Mac Engel

May 25, 2014

To the wire, Colonial puts on a show to remember

Adam Scott’s win helps impress the title sponsor and mitigate the food fiasco.

Aside from the food fiasco — led by a local chef star whose name rhymes with Zim Dove — just about everybody involved with the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, from the organizers to the marshals, are entitled to blow up the expense account.

Whether you wanted the Aussie or the American to win is no matter, for the 2014 Colonial was a wonderful, suspenseful show that will be remembered for all of the right reasons. This was the best show Colonial has delivered in ages.

The three playoff holes had a match-play, President’s Cup feel — Aussies vs. Americans — only there really were no losers. Jason Dufner finished second to Adam Scott, but it felt like everybody won on Sunday.

For an event trying like hell to impress its title sponsor into extending its contract, this tournament delivered huge for the attending patrons to the TV viewers. The weather was ideal for late May, and the biggest name in the field and the best player in the world played like it.

“It was a great week for me, no matter what,” Scott said, who last week moved to the No. 1 ranking. “It’s a good feeling. Maybe some validation. I had a chance earlier this year [to be No. 1] and I let it slip.”

The last time Colonial featured a player with the chance to be No. 1 was Phil Mickelson in 2010, but he missed the cut. With his feelings obviously hurt, he has not returned since.

But Scott played the way the No. 1-ranked player in the world should, and by doing so he and Dufner made this venerable tournament as relevant as it has been in years.

The gallery was massive, and the fans focused on the golfers rather than each other for most of the day.

About the only thing that went wrong all weekend was chef Tim Love’s catering efforts, which were marred by food shortages and long lines.

Scott, who was a late addition to the field, validated the 2014 Colonial just by showing up. And he made it one of the best Colonials in decades by narrowly avoiding the cut Friday, to steadily moving up the leader board Sunday before he was on top of it by the end.

By defeating the American Dufner in a three-hole playoff, the Aussie Scott all but ensures he will return to Fort Worth next year, and for sure will retain his status as the top-ranked player in the world.

No disrespect to Dufner, but Colonial’s Wall of Champions will look a little prettier with Scott’s name added. It’s just better for business when No. 1 wins your tournament, and walks away wearing that hideous ceremonial plaid jacket.

Dufner’s long putt on 18 put him in a position for a playoff, but it was Scott’s play throughout the day that proved he is the superior closer, and worthy of his ranking. This is what the best do — finish.

“To me, I felt like I played like one of the best players in the world on the back nine,” Scott said, who actually managed to pull off such a boisterous comment with a high degree of modesty.

With the exception of one hole — No. 9 — he played like the best player in the world throughout the day. He double-bogeyed 9, but came back with three birdies after the turn to finish tied with Dufner.

For a moment, it appeared that Dufner had this tournament won. His approach on the second playoff hole on 17 left him just 4 feet away from a title. Scott just needed to miss his 15-footer from the edge of the green and Dufner was going to win.

“He makes that putt 99 percent of the time,” Scott said.

Scott made his long putt, and at that point it felt like Dufner’s chance was gone. Scott is not the No. 1-ranked player in the world because he stinks, and he was not going to blow this.

“It’s tough to beat him,” Dufner said. “It’s tough to concentrate, he’s so good-looking, too. He made the birdies. I thought maybe I could sneak one in there on 17, but he topped me.”

As champions go, Colonial could have done worse than Dufner, but Scott was the one that needed to happen. The truth is, Colonial needs stories and names, and right now there is no “better” name than the No. 1 player in the world.

Everybody felt like a winner, but by Scott “winning” it completed the best week at Colonial in ages.

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