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BlogBMW Championship Preview and Picks

BMW Championship

August 26th – 29th, 2021

Caves Valley Golf Club

Owings Mills, Maryland

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,542

Purse: $9.5 million

with $1,710,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Jon Rahm

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

This week’s field includes:

Of the 69 players in the field, 61 of them are in the top-100 of the Official World Rankings.  The field includes 37 of the top 50 in the latest Official World Rankings, with all 10 of the top-ten players in the field.  Here is the list of the Top 25 in the field: #1 Jon Rahm, #2 Dustin Johnson, #3 Collin Morikawa, #4 Xander Schauffele, #5 Justin Thomas, #6 Bryson DeChambeau, #7 Louis Oosthuizen, #8 Brooks Koepka, #9 Tony Finau, #10 Patrick Cantlay, #11 Harris English, #12 Jordan Spieth, #13 Abraham Ancer, #15 Viktor Hovland, #16 Rory McIlroy, #17 Hideki Matsuyama, #19 Daniel Berger, #20 Scottie Scheffler, #21 Webb Simpson, #22 Paul Casey, #23 Cameron Smith, #25 Sam Burns.

Between 26 and 50, there are 15 of the 25, they are #26 Jason Kokrak, #27 Billy Horschel, #28 Joaquin Niemann, #29 Sungjae Im, #30 Kevin Na, #31 Lee Westwood, #33 Phil Mickelson, #34 Corey Conners, #35 Kevin Kisner, #36 Ryan Palmer, #39 Shane Lowry, #40 Marc Leishman, #41 Max Homa, #42 Brian Harman, #45 Stewart Cink.

Last year there were 53 players from the top-100 and 33 players from the top-50.

The field includes 69 of the top-70 from the FedEx Cup rankings.  Patrick Reed is hospitalized with double pneumonia and hoping to return next week for the Tour Championship.

The field includes seven past champions: Jon Rahm (2020), Justin Thomas (2019), Kearns Bradley (018), Marc Leishman (2017), Dustin Johnson (2016 & ’10), Billy Horschel (2014), and Rory McIlory (2012).

