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PGA Tour Stats Review: Entering the BWM Championship

Jeremy Schilling

Jeremy Schilling

Schilling covers golf for RotoWire, focusing on young and up-and-coming players. He was a finalist for the FSWA's Golf Writer of the Year award. He also contributes to PGA Magazine and hosts the popular podcast "Teeing It Up" on BlogTalkRadio.

After a week off the PGA Tour and the FedEx Cup playoffs reconvene with the BMW Championship from Conway Farms outside Chicago. The Top 30 after this week move on to next week's Tour Championship, where $10 million will be up for grabs.

HISTORY LESSON

The BMW Championship is the old Western Open, which has been around for seemingly forever. It used to be played at Cog Hill, also outside Chicago, but a re-design several years ago irked players, and the event has since moved to different courses. This year, that lands the players at Conway Farms, which has never hosted a PGA Tour event and will be new to basically all the golfers ... except Luke Donald.

Donald, who went to Northwestern, considers this a home course of sorts, so for this week's history lesson we recommend Donald, for the one and only reason of his course knowledge. Then again, he's in the midst of a swing change, so like with so many fantasy situations - in any sport - there are risks involved.

ALL-AROUND RANKING

As the name suggests, the all-around ranking is a list of players who have all facets of their games on form. Here are the top players from that category playing this week:

Tiger Woods -
This may be a stats-based column but the most important thing regarding Woods for this week is off the course: the bye week allowed him to rest his ailing back, and he says it feels great and that he was even able to do strengthening exercises in the last week versus solely treatment.

Steve Stricker -
Stricker, who earned his way onto the Presidents Cup team two weeks ago in Boston, has formally committed to the Tour Championship, meaning he'll be playing the next two weeks. And coming off the momentum of that second-place finish, Stricker could be a smart pick this week.

Jordan Spieth -
From no status to Presidents Cup captain's pick and PGA Tour winner, Spieth's year is one for the record books. Now he has a new goal to shoot for: getting his game in shape for golf's second biggest team competition in a little less than a month's time.

Keegan Bradley -
Bradley may be statistically strong but since Firestone his play has been indifferent, going T19-T33-T16.

Kevin Stadler -
Yes, really, Kevin Stadler. The guy hasn't won an event on the PGA Tour EVER (he has two career second-place finishes), but this year has been one of the most consistent players on the PGA Tour statistically. He's ninth in greens in regulation, eighth in eagles, 14th in birdie average, 16th in total driving, seventh in ball striking and 19th in proximity to the hole. So yes, believe it or not, Kevin Stadler might be a nice sleeper pick.

ON THE BUBBLE

Lee Westwood -
Westwood sits 30th at the moment. His year is interesting: viable chances to win the first two majors of the season, yet no finish better than third for the year. Statistically it's also been indifferent, as he's not in the top 15 of any major statistical category. The switch to Sean Foley as his coach should lead to better things for Westwood, but that could take some time.

Kevin Stadler -
So yes, the golfer who is the fifth most consistent player on the PGA Tour (or at least in the stats that make up the all-around ranking), is 32nd on the FedEx Cup points list and on the bubble. This is a perfect script for those who don't understand the playoffs or how one should handle the playoffs when considering the season as a whole. In any case, Stadler comes off a T4 at the Deutsche Bank Championship, so he enters Conway Farms off a strong finish.

Nick Watney -
We do not recommend going with Watney on your fantasy team this week. Thirty-fourth in points, Watney recently split with the Harmon family (first Butch, then Claude) and is now working with Todd Anderson. As anyone who has followed Tiger Woods' career knows, swing changes take time to settle in, so like Westwood, Watney is probably one who will fail to reach Atlanta and the Tour Championship.

Patrick Reed -
Reed is 47th in the standings, so he'll need a strong finish at the BMW, but he's an interesting option because he's playing with house money. Coming off his victory at the Wyndham Championship, he has his Tour card sealed up for two more seasons and can make a free run at everything, including the $10 million for the FedEx Cup winner. So if you want to make a risky fantasy pick, the guy who is 33rd in strokes gained-putting may be just the player for you.

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