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Weekly Preview: BMW Championship Preview

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.

After a much needed week off, the PGA Tour returns this week at the BMW Championship. The PGA Tour stepped up and took one for the team, if you will, to help players. Whether the true motivation was to actually let tired players rest or to simply avoid the opening week of the NFL season, we'll never know, but the bottom line is players don't like golfing for two months straight. So the PGA Tour stepped in to give them a break. While welcomed by players, but what about fans? Does the PGA Tour lose any momentum gained during the first two weeks of the FedEx Cup Playoffs? I think the PGA Tour figured out a while back that it's not going to compete with the NFL or college football during fall, so why worry about it? During spring and summer, the PGA Tour might grab some fringe viewers depending on who's playing, but the core fans will be there, and while the fringe fans are likely to disappear during the fall, the core fans will be there. So to answer the question about momentum, I, along with all core fans, say, "week off, what week off?"

This week:
BMW Championship

Last Year:
Rory McIlroy shot a final-round 67 on his way to a two-stroke victory over Phil Mickelson and Lee Westwood.

Players to Consider:

1. Henrik Stenson

Brand new venue this year for the BMW, so throw event history out the window. The only thing to go on is recent form, and no one is hotter than Stenson. Stenson finally broke through for his first win on the PGA Tour two weeks ago at the Deutsche Bank, and there's no reason to think he slows down.

2. Adam Scott

Scott struggled his last time out, but with only two events left this season it's time to stake a claim as the best in the world. Scott is already in position to win the FedEx Cup with a win next week, but a victory this week would greatly improve his odds of hoisting the Cup after the Tour Championship.

3. Tiger Woods

Something tells me this week off will do Tiger wonders. When we last saw Tiger, he was really fighting it on the weekend, and there's nothing like a week off to get your game back in order. Additionally, his back issues may have subsided the last 10 days.

4. Phil Mickelson

Mickehlson needs a strong finish this week to get into that all-important top-5 entering the Tour Championship next week. I wondered if Mickelson would have enough in the tank to close out this season, but he proved he's ready for the final four weeks with a strong start to the FedEx Cup Playoffs.

5. Graham DeLaet

DeLaet is perhaps the only golfer who didn't want to take a week off. When we last saw DeLaet he was tearing it up. Possibly the biggest surprise of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, DeLaet will look to continue his roll this week at the BMW Championship.

Players to Avoid:

1. Angel Cabrera

It's no secret that Cabrera saves his best play for majors, and while the FedEx Cup is a big deal, it's not the same as a major. Cabrera is coming off a T76 last time out and a MC prior to that. Cabrera's season will come to a close this week at the BMW.

2. Sang-Moon Bae

Bae has pretty much coasted since his win at the Byron Nelson Championship earlier this year. His play over the last two months has been awful, and there's no reason to think that changes this week.

3. Ken Duke

Duke has only one top-50 since his win at the Travelers Championship in June. He's missed the cut in his first two FedEx Cup events this year, and though there's no cut this week, Duke is likely to finish near the bottom again.

4. Scott Stallings

Stallings had a great run earlier this season, which is why he's even in the field this week, but his play lately has been poor. Stallings missed the cut in four of his last six events.

5. Luke Donald

Much will be made this week of Donald playing in the area where he went to college, and while that could prove a boost to his game, the fact is, he just hasn't played well lately.


Group A

1. Rory McIlroy
2. Phil Mickelson

Mickelson seems like an easy choice this week, but the second spot proved difficult. I have just one start left with Tiger, and it comes down to this week or next. Considering his track record at the Tour Championship, I'll save him for next week. As for McIlroy, call it a hunch, but I have a feeling he'll play well this week.

Group B

1. Steve Stricker
2. Jim Furyk
3. Matt Kuchar
4. Graham DeLaet

Like most of you, I'm caught up in the numbers game this week. In my case, I have only one start left with Rose and Bradley, so I had to leave them off the roster this week. That works out fine this week because there are plenty of good options elsewhere. Furyk is still rolling, so he gets another look. DeLaet is one of the hottest players going and Stricker is coming off a good showing the last time out.

Group C

1. Henrik Stenson
2. Jordan Spieth

No Adam Scott for me this week as I burnt his last start at the Deutsche Bank. Just like in Group B, though, there are plenty of solid options. Stenson should be on just about every squad this week, and Spieth just continues to play well. Both players should be in the field next week as well, so if you have issues with starts, you may want to consider that.

Starters Round One

1. Phil Mickelson
2. Steve Stricker
3. Jim Furyk
4. Henrik Stenson

The starters in Groups A and C were pretty clear cut this week. Mickelson looks like a better pick than McIlroy, so he'll get the nod out of the gate. Stenson might be the top pick this week and as such, he'll get the Thursday start in Group C. Group B proved a little more difficult as all four players seem to be on a level playing field. I went with Furyk, who might be a little ticked about being left off the President's Cup squad, and Stricker, who is used to playing well off extended breaks.

Round Two and Going Forward:

Only time will tell if my hunch on McIlroy proves accurate this week, but in the meantime, I'll be OK with Mickelson in the starting lineup. If Rory starts well, though, I'll probably slip him into the starting lineup Friday. If McIlroy doesn't show up, then it's four rounds of Mickelson, and I'm OK with that. Group B will be up in the air after Thursday. I'll reevaluate the entire roster after round one and everyone will start on level ground. My guess is that Furyk and Stricker will play well Thursday, which means I'll have a hard time pulling them Friday, but that might be up to DeLaet and Kuchar, who could force my hand. Stenson is the only player locked into the starting lineup, and it will take a poor start to dislodge him.