Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:57 AM

Best Bets - BMW Championship

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BMW Championship
Medinah Country Club – Par 72 – 7,657 yards

The second leg of a three-leg Fed-Ex Cup playoff system this year tees off on Thursday, as it's down to the Top 70 in the standings left with a chance. A return to Medinah Country Club is going to be a tough one, as this is a course known for hosting only big time events in the modern age – 1999, 2006 PGA Championship, 2012 Ryder Cup, 1975,1990 US Open – and it's a fitting test for this field of 70 to be whittled down to 30 guys for the Tour Championship at East Lake next week.

For the 70 guys that are playing this week, they'd all better be prepared (and able) to let “the big dog eat” an accurate meal, as length and accuracy off the tee are a necessity to find success here. Given that it was Tiger Woods – at the height of his powers – who won the two most recent Majors at Medinah (1999, 2006 PGA Championship), being able to be long and accurate is essential, and hopefully the putter gets hot.

Being one of the longer guys in this field will help said players take advantage of the four Par 5's the course offers, and as long as the tree-lined fairways to get guys caught up in too many punch out spots, low scores can be had. Targeting stats like driving length/accuracy, Strokes Gained: tee-to-green and approach are a great place to start this week.

Tiger's past success at Medinah is an interesting overhang to how the market treats him this week – one week after he withdrew from the Northern Trust – he still is someone that hasn't had great form for months now, as he's really started to show how ailing his body is. Nagging injuries have forced him to take too much time off in-between competitive rounds, and with his two starts the past two months resulting in a missed cut and a withdrawal, his course history tends to take on less significance. But in the +4000-4500 price range, those will look like some juicy odds to many on Tiger, recent form be damned, as he's proven he can get around this course when at his best. It's just tough to believe “his best” will be seen at any point the rest of this season.

But there are three other names out there that bettors should keep their eyes on this week, as all three have shorter odds than Tiger and for good reason. Each of them rank in the Top 10 in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-green, and long courses never seem to bother them at all. They've just got to hope that the putter doesn't betray them for any sustained period of time over the four days.

Golfers to Watch:

Jon Rahm (10/1) – Rahm finished last week T3, but after opening the Northern Trust with a 64, he just couldn't go low enough (68, 69, 69) the rest of the way to end up on top. There were moments over the weekend, and even late on Sunday that he saw his name atop the leaderboard, but back-to-back bogeys on 14 and 15 dropped him too far back and he could never recover. Chalk it up as another great learning experience for this highly talented golfer that will get his big time win on the PGA Tour sooner rather then later.

But a long course is always going to suit Rahm's eye in the sense that he never likes to leave the driver in the bag, and his 9th ranking in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-green is something that should serve him well this week. Being able to eliminate those handful of costly errors that he can tend to have throughout a round is the next step in his evolution as an elite level talent in today's game (in terms of winning more), and you can tell he's right on the ledge of doing so. In six starts over the past nine weeks, there hasn't been a finish worse than 11th for Rahm (3, 2, 1, 11, 7, and 3).

Considering that the Top 5 entering the Tour Championship virtually control their own destiny in terms of winning the Fed-Ex Cup next week, Rahm's current standing of 5th would love to be improved on. Medinah is a course that suits his style of play, even with no past competitive rounds here, and I do expect him to be a factor again this week in the 2019 playoffs.

Patrick Cantlay (22/1) – Cantlay has defined himself as one of the best up-and-coming ball strikers in the game – if he hasn't already arrived – and at 5th in the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-green, he's got the numbers to back up that claim.

Cantlay wasn't much of a factor last week but that's rather telling in a positive way as he still finished T12 with a -10 final score. He's a name that was never really a threat and yet he still had a Top 15 finish when all was said and done, it was just rounds of 70 on Thursday and Saturday that really held him back from getting onto that first page of the leaderboard. He currently sits 6th in the Fed-Ex Cup standings so jumping into that Top 5 wouldn't take much from him this week, he's just got to remain accurate off the tee.

But considering his Strokes Gained numbers are no worse than 18th in any of the six categories – his “worst” of 18th being in putting – a ball-strikers course like Medinah really suits his skill set. If he can put it all together for four days this week, a pole position (or near thereof) is what he'll be rewarded with heading to the Tour Championship.

Adam Scott (25/1) – Scott is one of the few names in this field that had great success here back in the 2006 PGA Championship, as he finished T3 that year. That course history does separate him from the other two names mentioned in this piece, but he's a great ball striker as well, that should find some success this week as well.

Scott's biggest flaw is his putting, but the new rules regarding leaving the flagstick in the cup in 2019 have seemingly helped with that tremendously. He's been able to use the flagstick as a much bigger target to aim at, and for him to jump to 40th on Tour in Strokes Gained: Putting is a huge improvement this year. But it's his ball striking that continues to be the hallmark of his game, as he's 4th in SG: Tee-to-green, 3rd in SG: Total, and 4th in SG: Approach.

Those types of numbers suggest that he's continually giving himself looks at the cup, is never too far off in terms of having a blowup round, and a 5th place last week thanks to a strong finish on the weekend (69-65) is a great type of momentum building result for him coming into this week. A decent finish is needed from him to assure himself of a tee time at East Lake next week, and that's precisely what I believe we will get from Scott at Medinah.

BMW Championship Odds
Brooks Koepka 8/1
Rory McIlroy 8/1
Jon Rahm 10/1
Dustin Johnson 14/1
Justin Thomas 16/1
Justin Rose 16/1
Webb Simpson 20/1
Patrick Cantlay 22/1
Patrick Reed 25/1
Adam Scott 25/1
Rickie Fowler 25/1
Tommy Fleetwood 25/1
Jordan Spieth 30/1
Xander Schauffele 30/1
Louis Oosthuizen 30/1
Paul Casey 40/1
Tony Finau 40/1
Bryson Dechambeau 40/1
Tiger Woods 50/1
Hideki Matsuyama 50/1
Jason Day 50/1
Matt Kuchar 50/1
Billy Horschel 50/1
Collin Morikawa 50/1
Francesco Molinari 60/1
Marc Leishman 60/1
Gary Woodland 60/1
Shane Lowry 60/1
Ian Poulter 60/1
Brandt Snedeker 60/1
Kevin Kisner 60/1
Jason Kokrak 60/1
Abraham Ancer 80/1
Ryan Moore 80/1
Byeong Hun An 80/1
Chez Reavie 80/1
Andrew Putnam 80/1
Rory Sabbatini 80/1
Sungjae Im 80/1
Joaquin Niemann 80/1
Rafael Cabrera Bello 80/1
Charles Howell III 100/1
Lucas Glover 100/1
Adam Hadwin 125/1
Keegan Bradley 125/1
Scott Piercy 125/1
Harold Varner III 125/1
Jim Furyk 150/1
Emiliano Grillo 150/1
Corey Conners 150/1
Dylan Frittelli 150/1
Troy Merritt 150/1
Si Woo Kim 150/1
J.T. Poston 150/1
Wyndham Clark 150/1
Cameron Champ 150/1
Phil Mickelson 150/1
Ryan Palmer 200/1
Vaughn Taylor 200/1
Kevin Tway 200/1
C.T. Pan 200/1
Graeme McDowell 250/1
J.B. Holmes 250/1
Max Homa 250/1
Keith Mitchell 250/1
Nate Lashley 250/1
Joel Dahmen 300/1
Sung Kang 300/1
Adam Long 500/1

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