Power Rankings: BMW Championship

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September 04, 2012
Rob Bolton, Fantasy Columnist

It's quite possible that of all the course architects, no one gets inside the skulls of the touring professionals more than the designer of Crooked Stick Golf Club, Pete Dye. However, he's been the one scratching his head for what the men's ranks have done to one of his original layouts (opened in 1967).

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Host of this week's BMW Championship and carved out in Carmel, Ind., a northern suburb of Indianapolis, the par-72 Crooked Stick has surrendered, well, crooked numbers. Even casual golf fans are aware that John Daly unleashed his power on the track en route to a three-stroke victory at the 1991 PGA Championship on what was the longest course to host that major. It measured 7,205 yards, a length that could be deemed average today.

The 50-and-better crowd arrived at Crooked Stick in 2009 for the U.S. Senior Open. It didn't max out at the 7,316 yards on the scorecard that week, but it still qualified as the longest track in that event's history. Yet, tee-to-green specialist Fred Funk dissected Dye's creation to the tune of 20-under 268 for a six-shot romp. His score in relation to par remains a USGA record.

So what is it about Crooked Stick that makes it, dare we say, easy? The only recent modifications include five new tees, a handful of tighter fairways and a few new bunkers. As Dye told PGATOUR.com in last week, "But there's still 14 greens that are the same when I came in here."

The greens check in at an average of just 4,500 square feet. That equals the area of the putting surfaces at TPC Sawgrass, arguably Dye's most renown piece of work. While smaller than the norm, the greens at Crooked Stick are receptive, but they are, indeed, the teeth of the property.

There are no tricks off the tee or on approach. What you see is what it gives, but distance control and accuracy are critical when staring down the green complexes. Expect a confident ball-striker with some short game to emerge with the trophy of the third leg of the FedExCup Playoffs.

Meanwhile, if there's any doubt on whether Dye hangs his hat at Crooked Stick, that's a literal fact as he lives on the fairway at the 18th hole.

The remnants of Hurricane Isaac forced the cancellation of events on Monday as a couple of inches of rain saturated the course. Additional precipitation cannot be ruled out during any round of the tournament. Wind may be a factor for the opener, but the forecast is to abate as temperatures decrease gradually into the weekend.

MORE: Rookies | Medical | Reshuffle

Power Rankings: BMW Championship
Rank Player   Comment
Rory
MCILROY
The FedExCup leader and world's top-ranked golfer led the field in putting and birdies during his one-stroke victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship. (He also had one eagle.) Currently first on the PGA TOUR in adjusted scoring.
Dustin
JOHNSON
Chased a T3 at The Barclays and a T4 at the Deutsche Bank with a Ryder Cup berth. Five top fives in 17 starts this season. Ranked T8 in GIR and 17th in Strokes Gained-Putting at TPC Boston. Ninth on TOUR in adjusted scoring.
Tiger
WOODS
Polished off a solo third at the Deutsche Bank with a bogey-free, 5-under 66. Ranked T2 in both greens hit and birdies at TPC Boston; suffered just four bogeys all week. Leads the PGA TOUR in total driving; second in adjusted scoring.
Lee
WESTWOOD
After weeks of scrambling to regain form, he has. Shared fifth at The Barclays and tied for 13th at TPC Boston, where he hit only 11 GIR in his final round but still converted seven birdies. Leads the PGA TOUR in greens in regulation.
Louis
OOSTHUIZEN
Consecutive top fives to start the FedExCup Playoffs. Led the field in greens hit at TPC Boston. Ripped off seven straight birdies during a third-round 63. Sits seventh on the PGA TOUR in both GIR and adjusted scoring.
Steve
STRICKER
Shared 13th place at TPC Boston, but ranked inside the top 10 in fairways hit, greens in regulation and Strokes Gained-Putting. Was added to the Ryder Cup team on Tuesday. Sits 15th on TOUR in GIR and 13th in adjusted scoring.
Luke
DONALD
Tied for 26th at TPC Boston. Hit only 20 GIR in the last two rounds, but carded only three over-par holes during that stretch. Sits 23rd on TOUR in fairways hit, second in Strokes Gained-Putting and 11th in adjusted scoring.
Phil
MICKELSON
Ended his drought without a top 10 with a T4 at the Deutsche Bank. Employing the claw grip, he ranked fourth in Strokes Gained-Putting and T6 in birdies (20). Despite his recent silence, he's still a lofty 27th in adjusted scoring.
Keegan
BRADLEY
Closed out his second round of the Deutsche Bank with two birdies to survive the cut on the number. Then, once his caddie, Steve Hale, arrived following a family emergency, Bradley shot 63 in the third round en route to a T13.
Jason
DUFNER
Returned after a week off and placed T18 at TPC Boston. Sat 9 under at the midpoint but shot 2-over post-cut with three double bogeys. Ranks sixth in total driving, fifth in greens in regulation and third in adjusted scoring.

In 2012, our expert will be publishing his list of players who didn't quite make the top 10 for that particular week. Here are five other players Rob Bolton likes at Crooked Stick:

11. Brandt Snedeker ... With a potential berth in the Ryder Cup dangling, he's finished second and sixth to start the FedExCup Playoffs. Then Ryder Cup captain, Davis Love III, called; Snedeker made the team. Leads the PGA TOUR in Strokes Gained-Putting.

12. Sergio Garcia ... Back after a week off following his win at Sedgefield and T3 at Bethpage State Park. Currently 18th on the PGA TOUR in both Strokes Gained-Putting and the all-around; also 19th in adjusted scoring.

13. Nick Watney ... In the wake of his victory at The Barclays, he rode a hot putter to a T20 at TPC Boston where he played a 33-hole stretch in bogey-free 9-under. Seven top 25s in nine starts dating back to the U.S. Open.

14. Jim Furyk ... Fresh off a T13 at the Deutsche Bank Championship and thrill of being selected for the Ryder Cup. Ranks fifth on the PGA TOUR in fairways hit, 35th in GIR, 31st in Strokes Gained-Putting and fifth in adjusted scoring.

15. John Senden ... A 72nd-hole double bogey at TPC Boston cost him a top 10. He settled for solo 12th for his fifth top 20 in his last seven starts. Currently fourth on the PGA TOUR in greens in regulation and 17th in adjusted scoring.

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