FedExCup Playoffs 2016 – The BMW Championship Preview

The BMW Championship is the third of four tournaments in the playoff series for the FedExCup. With only the top 70 ranked players making their way from last week’s Deutsche Bank Championship, there will be no half way cut, making it a four day race to reach the 30 man field Tour Championship. This year’s event is played at Crooked Stick Golf Course for only the second time in the FedEx playoffs, last being played there in 2012.

The first two playoff events have seen two of the world’s highest ranked players (inside the top 15) be triumphant, demonstrating the quality of golf on show with some of the strongest fields of the season.

The BMW Championship has been hosted by five different venues during the FedEx playoffs, and this year marks a return to Crooked Stick after it last staged the tournament in 2012, a year in which Rory McIlroy succeeded at 20 under; additionally, John Daly won the PGA Championship here in 1991, suggesting the course suits the longer hitters.

Those who won the first playoff tournament on average performed poorly in the next two events, seemingly losing form. This was similar to those who won the second playoff event, whereby they had an average position of 27th during the Barclays and 26th in the BMW. However, those who were victorious in the BMW enhanced their average position during the first three events and seemingly played their way into form, peaking at the right time.

Notably, Rory McIlroy last won the Deutsche Bank in 2012, where he went on to be victories in the BMW Championship at the same venue as this year’s event, Crooked Stick. With the 2016 Deutsche being McIlroys first PGA Tour win of the season, he may have timed it perfectly in the race to be crowned FedExCup champion.

Of the players who were on the cusp of the top 100 ranked pre-Barclays, there was only Sean O’Hair who has kept his playoff journey going, with the remaining four players all performing poorly and will not advance to the BMW. Therefore, a high finish during the Barclays for those lower down the ranks provides breathing space in the other events and can all but seal a place at the Tour Championship.

Fabian Gomez and James Hahn both climbed 16 places with a T5 placing. However, the two biggest movers of the week were Billy Hurley III (gained 26 spots) and David Hearn (gained 33 spots) with T8 finishes as they recorded only their second top 10 finish of the season in order to progress to the BMW. A significant non-mover was J.B. Holmes, who currently ranks just outside the USA Ryder Cup team qualification (10th) and will need a strong showing at The BMW to be confirmed as a wildcard. He currently ranks 42nd in the FedEx race, with five top 10 finishes this season, and with Crooked Stick suiting the longer hitters, this week could cement his place at Hazeltine.

Notably, Justin Rose lost five places during the Deutsche and yet was in contention going into the final round. A poor showing on Monday meant he lost valuable ground in making the top 30; nevertheless, his game is right where it needs to be to make the Tour Championship.

TSZ highlighted Rory McIlroy as the favourite to triumph during The Deutsche Bank Championship due to his birdie average ranking and the low scoring required at TPC Boston. During his win, he went on to record a staggering 24 birdies and one eagle, moving him up to first in birdie average, making 4.44 per round. He ranked first in strokes gained for the week, gaining 1.325 strokes on the field. Taking into account Rory has already won around Crooked Stick and is coming off the back of his first season win, along with improved putting, it is hard to look past him as favourite yet again at 11/2.

However, other notable names to watch due to their long game superiority are: