By Dan Reardon
Call it the PGA TOUR’s version of the Texas Two-Step. Back-to-back weeks in Dallas-Fort Worth, with tournaments tied to the state’s golf legends, Byron Nelson and Ben Hogan. This week it’s the Fort Worth Invitational at Colonial Country Club, a course so closely tied to Hogan that his statue stands watch over a shot played decades ago. The Hall of Famer captured the title five times at Colonial, including the tournament’s first two in 1946 and 1947.
As timeless as the Hogan statue, the course has remained largely unchanged over the tournament’s 72-year history. The Perry Maxwell design (7200 yards, par 70) seems almost quaint by today’s standards for length.
Six of the last 10 winners have major championships on their resumes, including native Texan Jordan Spieth, who will be hoping to keep a pattern in place. In the last three editions of the tournament, the 24-year-old has recorded runner-up finishes in the odd-numbered years and a win in the even-numbered year.
Augusta has Amen Corner; Quail Hollow has its Green Mile. At Colonial it’s the Horrible Horseshoe at holes 3, 4 and 5 that set the tone early in the round.
CBS Sports on-course reporter Dottie Pepper, who will be tracking the leaders, shares her thoughts about this week’s stop on Tour.
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What does Colonial give [to] players, and what does it take away?
Well, it gives them difficult spots during the course of the day. It gives them the horseshoe, which is notoriously difficult. [But] It gives them a really easy start [before] they face the horseshoe. It also gives them a couple of par 5s, where they can get after it. And you have some really classic short par 4s. So it is a great mix, and that is why it is a test. Some bombers have won there, and [so] have some guys who didn’t hit it as far.
After this three-week span, the players will have seen three very different golf courses with Sawgrass, Trinity Forest and now Colonial. As a player, is it difficult to make adjustments to your game each time?
That’s what players ought to be able to do. If we played the same sort of courses week in and week out, no matter if you’re male or female, it would be very, very boring. Not only for the players, [but for] the media, for television, for everybody who is watching. So this is a terrific stretch, and the best players are the ones who can make that change over these three weeks.
What single part of their game do players need to excel in to be successful at Colonial?
Players have to put the ball in play. And they have to put the ball in play on the proper side of the fairway.
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Give us two or three players who, either based on recent performances or success at Colonial, figure to be a factor this week?
Adam Scott would be at the top of my list, because he’s had two very good finishes back-to-back, 11th at The Players and ninth last week [at the AT&T Byron Nelson]. He’s also a past champion here (2014), when he went to number one in the world. He seems to be getting more and more confident, and he is motivated to not have to go to U.S. Open qualifying. All of those factors contribute.
Chesson Hadley is showing up over and over on the leaderboards. In the next two or three weeks, he is going to come through. And Louis Oosthuizen… it’s hard not to put him on the list. He is such a good ball striker, and he only needs to putt okay to be in contention. He’s that good.
Do you have a good feeling about somebody who is a little less obvious?
Sam Burns. I like Sam’s attitude. He played with Tiger Sunday at Honda, and he remarked to him “…it’s crazy all these people came out to watch me today, isn’t it?” He’s fearless. He’s [made] in that Aaron Wise mold. And he is going to be a guy we hear a lot about in the coming years.
Finally, is Colonial a course that is weather-dependent. Does Colonial need weather to play to its personality, or does it stand on its own?
It stands on its own. It can be a little complicated if the wind picks up there, because often it will be a crosswind. But no, Colonial stands on its own. And part of the reason is that every hole is distinctive. Every hole stands out there as different. It is supposed to be hot and dry this week, and I hope that it gets a little bouncy.
Dan Reardon has covered golf for radio station KMOX in St. Louis for 33 years. In that time, he has covered more than 100 events, including majors and other PGA, LPGA and Champions Tour tournaments. During his broadcast career, Reardon conducted one-on-one interviews with three dozen members of the World Golf of Fame. He has contributed to many publications over the years and co-authored the book Golf’s Greatest Eighteen from Random House. Reardon served as Director of Media relations for LPGA events in both St. Louis and Chicago for 10 years.