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 the 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 Northern Trust Wyndham Champ. WGC FedEx St. Jude Barracuda Champ. Olympics 3M Open British Open Barbasol Champ. John Deere Scottish Open Rocket Mortgage Travelers Champ. U.S. Open
Jon Rahm
(361.33 pts)
3
(135)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T3
(120)
DNP DNP 7
(18.33)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
Cameron Smith
(304.33 pts)
2
(150)
DNP T5
(105)
DNP T10
(26.67)
DNP T33
(22.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T30
(6.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
Collin Morikawa
(303.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
DNP T26
(36)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP Win
(176)
DNP DNP T71
(0)
DNP DNP T4
(53.33)
Louis Oosthuizen
(302.83 pts)
DNP DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP T2
(66.67)
T3
(120)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP 2
(66.67)
Tony Finau
(273.33 pts)
Win
(198)
DNP T34
(24)
DNP DNP T28
(14.67)
T15
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
Harris English
(257.83 pts)
T31
(28.5)
DNP 4
(120)
DNP DNP DNP T46
(5.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP Win
(44)
3
(60)
Paul Casey
(246.33 pts)
T64
(0)
DNP T5
(105)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP T15
(46.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
T7
(36.67)
Kevin Na
(243.17 pts)
T8
(75)
T2
(100)
T23
(40.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
DNP DNP T47
(1)
CUT
(-6.67)
Abraham Ancer
(242 pts)
T64
(0)
DNP Win
(198)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 4
(26.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
Xander Schauffele
(227 pts)
T16
(51)
DNP T46
(6)
DNP Win
(88)
DNP T26
(32)
DNP DNP T10
(13.33)
DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
Justin Thomas
(225.33 pts)
T4
(120)
DNP T26
(36)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP T40
(13.33)
DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP DNP T19
(20.67)
Hideki Matsuyama
(218.17 pts)
T43
(10.5)
CUT
(-10)
T2
(150)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP T26
(16)
Daniel Berger
(213.67 pts)
T56
(0)
DNP T5
(105)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(66.67)
DNP T34
(5.33)
DNP DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
Jordan Spieth
(211 pts)
73
(0)
DNP T12
(57)
DNP DNP DNP 2
(133.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(20.67)
Sam Burns
(209.83 pts)
T21
(43.5)
DNP T2
(150)
DNP DNP DNP T76
(0)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP T13
(12.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
Erik Van Rooyen
(207.5 pts)
7
(82.5)
T37
(13)
DNP Win
(132)
DNP T58
(0)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Brooks Koepka
(185.17 pts)
T31
(28.5)
DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T6
(80)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
T4
(53.33)
Scottie Scheffler
(181.5 pts)
T43
(10.5)
DNP 14
(54)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(66.67)
DNP DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP T47
(1)
T7
(36.67)
Shane Lowry
(168.33 pts)
T11
(58.5)
DNP T23
(40.5)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP T12
(50.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T65
(0)
Mackenzie Hughes
(163.5 pts)
T27
(34.5)
T37
(13)
DNP DNP 50
(0.67)
DNP T6
(80)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(12)
T76
(0)
T15
(23.33)
Rory McIlroy
(159.5 pts)
T43
(10.5)
DNP T12
(57)
DNP T4
(53.33)
DNP T46
(5.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
Corey Conners
(157.33 pts)
T8
(75)
DNP T36
(21)
DNP 13
(24.67)
DNP T15
(46.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Kevin Kisner
(157 pts)
CUT
(-15)
Win
(132)
63
(0)
DNP DNP DNP 73
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T8
(16.67)
T5
(23.33)
T55
(0)
Cameron Champ
(154 pts)
T27
(34.5)
DNP T31
(28.5)
DNP DNP Win
(88)
DNP DNP T11
(13)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Alex Noren
(152.67 pts)
T4
(120)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Bryson DeChambeau
(149.17 pts)
T31
(28.5)
DNP T8
(75)
DNP DNP DNP T33
(22.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T19
(10.33)
T26
(16)
Webb Simpson
(143.33 pts)
T47
(4.5)
T7
(55)
T15
(52.5)
DNP DNP DNP T19
(41.33)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Dustin Johnson
(134 pts)
CUT
(-15)
DNP T10
(60)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T8
(66.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
T19
(20.67)
Joaquin Niemann
(131.33 pts)
T47
(4.5)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP T10
(26.67)
DNP T59
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T2
(33.33)
T36
(4.67)
T31
(12.67)
Sungjae Im
(129.33 pts)
T16
(51)
T24
(26)
T46
(6)
DNP T22
(18.67)
DNP DNP DNP T47
(1)
DNP T8
(16.67)
DNP T35
(10)
Branden Grace
(128.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
T2
(100)
DNP T30
(20)
DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP T54
(0)
DNP DNP T7
(36.67)
Jhonattan Vegas
(122.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
T15
(35)
DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
T2
(66.67)
DNP DNP T11
(13)
DNP DNP DNP T57
(0)
Patrick Cantlay
(121.33 pts)
T11
(58.5)
DNP T23
(40.5)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T13
(12.33)
T15
(23.33)
Maverick McNealy
(116.17 pts)
T27
(34.5)
DNP DNP T18
(32)
DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP DNP T18
(10.67)
DNP T21
(9.67)
T30
(6.67)
DNP
Kevin Streelman
(113 pts)
T64
(0)
T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(41.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T15
(23.33)
Cameron Tringale
(106.83 pts)
T21
(43.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
T26
(32)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(12)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Viktor Hovland
(102.83 pts)
T43
(10.5)
DNP T36
(21)
DNP T14
(24)
DNP T12
(50.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP WD
(-3.33)
Keith Mitchell
(101.67 pts)
T8
(75)
T55
(0)
DNP DNP DNP 5
(46.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Sergio Garcia
(99.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
DNP T26
(36)
DNP DNP T25
(16.67)
T19
(41.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T19
(20.67)
Si Woo Kim
(98.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
T2
(100)
65
(0)
DNP T32
(12)
DNP DNP DNP WD
(-1.67)
DNP T58
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
T40
(6.67)
Brian Harman
(93 pts)
75
(0)
CUT
(-10)
T36
(21)
DNP DNP DNP T19
(41.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T5
(23.33)
T19
(20.67)
Tom Hoge
(92.67 pts)
T4
(120)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T66
(0)
T46
(2.67)
Harold Varner III
(90.83 pts)
T11
(58.5)
T57
(0)
DNP T15
(35)
DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T11
(13)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T47
(1)
DNP
Russell Henley
(89.67 pts)
T56
(0)
T7
(55)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T11
(13)
DNP DNP T19
(10.33)
T13
(24.67)
Cam Davis
(87.17 pts)
T31
(28.5)
DNP 60
(0)
DNP DNP T28
(14.67)
DNP DNP T55
(0)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

