Backspin: Kuchar one to watch as he heats up

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May 27, 2013
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Having spent the past two weeks in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex might have taught us a few things, such as:

WATCH OUT FOR KUCHAR: Matt Kuchar was disappointed that he couldn't seal the day at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on Sunday. He led after 54 holes but his wedge play was spotty in the final round and he couldn't keep pace with eventual winner Boo Weekley.

But for the third consecutive May, he's had one impressive week that sets up his June schedule, including the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance and the U.S. Open.

In 2011, he tied for sixth at the HP Byron Nelson. Last year, he won THE PLAYERS Championship. Now he has the runner-up at Colonial. Spending two weeks with swing instructor Chris O'Connell in Dallas doesn't hurt, either.

"I feel we get things really tight," Kuchar said. "This is a good stretch for me and just the way my schedule works out ... It looks like it's a good lead-up for the next couple of months."

ZACH LOVES COLONIAL: Zach Johnson has two wins and three other top-10 finishes in his last five starts at Colonial. As long as Colonial is around, Johnson will always have a chance to win a PGA TOUR event -- much like Corey Pavin feels about Colonial, which is why he was in Fort Worth instead of the Senior PGA Championship.

Johnson finished third this year with four rounds in the 60s, nearly rallying on Sunday with a 66. Of his 32 rounds played at the par-70 Colonial course, 25 have been in the 60s.

The only player with a longer top-10 streak at Colonial was Ben Hogan, who had seven straight top-10s, including four wins, from 1946-53.

"She seems to like me," Johnson said about Colonial. "I just like these grounds. I like what this golf course demands."

SPIETH BETTER FIT FOR FORT WORTH?: Jordan Spieth, the 19-year-old from Texas, has four top-10s this year, including shot-maker courses like Hilton Head and Colonial. Those two courses, incidentally, are the two that Boo Weekley has won on.

Although Spieth has more familiarity with TPC Four Seasons, his game might be a better fit for Colonial. And with TPC Four Seasons to give way to Trinity Forest in 2019, who knows if that course will suit Spieth. Don't be surprised if he finds more success in Fort Worth that his hometown of Dallas.

GOING LOWEST EARLY MEANS NOTHING: Keegan Bradley opened the HP Byron Nelson Championship with a course-record 60 in the first round, hung onto the lead for the next two rounds but was overtaken by Sang-Moon Bae down the stretch. Ryan Palmer opened the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial with a 62 in the first round, tying for the lowest opening round in tournament history. But he couldn't capitalize on the momentum and was not in contention on Sunday, finishing in a disappointing tie for 14th.

"I'm a little frustrated, to say the least," Palmer said.

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

"Any time you hear your name, especially when you are playing good, it's fun. When you are playing bad, you don't want to hear it. It's fun having the fans pull for you. Over the years I have become friends with them. It means a lot." -- Boo Weekley on playing with emotion

"It's a tough pill to swallow when you wind up one shot short of a victory here on (this) course. I really, really want to put my name up on that wall of champions." -- Matt Kuchar on his runner-up finish.

"That's certainly somewhat of a focus, but I've got another tournament next week up at Jack's place, and we will just go from there. But I'm excited about Merion." -- Zach Johnson on keeping the momentum going as the U.S. Open approaches

TWEETS OF THE WEEK

@garyplayerCongratulations @booweekley on your 3rd tartan jacket & super win @CrownePlazaInv on @PGATOUR. Ben Hogan would be proud. Welcome back. Best. -- Gary Player on Boo Weekley's win.

