BMW Championship – Lake Forest, IL
Conway Farms Golf Club (7,208 yards, par 71)
$1,575,000 and 2000 FedEx Cup points to the winner
After a much-needed breather in the schedule, just 70 players remain in the FedEx Cup race with two events to go. As the penultimate leg, this week’s BMW Championship will prove critical for those seeking the irresistible $10M grand prize. As a rotational host the past few seasons, Conway Farms will hold its third BMW Championship on the north side of Chicago this week. Following this event, the most significant cut down from 70 to the final 30 takes place. Jordan Spieth, Justin Thomas, and Dustin Johnson are locks for top-5 at East Lake meaning they control their own destiny next week, but all others are jockeying for this same opportunity, or at worst, a spot in the TOUR Championship field. In the last few years, between two and four players have earned a place in the TOUR Championship field after starting the BMW Championship from outside the top 30. Knowing this, look for those on the bubble to take some risks and incite drama on a track that has yielded plenty of birdies and excitement, most notably on the drivable par-4 15th and par-5 18th finishing hole.
Prior Decade Champions
2016 – Dustin Johnson
2015 – Jason Day (Conway Farms)
2014 – Billy Horschel
2013 – Zach Johnson (Conway Farms)
2012 – Rory McIlroy
2011 – Justin Rose
2010 – Dustin Johnson
2009 – Tiger Woods
2008 – Camilo Villegas
2007 – Tiger Woods
Key Stats to Winning at Conway Farms
· Strokes Gained: Total
· Strokes Gained: Putting
· Average Finish in first two playoff events
The two previous champs at Conway Farms are Zach Johnson (2013) and Jason Day (2015), who each putted the lights out to victory at average length Conway Farms. With just three par-5s on the card that are all 575 yards and longer, long hitters have a muted advantage on most holes. Tough stretches of holes on both nines force players to have good short games to make par and keep momentum. In this week’s limited field, everyone is guaranteed four rounds, so the hottest and most talented players rise to the top by the 72nd hole, as seen in past BMW Championships and similarly formatted World Golf.Championships. That said, focus your research on those inside the FedEx Cup top 30 who have a realistic chance of capturing the season-long crown and have shown form in the first two legs of the playoffs.
FanDuel Value Picks
Jordan Spieth, $10,200 – Spieth posted runner-ups in the first two legs of the FedEx Cup playoffs and there’s little to stop his momentum this week. He’s managed to put up finishes of T13 and T16 at Conway Farms in the past; the only potential cause for hesitation is that he knows a win next week is far more important than this week given his lock inside the top-5.
Dustin Johnson, $10,100 – Easily pacing the FedEx Cup playoffs in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green, Johnson is a powerhouse who will defend his BMW title from last year at Crooked Stick. Going back two years he managed to post a T7 at Conway Farms so his combination of form and history are very similar to Spieth.
Justin Thomas, $9,700 – Thomas made the Dell Technologies Championship his fifth victory of the year, and after a week of rest heads to Conway where he finished T13 two years ago. If the season ended today, he’d likely be Player of the Year.
Jon Rahm, $9,200 – Rahm started the FedEx Cup playoffs with a pair of top-5 finishes, and the way he’s putting he will likely add another good finish this week. Peaking at the right time, Rahm has an inside track to controlling his own destiny next week if he can keep the momentum going.
Longer Shots Worth a Risk
Justin Rose, $7,700 – Rose has clearly slipped under the radar despite posting top-10 finishes to kick off the playoffs. Positioned in 17th heading into this week, Rose is in good form with the possibility to jump up a few slots heading into East Lake where he has been dominant. Don’t be surprised to see the Englishman finish the season strong.
Marc Leishman, $7,100 – Leishman was alone in third at the Dell Technologies Championship and has shown strong play the entire season highlighted by a win at Bay Hill. The Aussie has little history at Conway Farms (T39 in 2013) but that is precisely what makes him a good value this week.
Zach Johnson, $6,400 –The underrated ball striker will bring his world class putting and wedge game back to Chicago after notching two prestigious victories since his 2013 BMW Championship triumph.
Kevin Na, $6,100 – Na tied for 10th in his only visit to Conway Farms two years ago and enters on the heels of two top-6 finishes his last three starts, including a T6 at TPC Boston. Like Zach Johnson, Na has an elite short game that can take him a long way this week.
Strategy Tips for this week (based on 60k standard salary cap)
All 70 players get four rounds this week, so don’t be afraid of a “studs and duds” approach but know that your competition is probably doing the same. A more balanced approach of eight players ranked inside the top 30 in the FedEx Cup rankings (without any from the top 5) is likely the contrarian move that could pay dividends in big tourneys, but in smaller contests make sure to get at least two from the group of DJ, Spieth, Thomas, Fowler, and Rahm.