The top-70 golfers from the season-long FedExCup points standings are in Medinah, Ill. this week for the penultimate event on the 2018-19 PGA Tour schedule. Medinah Country Club hosts the BMW Championship for the first time. Here, we look at our top BMW Championship betting picks with an eye on the best values and sleepers.
The FedExCup point system is a point of contention for many after Patrick Reed soared from No. 50 to No. 2 in the standings with his win at The Northern Trust last week. Paul Casey dropped from No. 8 to No. 13 and Tiger Woods fell from No. 28 to 38 after Casey skipped the event and Woods withdrew ahead of his second-round tee time. The top 30 after this week will compete for next week’s Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta, Ga. Of those still standing in the season-long race are each of the top 24 from the Official World Golf Ranking.
As of Monday afternoon, Woods remains in this week’s field, but his status needs to be monitored throughout the week. He’ll need a good finish to qualify for the season finale, but he won’t jeopardize his quest for Jack Nicklaus‘ Majors record as he battles an oblique strain.
The course: Medinah Country Club
Medinah hasn’t hosted a traditional tournament since the 2006 PGA Championship. The previous event was the 1999 PGA Championship and both were won by Woods. The most recent competition was the 2012 Ryder Cup, won by a European side led by Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Paul Lawrie, Ian Poulter and Francesco Molinari.
The tournament is being played on Medinah’s No. 3 course. Rees Jones redesigned the original Tom Bendelow layout ahead of the 2006 Major. It now measures 7,657 yards and plays as a par 72. Two of the four par 5s exceed 600 yards, topping out with the 617-yard seventh. All four par 3s top 190 with two playing more than 200 yards, including the 245-yard 13th. Par 4s range from the 390-yard 15th hole to the 509-yard sixth.
Drastic elevation changes and the sheer length of the Major-caliber course will force golfers into attempting plenty of long approach shots. Water is very much in play on the 2nd, 12th, 13th, 15th and 17th. Three of the four par 3s shoot directly over the water with little landing room in front of the green. Bunkers surround all putting surfaces but the 12th green. Trees line all par 4 and par 5 fairways.
Key stats to consider for the BMW Championship
We’re left without significant statistical course history data for the second week in a row heading to the Tour’s annual conclusion at East Lake. Tailoring the stats to the course design and the quality of the field, we’re looking at the key stats of Strokes Gained: Ball Striking, Strokes Gained: Approach, Opportunities Gained, Greens in Regulation Gained and Proximity from 175-200 yards.
My model at Fantasy National looks at the most recent 36 rounds for each player in the field. Give an added consideration to player performance on courses featuring greens with a mix of Bentgrass of Poa Annua. Some recent tournaments to have been played on such courses include the Travelers Championship, the WGC-Mexico Championship and the Safeway Open.
BMW Championship picks: sleepers and value bets
Corey Conners +16000 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Conners (pictured above) enters the week off of a T21 finish at The Northern Trust. He was T22 the week before and T27 the week before that. He moved up from 31st to 27th in the FedExCup standings with one week to go, but he’ll need a strong finish to keep his spot at East Lake.
The Canadian has one win and three top 10s on the season, and he enters in fine form, ranking ninth overall in the stat model. He is second in GIR Gained, fifth in SG: Ball Striking and ninth from the key Proximity distance. He moved up from 267th to 84th in the OWGR this season and is coming off one of his best putting performances. Conners gained 0.61 strokes per round at Liberty National, according to Data Golf. The flat stick has held him back many times this year, but another hot week would tie his game together and could get him back in the winner’s circle.
Joaquin Niemann +8000 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Niemann is in desperate need of a top finish in order to extend his season. He rose from 74th to 70th in the FEC standings with a T30 finish last week. He’ll need to rise another 40 spots to play one more event.
He ranks inside the top 20 in all key stats but proximity. Putting has held him back all season. He ranks 145th on Tour with .177 strokes lost per round. One of his best performances of the year was at the Travelers (played on a mix of Bentgrass and Poa) where he gained 0.98 strokes per round. Replicating that putting performance could get him the 2,000 winner points he’ll need.
Collin Morikawa +6600 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Morikawa struggled to a finish of T52 last week. The regression was to be expected for the red-hot rookie and winner of the Barracuda Championship, as he had been dominating watered-down fields during his rise to 85th in the world. He’s a better statistical fit this week than last. The 22-year-old is fifth in the stat model and ranks no lower than 18th in any of the five key stats. He’s fourth in SG: Approach, fifth in Opportunities Gained and ninth in GIR Gained.
He fell from 49th to 57th in the FEC standings last week and will need a top showing to copy Reed and vault into contention for East Lake.
BMW Championship betting picks: Our winner
Paul Casey +4500 (FanDuel Sportsbook)
Casey enters the week 13th in the FEC standings after spending last week with his family. He’s almost assured a spot in the finale’s field, but positioning is still key with the new seeding rules for the Tour Championship. The higher he ranks, the lower his starting score will be. He fell from 19th to 21st in the OWGR last week, but he still has the 19th-best odds to win at FanDuel and 17th-best at DraftKings.
The Englishman is second in the stat model with four top-six ranks in the key stats. He’s second in ball striking and fifth in Opportunities Gained. Casey ranks fourth in the field in average DraftKings points at events played on the Bentgrass/Poa mix, according to FanShareSports. Look for the rest to pay off as he seeks his first win since March. The 2,000 points would likely put him ahead of Brooks Koepka and start him atop the leaderboard next week.