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BlogBMW Championship Preview and Picks

BMW Championship

September 14th – 17th, 2017

Conway Farms G.C.

Lake Forest, Il.

Par: 72 / Yardage:

Purse: $8.75 million

with $1,575,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Dustin Johnson

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

Of the 70 players in the field, 59 of them are in the top-100 of the Official World Rankings.  The field includes 39 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with all top-ten players in the field: #1 Dustin Johnson, #2 Jordan Spieth, #3 Hideki Matsuyama, #4 Justin Thomas, #5 Jon Rahm, #6 Rory McIlroy, #7 Henrik Stenson, #8 Sergio Garcia, #9 Jason Day and #10 Rickie Fowler.  From 11 to 25 there are 12 of the 15 with #11 Brooks Koepka, #13 Matt Kuchar, #14 Paul Casey, #15 Justin Rose, #17 Francesco Molinari, #18 Rafael Cabrera Bello, #19 Patrick Reed, #20 Louis Oosthuizen, #22 Marc Leishman, #23 Charley Hoffman, #24 Daniel Berger and #25 Kevin Kisner.

Between 26 and 50 there are 17 of the 25, they are #26 Emiliano Grillo, #26 Charl Schwartzel, #27 Kevin Chappell, #29 Phil Mickelson, #30 Brian Harman, #32 Jason Dufner, #35 Pat Perez, #37 Siwoo Kim, #38 Bill Haas, #40 Jhonattan Vegas, #41 Webb Simpson, #42 Zach Johnson, #43 Gary Woodland, #44 Ryan Moore, #46 Adam Hadwin, #47 Wesley Bryan, #48 Billy Horschel and #50 Russell Henley.

Last year there was 36 players from the top-50.

The field includes 70 of the top-70 from the FedEx Cup rankings.

The field includes all 25 players in the top 25 on this year’s PGA Tour money list. 

The field includes six past champions: Dustin Johnson (2016 & ’10)Jason Day (2015), Billy Horschel (2014), Zach Johnson (2013), Rory McIlroy (2012) and Justin Rose (2011).

A perfect way for fantasy golfers to check on the past performance of all the players in the BMW field is our performance chart listed by average finish.  Another way to check who is the best is through a special formula worked out in Golfstats that gives us the best average performances at the BMW field in the last five years or check out our sortable 8-year glance at the BMW field.

A good cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmakers in England.

Another cheat sheet is this list of odds from the top bookmaker in Las Vegas.

Time to look at our who’s hot and who isn’t:

