Power Rankings: BMW Championship
September 14, 2015
By Rob Bolton, PGATOUR.COM
- Zach Johnson won the BMW Championship the last time it was played at Conway Farms in 2013. (Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)
After a Labor Day finish of the Deutsche Bank Championship where Rickie Fowler slingshot to a one-stroke victory, the FedExCup Playoffs resumes at this week's BMW Championship.
Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago, returns as host. Zach Johnson won in its first spin at the 2013 BMW, but it was arguably more remembered as the site of Jim Furyk's 59 in the second round. That remains the most recent of six such aggregates in PGA TOUR history. Somewhat overlooked is that Furyk entered the record book on a day not plum for scoring. The par-71 track averaged +0.086 strokes to par for the round and no one else scored lower than 65.
While every sub-60 is unexpected, the threat of another at Conway Farms this week is further minimized by a handful of modifications to the Tom Fazio design. All 18 greens have new Bentgrass surfaces; there are a half-dozen new bunkers in key landing areas off tees; and several other bunkers were deepened. Overall course length is up 49 yards to 7,198. New back tees at the par-4 fourth and par-3 17th holes highlight four increases on individual holes.
Further dispelling Conway Farms as a pushover, Johnson was one of only five golfers with red numbers in every round two years ago. His 16-under 268 paced the field of 70. Of the 27 golfers who finished inside the top 25 that week, 21 are back, so course familiarity will have value, although Conway Farms has hosted a number of amateur events over the years in addition to a sectional qualifier for the U.S. Open in 2008.
The 2013 field averaged 70.811, which qualifies Conway Farms as a fair test. Other than a distance-of-all-drives average of just 274.1 yards, seventh-lowest on TOUR that season, there wasn't anything particularly challenging or easy that week. How it plays this time around remains to be determined, but all golfers will get four rounds as there is no cut.
In recognition of its approval, it was announced last week that Conway Farms will again host the BMW Championship in 2017. In fact, host locations through 2019 are locked in. Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana, the 2012 host, will take the reins again next year.
In what might be the last blast of summer weather on Thursday, strong winds from the southwest will accompany a high temperature in the low 80s, so anything under par is likely to be followed with glowing rhetoric. The greatest threat for inclement conditions rises into focus on Friday, but the cooling will begin. By the time the weekend rolls around, more stable air will begin taking command and seasonable highs in the low 70s will give locals the reminder that autumn is imminent.
POWER RANKINGS: BMW CHAMPIONSHIP
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 1 Jason Day 2 Henrik Stenson 3 Jordan Spieth 4 Rickie Fowler 5 Rory McIlroy 6 Zach Johnson 7 Jim Furyk 8 Patrick Reed 9 Hideki Matsuyama 10 Matt Kuchar 11 Bubba Watson 12 Justin Rose 13 Matt Jones 14 Kevin Kisner 15 Dustin Johnson 16 Louis Oosthuizen 17 Daniel Summerhays 18 Russell Knox 19 Brooks Koepka 20 Sergio Garcia