It's time for the second leg of the Texas two-step—the Forth Worth Invitational.
After Aaron Wise achieved the inevitable by securing his first career PGA Tour win at last week's AT&T Byron Nelson in Dallas, the Tour heads across town to Fort Worth for this week's event. The event has had five different names (and sponsors) since 2002—MasterCard Colonial, Bank of America Colonial, Crowne Plaza Invitational, Dean & DeLuca Invitational and now just the Fort Worth Invitational—but the tournament has long been more commonly associated with the golf course it's played on: Colonial Country Club.
Colonial is one of the Tour's iconic venues—more on that later—and is one of the players favorites, checking in at No. 5 on Golf Digest's countdown of PGA Tour pros' favorite courses on the circuit. You'll hear it referred to as Hogan's Alley this week, an ode to Ben Hogan, who won the tournament a record five times.
This year, a solid field descends upon the classic layout looking to fine-tune their games as the lead-up to the U.S. Open, which is somehow just three weeks away, gets underway. Here's everything you need to know about a tournament that dates back to 1946.
The golf course
Colonial Country Club, which opened all the way back in 1936, is a private club designed by John Bredemus and Perry Maxwell. Just five years after its opening, the course hosted the 1941 U.S. Open (won by Craig Wood) and began hosting what is now the Fort Worth Invitaitonal in 1946. It has also hosted the Tournament Players Championship (precursor to the Players Championship) in 1975 and the 1991 U.S. Women's Open.
As currently laid out, the course measures 7,209 yards and plays to a par 70. It's a classic parkland design—treelined fairways, holes that laid out right in front you, water hazards, minimal bells and whistles—and features bermuda grass and bentgrass greens. Players appreciate its relatively straightforward style, as do the experts who rate these tracks, as Colonial is No. 92 on Golf.com's most recent list of the top 100 golf courses in America. It also has one of the cooler, most un-clubhouse looking clubhouses you'll see on a golf course. Feast your eyes on this red-bricked, white-columned masterpiece:
A number of courses feature a stretch so difficult, or so memorable, it earns a nickname. These holes usually come toward the end of the course—PGA National's Bear Trap, Innisbrook's Snake Pit, Quail Hollow's Green Mile—but Colonial's three-hole gauntlet comes at you fast. Holes 3-5 are known as the "Horrible Horseshoe," and it's not because they aren't good holes. In fact, the 5th, a narrow, tree-lined 484-yard par 4, is one of the best holes on the PGA Tour. They're just very difficult golf holes. Hence, the name.
Notably, there are only two par 5s in play this week, and one of those is a 635-yard behemoth that won't be reachable in two for the majority of the field.
After last week's subpar field, a number of the bigger names will be teeing it up this week, as will a bunch of guys the 20-40 range of the world rankings. Four of the top-10 in the world—Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler—will compete, as will three of the top 10 in the FedEx Cup standings (Patton Kizzire, Jon Rahm and Webb Simpson, who is making his first start since his Players romp). Kevin Kisner will return to defend his title, and Aaron Wise is back at it after last week's triumph at Trinity Forest.
The European Tour event this week is the BMW PGA Championship, that tour's signature event, and that tournament is drawing a slightly stronger field than Colonial is. The likes of Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren are playing on their home continent this week.
Other notable names in the Colonial field: Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Xander Schauffele, Patrick Cantlay, Louis Oosthuizen, Bryson DeChambeau, Jimmy Walker, Zach Johnson, Adam Scott, Joaquin Niemann, Maverick McNealy.
A full list of tee times can be found here, but here are a few notable groupings:
Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler: 7:55 a.m. Thursday*/12:55 p.m.
Jordan Spieth, Kevin Kisner, Steve Stricker: 8:06 a.m.*/1:06 p.m.
Aaron Wise, Justin Rose, Zach Johnson: 12:55 p.m./7:55 a.m.*
Webb Simpson, Brooks Koepka, Adam Scott: 1:06 p.m./8:06 a.m.*
Patton Kizzire, Patrick Cantlay, Si Woo Kim: 8:06 a.m./1:06 p.m.*
* denotes teeing off the 10th hole.
The past champions
Kevin Kisner won this event last year at 10-under, beating Sean O'Hair, Jon Rahm and hometown favorite Jordan Spieth by one shot. Spieth won it the year before, and in 2016 he finished second to Chris Kirk, so that's three top-2 finishes in three years for Spieth at Colonial. Zach Johnson is a two-time champion of the event (2010, 2012) as is Phil Mickelson (2000, 2008), though lefty isn't in the field this week. Adam Scott took home the trophy in 2014. Other notable winners throughout the tournament's rich history: Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Ben Hogan (five times), Ben Crenshaw (twice), Sam Snead, Lee Trevino (twice).
Jordan Spieth +700 - Three straight top-2 finishes at Colonial
Jon Rahm +1200 - A runner-up last year, won recently in Spain
Rickie Fowler +1600
Justin Rose +2200
Webb Simpson +2200 - Blitzed the field at the Players Championship, where he won by four
Brooks Koepka +2500 - His last competitive round was a course-record tying 63 at TPC Sawgrass
Jimmy Walker +2500 - Texan has played very well of late with three straight top-6 finishes
Patrick Cantlay +2500
Jason Dufner +2800
Adam Scott +3000 - Barely missed getting into world top 60 and punching ticket into U.S. Open
Zach Johnson +3000 - Two-time winner at Colonial, game suits the course well
Matt Kuchar +3300
Aaron Wise +3500 - At 21, is he next in this crop of elite young Americans?
Bryson DeChambeau +3500
Emiliano Grillo +4000
Kevin Kisner +4000 - No love for the defending champ from the oddsmakers
Xander Schauffele +4000 - Tied for 2nd in last start at the Players
Chesson Hadley +4500
Adam Hadwin +5000
Brian Harman +5000
I'm tempted to go with Adam Scott, who is striking the ball well (per usual) and looks ready to turn the corner with his putting. Scott also just barely missed sneaking into the top 60 of the world rankings, punching his ticket to Shinnecock and keeping his streak of 67 consecutive majors played in alive. Instead, going way down the list and picking Xander Schauffele. His game doesn't exactly fit the mold of the past winners at Colonial, but I love what I saw out of the young Californian a couple weeks ago at Sawgrass. Already up to 23rd in the world and 16th in the Ryder Cup points standings, last year's rookie of the year will pick up a win and shoot up in both those rankings.