The Confidence Factor: BMW Championship

My picks will be in their usual time frame tomorrow.

Aronimink looks to be in great shape!

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FedExCup Playoffs Event III: BMW Championship

Aronimink Golf Club

Newtown Square, PA


Aronimink Cheat Sheet

Yards (per official scorecard): 7,267
Par: 70 (35-35)
Greens: Bentgrass;
Stimpmeter: 12′ and up
Rough: Fescue, Bluegrass up to four inches
Bunkers/Water Hazards 176/2
Architects: Donald Ross (1926); Gil Hanse (2011-ongoing)
Purse: $9 million/$1.62 winner/2,000 FEC Points
Defending Champion (event): Marc Leishman
Fact of the Week: The last time this course was used in a TOUR setting was for the AT&T National in 2010 and 2011.
Fact of the Week II: No cut.



  • 70 players qualified but Daniel Berger has WD and will not be replaced.
  • Returning to competition are Francesco Molinari and Rickie Fowler.
  • The top 30 players after the conclusion of four rounds book their ticket to the 2019 Masters (if not already qualified) and The TOUR Championship in TWO WEEKS at East Lake Golf Club outside Atlanta.


2017-18 Winners

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

Event Winner
Safeway Open Brendan Steele
CIMB Classic Pat Perez
WGC-HSBC Champions Justin Rose
Sanderson Farms Ryan Armour*
Shriners Hospitals for Children Patrick Cantlay*
OHL Mayakoba Patton Kizzire*
The RSM Classic Austin Cook**
Sentry TOC Dustin Johnson
Sony Open Patton Kizzire (2)
CB Challenge Jon Rahm
Farmers Insurance Open Jason Day
WMPO Gary Woodland
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Ted Potter, Jr.
Genesis Open Bubba Watson
Honda Classic Justin Thomas
WGC-Mexico Championship Phil Mickelson
Valspar Championship Paul Casey
Arnold Palmer Invitational Rory McIlroy
WGC-Match Play Bubba Watson (2)
Corales Puntacana Resorts Brice Garnett*
Houston Open Ian Poulter
Masters Patrick Reed
RBC Heritage Satoshi Kodaira*
Valero Texas Open Andrew Landry*
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Billy Horschel & Scott Piercy
Wells Fargo Championship Jason Day (2)
THE PLAYERS Championship Webb Simpson
AT&T Byron Nelson Aaron Wise**
Fort Worth Invitational Justin Rose (2)
Memorial Bryson DeChambeau
FESJC Dustin Johnson (2)
U.S. Open Brooks Koepka
Travelers Championship Bubba Watson (3)
Quicken Loans National Francesco Molinari
A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier Kevin Na
John Deere Classic Michael Kim*
The Open Championship Francesco Molinari (2)
RBC Canadian Open Dustin Johnson (3)
Barracuda Championship Andrew Putnam*
WGC-Bridgestone Invitational Justin Thomas (3)
PGA Championship Brooks Koepka (2)
Wyndham Championship Brandt Snedeker
THE NORTHERN TRUST FEC I Bryson DeChambeau (2)
Dell Technologies FEC II Bryson DeChambeau (3)


The Confidence Factor is the weekly column I write for PGATOUR.COM and contains plenty of angles on the track and those who have aced this exam.

You need course form? Read the above.

You need keys to victory? Read the above.

You need course preview? Read the above.

You need a history lesson? Read the above.

Every week.

Every column.


Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record (last): 267 (-13); Nick Watney (DNQ), 2011
Course Record: 62; Nick Watney (Rd. 3), 2011
Recent Defending Champion(s): No player has defended a FedExCup Playoff event.
Multiple Winners (event or course): Tiger Woods (2007, 2009) and Dustin Johnson (2010, 2016) are the only multiple winners in the third round of the FedExCup Playoffs.
First TOUR Win (last): Camilo Villegas (2007).
Low Round 2017: N/A
Odd Fact: This is the fifth year in the last six that someone has won two events in the FedExCup Playoffs. Nobody has ever won three events.


Quick Thoughts

For the third week running it’s a Gil Hanse restoration so the players should be somewhat familiar and comfortable. The last Donald Ross design played on TOUR was Sedgefield BUT I’m not reading into that this week. This Ross classic didn’t hand out very many low scores as a regular TOUR event in 2010 and 2011 and I wouldn’t expect that to change this week.

