As miracles go, what transpired in the Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club in 2012 hardly qualifies as such for Chicagolanders. After all, the Cubs won the World Series four years later, their first title since 1908, 16 years before Medinah was founded. Nevertheless, the biennial match that pits the United States against Europe and in which the visitors rallied from a four-point deficit entering singles to prevail 14½-13½, is the most recent significant golf contested on the course west of the Windy City.
The mini-drought ends this week with the BMW Championship. As of midday Monday, all but one of the 70 qualifiers are committed to the second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs. The top 30 in FedExCup points at its conclusion will advance to next week's TOUR Championship. (Kevin Na withdrew on Monday. His wife is due to deliver the couple's second child soon. At 55th in points, he cannot advance.)
For a breakdown of Medinah, the trend that keeps all hopes alive and more, scroll past the projected contenders.
POWER RANKINGS: BMW CHAMPIONSHIP
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 20 Tony Finau 19 Tommy Fleetwood 18 Jason Kokrak 17 Brandt Snedeker 16 Andrew Putnam 15 Jordan Spieth 14 Paul Casey 13 Billy Horschel 12 Patrick Cantlay 11 Webb Simpson 10 Ian Poulter 9 Louis Oosthuizen 8 Dustin Johnson 7 Justin Thomas 6 Adam Scott 5 Jon Rahm 4 Patrick Reed 3 Brooks Koepka 2 Rory McIlroy 1 Justin Rose
Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Matt Kuchar, Tiger Woods and defending champion Keegan Bradley will be reviewed in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider with other notables.
The No. 3 course at Medinah CC is the backdrop for the BMW Championship. It's a stock par 72 with 7,613 yards at the PGA TOUR's expense, or is it expanse? The par-5 seventh and 14th hole stretch longer than 600 yards each, and the nine-longest of the 10 par 4s average 456.8 yards, yet the course is 45 yards shorter than its setup for the 2012 Ryder Cup.
Rees Jones' upgrade for the team competition added nearly 100 yards of length since it hosted the 2006 PGA Championship when Tiger Woods ran away with a five-shot victory at 18-under 270. For this week's BMW, the par-4 ninth hole is 15 yards longer and tips at 447 yards, but the par-4 15th is down 60 yards to a scorecard reading of just 331 yards.
Ah, the par-4 15th. It's the only par 4 shorter than the 412-yard third hole.
Medinah has "only" two water hazards in play, the smaller of which is the pond that Jones built right of the landing area on the newly constructed 15th. It's drivable, but with shaved collection areas, the risk might exceed the reward. Then again, unlike the Ryder Cup when four-ball both encouraged and protected decisions to go for it, the penultimate event of the 2018-19 season is a stroke-play competition, so philosophies in course management will vary. Thirteen of the 24 participants of the 2012 Ryder Cup are in this week's field.
The other water hazard – how can you miss it? – is Lake Kadijah. Arguably the face on the property, three of the par 3s are played over it – Nos. 2, 13 and 17. The 13th is the signature hole at Medinah, but at 245 yards, escaping with par is doing work. It's easily the longest one-shotter on the walk. The look at the 17th requires a full carry as the water fronts a wide target, but distance control is key as the hole plays shorter than its 193 yards due to a downhill angle.
The undulating greens at Medinah are about average in size. They're prepped to run up to 12-and-a-half feet on the Stimpmeter, weather cooperating. And it should, although it might take a day for the bentgrass surfaces to touch that max length. Early-week rain will soften them. Slightly cooler and definitely drier air will greet the field on Thursday before another warming pattern returns to push daytime highs into the upper 80s on the weekend. After light winds out of the north for the opening round, slightly stronger breezes will shift to the prevailing direction out of the southwest for the remainder.
No question that Medinah also conjures immediate recall of Sergio Garcia blindly thwacking his approach at the par-4 16th en route to a runner-up finish at the 1999 PGA Championship, also captured by Woods, but by just one stroke. The oak tree that took the brunt of the Spaniard's lash is long gone – it couldn't withstand members and others attempting the same shot in the years following Garcia's atypical green in regulation – but those on site this week can find promise in the opportunity that awaits at the tournament's conclusion.
Since the current points structure was introduced in 2015, 14 golfers outside the top 30 entering the BMW Championship played their way into the TOUR Championship. However, for those deep in the ranks, it might require a podium finish to play on.
While positioning and variance in between is unique to every Playoffs, the best finish by a golfer outside the top 30 who failed to advance was Ryan Palmer's five-way T4 in 2016. He started the week seeded 47th and finished 34th. It's one of only five top 10s in the BMW since 2015 that wasn't enough to survive. All of the top-21 seeds at the BMW in the same time frame have advanced.
ROB BOLTON’S SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Insider Rob Bolton recaps and previews every tournament from numerous angles. Look for his following contributions as scheduled.
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf, which also publishes on Tuesday.