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BMW Championship Preview: The FedEx Cup Field Narrows

Greg Vara

Vara is the lead golf writer at RotoWire. He was named the 2013 FSWA Golf Writer of the Year. In addition to producing the weekly preview and the bulk of the draft kit content, Vara participates in Yahoo!'s "Experts Picks" where he routinely dominates. He also picks college football games against the spread in his "College Capper" article.

Update: This preview corrects an earlier version that misidentified the event site. The BMW Championship is played at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Ind., this year.

Now this is what the folks at the PGA TOUR had in mind when they dreamed up the FedEx Cup playoffs some six years ago. Unfortunately, until the last two weeks, there hasn't been this amount of excitement around the FedEx Cup, but that's all about to change in the coming weeks. The logical question then is why? Once again, unfortunately for the PGA TOUR, or maybe fortunately depending on your point of view, it all revolves around Tiger. What separates this year's playoffs, though, is if Tiger is no longer the hunted, he's the hunter and the man he's now chasing is probably the best player on the planet. Of course, it also helps when there's plenty of Sunday drama as there was the first two weeks of the FedEx Cup playoffs. Last week it actually came down to the final few strokes, Rory McIlroy just barely missing a chance to grab the win outright, then Louis Oosthuizen missing his own birdie try to force a playoff. Oh, and then there was Tiger Woods lurking the entire week. He never took the lead and didn't really threaten the leader Sunday, but it sure helps to have his name near the top of the leaderboard all day. All of this adds up to what the PGA TOUR would call the perfect storm, for now. But there's one piece to this puzzle that's not quite in place yet. Woods needs to be in the top-10 entering the Tour Championship in two weeks, otherwise he'll have no shot at winning the Cup.

This week:
BMW Championship

Last Year:
Justin Rose shot a final-round 71 on his way to a two-stroke victory over John Senden.

Players to Consider:

1. Rory McIlroy

McIlroy is quite simply the best player on the planet now, and there's really no arguing that. It doesn't matter if he's playing a venue for the first time, he simply shows up and gets to work. He'll do the same this week.

2. Sergio Garcia

Remember this guy? Well, after a couple great outings, Garcia decided to take a week off. If he picks up where he left off two weeks ago, he should be fine, though. Actually, he'll be more than fine this week. He should be a factor all week.

3. Dustin Johnson

It looks like Johnson saved his best golf for the end of the season and the only question now is - how far will he take this final run? He's certainly capable of taking down the FedEx Cup, but he hasn't closed well enough recently. That could change this week.

4. Tim Clark

Clark has really come on the last couple months, and although he missed the cut last week at the Deutsche Bank, that appears to be just a hiccup. At least, that's how it appears to me. Clark should be in the mix again this week.

5. Tiger Woods

Four of the last five years the BWM has played at Cog Hill. This year, though, Crooked Stick Golf Club plays host to the event. That makes Woods' major advantage non-existent - he's captured the BWM twice at Cog Hill. What does exist, however, is the prime state of his game, which is solid.

Players to Avoid:

1. Charley Hoffman

Talk about stumbling to the finish. Much of the attention Sunday was on the top-70 line, and Hoffman held the key to not only his fortune but others' as well. With a spot in the BMW on the line, Hoffman did nearly everything he could to give it away. In the end he saved par on the par-5 18th to remain in the top 70.

2. Ben Curtis

It's only thanks to a strong season that Curtis is still alive in the FedEx Cup Playoffs, but after this week, he's likely to be done for the year, or at least the playoffs. Curtis has missed the cut the last two weeks and shouldn't be a factor this week.

3. Graham DeLeat

Only a handful of names in the field this week look like they don't belong. Unfortunately, DeLeat is one of them. No offense to DeLeat, he earned his spot, but he's just a little bit out of his league this week as only the top-70 are in play.

4. Graeme McDowell

Another week, another ho-hum effort. McDowell made the cut but struggled all week, never breaking 70. This should be the end of the road for McDowell as another poor performance will leave him well outside the top 30.

5. Rickie Fowler

Fowler is certainly capable of delivering an payback performance for the Ryder Cup slight earlier this week, but his game just doesn't look right coming into this week.


This week:
BMW Championship

Group A

1. Sergio Garcia
2. Webb Simpson

I originally had Garcia and Zach Johnson in Group A, but I thought better of the Johnson pick. I assumed he'd rebound at some point, but there's simply too much talent in Group A to take a big chance this week. Simpson has played his best this season when people aren't expecting it, just like this week.

Group B

1. Rory McIlroy
2. Tiger Woods
3. Dustin Johnson
4. Tim Clark

As much as I'd like to have Tiger available next week, I have only one start left, and I'm going to use it this week with the assumption that last week was a sign of things to come. McIlroy is feeling it, and there's just no reason to leave him off your team this week. DJ is also rolling, and Clark is primed for another good week.

Group C

1. Louis Oosthuizen
2. John Senden

Another tricky spot here as I'm down to one start with Jason Dufner. And considering this is Group C, I need to first make sure I have players to choose next week, which means I'll pass on Dufner this week. I still have a couple solid picks, though, with Oosthuizen, who nearly won last week, and Senden, who finished runner-up here last year and is coming off a good showing at the Deutsche Bank last week.

Starters Round One

1. Sergio Garcia
2. Tiger Woods
3. Dustin Johnson
4. John Senden

Tough call in Group A this week, but Garcia gets the nod on his recent play. It's my last start with Tiger this week, so I might as well use him right out of the gate and likely all four rounds. The second spot was fairly difficult, though it wouldn't seem so at first glance. McIlroy is the hottest thing going, but DJ is at the top of his game as well. That said, I have to stick with Rory early on. Oosthuizen gets the nod from Group C after his weekend performance at the Deutsche Bank.

Round Two and Going Forward:

It looks like a pretty straightforward week as Garcia and Woods are locked in to the starting line-up as long as they play fairly well. But Simpson could play his way into the line-up if he's in contention on the weekend. As for Group B, Tiger and Rory have strong holds on their starting spots, but that could change with a strong start from DJ. As for Clark, well, he'll have to be in contention Sunday to start this week. Group C is up for grabs after the first round. If Senden starts well, I'll have to consider a move Friday. If not, I'm fine with Oosthuizen all week.