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

Player Northern Trust Wyndham Champ. WGC FedEx St. Jude Barracuda Champ. Olympics 3M Open British Open Barbasol Champ. John Deere Scottish Open Rocket Mortgage Travelers Champ. U.S. Open
Matt Jones
(-23.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
T70
(0)
T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP T52
(0)
T36
(4.67)
T65
(0)
Lucas Glover
(8.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-10)
T57
(0)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP Win
(44)
DNP T41
(3)
DNP DNP
Chris Kirk
(10.33 pts)
T56
(0)
T29
(21)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(12.67)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Carlos Ortiz
(11.83 pts)
T47
(4.5)
DNP T36
(21)
DNP T42
(5.33)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T47
(1)
CUT
(-6.67)
Patton Kizzire
(15.33 pts)
T56
(0)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T39
(7.33)
DNP DNP T11
(13)
DNP T25
(8.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Max Homa
(16.17 pts)
T47
(4.5)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T40
(13.33)
DNP DNP DNP T25
(8.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
Phil Mickelson
(21.17 pts)
CUT
(-15)
DNP T17
(49.5)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP T74
(0)
T61
(0)
T62
(0)
Ryan Palmer
(27.67 pts)
CUT
(-15)
DNP T26
(36)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Charley Hoffman
(36.83 pts)
T21
(43.5)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T30
(6.67)
T57
(0)
Jason Kokrak
(37 pts)
CUT
(-15)
CUT
(-10)
T34
(24)
DNP DNP DNP T26
(32)
DNP DNP DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
Aaron Wise
(37.5 pts)
T21
(43.5)
T46
(4)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T69
(0)
DNP DNP T66
(0)
DNP
Stewart Cink
(40.67 pts)
T21
(43.5)
DNP T43
(10.5)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T30
(6.67)
T57
(0)
Marc Leishman
(42.17 pts)
T47
(4.5)
DNP T36
(21)
DNP T51
(0)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP 3
(30)
64
(0)
Emiliano Grillo
(45.33 pts)
CUT
(-15)
DNP DNP T27
(23)
DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T12
(50.67)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Talor Gooch
(45.83 pts)
T31
(28.5)
CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T33
(22.67)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T36
(4.67)
DNP

How Player Rankings are Computed

The Buzz:

So the PGA Tour and the Northern Trust survived hurricane Henri and were able to finish 72 holes, even though it ended on Monday.  Have to give credit to Liberty National superintendent for getting the course ready for play on Monday, after enduring close to ten inches of rain in a 24 hour period.  Have to say for Jon Rahm the experience wasn’t that great.  since making birdie on his 3rd hole in the first round he held the lead till he makes bogey on 15 Monday.  Have to say that Rahm has had a remarkable season but in a way only having one win at the U.S. Open is disappointing.  I could name half a dozen tournaments that Rahm should of won but missed putts under ten feet.  When Tiger Woods won six times in 2009, he hit the ball as well as Rahm has this year, but the difference is Tiger made those key putts inside ten feet on the final nine of tournaments.  Rahm didn’t make many putts on Monday, the longest he made was from 4 feet, 10 inches.  We have seen this all year, Rahm with plenty of chances to win but just can’t make putts on Sunday.  Despite not winning he is the front runner for Player-of-the-Year.

Tony Finau

Since winning the 2016 Puerto Rico Open, Finau has made 144 starts and had 40 top-ten finishes with three thirds and 8 runner-up finishes.  It’s hard to fathom how many tournaments Tony Finau could have, should have won.  In three of his eight runner-up finishes he lost in a playoff and many were wondering when he would finally win.  I always knew he would win, figured his win would come due to someone giving the tournament to Tony.  That’s kind of what happened, Finau finished earlier than Rahm, posted his score and Rahm wouldn’t be able to up and match Finau’s score. Finau was five-under in his final seven holes compared to Rahm who played his final four holes in 2 over.  With the win, Finau has secured a spot on the Ryder Cup team no matter what happens in the points race.  He is in the sixth and last spot for the team, but with this victory Captain Steve Stricker will pick him as a wild card if he doesn’t maintain his position.  More importantly, I can see this opening up the flood gates for other victories.  Tony now knows how to win and I can see a lot more wins in the future for Finau.

Phil Mickelson

Even though he missed the cut at the Northern Trust, Mickelson was able to hold on and get the 70th spot in FedExCup points, thus getting to play in the BMW Championship.  For Mickelson to move on in the playoffs, he has to either win or finish 2nd at the BMW which he won’t do.  But getting the last spot gives him one more tournament to show Captain Stricker he should get one of Strickers six wild card picks.  If you take away Phil’s PGA Championship win, the season hasn’t been that great.  His next best finish was T-17th at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude and he hasn’t shown he is worth the pick, other than the PGA Championship win and the fact of his experience could help younger players.  I personally think that touch isn’t needed, of the “youngsters” that will make the team, don’t think that Collin Morikawa, Xander Schauffele, or Patrick Cantlay need any fatherly advice.

