The second PGA TOUR playoff event heads to Illinois and Olympia Fields Country Club this week, which is located in a suburb just outside of Chicago. The BMW Championship is a 70-man, no-cut event which features only the top 70 players in the FedExCup point standings. At the end of the event, the players ranked inside the top 30 in the standings will all get tickets to East Lake and a chance at some big year-end bonus money.
The 70-man field changes the makeup a little this week as all players will get in four rounds. There should be a ton of movement on the weekend as certain players really need big weeks to keep their season alive. The venue in play this week should also be more challenging. Olympia Fields was last seen on the PGA TOUR at the U.S. Open back in 2003, an event won by Jim Furyk at 8-under par. It’s a big, sprawling par 70 that plays around 7,366 yards and features quite a few longer holes the players must navigate this week.
Setup-wise, expect it to play similar to what we saw at TPC Harding Park a couple weeks ago at the PGA Championship, where par was a good score on many holes. The venue has hosted some big amateur events post-2003 as well, with the likes of Bryson DeChambeau and Cameron Champ, both having won events there in college.
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Who will have the best finishing position? Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas or Jon Rahm
Dustin Johnson is coming off a dominant performance at the first playoff event, beating the field by 11-strokes. It’s clear he’s playing some of the best golf of his career and we should definitely expect some continuation here. Justin Thomas beat DJ and the world’s best just three weeks ago in Memphis but has looked a touch off since then. Rahm progressed nicely last week, finishing in T6 at TPC Boston while shooting rounds of 67-65 on the weekend. All three men have won in the last two months and come into this week as the top-3 players in the world golf rankings.
Choice: Jon Rahm
- With the pressure off Rahm now that he’s no longer at number one in the world, I expect you could see him outperform Dustin here. It should be a close matchup between these two but Rahm’s game has come together nicely over the last two events.
Who will have the best finishing position?
Webb Simpson, Xander Schauffele or Bryson DeChambeau
Editor’s note: Webb Simpson has withdrawn from the BMW Championship.
Simpson had himself a great Sunday at TPC Boston, moving up into T6 with a final round 66. He’s already posted two wins in 2020 but has been doing a lot of damage lately with the putter, gaining over +4-strokes with the club in each of his last two events. The longer Olympia Fields could hamper his upside though and suit long-hitters like Bryson DeChambeau and Xander Schauffele better. Schauffele has been the beacon of consistency since the restart, posting top-25 finishes now in four straight starts, while gaining +7-strokes or more tee to green in two of his last four starts. DeChambeau posted his best finish in a major two weeks ago with a T4 at the longer TPC Harding Park but missed the cut badly last week, losing strokes on the greens and with his irons.
Choice: Xander Schauffele
- Schauffele’s prowess off the tee should come into focus here. He’s been more consistent than Bryson of late and the tougher course should really give him a shot at the win.
Who will have the best finishing position? Collin Morikawa, Daniel Berger or Rory McIlroy
This group features three players on opposite end of the spectrum form-wise. Collin Morikawa did miss the cut last week but has been the most dominant player in the world since the restart, winning the year’s first major along with the Workday Charity Open. He looked a little out of form last week but seems likely for a quick bounce-back here. Berger has been playing at a ridiculous level all season, finishing outside of the top-5 just once in his last four starts. He finished T3 last week at the first playoff event. McIlroy has been out of sorts over the last couple of months and has lost strokes around and on the greens in three straight starts now.
Choice: Daniel Berger
- It’s tempting to call for the Rory bounce-back week here, but Berger just seems too steady for me at the moment. He seems like he’s on a mission to get into the world’s top-10 by end of year.
Who will have the best finishing position? Jason Day, Scottie Scheffler or Patrick Cantlay
Jason Day self-destructed last week, losing over -6-strokes on his approaches alone, en route to missing the cut by multiple strokes. The Aussie had looked near a breakthrough prior to that but is hard to trust here now after such a poor week. Patrick Cantlay’s another player who has looked lost of late. He’s now finished T32 or worse in four straight starts. Scheffler has been the bright star of this group, grabbing a T4 at the PGA Championship and a T3 finish last week at the first playoff event. He’s really improved his around the green game, gaining strokes against the field in that area in four straight starts now.
Choice: Patrick Cantlay
- Cantlay’s too good a player to keep floundering like this for much longer. He looked great at the PGA Championship for stretches and has played great at tough courses like Muirfield Village in the past.