As is the case with most Ross designs, above the hole is dead so find guys who can control their approaches. Most everyone is going to find the expanded fairways off the tee and will have chances to peg GIR. Those who keep it out of the 1 million bunkers and keep it below the hole will have the best chance.

Remember, the greens have also been expanded so the maps from 2010 and 2011 won’t be all that useful as new pin positions will be in use. Bogeys will be had this week so grinding out pars won’t be terrible. The best defense of this track right now is the unfamiliarity. That should be gone by noon on Friday but with weather hanging around, we’ll see if the rough, bunkers and wind have their say. Being an old-school course, I’d revert to Ridgewood when looking for a comparable track. The best clues just might come from those who had success there.

Recent Event Winners: Week before BMW

Year Player Finish Notes
2017 Marc Leishman Solo 3rd Co-54 hole leader; led at the turn on Sunday.
2016 Dustin Johnson T8 Last three rounds were 66-75-66.
2015 Jason Day T12 Won the first Playoff event.
2014 Billy Horschel T2 Played in the final group; had a chance to win on the last hole.
2013 Zach Johnson T27 Won in Chicago (home event basically); closed 67-66.
2012 Rory McIlroy WIN Came from four behind to win.
2011 Justin Rose T68 Loves Cog Hill.
2010 Dustin Johnson T57 Almost won the U.S. Open and PGA Championship plus two wins that year.
2009 Tiger Woods T11 Closed with 63.


Top-10 Check Cashers thru two events:

Bryson DeChambeau: WIN, WIN.

Tony Finau: 2nd, T4.

Cameron Smith: T3, 3rd.


Snuck in the Back Door:

C.T. Pan: Jumped from No. 72 to No. 33 after T4 and will have a real chance to advance to East Lake if he can hold it together.

Tyrrell Hatton: The man with the putter off the rack was in contention for most of the weekend last week before cooling off Sunday. He improved from No. 71 to No. 54 and will need a major payday to advance.

Abraham Ancer: I’m not sure what last weekend, especially Sunday, took out of him but I love him moving forward next season. His wonderful 65 in Round 3 gave him the 54-hole lead for the first time but his 73 in the final round saw him fall to No. 56 (up from No. 92).

Brice Garnett: His late-summer run included a payday at the PGA Championship plus T20 at Wyndham. The best result of the bunch was T12 was last week to jump from No. 81 to No. 63. I’d prefer him on a birdie-maker’s track.

Peter Uihlein: Returning to his roots in the northeast last week, Uihlein wasn’t bothered by TPC Boston in his maiden voyage. His 66-68 weekend claimed T12 money and pushed him to No. 64 from No. 81. He entered the FedExCup Playoffs on the back of three MC running. Nice turnaround!

Keith Mitchell: The chips were on the table after MC at TNT but Mitchell was up for the challenge as he played the final three rounds in 10-under to move from No. 78 to No. 66. He’ll need to add to his two previous podium finishes to be assured of one more start this season.



In order of preference for this week and this tournament; LTO= LAST TIME OUT; LW= Last week; LY= Last year this event. I’m tired of typing all that out!

Bryson DeChambeau (No. 1): This isn’t hard. He’s won easily the last two weeks with all of the pressure of trying to make the Ryder Cup team squarely on his yardage book. The contrarian will say he already knew he was on the team. I’m not sure which is more impressive! He’s 34-under his last eight rounds.

Justin Rose (No. 3): It’s not like he needs any advantage but he’ll have a slight one this week as he’s won on this ground and finished T15. Those eight rounds aren’t worthless and neither is his solo second from last week. His fond memories of playing classic courses in the Philadelphia area are numerous as he won his U.S. Open at Merion.

Dustin Johnson (No. 2): Even when he doesn’t have his best stuff he finds a way to grind into the top 10. If Aronimink plays difficult this week, he’ll be right in the fight. His numbers across the board are ridiculous as he’s moved into the win-or-bust category for gamers.

Tony Finau (No. 4): He gets the benefit of the doubt here as he’s also racking up top-10 paychecks for fun and at the biggest events. I’m not sure why they just didn’t name him to the Ryder Cup team Tuesday so I’ll guess he’ll just have to throw out another top five to remove all doubt. That would be No. 11 on the year if you’re scoring at home!

