This article is part of our Betting on Golf series.
BMW Championship Betting Preview
Only two weeks remain in the 2020-21 season, and the second playoff event is upon us after a Monday finish in the postseason opener saw Tony Finau take home the trophy in an exciting playoff with Cameron Smith.
The 69 golfers that remain – Patrick Reed is the only qualified player not in this week's field – won't have to travel far, with the no-cut BMW Championship being held just outside of Baltimore. This tournament is traditionally played in the Midwest, but the Tour switched things up this year, and Caves Valley Golf Club will host a PGA Tour event for the first time. Last year, the top two favorites faced off in a playoff, with Jon Rahm, at 10-1 odds, draining a dramatic birdie putt on the first extra hole to defeat Dustin Johnson for his fifth PGA Tour title.
Caves Valley will play much differently than it did when it hosted the 2017 SENIOR PLAYERS Championship, as it was stretched out to around 7,500-yards and will play as a par-72. This won't be a course that anyone in the field has much experience at, and players will have one less day to prepare with the late finish to The Northern Trust. Over half of the par-4s will play over 460 yards and the greens are relatively small, especially given the length of the course. While new courses always provide an extra challenge for handicappers, we'll want to hone in on value while also targeting longer hitters that excel with longer approaches.
All odds via DraftKings Sportsbook as of 1:00 PM ET Wednesday.
Finding Their Form
The following five golfers, on a per-round basis, gained the most strokes off the tee and on approach over their last five tournaments:
Ball striking will be a key factor this week, and Rahm tops this list as an overwhelming favorite at 11-2 odds, miles ahead of second betting choice Xander Schauffele, who checks in at 16-1. Although he's coming off a disappointing Monday finish after being in prime position to win The Northern Trust, Rahm led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach but was held back by his short game when he needed it the most. As good as he's been, this is a hefty price to pay for someone with just one win since his win in this same tournament last year. Much further down the betting board is Matsuyama, who at 35-1 odds doesn't seem to be getting the respect he deserves despite nearly winning in consecutive appearances earlier this month. Although he only finished T43 last week, Matsuyama ranked seventh in birdies made, and he should be in the hunt if he can do a better job of staying out of harm's way.
Collin Morikawa (18-1)
I think this is a good week to target the top of the betting board, and Morikawa jumps out at this number. His missed cut last week could play into his favor, as he had a few more days to check out Caves Valley than most of the other players in this week's field. His approach numbers this season are unbelievable – he's gaining 1.34 shots per round, making him the only player to gain more than a stroke per round in that category.
Patrick Cantlay (25-1)
I'm baffled by this price. It's hard to find more than a few players that have played better golf than Cantlay over the last year, yet he's somehow only the eighth choice on the board. He simply doesn't have a weakness in his game, which will come in handy on a track that tests all aspects. Cantlay ranks third in SG: Tee-to-Green and fourth in SG: Total this season, and he notched six top-25 finishes – including a win – over his last seven starts.
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Scottie Scheffler (30-1)
Scheffler is the best player on Tour that's still searching for his first victory, and that could end as soon as this week. His combination of length and accuracy off the tee will come in handy in Maryland, and he's gaining strokes on the field in all four primary categories. He's a bit under the radar despite a solid summer that has included seven straight made cuts and three top-10s.
Keegan Bradley (5-1)
It makes sense to see Bradley find some form in the northeast given his ties to the area, and he narrowly missing out on a top-10 in Jersey City after posting four rounds in the 60s. His results typically come down to how he plays on the greens – he's fifth in SG: Tee-to-Green this season but a lowly 186th in putting.
Sergio Garcia (6-1)
Garcia's stats indicate he's played better golf than his results would indicate, as he sits 13th in SG: Tee-to-Green and – despite being 41 years old – top-20 in driving distance. That should be a good recipe for success this week. In Garcia's last eight starts, he recorded seven top-30 finishes but zero top-10s. This is a good spot for him to buck that trend.
Max Homa (9-1)
Homa comes into the BMW Championship squarely on the Tour Championship bubble, as he sits 30th in the FedExCup Standings. With five top-10s in 2021 alone, it's difficult to pass up these odds even if he's not in his best form. He's lost strokes on the greens in each of his last four tournaments, so if he can flip the script in that regard, he should find himself in contention.
Burns and Henley have pretty opposite games, with Burns relying on his length and Henley on his positional game, and the course fit should suit Burns better. Burns finished better than Henley in each of the last four tournaments they've played in together, so I'm willing to lay the extra juice on Burns.
You'd be hard-pressed to find a hotter golfer than English, who picked up a win at the Travelers Championship and has had a legitimate chance to win four of his last six tournaments. Plus, his last missed cut came 10 starts ago. Ancer didn't show much last week coming off his first win, failing to rank top-40 in even one Strokes Gained category.
End of Round 1 Leader
Bryson DeChambeau (35-1)
DeChambeau has had some tough finishes lately, but he has been able to get off to quality starts. He should come in with some confidence after a respectable finish at The Northern Trust, and we know he can make birdies in bunches. Look for his length off the tee to give him eagle opportunities on the par-5s and give him a chance to claim the early lead.