Preview: 2020 BMW Championship

The top 30 after this week head to East Lake for the big bucks!

FedExCup Playoff Event No. 2

BMW Championship

Olympia Fields Country Club

North Course

Olympia Fields, Illinois

Yards: (per official scorecard):7,366
Par:70; (35-35)
Greens:Bent/Poa; 6,000 square feet on average.
Stimpmeter:Pushing 13′.
Rough:Kentucky bluegrass at 4″ and growing.
Bunkers/Water Hazards85/2 (Butterfield Creek is in play on nine holes).
Architect(s):Willie Park, Jr., (1925).
Purse:$9.5; $1.71 million and 1500 FedExCup points (winner).
Defending Champion (course):First event here since 2003 U.S. Open won by Jim Furyk.
Fact of the Week:First time ever hosting BMW Championship.
Fact of the Week II:6 players who played in the 2015 US Amateur here are in the field.
  

2019-2020 Season Winners

*- First-time winner

**- First-time winner AND rookie winner

EventWinner
  
A Military Tribute at The Greenbrier*- Joaquin Niemann
Sanderson Farms Championship*- Sebastian Munoz
Safeway OpenCameron Champ
Shriners Hospitals for Children OpenKevin Na
Houston Open*-Lanto Griffin
CJ CUP AT NINE BRIDGESJustin Thomas
ZOZO ChampionshipTiger Woods
WGC-HSBC ChampionsRory McIlroy
Bermuda ChampionshipBrendon Todd
Mayakoba Golf ClassicBrendon Todd (2)
The RSM Classic*-Tyler Duncan
Hero World ChallengeHenrik Stenson
Sentry Tournament of ChampionsJustin Thomas (2)
Sony OpenCameron Smith
The American ExpressAndrew Landry
Farmers Insurance OpenMarc Leishman
Waste Management Phoenix OpenWebb Simpson
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmNick Taylor
The Genesis InvitationalAdam Scott
WGC-Mexico ChampionshipPatrick Reed
The Honda Classic*-Sungjae Im
Arnold Palmer InvitationalTyrrell Hatton
THE PLAYERS ChampionshipAbandoned due to COVID-19, no winner
Charles Schwab ChallengeDaniel Berger
RBC HeritageWebb Simpson (2)
Travelers ChampionshipDustin Johnson
Rocket Mortgage ClassicBryson DeChambeau
Workday Charity OpenCollin Morikawa
MemorialJon Rahm
3M OpenMichael Thompson
WGC-FESJ InvitationalJustin Thomas (3)
102nd PGA ChampionshipCollin Morikawa (2)
Wyndham ChampionshipJim Herman
THE NORTHERN TRUSTDustin Johnson (2)

Horses for Courses publishes at PGATOUR.COM Tuesdays. It’s a look who has played well here recently so I suggest reading it as I won’t replicate all of the information here.

Recent Winners – Event

YearPlayerNotes
2019Justin Thomas, -25Soggy Medinah No. 3 saw three players hit 20-under or better but Thomas won by three.
   
2018Keegan Bradley, -20Soggy Aronimink saw Bradley pick up his first FedExCup win on 20-under.
   
2017Marc Leishman, -23Wire-to-wire to win by four at Conway Farms in the north Chicago suburbs.
   
2016Dustin Johnson, -23Lit up Crooked Stick outside Indianapolis and won by three.
   
2015Jason Day, -22Won by six at Conway farms starting a nasty trend of winners 20-under or better!

Facts and Figures:

The tournament record in this event is a bit comical as noted above. This year will be completely different at 11.5-under is the over/under from the fantastic @GolfOdds Jeff Sherman. Big rough, tight fairways and difficult greens should swing the pendulum back to par this year.

Tournament Record:260; Bradley and Rose.
Course Record:63; Vijay Singh, 2003 U.S. Open.
Defending Champions (last):No FedExCup has ever been defended.
Defending Champions (event):Nope.
Multiple Winners Entered (course):Nope.
First-time – TOURCamilo Villegas (2008).
First-time Entered (non-inaugural)Nope.
Odd Fact:Only Camilo Villegas has made a FedExCup Playoff event his first TOUR win. And it was this one.
Odd Fact II:Villegas followed the next week by winning his second (BMW, TOUR Championship).
Odd Fact III:Cameron Champ and Maverick McNealy won collegiate events on this track.