Brooks Koepka (No. 6): He’s broken 70 the wrong direction ONCE in his last 16 rounds. Those four events are a major, WGC and two FedExCup Playoff events.

Justin Thomas (No 5.): He’s broken 70 the wrong direction ONCE in his last 16 rounds. Those four events are a major, WGC and two FedExCup Playoff events. Sound familiar?? Gamers holding on to him for this week will be excited to see his closing-round 65 from last week as a momentum builder.

Hideki Matsuyama (No. 28): Yep. He’s 35-under in his last three on TOUR and that includes nothing worse than T15. With the greens playing the great equalizer this week, I’m leaning on his ball-striking for separation.

Rory McIlroy (No. 24): His performance in Boston wasn’t surprising (T12) but his inability to make a birdie on his last nine holes Sunday was. I’ll point out his two worst finishes this summer on TOUR are on a pair of courses he had little knowledge of playing (Shinnecock (MC), Bellerive (T50)).

Tiger Woods (No. 26): I keep swallowing the hook so what’s ONE MORE WEEK??? I always believed his first victory would come on a track that wouldn’t surrender 15-under-par or better. The new Woods has more value grinding than he does ripping up the Par-5 holes (who doesn’t now???). If this plays like Innisbrook, it will be to his advantage.

Cameron Smith (No. 8): He played himself in and will have to play himself out. With his place secured in the Masters and East Lake, I’d expect a magnificent free roll this week. He’s 26-under the last two weeks combined so I’m riding the wave.

Others of Interest:

Just missed the list above because of a wart or two; order isn’t important.

Marc Leishman: The event’s defending champion looked like he was ready to contend again last week before a quiet weekend knocked him to T21.

Francesco Molinari: After his week off I would think he’s dialed in and ready to pick back up painting fairways and greens.

Tyrrell Hatton: A tough 73 to close at TPC Boston might knock him down a peg but he’s posted a round of 64 or better in his last three events. He probably should be higher up the list but his volatility always makes me itch.

Paul Casey: The boost of being a captain’s pick should help find his normally astute tee-to-green game after a quiet run.

Jordan Spieth: I can’t fade him and I can’t stick him at the top but he fits somewhere.

Patrick Cantlay: With nothing worse than T27 since the U.S. Open I’m having a tough time finding the downside here.

Kevin Na: After three excellent rounds at Ridgewood, 70-75 MC was a disappointment last week. I’d expect a bounce-back this week.

Tommy Fleetwood: With T20 and T24 in his first two FedExCup events he continues to prove he’s not out his league. His last two weekends have been quiet but I think he’ll be ready for another target test from the fairway.

Webb Simpson: The good news was he opened 68-63 last week before limping in 76-74. He’s on a free-roll this week as his place is secure for East Lake. He’s posted a round of 68 or better in his last eight.

Louis Oosthuizen: He has the class to put up a performance as he knows it will take something special to continue his season.

Gary Woodland: I’m going to die on this mountain. Please bury me here. He’s made East Lake in four of the last five years and sits No. 30 entering the week.

Kyle Stanley: Trending in the right direction and was in the fight before a cool final round at TPC Boston set him back to T12.

Rickie Fowler: If he’s not out of the gate quickly, I’ll have serious concerns about how fit he is. I do think he can play his way into this tournament as 20-under shouldn’t be the winning score. If the weather causes multiple stops and starts, I’m not sure if that’s “helpful” for staying loose. When in doubt, eject.

Rafa Cabrera Bello: Check out his fairways, GIR and scoring average and you’ll know why he’s not happy to be left out of the Ryder Cup. Time to make a point to the captain this week! Every DFS team for me.

Jon Rahm: Enough talent to win by three and not enough patience to make the cut. He’ll make for a perfect contrarian selection this week.

Adam Scott: The only reason I’ll stick him in here is because he was the most selected in both fantasy formats last week. You know what that means!!!

Beau Hossler: This is gut-wrenching to watch! There is SO MUCH talent there but closing the deal shouldn’t be this difficult! He’s building calluses for DECADES this season! I’ll bang my head against this wall again and all season long in 2018-19!

Don’t forget to take a look at last week’s preview if I haven’t mentioned “Your Guy” in here.

I’m of the mindset that guys who are playing well should continue to do so regardless of course set-up or style. Guys who haven’t been hitting their marks recently know they are done after this week and that might be exactly what they are looking forward to!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me




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