Rose can be Colonial king



Victory for 50-year-old Phil Mickelson in the US PGA was certainly a boost for the mature golfer.

And if there’s going to be a knock-on effect, Colonial Country Club is an ideal stage for the resultant inspiration to act out.

This brain over brawn course is a favourite stop for the veterans on the PGA Tour and there’s been a plethora of winners over 40 years old since the turn of the century.

That wasn’t the case last year admittedly but the 2020 can be viewed as something of an outlier. That was the tournament when golf returned following the shutdown caused by the pandemic. This is a slight hunch but maybe the young bucks were quicker to find their stride after the break.

However, we’re back to the normal schedule and hopefully past trends will count again.

Another of those is course form. This is a good place for repeat high finishes and my first pick, Justin Rose, has shown that in recent years.

The Englishman won this event thanks to a closing 64 in 2018 and last year opened with 63 on the way to another top three.

That third place stands out as an even better example of course suitability due to the fact that Rose missed five of seven cuts either side of it.

He was really struggling for quite a while but the 2013 US Open champion seems to have really turned a corner in recent times.

That’s highlighted by two big performances in majors: seventh in the US Masters when he was a factor all week and tied eighth in the US PGA when he backdoored a tied eighth after a closing 67.

Abraham Ancer did something similar at Kiawah Island and his price has been punished: the Mexican is just 20/1.

But despite that superb Colonial course form, Rose seems to have slightly escaped and 30/1 are odds we can work with.

Hot putting has been a big key to success at Colonial and that’s the strength of Rose’s game right now. He ranked 1st for Strokes Gained: Putting at Kiawah Island and had similar Putting Average numbers at Augusta.

The Ryder Cup star was fifth for Putting Average here when winning in 2018 and 12th in that category when third last year so he also putts these particular greens well.

The 40-year-old is clearly on the up again so take the Rose revival to continue here at 30/1.

The second 40-something to go in the staking plan this week is Charley Hoffman.

The 44-year-old’s Colonial form perhaps doesn’t leap off the page as clearly as Rose’s but there’s still plenty to like.

Hoffman has five top 25s in his last nine visits, four of those tied 18th or better.

Notably, he’s shot a 63 in two of his last three visits, those 7-unders coming in round one in 2018 and in round three in 2019.

Texas has always been a happy hunting ground for Hoffman due in large part to his ability to shoot good numbers in the wind.

He was runner-up in the Texan Open in 2019 and again took second place in that event last month.

That recent effort forms part of a great run of golf from the four-time PGA Tour winner. Starting with a tied 10th in the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, Hoffman has reeled off six top 20s in his last seven starts. He continued the streak with tied 17th in the US PGA.

The Californian ranked 1st for Greens in Regulation at Kiawah Island, something he also managed at another windy event, the Sony Open, back in January.

While most of his finishes have been just outside the payout places, it’s only a stroke here or a stroke there that will make the difference.

“I played great,” he said at Kiawah before reflecting that he just couldn’t get the speed of the slow Paspalum greens.

The Bentgrass surfaces at Colonial will suit him better and a repeat of his excellent iron play – Hoffman has gained just under 15 strokes on Approach across the last two events – should hopefully put him in the frame.

Have a punt at the industry-best 45/1.

A quick visit to the front end of the market where the top 12 are all rated 28/1 or less.

Jordan Spieth leads the betting at 10/1 while Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas are 12s.

Of that top dozen, my preference would be for Patrick Reed (T7 here last year and T17 at Kiawah) and Tony Finau (Colonial runner-up in 2019 and top 10 in the last two majors. Both are 22/1.

Looking further down, Gary Woodland is an option at 40s after showing some good signs again at the US PGA although I wouldn’t be touching Phil Mickelson at 45s. Surely his heroics last week would have taken a lot out of him.

So, instead, I’ll drop down to 55/1 for my final pick.

The last time Billy Horschel turned out in Texas he did this column a big favour by winning the WGC-Match Play at 70/1.

Two of Horschel’s last three PGA Tour wins have come in Texas (he also landed the 2017 Byron Nelson) so the Lone Star State brings out the best in him.

He hasn’t quite shown his best here although 34-19-38 in his three visits is a foundation to build from.

Since his WGC win, the 34-year-old has finished T50 at Augusta National, T25 at Hilton Head and T23 in last week’s US PGA.

He opened his week at Kiawah Island with a 77 so played his final 54 holes in 4-under – the same as winner Mickelson.

Horschel ranked 12th for Greens in Regulation last week and seventh for Strokes Gained: Putting so he’s going to bring plenty of confidence to Colonial.

“I am a fan of old-school golf courses, and this obviously fits that,” Horschel said on his debut here in 2017 so put all the bits together – Texas form, recent form, current form and course liking – and he’s well worth an each-way punt at 55/1.