tie with Adam Scott. Hitting 52 of 72 greens in regulation the #1 golfer in the world would get to nine under in regulation.
Adam Scott the first ranked #1 golfer to play at the Colonial since Nick Price in 1995. Jason Dufner tried to become the 15th player in golf history to win both the Byron Nelson and Colonial. The same for the Aussie with a Denny’s addition to the menu.
David Toms was sitting at Hole 12 at 8 under while Dufner and Scott watched from afar. Would we see a three player playoff like we did in 2009 when Steve Stricker held off Tim Clark and Steve Marino?
Down the stretch Toms faltered with his drives and wound up tied for fifth. Back to Hole 18 for Jason Dufner and Adam Scott with an ever irascible crowd evenly divided between the War Eagle and the #1 From Down Under. For three holes Scott and Dufner battled amidst cries of ‘Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!’ and ‘Let’s Go Duff!’.
The first playoff hole on 18 nothing was resolved as both players would match one another str0ke for stroke. Back to 17 for a Par 3 hole. Again Jason and Adam were equal to the task as both got on the green and each made somewhat difficult birdie putts. The crowd was telling the story. Slowly you began to hear chants of “USA!’ and “Murica’ which I am guessing was the holiday kicking in amongst the inebriated.
Back on 18 two well places tee shots by Jason Dufner and Adam Scott. The second time around Dufner’s second shot went long and to the right. His facial expression showed the dissatisfaction after his follow through. Scott’s shot landed feet from the pin as the crowd roared. Jason Dufner needed to make a birdie putt of at least 60 feet to keep hope alive. Putt by Dufner sailed past the hole while the seven footer by Scott spanked the bottom of the cup and we had a new Colonial Champion!
Not bad for a guy who decided within the week that he would chance his ranking and play.
“This is a really special week for me,” said Scott, 33. “Kind of fighting my way back into this tournament, around this golf course, it’s a real honor to be here. It’s a beauty.”
Was there an added incentive to succeed as the #1 ranked golfer in the world?
“It’s a good feeling, and maybe some validation you could say,” Scott said. “I had a chance earlier this year and I let it slip. I didn’t want to let this one slip, so I played hard and I was real happy with where my game was. To come out on top is a really satisfying feeling, and hopefully keep No. 1 for at least another week.”
Prior to the win South Africa’s Rory Sabbatini was the last non American winner at the Colonial. Adam Scott with the victory not only became the 15th golfer to win the ‘DFW Double’, he also became the first golfer to take the Texas Grand Slam having won the 2008 Byron Nelson, 2010 Valero Texas Open and the 2007 Shell Houston Open.
“I thought about it for a couple of years,” said Scott. “And I was happy to add this to my schedule. It’s really an honor to win here on a great track with a great list of champions.
“I got the boots over in San Antonio when I won. So I’ve got that. But maybe I should get a hat. I got a belt buckle today too. I’ll be looking good tonight in Fort Worth.”
The 9 under 271 was the highest winning score since Olin Browne swung an 8 under 272 in 1999. With the win Adam Scott maintains his #1 status as he only needed to finish 13th or better. Also with the win Scott extended his fully exempt status on the PGA Tour through 2019. 500 points collected with a jump from #50 to #14 in the FedEx Cup standings.
Jimmy Walker finished 10th this weekend to maintain his #1 FedExCup standing. Byron winner Brendon Todd finished tied for 5th. Jordan Spieth would finish tied at 14th at his second Colonial. Last year’s champion Boo Weekley finished 75th.
Along with a plaid jacket, a trophy and a check for $1,152,000 comes the knowledge that beginning in 2015 his name now joins the list of the chosen few who have taken on Colonial and won. She’s a beauty to be sure. Play her well and she will reward thee amply. Do anything slipshod on the fairways and on the greens and prepare to pay dearly.
Toughest hole to par this week was the Par 4, 5th hole (4.285). Easiest hole was the Par 5, 1st Hole (4.285).
Hence, another Colonial and Byron have come to pass. My thanks to the people at the Four Seasons Hotel and the Colonial for all the hospitality. John Bush and staff were beyond helpful with all questions I had. Ft. Worth always treats you like a welcomed family member. From the bus drivers at Farrington Field to the volunteers and policemen on the grounds who were always quick to say, ‘Howdy, welcome to Funkytown’ thank you for the hospitality.
Great crowds all week from the Pro Am onward. The fans were into the action and that hot spot for people at Hole 13 was indeed packed over the weekend…
Also a special thanks to Jay Betsill for this opportunity to hop aboard while he handled duties at the Star-Telegram. As your golf guy, Jay returns with his tales from the fairway later this week.
Timing truly is of the essence. Not two minutes after all the closing ceremonies were done and interviews conducted did the monsoon rains, thunder and lightning arrive. Par for the two week course. Back at it in 2015.
Well done Irving. Very well done Ft. Worth! Making Texas and Texans proud for another year.