Statistically Speaking: BMW Championship
August 16, 2022
By Mike Glasscott , PGATOUR.COM
All-time shots in the FedExCup Playoffs
The BMW Championship this week at Wilmington Country Club (South Course) in Delaware represents the last chance saloon to not only punch a ticket to East Lake Golf Club for the TOUR Championship but to also set up your starting position for the final leg in the chase for the FedExCup.
Robert Trent Jones’ design is new to all in its current layout, (except for one Palmer Cup player from almost 10 years ago you can see in Rob Bolton’s Power Rankings), but let's try and crack the code of who will be populating the first page of the leaderboard at the conclusion of play. With no course history, our regular Horses For Courses is not in play… BUT if you read on we will add some “Equines For Event” this week!
At 7,534 yards, par-71 (35-36) there are some interesting angles. Holes 12 and 14 will play from 634 and 649 yards respectively. Robert Trent Jones South Course at Firestone has just ONE of these (Par-70) and eagles rarely landed in Akron.
The par-3s also have teeth. The 15th follows the 649-yard par-5 with 234 yards of one big shot to get home. Of the other three shot holes, two slot over 200 yards from the tips with the one exception, the 13th checking in at 170.
The massive greens complexes will test the putting acumen but it will give chances for recovery from Fescue and Bluegrass rough. Hitting GIR are fantastic but leaving eight footers for par all day can grind on the gears. Fortune should favor the brave!
When new courses are introduced, the formula remains the same. Nobody will have an advantage reading greens or notes from old yardage books so the elite ball-strikers usually rise to the top. Putters can catch up or get hot like Patrick Cantlay did last year but there's a reason big names factor in these events annually.
Wilmington has received average rainfall in August so firm and fast will only be on the cards by design of the TOUR this week.
Only players listed are competing this week; click stat headline for full list
Playing out of four inches behind mature trees doesn't sound like fun. Much easier to attack large greens from the shortest of grass with the most loft as possible.
Rank Player 1 Jon Rahm 2 Cameron Young 3 Keith Mitchell 4 Corey Conners 5 Rory McIlroy 6 Brendan Steele 7 Matt Fitzpatrick 9 Sungjae Im 11 Will Zalatoris 12 Taylor Pendrith
Paying off great tee balls from the fairway or from the rough will lead to scoring chances. With massive targets staring right back down the fairway the contenders will take aim at the proper quadrants and try to avoid chances for three putts.
Rank Player 1 Will Zalatoris 2 Russell Henley 3 Collin Morikawa 5 Justin Thomas 6 Hideki Matsuyama 7 Scottie Scheffler 8 Tony Finau 9 Sam Burns 10 Viktor Hovland 11 Mito Pereira
The final piece of the puzzle but those who can figure out what's happening on the greens before the others come around will have an advantage. With no inside information those who stroke it well and take advantage of their opportunities will stick out this week.
Rank Player 1 Lucas Herbert 3 Denny McCarthy 5 Tyrrell Hatton 9 Billy Horschel 10 Kevin Kisner 11 Rory McIlroy 12 Patrick Cantlay 14 Christiaan Bezuidenhout 15 Marc Leishman T16 Sam Burns
The yardage of the two listed above is enough to get my attention and third one, located on the front nine is "just" 582 yards. Players who can create scoring chances here will factor.
Rank Player T1 Patrick Cantlay 3 Rory McIlroy T4 Scottie Scheffler T4 Justin Thomas 7 Keith Mitchell T8 Sam Burns T8 Max Homa T10 Matt Fitzpatrick T10 Jordan Spieth T12 Seamus Power
Since our course history is non-existent this week, I've decided to help with event history instead. Course setup, grasses and weather all are part of the puzzles we try and solve each week. This will give you an idea of who plays well this time of year (read: FedExCup Playoffs only) and on similar surfaces.
The last five seasons this event has been played three times in the Chicago suburbs while the other two were contested in the I-95 corridor. All five events featured Bent/Poa green complexes and none of the tracks had been a standard TOUR stop over the years so course form is slim, if relevant at all.
Equines For Event
Players listed only if they are in the field for 2022; Top 10 last five years.
Patrick Cantlay (BetMGM odds. Win: +1400, Top 5: +225, Top 10: +100)
Defending champion won't mind another new track as he blew the doors off Caves Valley with 31 birdies and an eagle last year against just six bogeys. His 27-under is the event scoring record. He gained over 14 strokes on the greens, the most in any event since the stat was formed and was T2 GIR. Long, short, Par-whatever, he's picked up T12, second and T9 in three of the last four years before breaking thru last year.
Jon Rahm (BetMGM odds. Win: +1200, Top 5: +200, Top 10: -120)
The 2020 event champion at Olympia Fields was T9 in his defense last year outside Baltimore and adds T24 at Aronimink from 2018 and T5 from Conway Farms in 2017. Perked to life last week for T5 as he was T1 GIR.
Justin Thomas (BetMGM odds. Win: +1600, Top 5: +250, Top 10: +110)
Torched Medinah in 2019 to the tune of 25-under as he defeated Cantlay by three shots. Posted the course record 61 en route to the win. The Par-72 that week stretched 7,613 yards but obviously he wasn't bothered. His defense in 2020 went for T25 and he followed that up with T22 last season. Sat 12th at Aronimink in 2018.
Rory McIlroy (BetMGM odds. Win: +1000, Top 5: +375, Top 10: -135)
The 2012 champ at Crooked Stick has added four more top 10s and hasn't finished outside T19 since 2017 at Conway Farms. His solo fourth last season included an opening round of 64 and third round 65 but he was still five back of Cantlay's winning total.
Pipped at the Post
Billy Horschel: Broke onto the scene at Cherry Hills in 2014 as he picked up the title at altitude outside Denver. Picked up two more top 10 paydays in 2016 (T10) and 2018 (T3) but his last three seasons haven't cracked the top 30.
Marc Leishman: The 2017 winner at Conway Farms posted T19 in 2019 for his only other top 40 since his win.
Keegan Bradley: Won the 2018 edition at Aronimink as his only top 25 in recent history.
Tony Finau: Last five BMWs has T7-T8-4-5-T15. Be patient as his last five final round scores are 64-65-69-65 and 63 last year. Combine that with the run of form he's in currently and you're cooking with gas!
Adam Scott: Returning to the event for the first time since T25 in 2020, the Aussie tends to heat up this time of year, when he plays. With four top 10s in six events between 2012 and 2019 he needs to be considered.
Xander Schauffele: T3 as he missed the playoff by a shot in 2018 is one of his four top 25 finishes in five events yet his only top 10.
Sungjae Im: T11 on debut in 2019 and solo third last year suggests that the fields and courses don't bother him too much. Only blemish was T56 at Olympia Fields where only a handful of players broke par. When it's time to score, it's time for Sungjae.