Who’s Hot in the field for the BMW Championship

Player Dell Northern Trust Wyndham PGA Champ. WGC Bridgestone Barracuda RBC Canadian Porsche European British Open Barbasol John Deere Scottish Open
Justin Thomas
(479.33 pts)
Win
(198)
T6
(90)
DNP Win
(176)
T28
(22)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Jordan Spieth
(454.33 pts)
2
(150)
2
(150)
DNP T28
(29.33)
T13
(37)
DNP DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP DNP
Paul Casey
(370.33 pts)
T4
(120)
5
(105)
DNP T13
(49.33)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(26)
DNP DNP DNP
Dustin Johnson
(345 pts)
T18
(48)
Win
(198)
DNP T13
(49.33)
T17
(33)
DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Patrick Reed
(282.67 pts)
T6
(90)
T20
(45)
DNP T2
(133.33)
T36
(14)
DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Jon Rahm
(281 pts)
T4
(120)
T3
(135)
DNP T58
(0)
T28
(22)
DNP DNP DNP T44
(4)
DNP DNP DNP
Hideki Matsuyama
(274.83 pts)
T23
(40.5)
CUT
(-15)
DNP T5
(93.33)
Win
(132)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP DNP
Rickie Fowler
(272.5 pts)
T13
(55.5)
T20
(45)
DNP T5
(93.33)
9
(45)
DNP DNP DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP T9
(15)
Henrik Stenson
(253.83 pts)
DNP T17
(49.5)
Win
(88)
T13
(49.33)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(26)
DNP DNP T26
(8)
Matt Kuchar
(252.33 pts)
T56
(0)
T10
(60)
DNP T9
(60)
T17
(33)
DNP T32
(6)
DNP 2
(66.67)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
Jason Day
(228.83 pts)
T25
(37.5)
T6
(90)
DNP T9
(60)
T24
(26)
DNP DNP DNP T27
(15.33)
DNP DNP DNP
Marc Leishman
(218.33 pts)
3
(135)
CUT
(-15)
DNP T13
(49.33)
T41
(9)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP DNP
Louis Oosthuizen
(217.67 pts)
T30
(30)
T10
(60)
DNP T2
(133.33)
T50
(1)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Charley Hoffman
(203.67 pts)
T47
(4.5)
T17
(49.5)
DNP T48
(2.67)
3
(90)
DNP 2
(33.33)
DNP T20
(20)
DNP T39
(3.67)
DNP
Jhonattan Vegas
(192 pts)
T65
(0)
T3
(135)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T17
(33)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Kevin Chappell
(182.17 pts)
T35
(22.5)
T6
(90)
DNP T33
(22.67)
T13
(37)
DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Webb Simpson
(181.33 pts)
T75
(0)
T6
(90)
3
(60)
T33
(22.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T37
(8.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Brooks Koepka
(171.83 pts)
T18
(48)
T49
(1.5)
DNP T13
(49.33)
T17
(33)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(40)
DNP DNP DNP
Rory McIlroy
(166.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
T34
(24)
DNP T22
(37.33)
T5
(70)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
Kevin Na
(162.17 pts)
T6
(90)
T29
(31.5)
T4
(53.33)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T44
(4)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Ian Poulter
(146.83 pts)
T23
(40.5)
66
(0)
DNP T22
(37.33)
DNP DNP 3
(30)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP DNP T9
(15)
Patrick Cantlay
(138.83 pts)
T13
(55.5)
T10
(60)
DNP T33
(22.67)
DNP DNP T48
(0.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP
Francesco Molinari
(137.67 pts)
T61
(0)
CUT
(-15)
DNP T2
(133.33)
T24
(26)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Pat Perez
(135 pts)
T6
(90)
T34
(24)
DNP T28
(29.33)
69
(0)
DNP DNP DQ
(-1.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Zach Johnson
(135 pts)
T56
(0)
CUT
(-15)
DNP T48
(2.67)
2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(24)
DNP T5
(23.33)
DNP
Chez Reavie
(118.67 pts)
T61
(0)
T10
(60)
T37
(8.67)
T22
(37.33)
DNP DNP T23
(9)
DNP DNP DNP T39
(3.67)
DNP
Rafael Cabrera-Bello
(117 pts)
T18
(48)
CUT
(-15)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
72
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
Charl Schwartzel
(110.33 pts)
T25
(37.5)
T29
(31.5)
DNP T48
(2.67)
T24
(26)
DNP DNP T12
(12.67)
T62
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Justin Rose
(106.67 pts)
T10
(60)
T10
(60)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T63
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP
Grayson Murray
(105.5 pts)
T25
(37.5)
T62
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
T22
(37.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP Win
(44)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