Getting to East Lake

Going into this week the big news will be getting into the top-30 and playing at the Tour Championship.  We talked about the importance of it, first of all the money and the potential money to be earned next week at the Tour Championship.  But the second big perk and to some the biggest perk of all is those playing in the Tour Championship gets into just about any event in 2021 including the four majors.  If you look at the list of those on the bubble, for most of them playing at East Lake is very important.  Now normally those in the top-27 should be safe, but with Patrick Reed not playing he could be vulnerable to drop out of the top-30.  Another person who could be venerable is Rory McIlroy, who isn’t playing well and needs to play better this week.

  • 26 – Patrick Reed
  • 27 – Billy Horschel
  • 28 – Rory McIlroy
  • 29 – Charley Hoffman
  • 30 – Max Homa
  • 31 – Kevin Kisner
  • 32 – Keegan Bradley
  • 33 – Si Woo Kim
  • 34 – Cameron Tringale
  • 35 – Marc Leishman
  • 36 – Cam Davis

Tournament information:

The Western Open was originally founded and run by the Western Golf Association. First played in 1899, this will be the 117th edition of the event

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 last year’s BMW Championship.  In 2014 it was played at Cherry Hills in Denver, going back to Conway Farms in 2015, Crooked Stick in 2016, and Conway Farms for the 2017 BMW Championship.  In 2018 it was played at Aronimink, in 2019 at Medinah, and last year at Olympia Fields.

Course information:
  • Caves Valley Golf Club
  • Owings Mills, MD.
  • 7,542 yards     Par 36-36–72

Since the advent of the FedExCup playoffs, the Western Open is now the BMW Championship.  Between 1974 and 2007 the event was played in the Chicago area, but since 2008 it has moved around the country.  This week Caves Valley will be the ninth venue for this event. Caves Valley is located 15 miles northwest of Baltimore, which in golf circles has been starved with the lack of PGA Tour love.  The last time a tour event was played in the Baltimore area, John Kennedy was the president of the United States.  It was the Eastern Open, an event played in the Baltimore area for 13 years.  The event had its share of marquee winners, Arnold Palmer won his third PGA Tour event at the Eastern Open in 1956.  Other winners include Sam Snead, Cary Middlecoff, Lloyd Mangrum, Tommy Bolt, Gene Littler, Doug Sanders, and Doug Ford was the last champion in 1962.

Caves Valley opened in 1991 and has hosted several events including the 1995 U.S. Mid-Amateur, the 2002 U.S. Senior Open and 2017 Senior Players Championship.  The club is on 962 acres, on rolling terrain with dense trees, and was designed by Tom Fazio who has done half a dozen courses that have held PGA Tour events.  Fazio built a very challenging course while keeping its natural environment.  The nines have been flipped so that more fans can see the action on its closing holes, plus that nine is more scenic for television.  The course will be challenging and at the same time scores should be low.

Most of the field will be at a disadvantage having to learn the course in just two days.  Of those in the field, about the only ones that have seen the course are Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Webb Simpson, and Kevin Kisner, who played on it during the 2005 NCAA Championship.  They also played at Caves Valley in the 2007 Palmer Cup.  The weather will be very hot and muggy with a possibility of scattered Thunderstorms over the weekend.

The course will be fun to play, at Liberty National the course had so many hazards that high scores came about.  That won’t happen this week. The course will be in wonderful shape, yes it has rough but won’t be impossible.  The course will play fast but look for many scoring opportunities, especially on the front nine.  Holes 1 and 5 are drivable and the two par 5s will be reachable.  The back nine is more challenging with water coming in play on five holes.  But the course will have a lot of risk-reward holes.

Let’s take a look at vital stats that are important for those playing at Caves Valley:

