Last week was an interesting opening leg of the FedEx Cup Playoff race at the Northern Trust. An intense debate over slow play emerged Friday afternoon as Bryson DeChambeau’s playing partners were visibly frustrated with how long it was taking him to play shots. That is a whole other article in itself but made for some fun social media content as players and fans went back and forth on the subject.
As Saturday ended, Patrick Reed emerged atop the leaderboard. In the final round, Reed and Jon Rahm traded stumbles as their names see-sawed on the top of the leaderboard. Eventually, Reed righted the ship and took home the trophy. Not only was that a huge win for him but it also vaulted him to number two in the FedEx Cup race.
This week is the second stage of the Playoffs with the BMW Championship at Medinah Country Club. Only 70 golfers made the cut from last week to this, and just the top thirty will make it to the final tournament of the 2019 season next week. Some key course aspects per @SmartGolfBets; long, undulating, woodlands, and trees demand accuracy. Long and straight is the name of the game at Medinah. Golfers that can’t do both will have a tough week ahead of them.
As I will mention each week, there are a couple of different ways to look at who might contend at a tournament in any given week. The most popular are current form (recent strong finishes in tournaments), statistics (generally a combination of important Strokes Gained data), and course history (play well at a particular course). Truly, some combination of these three would be the best way to determine contenders. In the end, however, we never truly know, we are just trying to make educated guesses.
I want to give a few golfers from each of these main categories that could contend at this year’s BMW Championship. First off, we will look at ten golfers that have current form. This will be based solely on their recent performance in the last six tournaments on the tour schedule (although they could show up in other categories as well).
Patrick Reed is as hot as they come with current form. It is very difficult to win back to back tournaments. I would expect another strong performance from Reed so he can keep himself in the driver’s seat for the big money next week. It feels like a Webb Simpson win is inevitable the way he’s played of late. I expect his name atop the leaderboard on Sunday. Jason Kokrak is a very interesting player on this list. He has been sneakily playing good golf again. Kokrak started the season hot, fell back a little, and is now back in form. He will be on my shortlist this week.
Next is a list of 10 players with strong statistical data. These players come from a ranking list which is determined by a weighted Strokes Gained stats. Those stats include SG: Ball-striking, SG: Approach, SG: Tee to Green, Birdies or Better (BoB), Bogey Avoidance, and Greens in Regulation (GIR). There are a few other ancillary stats thrown in and they are weighted from a couple of different timeframes as well. Rankings are looked at and weighted over the player’s last 12 rounds and last 50 rounds. I use Fantasy National to help easily choose stats that are relevant and rank players.
I love seeing Justin Thomas (JT) on the top of this list. Any time I have a reason to put money on my favorite golfer I am all about it. JT fought off an injury most of the season and finally seems to be himself. Thomas’ name also shows up on several of these lists. Byeong Hun An is another name on this list that I will be focused on. He is playing his best golf over his last twelve rounds and needs a huge finish if he wants a chance to make the top 30 (currently An sits 61st in FedEx Cup rankings).
Lastly, here are 10 golfers with a strong history at the BMW Championship. Keep in mind that this tournament rotates sites so this list is not course history but tournament history. It could be a good take away to realize this tournament has been part of the playoff rotation for years so the golfers that do well here understand the situation and handle the added pressure.
For being a recent world number one golfer, Justin Rose has been overlooked for most of this year. He has been playing well of late and knows how to play in this playoff format. There is nothing more terrifying than putting money on Paul Casey to win a golf tournament. He did come through earlier this year with a big win so maybe it’s time to put some trust in him again. Casey was second in the stat ranks as well.
The playoff format gives us another interesting thing to consider and that is those golfers on the bubble to make it to next week’s event. Only 30 golfers will move on and sometimes that is motivation enough for those that are close. I really like the three golfers that are just in; Louis Oosthuizen (28th), Harold Varner III (29th), and Andrew Putnam (30th). All three are playing fantastic golf at just the right time. I could see them all moving up the rankings this week. Golfers I like that are on the outside looking in are; Jason Kokrak (32nd), JT Poston (36th), Tiger Woods (38th), and Lucas Glover (41st). These guys are playing well enough that a good week would get them inside the cutline. Once you start getting to the 50’s it might just be too much to overcome. That being said, there are two golfers I believe could make a run for it; Adam Hadwin (51st) and Si Woo Kim (53rd).
As I will say each week, there are certainly many other golfers to consider for contention in this tournament. This gives you a quick glance at some guys that could be in contention come Sunday based on particular information. Once again, the best method to narrow things down would be to take a combination of factors into consideration.
Let’s have a great week!