The BMW Championship is the third of the four FedEx Cup play-off tournaments. The top 70 players in the standings qualify but reaching the Tour Championship is now the main objective. The leading 30 players in the rankings qualify for the season finale with the FedEx Cup and $10 million dollar bonus up for grabs. The hottest player in the world just now is Bryson DeChambeau but Justin Rose finished second behind him in the second play-off event and can go one better this week.
The Tour Championship is one of the most prestigious prizes in US golf but it is overshadowed by two bigger concepts. Even multi-millionaires are interested in the huge financial rewards for winning the FedEx Cup. Many of the leading contenders will be playing for nothing in the Ryder Cup two weeks after the Tour Championship. The automatic qualifiers have been decided but captains Thomas Bjorn and Jim Furyk have some tough decisions to make regarding wildcard picks. There are four places to be decided on both teams but the United States look the stronger outfit.
However, Europe have overcome the odds and better opponents based on world rankings in the past, especially at home. The Ryder Cup goes to France for the first time this year and the European Tour players have a great deal of experience of Le Golf National near Paris. Sadly no French players have qualified but the crowd will be mainly supporting Europe. The Ryder Cup is rare in that the whole continent unite under the EU flag and beating the United States is a common goal.
As the field is limited to 70 players there is no 36-hole cut in the BMW Championship. In fact everyone tees it up knowing they can still win the FedEx Cup. Players at the lower end of the point’s standings know two good weeks can change their life and career. Every qualifier for the penultimate event can still win the FedEx Cup and life changing bonus. Tiger Woods is the only two-time FedEx Cup winner and he is still in the running to make it three. The host course for the BMW Championship is at Aronimink Golf Club in Pennsylvania.
This is a returning location for the Tour and first impressions are that it will now be a demanding layout that requires a good all-round game for decent scoring. It’s a tree-lined course with bunkers on the fairways and alongside the greens. The fairways are quite wide but the hazards must be avoided through accurate driving. The greens are large and undulating. Driving will be a key skill and Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy excel in this area but Rose is competent in all the key skills.
DeChambeau has won the first two play-off events so has a big lead in the current FedEx Cup point’s table. He has an unusual scientific approach to golf and strange putting stroke. He is a bit unconventional but the ends have justified the means in the last two weeks. Mental letdown could be an issue so he might relax this week and then refocus for the Tour Championship. Johnson, Rose Tony Finau and Justin Thomas are second to fifth in the standings after two consistent weeks.
The beauty of the FedEx Cup playoffs is that everything can happen. Usually all the 30 qualifiers for the Tour Championship can still win the big prize but the top five can control their own destiny. Winning the BMA Championship is rewarding in its own right but getting into a strong position for the Tour Championship is paramount. DeChembeau is in the driving seat. However, Rose is a course winner this week so he can win the BMW Championship and improve on his ninth place finish in the FedEx Cup last season and win the trophy and bonus this year.