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The BMW Championship Preview
Our new golf scribe takes a look at the betting for the 2016 BMW Championship which gets underway this coming Thursday.
Rory’s back. After a year of turgid consistency, the Northern Irishman finally delivered a round reminiscent of his dominant 2014 campaign. His stunning 65 in Boston, to clinch the Deutsche Bank Championship, has amplified the sense of anticipation for the BMW Championship’s return to Crooked Stick (apparently named after a particularly gnarled piece of bark discovered by Pete Dye when constructing the course). 2012’s edition at Pete Dye’s famed course was voted the tournament of the year by the PGA, with a certain brash Northern Irishman triumphing in a veritable birdie-fest.
The course has been jazzed up somewhat, with the addition of several bunkers and a new pond, but spectators will be wise to expect a similarly low-scoring affair this year. The course has several short par fives - balanced with some challenging par fours - but it lacks the agricultural rough that made Boston so punitive. This will encourage big bombers such as 2010 champions Dustin Johnson and 2014 runner-up Bubba Watson to express themselves.
With the mad scramble for that top 30 spot in the Tour Championship in reaching its closing stages, the audience can expect perhaps the most exciting and in-form field that world golf has to offer. It will also be the first time that both Jordan Spieth and Jason Day take on Indianapolis’ premium course. Missed putts will have epic permutations as golf’s elite try to hustle a pathway to golfing immortality.
BMW Championship | Thursday 8 September - Sunday 11 September | Crooked Stick Golf Club
2015: Jason Day (-22) | 2014: Billy Horshel (-14) | 2013: Zach Johnson (-16) |2012: Rory McIllroy (-20) | 2011: Justin Rose (-13)
Rory McIllroy (6/1), Jason Day (15/2), Dustin Johnson (15/2), Adam Scott (16/1), Jordan Spieth (16/1)
Gary Woodland (55/1 Win & 12/1 Place)
Gary Woodland is one of the ninjas of the PGA tour. He has crept almost imperceptibly into 21st place in the FedEx Cup rankings. He sits 9th in terms of driving distance on tour, as well as 23rd in scoring average and 22nd in greens in regulation. He has only had four top ten’s in 24 events, indicating his consistency in maintaining his ranking in the FedEx Cup rankings. His big hitting should open up the vulnerable Crooked Stick. His tie for 15th at the Deutsche Bank came hot off the heels of a tie for 4th at the Barclays, indicating that this may be a good time to have a go at that price.
Tony Finau (80/1 Win & 17/1 Place)
Tony Finau is fast becoming one of the more watchable attractions on the tour. The American is the living embodiment of the modern professional golfer. His taut, athletic frame sees him in 3rd in the average driving distance on tour. The problem is that he currently sits 183rd in driving accuracy. His tie for 24th in Boston came off an impressive 12th place finish at the Barclays. At Crooked Teeth the fairways are that bit more forgiving and the rough that little less punitive. I expect him to take advantage of his extra distance, especially with the inviting hard rolling terrain in Indianapolis. He has had 16 top 25’s out of 31 starts, a clear indication that with a little tweaking he could be a huge threat, especially at this price.
Justin Thomas (80/1 Win & 17/1 Place)
This one really astonishes me a bit. Yes, Thomas just missed the cut in Boston, but this is a guy who is 14th in the current FedEx Cup rankings. At 80-1. He has had 15 top 25 finishes in 30 starts. The American’s huge driving based game was let down by inaccuracy in Boston. He was also only finding 66% of the greens in regulation. But this guy has got what it takes to join buddy Jordan Spieth amongst the golfing elite. He finished with a tie for 3rd at the Players and the Travellers. He was also coming off a 10th place finish at the Barclays two weeks back. This guy has got a serious game that will find comfort in the forgiving contours of Crooked Stick.
The Man to Beat
Rory McIllroy (6/1 Win & 13/10 Place)
I just can’t look past Rory this week, despite how short the odds may seem. It was Rory who triumphed at Crooked Stick four years back, managing to fend off charges from Mickelson, Johnson and Adam Scott. That tournament - while a feast for the fans - earned Crooked Stick a reputation for being a soft touch. If Rory is able to replicate the putting he displayed in his final few rounds at Boston, he should a great chance of skyrocketing to the top of the Fed Ex Cup rankings. Working with putting analyst Peter Kenyon, the Northern Irishman went to number one in birdies made and putts per round, which is quite a turnaround from his horrendous putting display at Baltusrol. His ‘disappointing’ season has seen him finish in the top 25 in ten of the twelve tournaments he entered. And that was without a steady putter. He’s going to be hard to beat this week.