After 54 holes, there is a four-way tie for the lead at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial between Hideki Matsuyama, David Toms, Chad Campbell and Chris Stroud. They all sit at 7-under. But that doesn’t really matter all that much.
There are 6 players at 6-under; 10 within one shot of the lead.
There are 7 players at 5-under; 17 within two shots of the lead.
There are 7 players at 4-under; 24 within three shots of the lead.
There are 12 players at 3-under; 36 within four shots of the lead.
There are 13 players at 2-under; 49 players within five shots of the lead.
Have you ever seen such a logjam?
The low rounds of the days were: Thursday, 5-under 65 by Dustin Johnson; Friday, 6-under 64 by Chris Stroud and Chris Kirk; and Saturday, 7-under 63 by Kevin Chappell.
You tell me who’s going to win. Chris Stroud thinks he knows. At least he knows the kind of guy who’s going to win:
“Yeah, it happens on courses like this that are just everybody hits in the same spots, everybody’s got to hit the same type shots into the greens, and it’s all about the guys that are really, really sharp from 160 to 130 with their wedges and 9- and 8-irons and who is making the putts. You don’t have to have anything — the greens are receptive. They’re not firm, they’re not too fast, and still the score is only 7‑under.”
“That has a lot to say about how great this golf course is.”
So you would think that the winner is going to have to be pretty aggressive to break through the logjam, right? For Stroud that’s already baked into the cake and he knows just what to do to make that more possible and less risky: work on his wedges:
“I’m pretty aggressive on this golf course myself anyway. Not in any way have I been conservative. Anytime I get inside 150, 160 yards with a good lie I’m going to go right at it. The greens are pretty soft. So I think in general most guys out here, especially guys hopefully that are playing well, they’re going to be aggressive.”
“Give myself a couple more chances [on the par 5s], and just really dial in. I’m about to go on the range and work on the wedges a little bit before I go home. But just tighten up the wedges and just give myself as many looks as possible.”
“My putting just feels great right now, and it’s just so nice. You can sleep so nicely at night when you’re putting the way I feel right now.”
You can feel his confidence in his words. And he expanded on why he feels the way he does. And given that this is all taking place at Colonial, it’s totally fitting that it has something to do with the great Ben Hogan:
“I feel very confident with where I’m at. Somebody told me once, I don’t know if this is true or not, but somebody told me that Ben Hogan said he always won his tournaments in between sure and unsure, right in the middle is where you want to be.”
“If you’re too sure, you’re too confident, you get lazy. If you’re really unsure, you don’t have any confidence. So I’m right in the middle, I feel like. If I can stay there, for the rest of my career, I would love that. But that’s hard to do.”
Nevertheless, he finds himself in a great state of mind and he seems to have all the pieces:
“Mentally I’m in a great state of mind. I’m really happy where I’m at, and like I said, being able to just simplify my putting, I’ve got a really great putter I feel good with. And just getting into every shot tomorrow and just mentally committing to my target and doing the best I can on every shot, that’s all I can do. Hopefully that puts me on top tomorrow.”
You gotta like the guy. He sounds ready to win his first PGA Tour event. He’ll be paired with Chad Campbell, a local boy made good.
And there was one other pairing that caught my eye as I scanned Sunday’s tee times. Just fifty minutes ahead of the last tee time is the Aussie pairing of World No. 1, Adam Scott and World No. 50, John Senden whose game is slowly but surely in ascendance; two “mates” in a comfort zone. They won’t even need a translator.
And in their efforts in this tournament, they are in lockstep ascendance; they both shot 71, 68, 66. And they are in the gang of players just two strokes back.