By Ron Patey
Chris Kirk jammed home a clutch seven-foot par putt on the 72nd hole of the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial on Sunday. And then he waited to see if Ian Poulter, the last man with a chance of catching him, could hole out his approach shot. Poulter didn’t make a miracle happen, so Kirk headed for the champion’s ceremony, where he pocketed the $1,170,000 winner’s check and pulled on the victor’s tartan jacket for his fourth PGA Tour victory.
Kirk’s tournament total of 12-under 268 on the Fort Worth, Texas track included a gutsy final round of four-under 66 that fended off furious charges by T2 finishers Jason Bohn, Masters champ Jordan Spieth and AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am winner Brandt Snedeker. The threesome shot the lights out on Sunday. Bohn carded a spectacular seven-under 63, which was the low round of the week. Spieth posted a superb 65. Snedeker recorded a 67 after he narrowly missed a birdie putt at 18 that would have forced a playoff with Kirk, who was in his group.
Next On The Tee: AT&T Byron Nelson
FedExCup points leader and second-ranked player in the world Jordan Spieth gets to sleep in his own bed this week as the PGA Tour stops at the TPC Four Seasons Resort in Spieth’s hometown of Irving, Texas. Spieth had some early success in the event when, as a 16-year-old amateur, he finished T16 and then made the cut again the following year. Last year, he turned in a ho-hum 2-under T37 finish. The 21-year-old rides into this year’s AT&T Byron Nelson as a frontrunner, having won at Augusta National and captured the Valspar Championship in a playoff. He’s made the cut 12 times in 14 events in the 2014-2015 season.
Jason Day trots into the Lone Star State in a bit of a performance dip. A second round 81 at The Players Championship sent him packing early, and he stumbled to a T51 the previous week in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Match Play. However, the Aussie did win the AT&T Byron Nelson in 2010 and posted a victory in February at the Farmers Insurance Open. Since then, his best performance came in April when he finished T4 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Day is the eighth-ranked player in the world and is due for a bounce-back effort.
Ian Poulter has racked up several solid finishes this season and is coming off a T5 at the Crowne Invitational at Colonial. The Englishman, who played in the final group on Sunday, owns only one missed cut in 12 events. He is definitely trending toward winning for the first time in 2014-2015.
Players looking to build on recent success at the AT&T Byron Nelson include past champions Brendon Todd (2014), Sangmoon Bae (2013), Jason Dufner (2012), Keegan Bradley (2011) and Rory Sabbatini (2009). Weather may also be a factor, as thunderstorms are forecasted for much of the tournament.
TPC Four Seasons Resort plays 7,166 yards long and is a par 70.
Favorites: Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter, Brandt Snedeker
Players To Watch: Jimmy Walker, Brendon Todd, Jason Dufner, Keegan Bradley, Sangmoon Bae
Ron Patey covered the golf industry for 21 years as a special sections editor with Sun Media. During the past five years, Patey has been a golf writer for Examiner.com.