This article is part of our DraftKings PGA series.
Winner's Share: $1.71M
FedEx Cup Points: 2,000 to the winner
Location: Owings Mills, Md.
Course: Caves Valley Golf Club
2020 champion: Jon Rahm (Olympia Fields)
After the hurricane-delayed Northern Trust was pushed to a Monday finish, the 70 golfers still standing have a short but very important week. For the superstars, reaching the second of the three playoff events means little. For many others, it means everything – with the chance for so much more if they somehow can find their way into the top 30 come Sunday night. The BMW Championship will decide who gets to go to the Tour Championship, which in and of itself is a big deal but one that also comes with fantastic perks. Not only are those 30 golfers guaranteed a large check, but also entry into next year's Masters, both Opens, THE PLAYERS, a WGC and the five invitationals (Bay Hill, Memorial, Harbour Town, Colonial and Riviera).
So this week has the potential to alter not only bank accounts, but lives and careers.
We come to another new course in the BMW rotation as the PGA Tour returns to the Baltimore area for the first time in almost six decades. As you'll recall, it was at the 1962 Eastern Open won by Doug Ford.
Caves Valley is a 1991 Tom Fazio design/2020 Logan Fazio renovation that is unfamiliar to the PGA Tour but no stranger to big-time golf. It most recently played host to the 2017 SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, won by Scott McCarron, who shot four rounds in the 60s en route to an 18-under total on the par-72 track. Before that came an LPGA international team event in 2014, the NCAA Division I women's championship in 2009 (and the men's in 2005), the Palmer Cup in 2007 and the 2002 U.S. Senior Open won by Don Pooley in a 5-hole playoff over Tom Watson.
For what it's worth, some of the golfers in this field were in those tournaments: Collegians Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Billy Horschel, Brian Harman and Chris Kirk played in the '07 Palmer Cup. DJ, Simpson and Kirk were also in the '05 NCAAs at Caves Valley, along with Kevin Kisner and Alex Noren.
As for the course itself, they've flipped the nines for this week. The fairways are not especially wide but indications are they are not very penal. There is water on five holes – all on the back nine – one of which, the 11th, is a drivable par-4. There are three par-5s of around 590 yards, three par-3s of around 220 and six par-4s of at least 460. Those are all long holes. But there are three very short par-4s of around 360 – the 1st, 5th and aforementioned 11th. The bentgrass greens average 5,200 square feet.
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In a Golf Digest review of Caves Valley, panelists described it as "rolling hills, "countryside," "rewarded great shot making," "testing the entire game," "picturesque ... every hole is like a postcard." One panelist said Caves Valley had "relatively generous fairways. The greens are ... undulated with multiple nuances to each complex."
As for the field, remember that there is no cut. All the big names are here, save Patrick Reed, who was hospitalized in Houston with pneumonia. At 25th in the FedEx Cup standings, Reed might not qualify for the Tour Championship – if he recovers in time to play. With Reed out, the field is only 69.
Weather-wise, we are looking at steamy late-summer conditions with temperatures into the 90s much of the week. There's a chance of scattered thunderstorms on the middle two days, though it doesn't sound like something that would cause a long delay. The wind is forecast to be light all week.
Fun BMW Championship factoids: This is the third oldest golf tournament in the world, having started in 1899 (Open Championship in 1860, U.S. Open in 1895. This will be the 118th edition of the old Western Open. BMW came on board as the title sponsor when the FedEx Cup playoffs began in 2007.
Key Stats to Winning at Caves Valley
The most important indicators every week are current form and course history. "Key Stats" follow in importance.
• Strokes Gained: Approach/Greens in Regulation
• Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee/Driving Distance
• Strokes Gained: Putting
• Birdie Average/Birdie-or-Better Percentage
2020 - Jon Rahm (Olympia Fields)
2019 - Justin Thomas (Medinah)
2018 - Keegan Bradley (Aronimink)
2017 - Marc Leishman (Conway Farms)
2016 - Dustin Johnson (Crooked Stick)
2015 - Jason Day (Conway Farms)
2014 - Billy Horschel (Cherry Hills)
2013 - Zach Johnson (Conway Farms)
2012 - Rory McIlroy (Crooked Stick)
2011 - Justin Rose (Cog Hill)
We're flying a bit blind this week, of course. When that's the case, it's good to focus on quality ball strikers. But there are also indications that distance will be an advantage and that greens will be tough to hit. That means the golfers will need to negotiate there way around the greens (scrambling). The over/under on the winning score at golfodds.com is 269.5 – 18.5 under par.