There are about a dozen great golf courses in this country that could hold a PGA Tour event. With the USGA and the PGA of America having most of their future venues signed up for the next eight years, that leaves the minimal option for these new gems to see a professional event. For the 2020-2021 season, we have seen a lot of these great courses used. Last October, the CJ Cup was played at Shadow Creek just outside of Las Vegas. The following week the Zozo Championship was played at Sherwood Country Club, another gem of a course that has held team events and Champion Tour events to great fanfare. In February, with the World Federation not able to play in Mexico, the PGA Tour worked out a deal with Concession Golf Club in Bradenton, Florida. When the Canadian Open was postponed due to Covid, the folks at Congaree Golf Club in Ridgeland, South Carolina, developed the Palmetto Championship, which was a one-off event. All four of these clubs are very elite private clubs that have achieved fame and now have had the world see it with these PGA Tour events.
This week another gem of a course is being introduced to the golfing world. Caves Valley Golf Club, a private club 15 miles northwest of Baltimore, will hold the BMW Championship, the 2nd of the FedExCup playoffs. It’s nice that the world will get a peek at Caves Valley but even better than the golf-starved Baltimore area will finally get a PGA Tour event. Baltimore is the 21st largest metropolitan city in this country, and it’s hard to believe that the last time Baltimore held a PGA Tour event, John Kennedy was the president. The event was the 1962 Eastern Open and was won by Doug Ford 59 years ago.
Caves Valley is the best course in the Baltimore area. It was created in the 1980s to enhance Baltimore’s prestige and attract significant business to the area. The focus of the club was to be solely for golf. There are no tennis courts or pools, no fancy clubhouse, and the club sits on 962 acres with very few homes on it, and the ones on it are not visible from the course. The course has the elite of Baltimore as members, folks like Orioles Hall of Fame 3rd baseman Cal Ripken Jr. Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti along with Under Armour founder Kevin Plank our full-time members of Caves Valley. The course also has elite International members from Michael Jordan to Michael Bloomberg. Half of the course’s members live outside of the Baltimore area, and the club has 48 rooms on the property for overnight stays or if a member was entertaining out-of-town guests. So yes, the club is very elite.
When the course was being developed, it hired golf course architect Tom Fazio to design Caves Valley. It was one of his first projects that gave acclaim to Fazio. The club sits on 962 acres, and Fazio was tasked to find an area for the 18 holes. The land sits on rolling terrain with dense trees, and Fazio was able to use any part of the property that would create 18 holes that would suit the natural environment and, at the same time, be a challenging test. Fazio accomplished the goal as the holes meander through rolling hills and lush valleys. It has a combination of woodlands and wetlands with five holes having water on them. The greens are nothing fancy, at 5,200 square feet, they are considered small and hard to hit. They may lack a lot of undulation, at the same time, they are very fast and true, good putters will love them. You noticed that there are no homes along the fairways. Yes, the club does have residential homes, but they are tucked away and not visible from the course.
The club says it’s been building toward hosting a PGA Tour event since it first opened in 1991. The course hosted the Mid-Amateur in 1995, followed by the 2002 U.S. Senior Open and the Constellation Senior Players Championship in 2017. It’s also hosted both the men’s and women’s NCAA championships, the 2007 Palmer Cup, and the LPGA’s 2014 International Crown.
When it became known that the course would hold the BMW Championship, Fazio was brought back to update it and prepare for this week’s tournament. Eight new trees were built, adding 400 yards and stretching it to just under 7,600 yards. For this week, it will play to a par 72 at 7,542 yards. All the bunkers were redone, plus the trees have been significantly thinned. The nines have been flipped for the BMW because the front nine can accommodate more people, plus many think that nine is the better nine with a more dramatic finish. The 16th hole will be a reachable par 5, the 17th is a par-3 over water, and the 18th is a pretty par 4 with a pesky creek running along the right side and going from tee to green.
For the 69 players in the field (Patrick Reed has pneumonia and can’t play), it will be a new adventure for them. Since Baltimore isn’t a spot that most of the pros go to, it’s safe to say that not many of the players have seen Caves Valley. On top of that, the weather delays at the Northern Trust will mean very little prep time for the players and caddies. Historically when a new course comes to the PGA Tour, the winner is a person you least expect to win. Examples of that were when Garrick Higgo won the Palmetto Championship and K.H. Lee winning the AT&T Byron Nelson. Even going back to the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek, Jason Kokrak collected his first PGA Tour victory. Now, this is not a given rule, Collin Morikawa won the WGC-Workday Concession back in February, and he was a proven winner. The point is anybody can win this week. As for the course itself, the course rating is 74.5 with a slope rating of 138, so we can expect, just like at Liberty National, to get some low scoring this week.
Caves Valley will is being set up for scoring opportunities. Of the ten par 4s, three are under 400 yards, only with one at 430 yards, and the last six over 460 yards. The fairways will be generous, but rough does come into play along with 36 fairway bunkers. In the past, the rough was tough during the U.S. Senior Open, but when PGA Tour officials set up the course for the Constellation Senior Players Championship in 2017, it was manageable, even the rough was manageable. If this holds up for this week, it will be a good course for long hitters who don’t have to worry about keeping it the fairway. Since the greens are small, it’s a must to hit greens. With the size of the greens, the longest putt will be 40 feet, again very manageable. Water comes in play on five holes, mainly on the 2nd nine. The one challenge for the players is placing a drive in the fairway. Most of the holes do turn in the middle of the fairway, either right or left. On a dogleg hole, players who can hit it over the bunkers could have problems keeping their balls on the fairway since with the fairway turning, it gives very little room for error, and a player could drive it through the dogleg into the rough. So look for a lot of drives with fairway woods and Irons.