Who’s Not Hot in the field for the BMW Championship

Player Dell Northern Trust Wyndham PGA Champ. WGC Bridgestone Barracuda RBC Canadian Porsche European British Open Barbasol John Deere Scottish Open
Danny Lee
(-45.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP T32
(6)
DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP
Billy Horschel
(-34 pts)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-15)
T60
(0)
T48
(2.67)
T74
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Cameron Smith
(-16.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-15)
T7
(36.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Charles Howell III
(-11.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
T62
(0)
DNP T73
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T19
(10.33)
DNP
Brendan Steele
(-9 pts)
T56
(0)
CUT
(-15)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T24
(26)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Anirban Lahiri
(-4.33 pts)
T56
(0)
CUT
(-15)
T28
(14.67)
75
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP T32
(6)
Siwoo Kim
(13.17 pts)
T40
(15)
T43
(10.5)
DNP WD
(-6.67)
T50
(1)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP
Wesley Bryan
(16 pts)
T69
(0)
T54
(0)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T44
(6)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T3
(30)
DNP
Sung Kang
(16.17 pts)
T35
(22.5)
CUT
(-15)
DNP T44
(8)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T44
(4)
DNP DNP DNP
Sean O’Hair
(21 pts)
CUT
(-15)
69
(0)
DNP T33
(22.67)
DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP T62
(0)
DNP T77
(0)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

Have to think with the victory of Justin Thomas at the Dell Technologies that with five wins and a major he will be the players of the year.  Of course if a Jordan Spieth wins the Tour Championship and the FedExCup he could have a good chance of winning players of the year, but frankly I would still pick Thomas.  As for Hideki Matsuyama and Dustin Johnson, sorry they have no major wins.  As for Sergio Garcia and Brooks Koepka, they would have a major and the FedEx Cup title which could get a lot of votes, but Thomas season has been pretty good and hard to top.

Tournament information:

The Western Open was originally founded and run by the Western Golf Association. First played in 1899, the event is the third oldest professional golf tournament (U.S. Open and British Open are older). Like the other golf tournaments of the time, the Western Open was dominated by visiting professionals from England and Scotland. In its early decades, it was widely regarded as a major championship

From 1899 until 1961, the Western Open was played at a variety of locations including Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco to name a few. Beginning in 1962, however, the Western Open settled into the Chicago area. It was hosted at different local courses in and around the city.

In 1974, the Butler National Golf Club in Oak Brook, became the annual venue for the Western Open. The Butler National Golf Club remained the host site until shortly after the 1990 tournament, when the PGA Tour adopted a policy of holding events only at clubs that allowed minorities to be members.

This resulted in Butler National being replaced by the Cog Hill Golf & Country Club in Lemont, Illinois. The Dubsdread Course at Cog Hill played host to the Western Open from 1991 to 2007. With the advent of the new FedEx Cup Series, the PGA Tour decided a change of name was in order. The event name change to the BMW Championship.  Along with the change it was decided to move the tournament around. In 2008 for the first time since 1962 the event was not played in the Chicago area as it moved to St. Louis for the year. In 2012 it went to Indianapolis, Indiana, in 2013 it went for the first time to Conway Farms, site of this year’s BMW Championship.  Last year it was played at Cherry Hills in Denver.  In the future it’s going to be played at Crooked Stick next year and at Aronimink outside of Philadelphia in 2018.  No venue for 2017 but the quiet rumors say that Harding Park in San Francisco could one day host this event.

Back to Conway Farms

The par 71, 7,208 yard course was designed around the traditions of Scottish links style.  It’s on a lot of acreage, 210 acres with memorable holes that will challenge players.  There are three par 5s, with the last being a 570 yard par 5 with a creek running down the left side and in front of the green.  If tour officials move the tees up it could create a great finish.  That along with the 7th and 15th holes, very short drivable par 4s will bring the gambler out of players.

Not only does the course appeal to ball strikers and those that hit lots of greens, scrambling will be an important element in the way the greens slop off giving players a tough time getting it up and down.  Will the players eat this place up like they did the Deutsche Bank last week, probably not.  But at the same time there are a lot of birdie holes out there for players.

Course information:

Conway Farms was designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1991.  Along with the BMW Championship played in 2013, it has held elite college events including the NCAA Division I Championship and the Big Ten Championship.  It was the site of the 2009 Western Amateur, the 2012 USGA Mid-Amateur and the 1998 U.S. Junior amateur along with U.S. Open sectional qualifying.  Conway Farms membership includes Luke Donald, who played a key role in bringing the club and the PGA Tour together.  The only change to the course between now and when the BMW Championship was played in 2013 is all of the greens were regrassed and the driving range was remodeled.