DRAFTKINGS VALUE PICKS
Based on Standard $50K Salary Cap
Tier 1 Values
Jon Rahm - $11,700 (Winning odds at the DraftKings Sportsbook: +5500)
Sure, Rahm let one get away a bit last week at the Northern Trust and, remarkably, he's won only once in the past 12 months. But he's as close to a sure thing on DraftKings as anyone, with more bonus points last week for finishing third. It was his 11th top-10 in 16 starts in 2021.
Justin Thomas - $10,600 (+2000)
Thomas started to show signs of emerging from his six-month swoon when he tied for 26th at the WGC-FedEx. And then came the Northern Trust, where he tied for fourth. Most notably, Thomas ranked 11th in the field in Strokes Gained: Putting. His driving accuracy was still way off, but it appears a golfer can withstand that at Caves Valley.
Collin Morikawa - $10,000 (+1800)
One of the hardest things to do in DFS golf is return to a guy who burned you the previous week. It's just human nature. We were high on Morikawa last week and he just didn't have and he had a bad missed cut. As we mentioned above, when we don't know a ton about a new course, ball striking is a good direction to take. There is no better ball striker than Morikawa. And he is only seventh on the DK board.
Tier 2 Values
Bryson DeChambeau - $9,300 (+2800)
DeChambeau is a big roll of the dice every time he tees it up. But in a limited field like this, it's hard to find lineup separation from other gamers. DeChambeau is a good way to go, especially in GPP. Frankly, a lot of people don't play him because they don't like him. His length should be a real advantage this week. And, if he can correct some putting issues from last week, he could be in contention come Sunday.
Harris English - $8,400 (+3500)
We were watching English very closely to see how he'd respond after kicking away the WGC-FedEx last time out. He didn't contend at Liberty National, but he didn't implode, either. He tied for 31st with four decent rounds, played his usual all-around game and tied for 12th in the field in SG: Putting. His game could thrive at Caves Valley.
Paul Casey - $8,200 (+3000)
Honestly, this is a value play. Well, only value plays are listed here but this one especially. Casey tied for 64th last week, a real aberration and his worst four-round result in almost a year. And so we have seen him drop a bit down the DK board (though not the DK Sportsbook). Casey had been coming off five top-10s in his past seven starts. His game has limitations but he usually finds a way to get into contention or on the fringe.
Tier 3 Values
Shane Lowry- $7,900 (+4500)
Lowry has been sneaky good of late, with five straight worldwide top-25s and seven in his past eight starts. He just missed a top-10 on Monday with a tie for 11th at Liberty National. Lowry is ranked top-20 on Tour in both Strokes Gained: Approach and Around-the-Green. He'll need a very high finish to climb into the top 30, and his putting probably will prevent that, but doesn't mean he won't justify his $7,900 price.
Kevin Na- $7,600 (+6000)
Na had about the quietest top-10 you can have at Liberty National, where he tied for eighth. And that was after finishing as runner-up in two f his prior three starts. Na leads the Tour in SG: Around-the-Green, and that should count for a lot this week.
Cameron Champ - 7,300 (+10000)
We like the fact that Champ has kept it going after his big win at the 3M Open. He tie for 3st and now 27th in two elite fields at the WGC-FedEx and Northern Trust. His distance should be an asset this week, where the par-5s appear gettable, all under 600 yards. Champ is ranked 10th on Tour in eagles and top-50 in birdie average.
Charley Hoffman - $7,000 (+6500)
What a season it's been for the 44-year-old Hoffman – if the Tour Championship started today, he'd be in it. He tied for 21st last week, and that was with a soul-crushing triple on 18 on Monday. The Sportsbook folk obviously think very highly of him at that price. Hoffman is ranked 10th on Tour in SG: Approach, 22nd in in Tee-to-Green, 45th in Putting and 18th in birdie average.
Cam Davis - $6,900 (+15000)
Much as we like Cameron Champ for his ability to attack the par-5s this week, we like a fellow long-hitting Cameron. Davis was a respectable T31 last week at Liberty National. He hasn't missed a cut since his breakthrough win at the Rocket Mortgage. He leads the tour in eagles and is 21st in birdie average.
Aaron Wise - $6,300 (+14000)
Everyone's making the cut – let's go for it, right? Wise checks off every box but one, and that's putting. If he could only be a mediocre putter he'd be a great player instead of just good. He's top-50 on Tour in every other SG category, ninth in greens in regulation and 28th in birdie average (no easy task when putting so poorly). Wise was working with a new putter on the practice green last week at Liberty National and he tied for 21st. He ranked only 57th in putting, but that was largely because of one horrible round in which he lost more than three strokes.