The penultimate test in The FedEx Cup Playoffs gets underway this week at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Indiana. The top-30 players in the standings to emerge will punch their ticket to season-finale Tour Championship.
BMW Championship Preview
Go BIG or go home. Yes, it is week three of four in The FedEx Cup Playoffs and we are down to the top 70-players in the rankings, with just the top-30 moving onto the season finale, The Tour Championship, beginning September 22nd at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Georgia. Please note, however, that only 69-players will tee it up this week due to Henrik Stenson pulling out with that knee that has been bothering him lately. Stenson, the 2013 FedEx Cup Champion, currently ranks 24th in the standings.
So while "go home" is a very real possibility with the field being trimmed from 70 to 30, players will need to "go BIG" this week to in order to extend their season. Pete Dye's Crooked Stick is the venue for this week's BMW Championship, host to the same event in 2012 and also to The PGA Championship in 1991. In both cases, we saw the bombers prevail. John Daly, burst onto the golf scene, famously winning The PGA back in 1991 with his massive length off of the tee. It was last week's Deutsche Bank winner, Rory McIlroy, who did the same at Crooked Stick in 2012, winning the last BMW. In fact, six of the top seven finishers in 2012, ranked in the top fifteen for the week in Driving Distance.
The fairways are pretty generous at Crooked Stick, similar to the Pete Dye design we saw for last year's PGA Championship, Whistling Straights. It was here that Jason Day bombed the ball off of the tee, hit greens in regulation, and put masterfully - going on to win. I believe it will be a similar combination that proves to be successful this week in Round Three of The FedEx Cup Playoffs. Below we will analyze the best picks and their odds to win the championship.
Rory McIlroy (5-1) Rory's first win on The PGA Tour in over a year came at the perfect time, vaulting him into 4th in the FedEx rankings, and onto a course at which he won in 2012. McIlroy also won at Pete Dye's Kiawah Island Ocean Course at The PGA Championship in 2012. If he can putt, he ought to be near the top of the leaderboard all week.
Jason Day (7-1) The Australian has not been his usual self in the playoffs so far despite solid finishes the last two weeks. His waywardness off of the tee has been the Achilles Heel. If he can improve upon that this week, he might take home the trophy at a Pete Dye course once again.
Dustin Johnson (8-1) The number two player in the world has been flying a bit under the radar for the first two rounds of the playoffs, finishing 18th and 8th last week at TPC Boston. Johnson finished 6th here at Crooked Stick in 2012 at The BMW. A Top-10 finish or better seems very likely this week.
Jordan Spieth (15-1) While Spieth does not have the length of Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, he still can get it out there, ranking 55th on Tour in Driving Distance. We know about his short game and he finished 2nd to Day at Whistling Straights last August. He has finished 21st and 10th the last two weeks.
Adam Scott (15-1) After being red hot early this PGA Tour season, Scott has found the zone again, finishing 4th the last two weeks in a row. Off of the tee, he is as good as anybody in the world. Once again, it will come down to his putter.
Justin Rose (25-1) The Gold Medalist in Rio slipped last week at The Deutsche Bank, finishing 57th and shooting an 8-over par 79 on Sunday. Maybe some fatigue is finally kicking in as he has been trending downward since The Olympics. Rose finished 16th here at Crooked Stick in 2012 and 4th at Whistling Straights in 2015.
The Long Shots
Louis Oosthuizen (45-1) Louis was my pick here in this column to win The Barclays and he continues to knock on the door with an 8th place finish last week at The Deutsche Bank. He finished 16th here at Crooked Stick in 2012.
Gary Woodland (50-1) Although without a win yet this season, Gary Woodland has had one of the best years on Tour, ranking 21st in The FedEx Cup Standings and earning over 2-millon dollars in the process. He ranks 9th in Driving Distance and 13th in Strokes Gained Tee To Green. Like many, putting may determine his fate this week.
Brooks Koepka (60-1) Koepka has not been sharp through the first two weeks of The FedEx Cup Playoffs, finishing 57th and 70th but his game is built for a course like this as he is long off of the tee and is a very good putter. He finished 5th at Whistling Straights at The PGA in 2015.
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Rory McIlroy (5-1) I am going with the chalk here as we have seen Rory pull off the FedEx Double-Dip before and that is winning both The Deutsche Bank and The BMW in succession as he did in 2012. When Rory wins, he tends to stay hot and he is also starting to show signs of doing very well at a few particular courses. The Wells Fargo, Pete Dye Courses, The Deutsche Bank, where he has more than one win on each. He is number one on Tour in Birdie Percentage, Par 5 Scoring, and Strokes Gained Tee To Green. He is 10th in Driving Distance. There is rain in the forecast this week at Crooked Stick and I also like a Northern Irishman as a "mudder." Keep the putter going and Rory McIlroy gets it done.