Two down and two to go. Henrik Stenson won by two shots over Steve Stricker at the Deutsche Bank Championship as he carded a final-round 66 to move into first place in the FedEx Cup standings.
This week the Top 70 players in the standings head west to Lake Forest, Illinois for the BMW Championship taking place at Conway Farms Golf Club. The Top 30 in the standings after this week head to the Tour Championship next week, the final leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Tiger Woods fell into second place but he is just 14 points behind Stenson. The Top 10 is loaded with big names including Adam Scott (third), Matt Kuchar (fourth), Phil Mickelson (sixth), Justin Rose (seventh), Steve Stricker (eighth) and Brandt Snedeker (ninth).
There are also some big names outside the Top 30 that need a big week to get to the Tour Championship including Nick Watney (34th), Rickie Fowler (36th), Bubba Watson (40th), Rory McIlroy (41st) and Luke Donald (54th).
This is the first time Conway Farms has hosted a PGA Tour event. Designed and built in 1991 by Tom Fazio, it is relatively new to the scene and will be new for most players. It is a Par 71, 7,216-yard layout which resembles Shinnecock Hills, the links-style golf club on Long Island, and it was set up that way by Fazio through advice from one of the founders Gus Hart. Its main defense is the wind along with fairways lined with fescue and heather as well as fairly small greens.
The favorite this week is of course Woods (+500) while defending champion Rory McIlroy (+2,000) is still getting short odds despite a lackluster year as well as his BWM Championship coming on a different course.
With this being a new course to nearly every player in the field, it sets up as a pretty wide open tournament with a lot of the players outside the Top 30 likely to play more aggressive this week to move up in the standings. Expect more conservative play from the higher-ranked players.
Justin Rose (+2,000) has looked sharp through the first two playoff events, finishing T2 at The Barclays and finished T16 at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He is currently seventh in the FedEx Cup standings, so a big week here gets him into the Top 5 where he could control his own destiny next week. While this is a different venue, he won the BMW Championship in 2011, so he knows how to win late.
Luke Donald (+2,500) has had a pretty disappointing season by his standards. He has more missed cuts (5) than he has Top 10s (4) and has dropped to 13th in the world. He needs to make a move as he is 54th in the FedEx standings but if there’s a place to do so, this is it. He has been a member at Conway Farms for 10 years so if anyone has a course knowledge edge, it’s Donald.
Why stop now. Graham DeLaet (+3,000) once again nearly won his first PGA Tour event, finishing solo third at the Deutsche Bank Championship which came after a T2 at The Barclays. I mentioned possible conservative play from the higher-ranked players. DeLaet is now fifth in the standings, but he’s playing exceptional. He’s ranked first in total driving and third in green hits.
Hunter Mahan (+3,000) has put together a very solid season without having won. He has four Top 10s and was in position for a win in Canada before needing to withdraw because of the birth of his child. He’s coming off a T13 in Boston, which moved him to 18th in the FedEx Cup standings. He’s the only player in the history of the playoffs to play in every event, so that says something about playoff pressure.
We will use Bill Haas (+5,000) as a long shot this week. He knows the pressures of the playoffs and has succeeded, winning the 2011 FedEx Cup Championship. In 23 events this year, he has nine Top 10s which leads the tour. He’s coming off a missed cut at the Deutsche Bank Championship but the week off is to his benefit. He already has a win at the AT&T National this year.Recommended tournament win five Pack at the BMW Championship (all for one unit)
Justin Rose (+2,000)
Luke Donald (+2,500)
Graham DeLaet (+3,000)
Hunter Mahan (+3,000)
Bill Haas (+5,000)
2012 Record to date after 36 events: +51.6 Units
2013 Record to date after 33 events: -50.4 Units