With the first of three FedEx Cup Playoff events behind us as Lucas Glover claimed the FedEx St. Jude Championship, the PGA TOUR season enters its penultimate event in the BMW Championship.
The field has been decreased to just 50 golfers with the goal now being the top 30 of the FedEx Cup Standings for next week’s end-of-the-season PGA TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club.
This week’s BMW Championship takes place at Olympia Fields in Chicago and offers a $20 million purse on top of the pursuit of qualifying for next week’s TOUR Championship.
Patrick Cantlay will receive the majority of the attention this week as he looks to become the first golfer to win this tournament three times. On top of that, Cantlay is seeking a three-peat as he comes in the winner in both 2021 and 2022
The BMW Championship is also the second oldest tournament in the United States. Formally known as the Western Golf Association and founded as the Western Open, this event was first played in 1899
The North Course at Olympia Fields Country Club is also consistently rated among the top golf courses in the United States.
Obviously, there will be a world-class field featured this week at Olympia Fields as to get to this point, golfers must be ranked within the top 50 of the FedEx Cup Standings.
Jon Rahm remains the FedEx Cup Standings leader and will look to hold that position going into next week with the looming stroke-handicap in play for the TOUR Championship.
Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy round out the TOUR’s ‘Big Three’ and enter this week two and three in the standings respectively.
Glover, on the back of back-to-back wins on TOUR and claiming the 2,000 FedEx Cup points with last week’s victory over Patrick Cantlay in a one-hole playoff at the FedEx St. Jude Championship has moved into fourth.
Glover’s improbable turn-around and victory to open the FedEx Cup Standings has shown that it can be anyone who claims the end-of-season title.
Cantlay, as he seeks a third straight victory at Olympia Fields, rounds out the top five of the FedEx Cup Standings.
Max Homa, Viktor Hovland, Wyndham Clark, Brian Harman and Tommy Fleetwood round out the top ten of the FedEx Cup Standings respectively.
All eyes will be on the magic number of ‘30’ this week as it’ll be just the top 30 golfers in the standings advancing to next week’s finale.
Currently, Tyrrell Hatton, Jordan Spieth, Sungjae Im, Chris Kirk and Sam Bruns rank 26-through-30 respectively and look to keep their ranking within the top 30 this week.
Sahith Theegala sits at 31 with the likes of Justin Rose, Kurt Kitayama, Denny McCarthy and Seamus Power round out the top 35 respectively and will need big weeks this week to crack the top 30.
On top of next week’s TOUR Championship being the governing headline, Ryder Cup implications remain for a few of the world’s best.
The likes of Justin Rose and Seamus Power may be on the outside-looking-in to make European Captain Luke Donald’s team.
They’ll both be looking for impressive outings this week to tip their chances in their favor for this fall’s coveted event.
The North Course at Olympia Fields Country Club plays as a Par 70 at 7,366 yards.
It was designed by Willie Park Jr. and has been the host of both the US Open and PGA Championship in years past.
The course features some significant elevation changes, hundreds of native oak trees and features Butterfield Creek that runs through the majority of the course.
It was founded in 1915 and joins just eight other US based courses to have hosted the US Open Championship, US Senior Open Championship, PGA Championship and the US Amateur Championship.
Olympia Fields’ North Course was lengthened in 2003 and underwent a $9.5 million renovation project in 2005 to improve the practice facilities and revamp some of the bunkers, among other improvements.
Through each of the early 21st century renovations, the course remained faithful to Park’s original design outside of the deepened bunkers and additional length.
This parkland design is routed over naturally rolling terrain and as previously mentioned, uses Butterfield Creek as one of its main defenses. The creek winds its way through seven holes, including twice on holes 12 and 14.
The fairways are framed by trees with a combination of both long and short holes.
Doglegs are featured on a number of holes which tips to the importance of accuracy in this otherwise, bomber friendly design.
The greens are Bentgrass this week and are sloped. It will require a competent putter to compete this week. These greens are also well protected and the average square footage is 5,238.
Ball striking will be key this week as this track rewards extremely well executed shots and a good golf strategy.
In all, this layout puts an emphasis on shot-making and distance control. There is an added emphasis on hitting the correct part of these tricky greens.
There is plenty of danger littered throughout this track in the form of strategically placed bunkers and thick rough along with the presence of hundreds of trees.
As of the time of writing this, Thursday is the only day of the four to feature a significant chance of precipitation. Thursday currently holds a 50-percent chance of precipitation. Temperatures will remain around 80-degrees for Thursday and Friday before increasing to 86-degrees on Saturday and 88-degrees on Sunday. Winds will come with the chance of rain on Thursday, set at 14 miles-per-hour. The winds will decrease to seven-or-eight miles-per-hour for the remainder of the tournament.