Water comes in play on six holes, but drastically on only four holes.  The hardest holes (tied) from 2013 was the par 4, 5th.  It played to a 4.243 average while the par 4, 13th also played to a 4.243 average.  The par 5 finishing hole was tough as a par 5, playing to a 4.914 average.  On the PGA Tour in 2013, Conway Farms was 27th of all the courses with a 70.811 average.  The course has 86 bunkers and for the members plays to a 75.8 average with a 149 slope.

Let’s take a look at key stats that are important for those playing at Conway Farms:

This is based on the most vital stats from Conway Farms, based on data from the 2015 BMW CHampionship when the course was last used on the PGA Tour and using data from all the players in the field with stats from 2017.

This is the third time that Conway Farms is being used for the BMW Championship. It was first used in 2013 and then again in 2015. The par 71, 7,208 yard course was designed by Tom Fazio and opened in 1991. It’s on a big lot, one of the reasons for the event because it can hold lot’s of people. Fazio designed the course around the traditions of Scottish links courses in which the course appeals to ball strikers. It’s two past champions Zach Johnson and Jason Day fit the mold as both hit lot’s of greens on their way to victory. Now the course doesn’t play very tough, in 2015 the course average was 69.49 making it the 44th hardest of 52 courses on the PGA Tour. In 2013 the course played tougher at 70.81 which ranked 27th out of 43 courses. The reason for the shot and a half difference in 2015 lot’s of rain fell making the course soft with a lack of wind. In 2013 conditions were a lot dryer with wind each day. For this year look for more dryer, fast conditions as the wind will blow each day at 10 mph and the course will play more up to it’s potential.
Still look for a lot of birdies to be made this week, with most players dominating the par 4s as Zach Johnson in 2013 was 9 under as the top-seven players averaged playing them in in just under 7 and a half shots under par. In 2015 winner Jason Day was 10 under par as the top-six players in the field was just over 5 and a half shots under par.

So in looking at our four categories, the first one that is important is hitting lot’s of greens. In 2015 it ranked 30th on tour as the players hit 66.26 of the greens in regulation. In 2013 it ranked 18th hardest as the field hit 62.94. Our second stat is scrambling because for a player to do well, he is going to miss a fair amount of greens. In 2015 it ranked 47th hardest on tour meaning that a lot of players did get up and down, 64.02 to be exact as Jason Day was 9th getting 77.78% of his missed greens up and down. In 2013 the course was the 29th hardest while winner Zach Johnson was 1st getting 78.95 of his missed greens up and down.
In order to score low you will need to putt well so our third stat is Strokes Gained putting. In 2013 winner Zach Johnson was 2nd in that stat while 2015 winner Jason Day was 7th. So you can see that Strokes Gained putting is important. Last is Par-Breakers because a player will have to make lot’s of birdies and eagles to win. in 2015 Jason Day was T-17th while in 2013 Zach Johnson was T-4th in Parbreakers

This is the third leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs, so we will see how things shape up for the Tour Championship. In a way this event has the biggest cut of players going on as the 70 players are shaved to 30 for Eastlake.

*Greens in Regulation: A way to judge who hits the most greens in regulation. The closure a player gets to hitting 18 greens, the better his score can be.

*Scrambling: A way of seeing who is best at getting it up and down when they miss a green.

*Strokes Gained putting: This is a way of judging who makes the most putts gauging them from length of putts.

*Par-Breakers: Showing who makes the most eagles and birdies.

Of the 70 players in the field, 68 have stats on the PGA Tour for 2017:

Click any column title in the table header to sort columns.

