So here we are then: the last 75 men standing in the race for the FedEx Cup, and that means that there are only two ‘proper’ tournaments of the PGA Tour campaign remaining.
For the uninitiated, players on the tour try their luck in tournaments across the United States throughout the year, picking up FedEx Cup points based on their efforts. Come August, the top 125 are invited to duke it out in the four-event series, which starts with the Northern Trust and culminates with the Tour Championship, which this year commences on Thursday September 21st.
Those 125 are whittled down to 100 for the Dell Technologies Championship, and that number dwindles yet further to 75 for this: the BMW Championship. From here, only the top 30 will head on to East Lake for the Tour Championship next week. So, there’s plenty to play for in Illinois from Thursday onwards.
Our host venue this week is Conway Farms, a 7,200 yard, Par 71 stretch in the heart or Illinois. It’s a prairieland track that has been described as Links-like in nature – with the Tom Fazio design said to take inspiration from the heritage of Scottish coastal golf.
Fairways are wide but greens are small, and so while it matters less than usual how the players tee it up, making sure they hit plenty of greens in regulation is key. Accurate iron play or crafty scrambling….the choice is theirs.
The wind could be a factor this week with gusts of up to 15mph, but generally the weather is set fair in Illinois for what should be a fantastic four days of golf featuring most of the world’s finest players.
For punters, these final few FedEx Cup events can be a nightmare to navigate, but there is still plenty of betting value to be had:
Winner: Rickie Fowler (14/1 win only)
Rickie Fowler has won seven times worldwide and five of those have come since the spring of 2015. What that says to us is that he is slowly becoming one of the most prolific winners on the PGA Tour – and thus one of the best options for punters looking for value outside of the bookies’ favourites.
So why do we fancy Fowler’s chances so much this week? Well, he finished fourth in his last start at Conway Farms in 2015, and that’s eye-opening enough, but then there’s his recent form as well: the 28-year-old has only finished outside the top-20 in one of his last eight starts. That assures punters a good run for their money.
If this edition of the BMW Championship devolves into some kind of wind-assisted birdie fest, as is possible, then we’re happy to have Fowler onside. He’s a winner on a tough Links course in Scotland, and he ranks fourth on tour for Birdie Average; both useful weapons for the arsenal this week.
Top 10 Finish: Henrik Stenson (9/4)
We’ve spoke about the wind getting up in Illinois this week, and if it does you’d better have your ball on a piece of string to maximise your chances of getting your approach shot close.
For that reason we like Henrik Stenson’s chances this week. The Swede generally leaves the driver in the bag, and instead opts for his trusted 3-wood off the tee. While he lacks distance as a result, his ball control means that he is an excellent option when plotting around the track with sound course management is required. The last time conditions turned at Conway Farms it was Zach Johnson who won in 2013, and grinders don’t come much more, erm, grindy than ZJ.
The fact that Stenson is in red hot form doesn’t hurt either. He’s finished inside the top-20 in each of his last five outings, ad that run includes two majors: eleventh at the Open Championship and thirteenth at the PGA Championship.
He followed up with victory in the Wyndham Championship, so we can make a case for Stenson being one of the most in-form players on the planet right now. That should help his cause greatly in Illinois this week.