Since we have no data to base our conclusions on for our four categories, we will take an educated guess on which stats are needed to succeed this week at Caves Valley. The First will be Accuracy and length off the tee. Caves Valley is very challenging off the tee, and if players can hit it far and straight will have an advantage. Driving it at Caves Valley will be like it is at Augusta National. So our first category is Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green. The course is not only an excellent driving course but demands great shotmaking to the greens as it takes precious iron play. The course has the same values as Augusta National or Concession Golf Club, in which you have to put the shot on the green but in the correct quadrant, so our second category is Greens in Regulation. One other thing about hitting greens, they are small, so they will be hard to hit.
Of course, when you miss a green, you will have to scramble to make your par. All 18 greens are well guarded, and you know that mistakes will be made, and puts many skills in getting it up and down from just off the greens. So our third category is Strokes Gained Around the Green. This combination of all skills in getting it up and down from the short grass and the bunkers around the greens, which have sand all around them.
Our last category is Strokes Gained Putting. Remember, the greens aren’t tricky but very fast, so good putters will have a fun week. So Strokes Gained Putting is an excellent way in determining how a player does overall on the greens, and since putting will be a key to winning at Congaree, I don’t see any stat better to end this stat look with.

*Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green: Looks at the combination of length off the tee and accuracy, then getting the ball on the green so it determines who is best at all of these items.

*Greens in Regulation: Number of greens hit from the fairway or rough.

*Strokes Gained Around the Green: This is a combination of all skills in getting it up and down from not only the short grass but from the bunkers around the greens.

*Strokes Gained Putting: This is an excellent way in determining how a player does overall on the greens by determining the length of the putt and calculating the percentage the player should make the putt, and coming up with a stroke figure.

The 69 of the 69 players from this year’s field (Patrick Reed isn’t playing) with stats from 2021.

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

To find all 69 stats for the BMW Championship, check this link

DraftKings tips

*Here are the guys that cost the most on DraftKings this week:

  • Jon Rahm – $11,700
  • Xander Schauffele – $11,100
  • Jordan Spieth – $10,800
  • Justin Thomas – $10,600
  • Dustin Johnson – $10,400
  • Brooks Koepka – $10,200
  • Collin Morikawa – $10,000
  • Tony Finau – $9,800
  • Louis Oosthuizen – $9,600
  • Cameron Smith – $9,500
  • Rory McIlroy – $9,400
  • Bryson DeChambeau – $9,300
  • Patrick Cantlay – $9,200
  • Viktor Hovland – $9,100
  • Daniel Berger – $9,000

The good news for this week, no cut.  In a way, I will miss it since I have been solid in getting six players through 72 holes.  Still last week I took a bath on Adam Scott, who was one of my main picks and didn’t make the cut.  The one disadvantage of not having a cut it brings more folks into the weekend that could prevent you from climbing up the leaderboard.

