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September 6 2013

9:33 PM

First Look: BMW Championship

Courtesy of Conway Farms
Conway Farms is carved out of farmland in Chicago’s North Shore outskirts.

MORE: Hole-by-hole tour | Playoffs Tracker

By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.com contributor

COURSE: Conway Farms Golf Club, 7,216 yards, par 71. Carved out of farmland in Chicago’s North Shore outskirts, the Tom Fazio design opened in 1991 and has seen its stature slowly rise over the past two decades. Conway Farms has been prominent on the amateur stage, starting with the 1997 NCAA Division I championship and 1998 U.S. Junior Amateur, later attracting the 2009 Western Amateur and 2010 U.S. Mid-Amateur. Membership includes former world No.1 Luke Donald, who was instrumental in helping the club land the BMW Championship.

FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 2,500 points.

CHARITY: The Evans Scholars Foundation, an arm of the Western Golf Association which awards college scholarships to caddies across the country with limited financial means. The foundation currently supports 835 caddies attending college.

FIELD WATCH: New FedExCup No. 1 Henrik Stenson and No. 2 Tiger Woods head the list of 70 players who advanced through the first two playoff events. Stenson’s victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship knocked Woods from the top perch he'd occupied since March. … Rookie Jordan Spieth, 10th in FedExCup points, makes his first appearance since making the U.S. Presidents Cup team only a month after his 20th birthday. Spieth and Webb Simpson were tabbed as captain's picks by Fred Couples. … In all, the BMW field has 20 Presidents Cup selections – all 12 U.S. team members and eight from the International squad. … Hall of Famer Ernie Els heads the list of seven players who played their way into the top 70 with their performances at TPC Boston. The others: Kevin Stadler, Brian Davis, Ian Poulter, Marc Leishman, Nicholas Thompson, Brendan Steele.

72-HOLE RECORD: 262, Tiger Woods (2007 at Cog Hill G&CC).

18-HOLE RECORD: 62, Jim Furyk (second round, 2008 at Bellerive CC), Tiger Woods (third round, 2009 at Cog Hill G&CC).

LAST YEAR: Rory McIlroy captured his second straight FedExCup Playoffs victory, rising out of a four-way tie with consecutive birdies around the turn and cruising to a two-shot win at soggy Crooked Stick. McIlroy fired a final-round 67, going bogey-free until the final hole. Combined with his eight-shot romp at the PGA Championship, the 23-year-old pro from Northern Ireland won for the third time in a run of four starts, going a combined 54-under during the stretch. Phil Mickelson (70) and Lee Westwood (69) tied for second, unable to keep pace after crucial mistakes on the back nine.

STORYLINES: Did the FedExCup’s open week do anything to cool off Stenson? Victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship was the Swede’s fifth top-3 finish in his past six starts worldwide, including second at the British Open and third at the PGA Championship. … Woods, a five-time winner when Cog Hill was the tournament’s annual host, tries to regain No. 1 on the points list after getting passed by Stenson in Boston. He tied for fourth last year at Crooked Stick. … Can Donald use a little home-course knowledge to boost his sagging fortunes? He tied for 41st in both of the first two playoff events and needs a big move from No. 54 in points to reach the TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.

SHORT CHIPS: Should an international player win at Conway Farms, it’ll mark the first time the BMW has seen three consecutive non-U.S. winners. Preceding McIlroy’s victory last year was a 2011 win by Justin Rose. … With the BMW Championship now moving away from Chicago in alternating years, the 2014 event will be played at Cherry Hills Country Club in suburban Denver.

TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-6 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1-3 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, noon-1:30 p.m. (GC), 1:30-6 p.m. (NBC).

RADIO: Thursday-Sunday, noon-6 p.m. ET (PGATOUR.com and SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio).

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