@JohnPetersonLSU: Not my best week. But glad I could raise $1600 for Moore tornado victims. #MooreBirdiesAndEagles #thankyoucolonial -- John Peterson on raising funds for tornado victims

@RickieFowlerPGA: Thanks to puma @cobragolf for getting me an extra logo put on my shirt for today #PrayForOK #OKpride http://instagram.com/p/ZxmZL6Qu9p/ -- Rickie Fowler on showing his support for tornado victims

THE BACK NINE: 9 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

1. Boo Weekley's left-eye twitching was mentioned in Sunday's post-tournament coverage. If he could solve the issue with glasses, would he wear them? The answer is no. "If I had to wear glasses, I'm probably going to go and retire," he said. "I can't play with sunglasses. My depth perception goes so far off, I would hate to play trying to wear glasses. I don't like nothing near my eye anyway. I can't put contacts in."

2. Prior to the first round at Colonial, Zach Johnson lost his lucky ball marker that his wife made for him 10 years ago. He only shot 1 under that day. He found it prior to the second round and shot 65-68-66. "It just gives me great perspective out there," Johnson said about the ball marker, on which is written some of Johnson's favorite scripture verses. "It kind of calms me down, gives me some peace."

3. Matt Kuchar is in third place in the FedExCup standings, just 918 points behind leader Tiger Woods. But it sounds like he's about to concede the regular season race. "I think the idea now with the lead that Tiger's got is to just get yourself in position for the Playoffs," said Kuchar, knowing that the points adjustment for FedExCup Playoffs events and the reset prior to the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola will give him plenty of opportunity to win the $10 million bonus.

4. The double bogey at the 15th hole Sunday may have cost Scott Stallings the Colonial title. He was in the lead at the time and well ahead of the other contenders, having teed off 70 minutes ahead of the last twosome. He was about to post a low score and wait for anybody to catch him. But his approach from a fairway bunker at 15 left him with a tough lie near the greenside bunker, and things unraveled from there. Ironically, he said the best shot he hit all day was that approach. "I flushed it," he said. "I hit a great shot exactly where I was trying to hit it. Flew it about 2 yards too far."

5. Sang-Moon Bae was the only player in the field at Colonial with a chance to pull off the Texas Two-Step this year, having won the HP Byron Nelson Championship the week before. Bae made the cut at Colonial, but things didn't go so well after that, especially with a final-round 77 that left him tied for last place at 6 over. Ben Hogan remains the only player to win both Metroplex events in the same year (1946).

6. No player, by the way, posted top-10 finishes in both events. John Huh came the closest, tying for eighth at the HP Byron Nelson and tying for 11th at the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

7. Scott Stallings was a bogey-free 12 under on the front nine at Colonial. Matt Kuchar was a bogey-free 8 under on the back nine. David Lingmerth was the only player with two bogey-free rounds at Colonial.

8. Impressive work out of the bunkers by Jonas Blixt at Colonial. He went 10-for-10 in sand saves. Coming into the week, Blixt had ranked just 147th on the PGA TOUR in sand-save percentage at 44.7 percent. He moved up 40 spots in the rankings after his performance in Fort Worth.

9. In his last three starts, Ryan Palmer has opened with a 67 (THE PLAYERS Championship), a 65 (HP Byron Nelson Championship) and a 62 (Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, tying the lowest opening round at that tournament). But he hasn't been able to capitalize on those quick starts. At Colonial, he faded in the middle two rounds and was not in contention on Sunday. "It's a matter of getting that confidence, getting myself in on Sunday," said Palmer, who lost a childhood friend to an auto accident after the first round at TPC Sawgrass.. "I am seeking to get over that. I keep on making minor mistakes. We're close."

FORWARD SPIN
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Muirfield Village is always one of the tougher courses on TOUR -- Tiger Woods shot 9 under to win there last year -- and the field is stacked again. Woods and Rory McIlroy are each making their first start since THE PLAYERS, and the field also includes Bubba Watson and Adam Scott.

The Memorial also serves as a preview of the 2013 Presidents Cup, scheduled for Muirfield Village in October. The field this week is loaded with potential International team propects: South Africans Charl Schwartzel and Ernie Els, as well as South Koreans Sang-Moon Bae and former Memorial winner K.J. Choi.

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