Marching to Atlanta

After Webb Simpson (rest) WD early this week, 69 players (never alternates in the FedExCup Playoffs) will grind it out to remain or move into the top 30 next week at East Lake.

The Bubble this week:

25: Cameron Champ

26: Cameron Smith

27: Adam Long

28: Kevin Streelman

29: Tony Finau

30: Billy Horschel

31: Joaquin Niemann

32: Tyler Duncan

33: Matthew Wolff

34: Mark Hubbard

35: Byeong-Hun An

Olympia Fields is a classic parkland design that sits right in front of you. Tight fairways, only 20 acres this week, will reward those who keep it in play off the tee. Grinding out approaches from four-inch-plus Bluegrass will limit accuracy and the greens won’t be the big targets as we saw at TPC Harding Park. Nor will they be as slooooooowwwwwwwwww. Olympia Fields has received less than 1.5 inches of rain this month so they should be able to get rollin’ this week.

The reason scoring is projected to be tamer this week is listed above and will be assisted by some professional golf holes this week. Both Par-5s are 600+ so that hardly guarantees birdie. One third of the holes play 450 yards or longer including No. 18 which is 510. Toss in 251-yard Par 3 No. 8 and there is definitely some meat on this chicken bone.

Three of the last four winners on TOUR have picked up their second or third wins of the season and I don’t see that changing this week. Rarely is the time that under this pressure versus a field of this quality that somebody sneaks in the back door. Sure, there’s no Rose, Fowler, Mickelson, Spieth, Garcia, Stenson, Fleetwood, Koepak or now, Simpson. Of that group only Simpson won this season.

Should be a ball-strikers paradise this week but I’ve read in more than one place that the locals expect the greens to provide the majority of the defense. We know length doesn’t bother these guys but thick rough and tree-lined fairways do. Saving par from 10-plus feet on slick greens should have everyone’s attention.

Balance your lineups with a putter or two but getting around this bigger ballpark should take precedence. Read HFC to see what translates around here as well.

Top 30

Dustin Johnson: Should come back down to Earth this week but this setup favors him. Five titles ties Rory McIlroy for the most in the FedExCup Playoffs. Won’t have any trouble handling the big holes.

Justin Thomas: Mentioned a level of fatigue last week and played like it (T34) after an uninspiring PGA (T49). The “defending champion” picked a tough time for gamers to have his worse two finishes of the year.

Webb Simpson: WD citing a need for rest.

Daniel Berger: Four of six since the restart are top 10s and include a win. Heat check has lasted almost three full months. Only concern is MC at Memorial but he’s churning out rounds every week.

Collin Morikawa: Phenomenal restart includes a playoff loss and two wins but the “others” have hardly been inspiring. It’s a reminder that he’s money but the consistency of doing it week in and week out isn’t a given. He followed his last MC with a win (Detroit) but this field will be a bit deeper and the track a bit tougher. His tee-to-green game will shine this week so we’ll look to see if his putter can handle the weight.

Harris English: Top 25 every week except one in his last nine starts. Won the “B” Flight easily last week for his best result during that streak. Checks all the stat boxes this week as well.

Bryson DeChambeau: 2015 US Amateur champ on this track should help the space between the ears this week after MC last week in Boston. Leads the TOUR in SG: Total and SG: Off the Tee plus top 10 Tee-to-Green and Putting. Good combo.

Sungjae Im: Flashed T9 at Wyndham and I thought we were back in business. Nope. Gotta remember that he hasn’t played all of these tracks just yet. 75-67 last week suggests he didn’t fall completely off the wagon. Tough ask to put it all together this week against another tough field.

Jon Rahm: Another power player that should be embracing this challenge. T6-T13 in his last two shows me he’s still interested. Destroyed the field on a difficult Memorial setup.

Patrick Reed: I always like him on difficult tracks because of his short game and this week qualifies. If he has any success off the tee he’ll be in with a shout as he’s a proper grinder on and around the greens. Oh, and get them as fast as possible, please.

