Featured Groups: Three pure hitters at a ballstrikers' haven

May 23, 2012

Here's a look at this week's Featured Groups at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. For a complete list of all groups and tee times, click here. Which groups are you most interested in following this week? Let us know.

Tee times
Zach Johnson, David Toms, Sergio Garcia Rd. 1: 8:43 a.m. ET (10th tee) Rd. 2: 1:18 p.m. ET (1st tee)

FORT WORTH -- The formula for success at the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial rarely deviates from one year to the next.

Just take a look at how Sergio Garcia, Zach Johnson and David Toms -- playing partners in one of this week's featured groups -- won their titles here.


In 2001 in his first-ever start at Colonial, Garcia ranked third in the field in driving accuracy and tied for first in greens in regulation.

In 2010, Johnson led the field in greens in regulation.

Last year, Toms ranked tied for fourth in driving accuracy as well as greens in regulation.

In other words, three players with superb ball-striking weeks found their way to victory on one of the PGA TOUR's premier ball-striking courses.

Will one of those three past champions be able to recreate their winning ways this week?

Garcia hasn't won on TOUR since the 2008 PLAYERS Championship. He hasn't missed a cut since last year's FedEx St. Jude Classic, but each week he seems to be doomed by one round. In five of his last six stroke-play starts, he's suffered at least one round of 75 or higher.

Johnson has made every cut this year, but went through a three-month stretch when he didn't really contend. Lately, though, he's gotten into the mix down the stretch on Sunday, with a second at the RBC Heritage and a tie for second at THE PLAYERS.

"As of late, I started to play a little better," Johnson said. "It's just a matter of being patient."

Toms has been plagued by a balky putter this year; he currently ranks 102nd in the TOUR's primary putting category. A year ago when he entered Colonial, he was ranked 10th on TOUR.

Tee times
Jason Dufner, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar Rd. 1: 1:18 p.m. ET (1st tee) Rd. 2: 8:43 a.m. ET (10th tee)

We know what the threesome of Jason Dufner, Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler have done lately -- win. Combined, in fact, they've claimed the last four TOUR events.

But their excellent play goes back even further. Consider this:


Of Kuchar's last eight starts, he's finished inside the top 15 seven times.

Of Dufner's last eight starts, he's finished inside the top 30 seven times.

Of Fowler's last eight starts, he's finished inside the top 10 four times.

Now consider this:

Kuchar currently has the TOUR's longest active made cut streak at 18.

Dufner has had at least a share of the lead in one of the first three rounds on nine separate occasions this year, most by any player in 2012.

And Fowler is tied with Masters champ Bubba Watson for the second best active streak on TOUR for consecutive rounds at par or better with 12. Only Ben Curtis (13) has a longer active streak.

Other Featured Groups
Hunter Mahan, Louis Oosthuizen, Vijay Singh Rd. 1: 1:29 p.m. ET (1st tee) Rd. 2: 8:54 a.m. ET (10th tee)
Singh entered last week's final round at the HP Byron Nelson near the top of the leaderboard and posted his first top-10 of the season. Mahan was replaced by Dufner at the top of this week's FedExCup standings.
Jim Furyk, Ben Crane, Sean O'Hair Rd. 1: 8:43 a.m. ET (1st tee) Rd. 2: 1:18 p.m. ET (10th tee)
These three have combined for 13 top-20 finishes at Colonial. Crane has three top-10s in his last five starts here.

Any way you slice it, the threesome of Dufner, Kuchar and Fowler are red-hot.