One & Done: BMW Championship
August 14, 2019
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
Top 10 Shots from BMW Championship
Whether you use FedExCup points or earnings to measure performance, the last two tournaments of the 2018-19 season must be approached as one decision.
The key word there is "last." The clock ticks loudly, but it doesn't mean that league front-runners are safe.
The BMW Championship presents the most fulfilling of opportunities for chasers to do work. Quite simply, at some point between the conclusion of THE NORTHERN TRUST and the moment that your eyes found these words, you settled into the reality of your situation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The vibe is the opposite for pacers, including yours truly. There's nothing between our eyes and the finish line. The key word there is "between." We're not there yet. What's more, unless you've mathematically clinched the title, which is possible only in the smallest of earning-based pools even this deep into the season, there's no guarantee that you're going to be the first to break the tape.
Embracing a philosophy will simplify your decision.
League leaders need to play aggressive and leave nothing on the table. This is the finale of the fireworks show. Those in pursuit also need to go for broke, but you need to get lucky, and that's OK because you can.
Who you play always matters – you're not going to holster someone for the TOUR Championship who is unlikely to advance, such as Ian Poulter (43rd in points), Jordan Spieth (44th) and Jason Day (50th) – but the more important question at Medinah is why. Before you blindly invest in a star who seems like a perfect fit in the vacuum, review who your competition – up or down – can play.
If you're out front and your nearest challenge can't use the same guy, pause and consider if the stymie is in play. Defense has value because the clock is your friend. If you don't, you expose yourself. It's not entirely about investing in a guy who you expect to succeed, it's also about protecting your own success built over time.
If you're behind and you can be stymied, consider the slingshot. This was my exact situation last year when I was saving Justin Rose for the TOUR Championship. However, because I was trailing entering the BMW, I plugged in Rose at Aronimink. He stumbled late and lost in a playoff to Keegan Bradley, but the P2 was enough to get me to the trophy presentation.
Being aggressive doesn't mean burning every golfer who has value as one of 46 picks if you play the entire season. It means analyzing and making smart picks. It means applying pressure. It's juking. It's confusing the opponent. It's a variety of combinations of all of the above.
The beauty of the BMW Championship is that it's the last event on unfamiliar ground. Only 13 of the 69 in the field have played the current design, and that was seven years ago and in the Ryder Cup, which is a team competition rife with its own set of challenges of the mind. This is to say that if you land on a Ryder Cupper as your selection, it should merely be a coincidence.
Justin Rose sits atop my Power Rankings, but he's a better fit at East Lake next week. He's also arguably not the hottest to qualify as leaving nothing on the table. Celebrate your patience if you still have Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka or Jon Rahm at your disposal. Employ the aforementioned strategy to time the play against your opponent.
Adam Scott, Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, Billy Horschel and Paul Casey all are safe choices to hold serve for leaders.
The likes of Poulter, Spieth and Louis Oosthuizen present dynamic possibilities for all One & Doners. Timing always is everything and these three are coming off shares of sixth place with sub-70s on Sunday at Liberty National.
Despite now four iterations of the series, the Playoffs have succeeded in yielding heaters. With that consideration, perhaps the most intriguing chip is THE NORTHERN TRUST champion Patrick Reed. Notoriously just outside the radar in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf because he's but a top-20 machine with higher expectations, he's in position to become the fourth golfer in Playoffs history to win consecutive events and the sixth to win multiple times in the same Playoffs. So, in a weird way, he presents as too aggressive for front-runners and ideal for those nipping on heels.
If you're in a two-man format, unless you're rich with options this week and next, target at least one outside the top 30 this week. This is where Poulter, Spieth and Day make the most sense, but also consider Jim Furyk (48th), Collin Morikawa (57th), Vaughn Taylor (62nd) and Joaquin Niemann (70th) for your tail of the tandem.
Rank Expert Pick Comment 44th
Jason Day If the Aussie didn't ditch Steve Williams, I probably would have pivoted to Ian Poulter and Louis Oosthuizen. I'm closing out the season with Justin Rose, so even if this doesn't go my way, I'll be mad only at Mark Immelman, which wouldn't be unprecedented. 72nd
Would it kill Louis Oosthuizen to perform in back-to-back weeks? Probably, so I'm riding with Brandt Snedeker. He was a member of the 2012 Ryder Cup team so he's played this track and his history at Torrey Pines suggests the length won't bother him. 74th
On the Mark
Louis Oosthuizen Truth: I had saved Tiger Woods for this event, and for obvious reasons, I have battled with myself over the last few days. To play him or not to play him? In the end I feel confident as I pivot to my South African compatriot. 82nd
Jordan Spieth It feels risky but I’m going for it. 254th
Tony Finau If anyone is due a win over the last few years it’s this guy ... and me ... in this league. 563rd
Saved him for this tournament. Hope he can rebound from a missed cut at the TNT to get back to #1 in the FedExCup.
NOTE: Select golfers committed to the tournament are listed alphabetically. Future tournaments are sorted chronologically and reflect previous success on the courses on which the tournaments will be held in 2018-19. The numerical values in parentheses represent the order of relative confidence of where to use each golfer if multiple sites are listed (e.g. 1 for strongest, 2 for next-strongest and so on). To present weighted confidence in real time, numerical values will not change all season no matter how many tournaments remain listed for each golfer. All are pending golfer commitment.
Paul Casey … TOUR Championship (3)
Billy Horschel … TOUR Championship (1)
Dustin Johnson … TOUR Championship (7)
Hideki Matsuyama … TOUR Championship (5)
Rory McIlroy … TOUR Championship (6)
Ryan Moore … TOUR Championship (9)
Jon Rahm … TOUR Championship (7)
Justin Rose … TOUR Championship (2)
Xander Schauffele … TOUR Championship (1)
Adam Scott … TOUR Championship (3)
Jordan Spieth … TOUR Championship (8)
Justin Thomas … TOUR Championship (3)
Tiger Woods … TOUR Championship (5; defending)