I can see why Jon Rahm at $11,700 is the top pick, he always seems to be in contention over the weekend.  But for every one of you that took Rahm last week, it had to be disappointing over his finish.  I am again not recommending taking Rahm, not over his game and how he will finish, I have no doubt he will finish in the Top-ten.  The problem I have with him is the cost, spending $11,700 on one player really messes you up for your other five players.  With 11,700 gone that leaves you with an average of 7,600 a player which leaves you with very little to pick from, so despite knowing Rahm will play well, the cost is too high.  The same with Xander Schauffele at $11,100, he will play well but with his high cost, you just about have to win to make him worthwhile.  Jordan Spieth at $10,800 is a big no, mostly because I know he shot 62 in the second round, but shot 72 in the first and third rounds but Monday was ugly as he shot 79.  Justin Thomas at $10,600 is high, but I really think his game is coming around and he might win this week.  He shot 63-69-67-70 and yes struggled on Monday but still is looking better and I think the slump is history.  While Thomas is coming out of his slump, can’t say the same for Dustin Johnson at $10,400, he is a big no.  Brooks Koepka at $10,200 is worth thinking about, see him getting better and since the course is right up his alley, feel he will do very well.  Collin Morikawa at $10,000 may not be a good choice.  He looked terrible last week at Liberty National missing the cut.  The one thing we are starting to realize about Morikawa when he wins his game goes into a lull for a few events afterward and that is the case now with his game.  Tony Finau at $9,800 is a big yes because he is the opposite of Morikawa.  When Finau starts playing well, it usually lasts for his next three events so I can see big things coming from Finau this week and next.  Louis Oosthuizen at $9,600 will get a lot of takers mostly because he has been the hottest and most consistent player from week to week over the summer.  But I see warning clouds, it started when he finished T-17th in Memphis, his highest finish since Memorial in June.  What we have found out, he is nursing a back injury, which is the reason he didn’t play at Wyndham or last week at Northern Trust.  So best to pass on him.  Cameron Smith at $9,500 is doing well, sure his driver let him down in the playoff but he seems to feel at home with back-nine pressure.  Another reason to like him, the best part of Smith’s game is putting and he will find the greens at Caves Valley to his liking.  Now I don’t think that Rory McIlroy at $9,400 is a good choice, he just looks so lost and I think that trend will continue this week.  I have been harping all summer over Bryson Dechambeau.  But his is only $9,300 this week and I think his bomb and gouge game will work at Caves Valley, so he is a go for me.  Patrick Cantlay at $9,200 is a no, since his Memorial win he has struggled with his game, yes he was solid at Liberty National so you may think he is ready to go.  Viktor Hovland at $9,100 is another puzzling question mark. He was a person that I thought would do well at the Northern Trust, I was looking very good until he shot 77 in the final round.  I still feel he is good and has a lot to offer, still, he needs to step up his game a notch or two.  Daniel Berger at $9,000 is also a question mark.  He has been around for the weekend a lot this year but seems to struggle on Sunday.  I say no to him.

*Players in that $7,500 to $8,900 price range, which ones are worth the money?:

Scottie Scheffler at $8,900 catches my attention, have felt his game is very close, but he can’t seem to close the deal.  He has eight top-tens and five top-five and other than his T-43rd finish at the Northern Trust has played solidly all summer so yes he is worth the money.  Now I can’t say the same about Hideki Matsuyama at $8,800 and Webb Simpson at $8,500, both have had their moments of glory and good play, but they both have been very inconsistent over the summer, so they aren’t on my yes list.  Abraham Ancer at $8,700 is a flip-him bet.  Yes, he won in Memphis but since has struggled with his game, I say his price is low so he is a go for me.  Another go for me is Corey Conners at $8,600, he has played great well all summer and can make a lot of birdies, ranks 37th on Par Breakers.  Harris English at $8,400 has been a Jekyll and Hyde all summer, whenever he has been in contention his goes down the dumper.  But don’t think that is the case this week and I say he is worth the cost this week.  I also like Sam Burns at $8,300.  He has had a good summer and I feel he is a great choice to make some points.  Also like Joaquin Niemann at $8,100, has played solidly all summer and feels he is ready to bust out.  Shane Lowry at $7,900 is also worth it, has played great this summer, yes he folded at the Northern Trust with a final round 72 to finish T-11th, but all summer he has played ok.  The best pick for your money is Kevin Na at $7,600.  He was runner-up at the Northern Trust and at the John Deere, which is a great record, and will do well this week.  Also, like Cameron Tringale at $7,500, he has been having final round problems, but think he can put it together and do well.

*Some of the “bargains” this week at the BMW Championship

Harold Varner III at $7,400 is worth the cost, he has done well all season and is ready to bust out.  Talking about busting out Cameron Champ who won last month is $7,300 and a real bargain.  Remember this is a bombers type of course and Champ is one of the longest hitters on tour, so he will be a great pick this week.  Kevin Kisner at $7,200 is a really good buy and should play well at Caves Valley.  Maverick McNealy at $7,000 is a good buy, has a lot of top-25 finishes, and thinks the course will be perfect for him to play well.  Also like Sebastian Munoz at $6,700 has been a very consistent player that has knocked on the door a couple of times this summer and could play well this week.

Here are some of the secrets that it will take to play well this week at the BMW Championship:

The key stat for the winner:

  • Remember that very few have seen the course, and this tends to help those long-shot players. Lots of patients in which birdies will be the norm this week.  It’s a very enjoyable course and the players will fall in love with it
  • Emphasis must be made on making many birdies because those whose games are good will be able to score low.
  • Length and the lack of accuracy will give bombers a significant advantage.  Still, we can’t say the course is a layup, it’s not.  For those that are too greedy and get in trouble, they can make bogeys and higher
  • Sharp iron play will also help along with the imagination when you do get in trouble.  The key is to be peaking about Wednesday right before the start of the championship.
  • Look for good putters to have a significant advantage because Caves Vally greens will be fast and give good putters a field day.

