Wise with big data

This week, the PGA Tour heads to Colonial Country Club for the Fort Worth Invitational. Headlining the event are Jordan Spieth, Justin Rose, Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler and Brooks Koepka. Webb Simpson will also make his first start since his PLAYERS Championship victory while defending champion Kevin Kisner returns to defend his title. Simpson and Spieth have both notched top 5 victories at this event the last two years. Full Field and Tee Times.

2017

A year ago, Kevin Kisner made a clutch par save on the 72nd hole to win by a single shot over Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Sean O’Hair. Kisner was three shots back of Webb Simpson heading into the final round before firing a closing 66 to capture the title. It was Kisner’s second career PGA Tour victory and marked his third top 2 finish of the 2017 season.

Storylines
Jordan Spieth

Since winning the Open Championship last July, Jordan Spieth has played some pretty inconsistent golf. His PLAYERS Championship performance was especially confusing as he sandwiched a 68 and 65 between first and final round 74s. Spieth only has 1 win in his home state of Texas, the 2016 Fort Worth Invitational.

That’s all, y’all

Colonial marks the 5th and final tournament of the season in the state of Texas. So far we have seen veterans like Bubba Watson and Ian Poulter notch victories, while PGA Tour newcomers Andrew Landry and Aaron Wise picked up their first career wins. With Fort Worth temperatures forecasted in the mid-90s this week, players will be happy to head north for a while.

Good luck Chuck

In danger of losing its spot on the PGA Tour schedule, Colonial locked in Charles Schwab as a title sponsor starting in 2019. Schwab has long been the sponsor of the Champion’s Tour season-long race and will move into the PGA Tour space next season. Last fall, upscale grocery chain Dean & DeLuca ended their sponsor agreement four years early, putting the tournament’s future in jeopardy.

CCC and the Hawk

Colonial Country Club has a very proud history since being designed by the great Perry Maxwell in 1936. It hosted a U.S. Open in the 1940s and even hosted the second edition of The PLAYERS in 1975. The course has hosted an event every year since 1946, the second longest streak on the PGA Tour.

Still, the club is mainly known for its influence on Ben Hogan. Hogan won at CCC 5 times and had a very close relationship with the founder, Marvin Leonard. Sean Martin wrote a fantastic article on the history of Hogan and Colonial Country Club, detailing its influence on one of the best of all time.

The course is a test of precision. It’s tight off the tee and has numerous doglegs that force players to play to a point. Over the years, the course underwent changes from its original Maxwell design. Last year, the club hired Gil Hanse to start a master plan to restore Colonial back to its original roots.

Paulie’s Picks

See who Paulie likes in Texas this week for your one-and-done leagues as well as Draftkings insights! Full article.

#BigData

Early data on Google Trends show that last week’s AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest was a hit with American golf fans. Search traffic on Google eclipsed the all-time high from 2004 by a wide margin. As a reminder, the 2004 championship saw a thrilling finish with Sergio Garcia topping Tiger Woods by one shot.

 Google Search trends for the Byron Nelson

Google Search trends for the Byron Nelson

The interest certainly didn’t come from the pedestrian field and it’s unlikely the PGA Tour’s much maligned #LiveUnderPar campaign, making the new golf course a logical conclusion. While the players will always be a big part of the product and what the Tour wants to promote, this event demonstrates that the courses and venues can spike interest too. They are an integral part of this Tour and can boost the product, and interest in it, significantly. This spike should tell the Tour to investigate more interesting venues instead of investing millions into dopey marketing campaigns. Let golf be played on more architecturally interesting golf courses, and it will lead to a more compelling experience and more fan interest.

More on Trinity

Golf analyst and noted golf course architecture expert Geoff Shackelford joins the podcast to discuss the AT&T Byron Nelson at Trinity Forest, the upcoming PGA Tour schedule and the future schedule. Listen on iTunesStitcher or the website.

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Rollies that don’t tick tock

The European Tour heads to Wentworth West for their premier event, the European BMW PGA Championship. The event marks the start of the European Tour’s Rolex Series, an 8-event season-long rotation of high-profile events with big purses. Alex Noren will return to defend his 2017 title and will face stiff competition from a field that includes Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood and Tyrrell Hatton. Full preview

Campus Update

The most important week of the year for this section is upon us, so listen up. A full breakdown of the men’s tournament will be on site Thursday and the women are finishing up on Wednesday.

The women’s NCAA Championship will finish Wednesday at Karsten Creek. So far we have seen a great deal of drama in the stroke play portion and continued uncertainty in match play.

Jennifer Kupcho (Wake Forest) won the individual tournament by two strokes over Stanford’s Andrea Lee. Kupcho finished second in the NCAAs last season, so this year was great redemption for the junior from Colorado.

On the last hole of the stroke play rounds, Arizona’s Bianca Pagdananan holed this eagle putt to put the Wildcats in a tie for the final match play spot with Baylor. They beat Baylor in a playoff to earn the 8th spot in match play. From there, they knocked off #1 seeded UCLA and #5 Stanford to reach the NCAA final. They will meet Alabama who knocked off Kent State and USC on Tuesday. Follow scores online here on Wednesday or watch the coverage on Golf Channel

In other college news, Texas’ Doug Ghim won the Ben Hogan Award on Monday night. The Ben Hogan Award is given to the player determined to have had the best college and amateur season while demonstrating strong academic standing. Past winners include Rickie Fowler, Jon Rahm, Maverick McNealy, and Peter Uihlein. Ghim beat out California’s Collin Morikawa and Ole Miss’ Braden Thornberry for the award. He and Thornberry will head to Oklahoma for the NCAA Championship this weekend.

Quick Hooks

Lee Westwood, Luke Donald, Padraig Harrington, and Graeme McDowell selected as European Ryder Cup assistant captains. Full story.

The US Amateur Four-Ball is down to the final 8. Full scores.

LPGA Tour heads to Michigan for the LPGA Volvik Championship. Tee Times

The Web.com is in one of the worst cities for golf courses in America for the Nashville Golf Open. Tee Times

Vote for Zac Blair and his ridiculous chip shot at last week's Byron Nelson. Zac will be donating the $20k to Els for Autism.

Written by Will Knights & Andy Johnson