Golf

Defending champ Adam Scott hopes to repeat early-round success at Colonial

Defending Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial champion Adam Scott would love to start each round this week the same way he did last year.

“I was told I played the first five holes the best in tournament history,” said Scott. “And 3, 4 and 5 are difficult holes, so that’s obviously a big leg up on the field.”

In four rounds last year, Scott recorded eight birdies and one bogey on Nos. 1 through 5. He finished the tournament at 9 under and beat Jason Dufner in a playoff.

“I’m not going to focus on the first five only this week,” he added. “But it certainly helps to get off to a good start on those first five holes, because then you’ve got an opportunity for a good score.”

Welcome back

Steve Stricker’s name is etched on the Wall of Champions at Colonial’s No. 1 tee, marking his 2009 victory. He returned in 2010 and then, as sometimes happens, family and Father Time began to call.

“When I reduced my schedule, this is unfortunately one I had not been able to get back to,” Stricker said at the start of Wednesday’s Colonial Pro-Am. “It is nice to be back. The course is in great condition.”

Stricker’s Colonial win began a torrid stretch in 2009 in which he also won the John Deer Classic and Deutsche Bank Championship on his way to a second-place finish in the FedEx Cup standings.

Now at age 48, the Champions Tour is on the horizon.

He had two top 10s and made the cut in all 11 events he played last season. Back surgery in December has made for a slow 2015, but he did make the cut at the Masters and The Players Championship.

“It seems like it’s gone fast, but overall I’m pleased with how it’s all come together in my career,” Stricker said. “It’s a bit of challenge to show up and play well, though, when you’re not playing a full schedule.”

In memoriam

A somber Patrick Reed navigated his way around Colonial Country Club on Wednesday, carrying the memory of Tuesday’s death of a relative on his wife’s side of the family.

“It’s Justine’s cousin,” said Reed, who had plans to play abroad but was a late addition to the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial. “We wanted to stay close to home and wanted to say our last goodbyes before he left.”

Reed is ranked fifth in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup rankings and won the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in January. He shot a 2-under 68 in the Pro-Am.

“This week’s more personal than all the other weeks,” Reed said. “With him gone, I’m playing for him and hopefully I can go out and really get it going and give him a couple of last cheers to hear.

“It’s a tough week for us, but we’re going to get through it. We’re going to play some more and hopefully go win for him.”

Horned Frogs forever

Partners in the Pro-Am, TCU football coach Gary Patterson and Tour player J.J. Henry (TCU, 1999) were posed the same question: Would the 6-foot-3, 200-pound Henry line up at defensive end or linebacker for the Horned Frogs?

“What’d he say? Waterboy?” Henry asked of Patterson’s response.

But the coach was quick to deflect.

“Neither, he’s a golfer that guy,” said Patterson.

Henry’s team shot 63 to tie for 42nd.

“Coach had a tough day, but he hit some good shots and we all had a great time,” Henry said. “We’ve done this now for five or six years, and really enjoy the day.”

Stylish Bear

Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon was easy to spot at the Pro-Am due to his cow-print shorts and lack of golf shoes.

“Yeah, I took them off on the tee up here because I was starting to hurt,” said McMahon, who has played this event three times. “Love coming back here. My friends called me up and got me in and this is really the start of my golf season — kind of now until October.”

Patriot Challenge

Bo Van Pelt wants you to challenge him in the Patriot Golf Championship.

The 14-year Tour veteran is helping to promote the month-long event in which players can sign up to take on some of the world’s best — including Van Pelt, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

“You can sign up online and then go to your local course to play,” Van Pelt said. “You can take on a guy like Keegan Bradley or Rickie Fowler, and then tune into Fox Sports 1 on Memorial Day to see if you beat the pro.”

The event is part of a fundraiser for Folds of Honor, the Owasso, Oklahoma-based foundation that gives scholarships to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Players can sign up for the $21 donation at PatriotGolfChampionship.com.

Gribble’s grateful

Cody Gribble didn’t waste time in assessing what it meant to earn one of two Champion’s Choice bids to make his Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial debut this week.

“This is huge,” said Gribble, who played high school golf at Highland Park and then collegiately at Texas.

“As a kid growing up in the Metroplex, you grow up dreaming of playing the Colonial and Byron Nelson,” he said. “To be able to play here with all the history behind it is every kid’s dream. I’m just so fortunate to get voted in this year.”

Past Colonial champions vote to give two spots in the field each year to up-and-coming golfers. The 25-year-old Gribble is trying to reach the PGA Tour on a full-time basis, as he’s fully exempt on the Web.com Tour for now.

Staff writer Drew Davison contributed to this report.

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