 

Who to watch for at the BMW Championship

Best Bets:

Justin Thomas

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T25 Win T12 T47 T32 T13

Looks like Justin has broken out of his slump with a T-4th at the Northern Trust. Can see him busting loose this week and next, don’t be surprised if he wins the FedExCup playoffs.

Jon Rahm

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
Win T5 T24 T5

Hard to believe what happened to him at the Northern Trust, boy has had his share of heartache this year. He will be looking for retribution for what happened. He is the best player on tour at the moment, his game should be perfect for Caves Valley, his only problem he needs to putt better.

Xander Schauffele

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T25 T19 T3 T20

Has played great in the best events, winner at the Olympics last month, and is looking for another win on the PGA Tour. Was a bit sluggish at the Northern Trust, but he did shot 62 in the 2nd round showing he can go low.

Players whose game is in good shape right now with a legitimate chance:

Tony Finau

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
5 4 T8 T7 T66 T47

After a tough last six months has broken through to not only playing well but finally winning his 2nd PGA Tour event. He is on a rocket right now, if past stats mean anything he will play well in the next two weeks, feel he will be top-five in both FedEx events.

Viktor Hovland

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T40

He is breaking out of a mini-slump, yes he shot 77 on Monday at the Northern Trust, but he played great for 54 holes. Has eight top-tens for the season, in the last year has won twice in Germany and Mexico.

Cameron Smith

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T20 T65 T12

Yes he is disappointed with his poor drive on the playoff hole, still his game has trended up since coming close to getting into a playoff at the Olympics and T-8th at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude. Is making a lot of birdies, in his last 12 rounds has not been over par and shot a round of 60, a round of 62 and 8 of his last 12 rounds has been 67 or lower.

Those who will fall in love with Caves Valley:

Bryson DeChambeau

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
50 T48 T19 T33

Yes he finished T-31st at Liberty National with low rounds of 65 and 68 on Monday. Like him for one reason, his bomb-and-gouge approach could work for him at Caves Valley, since the rough isn’t all that bad look for him to do well.

Kevin Na

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T51 T12 T53 T20 T10 T46 T26 T3 T8

Has played great all summer, was runner-up at both the John Deere and Wyndham, was T-8th at the Northern Trust. In 2021 he is putting together his best year ever, 18th in the FedExCup point list and earnings of $3.5 million.

Brooks Koepka

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T24 T19 T12 T32 T49

Caves Valley is his type of course, one that he can hit it long and hit lot’s of greens. If he likes the course and treats it like a major course could do well. His game has been Jekyll and Hyde, after finishing T-4th at the U.S. Open, T-5th at Travelers and T-6th at the British, how can he finish T-54th in Memphis and T-31st at Northern Trust. Think he will bust out of it at Caves Valley, his type of course.

Scottie Scheffler

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T20

The game has shown signs that he is very close, T-8th at the British, T-4th in Memphis. Yes, he was T-43rd at Liberty National still played well. Have to wonder when he will get off the snide and produce a win.

Those that could surprise us this week:

Sam Burns

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
First time playing in this event

Was T-2nd in Memphis and T-21st at Liberty National. Has shown he can break out with win at Valspar, like that h was 3rd at Genesis a course similar to Caves Valley

Cameron Tringale

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T7 T31 T31

Has been knocking on the door all year, 12 times in the top-25 and coming close at Valspar with a T-3rd. The big question is whenever he goes low has one bad round, that came at Liberty National as he was 67-68-67 and then shot a final round 72. If he can only get more consistent he could knock the door wide open.

Alex Noren

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T40 T24

Has shown signs that his game could be ready to make a run, was T-4th at Rocket Mortgage and at Northern Trust. Ranks 109th in Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green, 185th in Greens in Regulation, and 68th in Scrambling. So for him to play well he needs to putt well, he is 16th in Strokes Gained putting and T-104th in Par Breakers.

Two stars that are still struggling:

Rory McIlroy

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
T12 T19 5 T58 T42 T4 T8 T59 Win T37

This year has been terribly frustrating as he just can’t get on a roll. Yes, he won at Wells Fargo but the rest has been sub-standard for Rory. He had better be careful and play decently at Caves Valley since he is 26th in the FedExCup points list.

Dustin Johnson

2021 ’20 ’19 ’18 ’17 ’16 ’15 ’14 ’13 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09
2 T57 T24 T33 Win T7 T62 T6 T65 Win T30

As bad as Rory has been, Dustin is even worst. Yes, he was T-8th at the British and T-10th in Memphis, but he missed the cut at the 3M Open and Northern Trust. You just don’t know what you’re going to get out of Johnson, he hasn’t been in the running of winning a tournament since his Saudi victory in February.

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