Who will have the best finishing position? Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Reed or Tiger Woods
Tiger finished strongly at TPC Boston last week, landing a final round 66, which was his best competitive round, scoring-wise, in 2020. He was again solid his with ball-striking last week but has been miserable on and around the greens in his last couple of events. Reed’s been very consistent since the restart and has recorded two top-10’s in his last six starts now. He hasn’t done anything to make me want to avoid him here but isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire right now either. It is possible he’s waiting for the US Open in a few weeks to really peak. Hatton feels like a slightly better target than Reed as he gained strokes throughout the bag last week and looked much better than he did during his dismal missed-cut at the PGA.
Choice: Tiger Woods
- Woods can’t putt like this forever. If he improves even slightly with this club, he should get himself inside the top-20 here. I favor him slightly over Hatton, who is playing well.
Who will have the best finishing position? Hideki Matsuyama, Harris English or Tony Finau
English has been one of the best players on the PGA TOUR of late and has finished outside of the top-25 just once now in his last 10 starts. He was a bit unlucky not to get the win last week as Dustin Johnson decided to bring his A++ game. Matsuyama has shown a little more consistency in his game of late and has gained over +1.4 strokes putting now in each of his last two starts. If can get a little more dialed in with his irons he could end up challenging in one of these next two events. Finau was terrific at the PGA Championship two weeks ago, finishing T4 and then promptly missed the cut last week due to a cold putter. He’s been all over the map of late, landing three top-10’s and three finishes outside the top-50 in his last six starts.
Choice: Tony Finau
- Finau’s issues last week were almost entirely related to his putter, a club he can be very hot and cold with. A tougher, longer course should favor his style of game.
Who will have the best finishing position? Viktor Hovland, Paul Casey or Billy Horschel
None of these three players had great weeks at TPC Boston with Hovland landing the best finish at T18. He’s cooled off a bit since nearly winning the Workday Charity Open a month back but still hasn’t missed a cut since the restart. Casey looked like a victim of fatigue last weekend as the Englishman was playing his fifth event in a row and had an emotional week at the PGA Championship where he finished in T2, his best finish ever at a major. He could only manage a T49 last week and his usually consistent ball-striking wasn’t up to his normal levels. Horschel had been playing well up till last week too so fatigue could also be a factor with him. He finished solo 2nd at the Wyndham just two weeks ago.
Choice: Viktor Hovland
- Going with the younger and therefore fresher player makes sense here. Casey and Horschel could bounce back, but Hovland has looks more likely to challenge.
Who will have the best finishing position? Kevin Kisner, Adam Scott or Matthew Fitzpatrick
Kisner has been on fire lately, gaining over +3-strokes on approaches and putting in each of his last three starts. While the run has been great, his upside could be slightly limited by a longer course this week and it’s worth noting that his worst result of the last three events came at the longer TPC Harding Park (T19). Fitzpatrick had been playing well but has now missed the cut badly in two straight starts. He’ll also be hampered by a lack of distance off the tee which makes a bounce-back seem less likely. Scott hasn’t played much since the restart but grinded out made cuts at the PGA and TPC Boston last week where he showed improved ball-striking numbers.
Choice: Adam Scott
- Scott’s distance off the tee should play well at Olympia Fields. Kisner’s been the better player recently, but long-term, Scott should win out in situations like this.
Who will have the best finishing position? Matthew Wolff, Matt Kuchar or Alexander Noren
All three of these players performed well last week. Matthew Wolff was in contention early at TPC Boston but fell off badly after a third-round 77 to finish T44. He did rebound on Sunday to shoot 67 though and is only three weeks removed from a blistering final round 63 at the PGA, which got him into a T4 position for the week there. Kuchar finished T18 last week, which marked his best finish since the restart. It’s been a tough year for the veteran but his ball-striking showed improved form last week. Noren has been trending well of late, and landed weekend rounds of 64-68 to move into T8 and up into 47th in the FedExCup playoffs.
Choice: Alex Noren
- His last three tournaments have resulted in T3-T21-T8 finishes. The Swede looks in great form and should be pushing hard here for a big finish to get him to East Lake.
Who will have the best finishing position? Ryan Palmer, Sungjae Im or Gary Woodland
Woodland’s play has really dropped off of late, as the 2019 US Open winner hasn’t finished inside the top-50 now in three straight starts. He’s had issues with consistency off the tee for most of the season but remains a quality player capable of turning things around on any given week. It’s been much of the same story for Im of late too. The South Korean has struggled since posting a win in March and has missed the cut now in two of his last three starts. Palmer is the lowest ranked of these three but easily outplayed both men last week, gaining over +4-strokes around and on the greens. It’s a tough group to figure given the conflicting form.
Choice: SungJae Im
- Im’s putting and around the green game has still been solid in spots, so even if his ball-striking doesn’t rebound to pre-hiatus levels, he could still win this diverse grouping.
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