Xander Schauffele: In eight starts since the restart he’s pasted up seven T25 or better and has cashed in all of them. He’s posted worse than 72 three times in 32 rounds and is as steady and strong as they come. I love that he’s a quick adapter on new tracks as well.

Rory McIlroy: If you pick him every week, you’ll be right one of these days! Moaning about the lack of atmosphere and self-drive doesn’t encourage me. Neither does the run of finishes outside the top 10. The “old” McIlroy would love this test. Maybe this test is exactly what he needs to reset.

Brendon Todd: Tortoise in a field of hares reminds me of Furyk a little bit. He’s down the middle and holes the putts. Bigger targets on the greens this week to aim for will help as well.

Scottie Scheffler: Backed up his T4 at TPC Harding Park with T4 last week, which included a 59. One of the few to play the 2015 US Amateur here, he’ll have a point of reference and that never hurts. Keeping up this pace would be something but he’s good enough tee-to-green to keep up.

Lanto Griffin: Free roll this week to sharpen his game up for East Lake and his first TOUR Championship. He’ll need a great week with the putter to make noise.

Sebastian Munoz: T18 last week is his only top 25 since the restart in nine tries. Opened with seven straight birdies last week before cooling off to T18, 18 shots behind the winner!

Tyrrell Hatton: Was the Saturday 63 in Boston the flicker to spark the Englishman forward? Took a month off essentially after Detroit and hasn’t found the mojo since. Ranks in the top 30 in both Tee-to-Green and Putting but is already assured a place in Atlanta.

Hideki Matsuyama: He about on the same stretch of non-top 10 appearances as McIlroy so that’s disheartening. I’ve heard he’s making swing changes but it’s obvious they have taken hold yet. Nothing outside T29 and nothing inside T20 in the restart makes me look elsewhere.

Abraham Ancer: Fantastic run has hit a speed bump in the two biggest events (MC-T43) he’s played in. Current form nudges stat packs for me this week especially on a brand-new track for most.

Marc Leishman: Only a contrarian play this week as he’s spinning his tires.

Kevin Na: Flashed 64 in Memphis and added 65 and 66 last week in Boston. Super putter enjoys Bent/Poa but will have to find enough fairways and greens to make that his advantage.

Ryan Palmer: Top 15 in his last three including a solo second at Memorial has my attention. Riding a heater this time of year never hurts and the veteran has plenty of experience in how to handle it and keep cool.

Kevin Kisner: T25 in five of his last six includes three in the top four. Keeping it down the sprinkler line never hurts and neither does his confidence with the putter. 35-under the last two weeks.

Viktor Hovland: One way to get the attention of the Masters folks is to win a FedExCup Playoff event! Making 10 cuts in a row just confirmed our suspicions about how solid he is.

Cameron Champ: Growing up before our eyes, he won a college event here so that won’t hurt anything. He’ll have to show discipline off the tee this week as bomb and gouge might not work with big rough and slick greens.

Cameron Smith: Trending as he arrives in Chicago. Knows he needs a decent week to hold his top 30 spot. Super short game can carry him.

Adam Long: Cashed in six of seven but I’m not sure if he’s had to play with this kind of pressure before. I’ll sit back and watch if he can.

Kevin Streelman: Home game for the former Chicago resident. Two prongs here: Distraction or comfort? Six straight on TOUR and should have seen this course once or twice over the years. Preferred surface as well.

Tony Finau: Had a front row seat for Scheffler’s 59 last week as he packed up and went home early. Big ballparks that are difficult tee-to-green should benefit him. I enjoy him more when Par is a good score.

Billy Horschel: Sits on the magic number this week and that should be plenty of motivation after a disappointing MC (70-73) last week in Boston. Only 2 rounds above 72 in his last 22.

Movers Who Need to Shake

Alex Noren

Jason Day

Russell Henley

Jason Kokrak

Louis Oosthuizen

Adam Scott

Bubba Watson

Matt Fitzpatrick

Matthew Wolff

Talor Gooch

Brian Harman

Harry Higgs

Brendan Steele

Paul Casey

Pass

Tiger Woods

Patrick Cantlay

Gary Woodland

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

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