It's a short commute for the PGA TOUR after the AT&T Byron Nelson Championship, as players head 30 miles due west out of Dallas to Fort Worth, for the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational, the final Lone Star event on the 2017 schedule. Storied Colonial Country Club plays host for the 71st consecutive time, making it the TOUR’s longest-tenured tournament at a single venue.
It's a home game this week for Dallas resident and Titleist golf ball loyalist Ryan Palmer (Pro V1x), who tied for 3rd place at last year's event along with Titleist Brand Ambassador Webb Simpson (Pro V1). Palmer is a member at Colonial CC and he's eager to capitalize once again on the the local knowledge he's acquired in the hundreds of rounds he's played here.
"It's such a shot-making golf course," Palmer said. "You know, a lot of times players say this golf course takes the driver out of their hands. Well, it's in my hands all day just because I've done it enough. That's the way I play it, and it's worked out pretty good."
Palmer knows every turn on every hole on the Par-70, 7,204-yard layout. He knows that on No. 13 the wind is never into you, no matter what it feels like. He knows that the second shots on No. 10 and No. 17 always play shorter than the yardage. He knows the bent-grass greens by heart, so much so that he and his caddie don't even bother looking at the yardage book this week.
Palmer also knows where trouble lurks at Colonial and he noted that holes No. 3, 4 and 5, in particular, can throw players off-balance right out of the gate.
"The Horrible Horseshoe it's called," Palmer noted, "and it can be horrible to a lot of the people."
One player who fared well through this gauntlet last year is the defending champion, Titleist Brand Ambassador Jordan Spieth (Pro V1x). The Dallas native played The Horrible Horseshoe in 2-under-par in 2016, one of the keys to his 3-stroke victory.
“We get some famous stretches of three holes on the PGA Tour," Spieth said. "You think of 16, 17, 18 at Sawgrass. You think of 11, 12, 13 of Augusta. But those holes, you know, there is at least one very easy hole that you would expect to almost birdie. In this stretch, I don't find any of them birdie holes at all. It's also unique because it's early in a round, which allows you to make a mistake and be able to return from it, or to obviously play them well and gain on the field on the weekend, which is nice early in a round. That will give you momentum you can feed off.”
And as players look for the momentum that they can ride all the way to the winner's tartan jacket, Titleist is the once again the overwhelming golf ball choice with 85 players in the field of 121 trusting a Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x golf ball for their success. That’s more than six times the nearest competitor with 14 and more than all competitors combined.
Titleist is also the top choice of players in the hybrids (20) and irons (38) categories. Vokey Design Wedges topped the approach, sand and lob wedge (159) category. Scotty Cameron putters were the top choice in the putter (50) category.
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- Colonial Country Club was built in 1936. It gained prominence after hosting the 1941 U.S. Open, marking the first time the USGA had hosted their premier event south of the Mason-Dixon Line.
- Colonial CC is the only course to host a U.S. Open (1941), PLAYERS Championship (1975) and annual PGA TOUR event (1946-present).
- Hometown favorite Ben Hogan won the first two Invitationals on his way to a career-total five wins at the event, earning Colonial Country Club the nickname “Hogan’s Alley.”
- In his victory at last year's DEAN & DELUCA Invitational, Jordan Spieth birdied the final three holes for a back-nine 30 to shoot a final-round 65 and collect his eighth (of nine) PGA TOUR title and first in Texas. He fired four rounds in the 60s (67-66-65-65) en route to a 17-under-par 263 total.
- Titleist golf ball loyalist and 12-time PGA TOUR winner Zach Johnson (Pro V1x) has finished outside the top 30 just once in 11 starts at the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational, including five top-10 finishes: T17-2016, T19-2015, T73-2014, 3-2013, 1-2012, 4-2011, 1-2010, T9-2009, T30-2006, T26-2005, T14-2004.
- Johnson set the 72-hole tournament (65-66-64-64—259) at the 2010 DEAN & DELUCA Invitational, finishing at 21-under-par. The four-round score of 259 is also a personal best for Johnson, whose next-lowest finish (261) came when he won the 2008 Valero Texas Open.
- Ryan Palmer has finished inside the top 15 four out of his last five starts at the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational (T3-2016, T5-2014, T14-2013, T5-2012). This week will mark his 14th start at the event.
- The DEAN & DELUCA Invitational once again hosted the Ben Hogan Award ceremony, a black-tie event on to recognize the top collegiate golfer of the year. The Heisman Trophy-like ceremony honors three finalists and awards a winner at the end of the ceremony.
- With his win in 2015, Titleist golf ball loyalist Chris Kirk (Pro V1x) became the first player to win the Ben Hogan Award (2007) and the DEAN & DELUCA Invitational. Kirk will make his eighth start at Colonial, with top-15 finishes in four of his last five starts at the event.
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Early in the week, Titleist Brand Ambassador Zac Blair tried to channel some ball-striking magic under the tree of "The Wee Icemon".
As Titleist Brand Ambassador Charley Hoffman shares in this post, golf history surrounds you everywhere you turn at Colonial.
When you scramble and putt like defending champion Jordan Spieth, you're never out of a hole.
Extra sauce this week on the stampings on the Vokey SM6 wedges of Titleist Brand Ambassador Andrew Johnston.
As he completes his second round, Webb Simpson (T3 in 2016) is charging into contention once again. Webb now owns a share of the lead at 5-under-par with Titleist golf ball loyalist Paul Casey.
Good luck to all of #TeamTitleist this weekend!