The 2018 Fort Worth Invitational begins Thursday, May 24 and finishes up with the fourth and final round on Sunday, May 27. It is one of only five invitational events on the PGA Tour and takes place annually at the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, TX. The invitational nature and high profile of the event means a strong field has assembled to challenge for first place.
The Fort Worth Invitational is the second-longest running event on the PGA Tour that has never moved from its original site, being first contested in 1946. Only Augusta National has hosted a longer annual event. It has long been associated with local golf icon Ben Hogan, who called Colonial Country Club his home. Hogan, one of golf’s best ever players, amassed an unrivaled 5 Fort Worth Invitational Events (no other golfer has managed more than 2) and is honored all over the course and clubhouse. There is the Hogan Trophy Room, featuring trophies and other artifacts of his career, and also a statue of the man himself overlooking the 18th green. In addition to Hogan, other notable multiple winners include Lee Trevino, Phil Mickelson, Billy Casper and Zach Johnson. Other winners include Tom Watson, Arnold Palmer, Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth. The lowest score at the Fort Worth Invitational came in 2010 with Zach Johnson’s record -21.
The Fort Worth Invitational has several unique traditions that set it apart from other golf events. One such tradition is the tartan jacket handed out to the winner. This tradition began in 1952 as a nod to golf’s Scottish roots and has continued to the present. Another tradition relates to the Leonard Trophy also awarded to each year’s winner. This massive trophy debuted in 1950 and is engraved with the name of every winner. The trophy stays at the clubhouse and champions instead receive a small replica to add to their own trophy case. Winners also get their name added to the Wall of Champions, a marble wall containing every champion of the invitational as well as 1941’s U.S. Open and the 1975 Players Championship, both held at Colonial Country Club. The last notable tradition is the Champions’ Choice, when past champions select two young golfers to receive invitations to the tournament. Past recipients include Tom Weiskopf, Curtis Strange, Davis Love III and Jordan Spieth. Dave Stockton is the only Champions’ Choice invitee to win his debut appearance when he won the 1967 edition, though 5 other invitees would go on to later win the tournament, most recently Jordan Spieth in 2016. This year’s Champions’ Choice invitees are 19-year-old Chilean Joaquin Niemann and 21-year-old former NCAA All-American Sam Burns, both of whom turned professional earlier this year.
The 2017 Fort Worth Invitational came down to the final round with Kevin Kisner, Jon Rahm, Sean O’Hair and Jordan Spieth all in contention. When Kisner hit three straight birdies on holes 10-12, he took a 2 shot lead. A bogey on the 16th cut that lead back to 1 stroke heading into the final two holes with Rahm and Spieth on his heels. Rahm and Spieth would both make par on the final hole, needing Kisner to score a bogey to force a playoff. Instead, Kisner held his nerve even with an unorthodox uphill putt from off the green and sunk the resulting 5 footer for par and just his second career PGA Tour win.
A particularly strong field competes this year as four golfers ranked in the top 10 have committed. Early favorites include Players Championship winner Webb Simpson, Jon Rahm, Justin Rose and Rickie Fowler. Texan Justin Spieth looks primed for another deep run; in his past three tournaments at Colonial Country Club he has finished no lower than runner up, with a win coming in 2016. Brooks Koepka continues his return to form since overcoming a wrist injury earlier in the year. A sleeper pick might be Colonial member Ryan Palmer, who has previously finished as high as tied for third and certainly has home course advantage. Though not among the favorites, Champions Choice invitees Sam Burns and especially Joaquin Niemann will look to cause a major upset when they tee off on Thursday. The difficult nature of the course means the Fort Worth Invitational always has the potential for upsets.