Here is the link to the other 60 of the 70 players and their PGA Tour stats for 2017

Here are some of the secrets of what it takes to play well at the BMW Championship

Key stat for the winner:

  • Just like in majors, the player that comes in and can adapt his game to the course will have the advantage.  Now this doesn’t mean that a Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth or a Dustin Johnson has the edge, we could see someone we least expect winning.  But frankly I only see those in the top-20 of the FedExCup list as people that can win.  This week it’s all about those players that have played great this summer and leading up to this week, so forgot about the top-30 off the FedExCup list, I don’t think they have a chance.
  • There was a week off so everyone will be fresh.  But for those that didn’t practice and play much last week, they could be a bit rusty early.
  •  With 24 rounds of 66 and under including a 59 by Jim Furyk in 2013, players can go very low at Conway Farms. Not only does the course appeal to ball strikers and those that hit lots of greens, scrambling will be an important element in the way the greens slop off giving players a tough time getting it up and down.  Will the players eat this place up like they did in 2013, probably not.  With dryer and winder conditions in 2015 scores did go up, still there could be a low score at there 2015 winner Jason Day did shot 61 and 63 in the first two rounds.  With two par 4s reachable it will help bring the scores down,  but the par 5s could play tough and unless the Tour moves the tees up all three of them could be three-shot holes.
  • Even if Dustin Johnson or Justin Thomas wins it doesn’t mean they will be the FedEx Cup champions, but they will have a big advantage and they will control their destiny next week at the Tour Championship.
  • Lastly, the weather in the Chicago area will be great, even with Irma coming to an end just a could of hundred miles away.  Temperatures each day will be in the low 80s, but there could be some thunderstorms on Sunday.

 

 

Who to watch for at the BMW Championship

Best Bets:

Dustin Johnson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
Win T7 T62 T6 T65 Win T30

Another course he can have his way with, played well at Conway Farms in both 2015 and ’13.

Justin Thomas

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T32 T13

Have to think that he will keep things all together and play well again.

Jordan Spieth

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
9 T13 T8 T16

Guy has been on a roll all summer long and he really feels that he can play good enough to win this week and next.

Best of the rest:

Rickie Fowler

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
59 T4 T4 T39 T41 48 T45

He has all of the key stats to do well, plus he has had a great summer and played well at Conway Farms in 2015 (T-4th) and Ok in 2013 (T-39th).

Jon Rahm

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Playing in this event for the first time, his game has been very sharp of late, T-4th at Dell and T-3rd at the Northern Trust.

Jason Day

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
WD Win WD T4 T49 T54 T59

Here is a name from the past that has had a terrible summer but is fighting back. Don’t be surprised to see this man win again on the same course he won on in 2015 and was T-4th in 2013.

Hideki Matsuyama

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T24 T7 T20

A great shotmaker if he can get his putter rolling just a bit could win.

Solid contenders

Paul Casey

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
2 T23 2

We keep on talking about him, seems to play well but not good enough for a win. Maybe he is just another Charles Howell III, someone that has high finishes, makes lot’s of money but doesn’t seem to know how to win.

Patrick Reed

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T13 T28 T53 T59

Has played great golf in his last three starts including a runner-up at the PGA Championship, his achilles heal is not hitting enough greens but if he could turn that part of his game around could contend.

Henrik Stenson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T10 T23 T33 T52

Returning after taking the week off from the Dell, his game has come around and he could contend this week.

Long shots that could come through:

Daniel Berger

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T10 2

Almost won on this course in 2015, look for him to do well this week.

Patrick Cantlay

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
First time playing in this event

Has been solid of late with T-13th at Dell and T-10th at Northern Trust. One of those guys that could get hot at anytime.

Phil Mickelson

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T24 T32 WD T33 T2 T56 T8 T30 T17 T65

May not be that crazy after what he did in Boston ten days ago.

You know he is still very, very lost:

Rory McIlroy

2017 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05
T42 T4 T8 T59 Win T37

One part of me is rooting very hard after the rough summer he has had. Has the tool, but is very lot right now and I just can’t see him mustering four good rounds.

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