The key word for this weekend at the Crowne Plaza Invitational? Volatility. That’s because, after 54 holes of play, four players, including 2011 champion David Toms and 22-year-old Hideki Matsuyama, are tied for the lead, and thus far, nobody has seemed to be able to stay there for long.
Behind them? Nothing too intimidating, just 13 players within two strokes of the lead. Names like Jimmy Walker, Jason Dufner, Adam Scott, and Kevin Chappell, who posted the round of the day with a Saturday 63, after falling off the pace on Friday with a 73.
All this adds up to one of the most exciting finishes imaginable in golf. With so many players within easy striking distance, the title is completely up for grabs, meaning that every hole is likely going to count until the very end. Nobody is safe, and players will be forced to take aggressive lines to set the scoring pace early on.
It’s fitting that on the day of one of racing’s most prestigious events,the Indianapolis 500, golf, with its slow, deliberate image is likely to have a sprint not to a checkered flag, but a tartan-plaid jacket. Since the year 2000, the highest winning aggregate at Colonial is -11, posted by Steve Flesch in 2004. For the leaders, that would mean a final round of 66. With scoring conditions as difficult as they have been, that could easily get the job done in Texas.
The two players not in the lead that I like the most are actually the Aussies, Scott and Marc Leishman. Leishman has been on the upswing since missing the cuts at the Masters and the RBC Heritage, with his tie for third at the HP Byron Nelson Championship marking his highest finish since January’s Farmers Insurance Open. Leishman curently ranks seventh in strokes gained – putting for the tournament.
Scott may have put himself in a hole with what was frankly an awful start to the tournament, but the way he’s bounced back since that disastrous first nine has to inspire confidence. He may be telling the truth when he says he doesn’t care about what happens with Henrik Stenson gunning for his No. 1 world ranking, but he does care about winning tournaments, and he’s still got a good shot here in Texas.
Whatever happens this Memorial Day weekend, players and fans should be ready to enjoy a great day of golf.