Strokes Gained: Tee to Green (SG: TTG)
Strokes Gained: Approach (SG: APP)
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (SG: OTT) / Average Driving Distance
Par Four Average Scoring
Proximity to the Hole from 175-200 Yards
Strokes Gained: Putting on Bentgrass (SG: PUTT Bentgrass)
Birdie or Better Percentage
Sand Saves Percentage
Par Three Average Scoring
Greens in Regulation Percentage (GIR%)
Patrick Cantlay ($10,500) led my model a week ago at the FedEx St. Jude Championship and he went on to fall to eventual winner Lucas Glover in a playoff. I’m going back to Cantlay this week. He seems to be peaking at the right time and we can’t forget the incredible course history here at Olympia Fields. He is the two time defending champion of this event for a reason. He is currently second on TOUR in both par four average scoring and birdie or better percentage, third in ball striking, fourth in both SG: OTT and bogey avoidance, fifth in SG: TTG, 12th in GIR%, 25th in scrambling, 26th in SG: APP, 40th in average driving distance, 53rd in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards, 63rd in SG: PUTT and 109th in sand saves percentage. If there were to be a knock to his game it's a 130th placement in par three average scoring. Not too worried there. Outside of his two victories in the last two years here, Cantlay placed T12th in 2020 and second in 2019. His odds are a bit slim at +1000 but he comes in with the fourth best odds to win with the likes of Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy ahead of him. With his performance last week and his course history, he’s a lock for DFS for me and a lock on the betting card for four units.
My suggestion in this price range is Rickie Fowler ($9,200) who comes second in my model to just Cantlay. Fowler didn’t have a good performance last week as he placed T58th in a field of 70 but prior to that had a great run of form. Dating back to the Charles Schwab Challenge, Fowler has six top 25’s, five top 15’s, four top tens, two top fives and a victory at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. Fowler hasn’t played in the BMW Championship since 2019 but has an extensive course history here. He played in ten consecutive BMW Championships between 2010 and 2019. Between 2014 and 2019 he placed top 11 in five of six events. Fowler placed T2 in 2017, T4th in both 2014 and 2015, T8th in 2018 and T11th in 2019. Fowler is currently third on TOUR in par three average scoring, seventh in birdie or better percentage, eighth in SG: APP, 12th in SG: TTG, 16th in both ball striking and par four average scoring, 17th in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards, 18th in bogey avoidance, 26th in GIR%, 40th in average driving distance, 47th in scrambling, 53rd in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 65th in SG: OTT and 78th in sand saves percentage. In other words, he’s above average in each of the 14 statistical categories I took into consideration this week. I’m playing two units on him at +3300 to win as well.
The defending US Open Champion Wyndham Clark ($8,800) is my suggestion in this price range. Clark has played this event just once prior, placing 64th a year ago. Like Fowler, he had a poor performance a week ago placing T66th in the field of 70. Prior to last week however, he has been in some great form. He won the Wells Fargo Championship, an elevated event, in May, placed T12th at the Memorial, another elevated event before going on to win the US Open in June. He has recently placed T29th at the Travelers Championship, T25th at the Genesis Scottish Open and T33rd at The Open. Clark is currently eighth on TOUR in average driving distance, 14th in SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 16th in par four average scoring, 24th in both birdie or better percentage and bogey avoidance, 30th in SG: TTG, 34th in SG: APP, 38th in both ball striking and SG: OTT, 39th in sand saves percentage, 44th in scrambling, 51st in GIR%, 90th in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards and 91st in par three average scoring. Like Fowler, Clark is above average in each of the 14 statistical categories we took into consideration this week. He’s on the betting card at +4000 for two units.
My play in this price range is Emiliano Grillo ($7,400.) Grillo is currently ninth on TOUR in par three average scoring, 25th in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards, 28th in ball striking, 31st in GIR%, 46th in both SG: TTG and birdie or better percentage, 48th in SG: APP, 59th in both SG: OTT and bogey avoidance, 71st in par four average scoring, 87th in average driving distance and 101st in scrambling. If there were to be a blemish to his game it's a 123rd placement in sand saves percentage. He converted one of three sand save attempts last week at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. Grillo has played in this event in six of the last seven years, placing T19th a year ago. Grillo placed T20th at last week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship. Prior to that, he placed T10th at the 3M Open and T6th at The Open Championship. He’s in some quality form and has some great value this week. I’m playing a unit on him at +8000 this week.
My final play this week is Adam Hadwin ($6,900.) Hadwin was out of form heading into the playoffs, missing three straight cuts after losing in a playoff alongside Collin Morikawa to Rickie Fowler at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. However, he bounced back last week, placing T16th at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. Hadwin has played in this event five of the last six years with a best finish of T19th in 2018. Hadwin is currently fifth on TOUR in par three average scoring, 13th in bogey avoidance, 37th in scrambling, 46th in SG: APP, 47th in ball striking, 49th in GIR%, 56th in proximity to the hole from 175-200 yards, 66th in sand saves percentage, 67th in SG: TTG and SG: PUTT Bentgrass, 71st in par four average scoring, 77th in birdie or better percentage and 115th in SG: OTT. His downfall is a 140th placement in average driving distance. He’s on my betting card for one unit at +12000.
Patrick Cantlay (+1000) - 4u
Rickie Fowler (+3300) - 2u
Wyndham Clark (+4000) - 2u
Emiliano Grillo (+8000) - 1u
Adam Hadwin (+12000) - 1u