This article is part of our FanDuel PGA series.
Course: Caves Valley Golf Club (7, 542 yards, par 72)
Winner: $1,710,000 and 2,000 FedExCup points
The FedExCup Playoffs moves to the BMW Championship on a short week after the Northern Trust had to be pushed to a Monday finish due to heavy rain. The field was cut from 125 to 70 for the second playoff event and then the top-30 in points after this week will move on to the TOUR Championship at East Lake. There will be no 36-hole cut for any of the final two playoff events.
The BMW Championship is one of the oldest events on the PGA Tour schedule. For years it was known as the Western Open and dates back to the first playing in 1899. It has traditionally been held in the state of Illinois. When the FedExCup playoffs were introduced in 2007, the event was renamed to the BMW Championship and was the penultimate event of the season. Cog Hill hosted four of the first five editions of the BMW Championship, using the same course that was played for the Western Open starting back in 1991. This will mark the fourth straight season that a new golf course has been used to host the BMW Championship. Caves Valley Golf Club is located in Owings Mills, Maryland and hosted the 2007 Palmer Cup that featured several future PGA Tour stars. The U.S. ultimately won 18-6 over Europe. Caves Valley most recently hosted the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship back in 2017.
The BMW Championship has become an event where you have to be extremely aggressive to have a chance. Prior to the 2020 event, five straight champions had posted a four round total of at least 20-under-par. We took a big swing in the opposite direction for the 2020 playing of the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club that played a lot more like a U.S. Open. The fairways and greens were extremely firm with very thick rough around the greens. Dustin Johnson was able to roll in a long breaking putt that forced a playoff with Jon Rahm. Giving him a taste of his own medicine, it was Rahm who rolled in a similar lengthy putt on 18 in the playoff to beat Johnson and deny him of a second straight victory.
Things should play much easier in the 2021 edition of the BMW Championship. The wind will be a non-factor this week and recent rain in the area should keep the course soft and allow players to attack. Temperatures will max out in the mid-90's on Thursday and we may get a shower or two over the weekend. Thankfully, the rainfall will be nothing of the likes we saw at the Northern Trust, which dumped over nine inches of water on the golf course.
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)
2010 – Dustin Johnson (Cog Hill)
Key Stats to Victory
- SG: Approach
- GIR Percentage
- SG: Off-the-Tee
- Par-5 Scoring
Caves Valley features much narrower fairways than players saw last week at Liberty National. Having said that, the penalty for missing those fairways is much more generous. The fairways bunkers at Caves Valley are nowhere near as deep, and should still allow players to advance the ball close to the green. Last week we say many players who found the fairway bunkers just have to wedge out down the fairway. Length will also be a massive advantage at Caves Valley. The four par-5's are all close to 600 yards, so some of the longer players will be able to reach comfortably in two shots. There are also potentially a couple drivable par-4's for some of the longer players. The greens at Caves Valley are on the smaller end and a number of them are fairly shallow as well. Being able to stop the ball quick and control distances will be essential. The par-3's are all extremely challenging and we put even more pressure on even the best iron players. The greens are bentgrass and should be around 12.5 feet on the Stimpmeter this week. With the majority of the field having never seen this course before, and on a short week, ball-striking should remain king.
FanDuel Value Picks
Jon Rahm ($12,000)
While it was surprising that Rahm was not able to cash in with a win last week, he is still head and shoulders the favorite to repeat at the BMW Championship. Rahm's game fits everywhere, but Caves Valley should have him salivating given the importance on hitting it long and straight. Rahm leads the PGA Tour in Total Driving, SG: Tee-to-Green, SG: Total, and scoring average. He is also second in SG: Off-the-Tee, sixth in SG: Approach, and second in GIR percentage. The 26-year-old has a Tour-leading 13 top-10s in just 20 starts.
Tony Finau ($11,000)
Sometimes after a player breaks through for a win the next couple starts are not that impressive, however, we have seen a number of times in the past that momentum carries very easily through the FedExCup playoffs. Finau proved to himself he can beat the best player in the world and that should free him up on a course that sets up perfectly for him. Finau led the field in SG: Tee-to-green at Liberty National and he ranks top-30 on the season in SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Approach, and SG: Around-the-green. He also seems like a much more confident putter.
Patrick Cantlay ($10,700)
Cantlay just missed a top-10 last week at Liberty National despite posting four rounds in the 60s. He led the field in scrambling, which is also a stat that he leads the PGA Tour in this season. Cantlay ranks fourth in SG: Total with his extremely-consistent play throughout the bag. Of all the elite ball strikers on Tour, he probably has the best short game. The former UCLA standout has posted six top-25s in his last seven starts.
Paul Casey ($10,100)
Casey is at a juicy price following a bit of an off week at the Northern Trust. His game lines up perfect for Caves Valley, as he ranks second in SG: Approach, seventh in SG: Tee-to-Green, 12th in total driving, and 11th in proximity to the hole. Prior to that T64 last week, Casey had put up five top-seven finishes in his previous seven starts.
Longer Shots with Value
Corey Conners ($9,600)
Conners posted a T8 in the playoff opener that included a nine-under 62. His elite ball-striking will come into play even more at Caves Valley. The Canadian ranks top-11 this season in SG: Off-the-Tee, SG: Approach, SG: Tee-to-Green, driving accuracy, and GIR percentage. Conners has a whopping 17 top-25s this season.
Shane Lowry ($9,500)
Lowry had another strong showing last week at the Northern Trust. It was his 13th straight made cut and ninth top-25 in that stretch. The Irishman finished third in SG: Approach and sixth in SG: Tee-to-Green at Liberty National. He ranks top-20 on the season in both of those stats, to go along with an elite short game.
Keegan Bradley ($8,700)
Bradley is again putting together an extremely underrated ball-striking season. He ranks 25th in SG: Off-the-Tee, fifth in SG: Approach, fifth in SG: Tee-to-Green, fourth in total driving, and 15th in GIR percentage. The putter is the only thing that ever holds him back, but last week he gained nearly strokes for the week with the flats tick en route to a T11. Unfamiliar greens should play to his benefit at Caves Valley.
Charley Hoffman ($8,500)
Hoffman is as fresh as anyone in the field this week for the BMW Championship. He has only made two starts over the last two months. Prior to that he had made the cut in 14 straight starts, a stretch which included a total of nine top-20 finishes. Hoffman is still a great ball-striker at age 44, ranking 27th in SG: Off-the-Tee, 10th in SG: Approach, 22nd in SG: Tee-to-Green, and 23rd in proximity to the hole.
Strategy Tips This Week
Based on a Standard $60K Salary Cap
It's another very deep field from top to bottom, giving DFS players plenty of options on how they want to approach their rosters. With the short week and this being such an unfamiliar course, ball-striking and recent form should rule supreme. Many of the players have talked about how soft the course is playing and that the bigger hitters should have an advantage. Sam Burns ($9,300) and Jason Kokrak ($9,000) were a couple other players that fit that mold and just missed my list in that sweet spot of where most of the value lies this week. If you want to take a very aggressive approach this week, Aaron Wise ($7,300) and Keith Mitchell ($7,300) are a couple players near the bottom of the salary board that fit the profile who I also like.