Course: Conway Farms GC (Lake Forest, Illinois)
Yardage: 7,208 yards – Par 71
Purse: $8.75 M
Field: Top 70 players in FedEx Cup points to date
Recent BMW Championship Winners
*2012 and 2016 tournaments were held at Crooked Stick Golf Club
*2013 and 2015 tournaments were held at Conway Farms Golf Club
*2014 tournament was held at Cherry Hills Country Club
If you weren’t a believer after the PGA Championship, Justin Thomas had some more proof for you. Both Jordan Spieth and Marc Leishman went out shooting 30 on Sunday. With two competitors going six-under on the front nine, it appeared we had a shootout on our hands. But then Spieth and Leishman went surprisingly cold on the back. Thomas never blinked as he coasted easily to a three shot win. Thomas has worked his way up to become the world’s fourth ranked player.
If Thomas, Spieth, or Johnson wins the Tour Championship, I don’t see how you can vote for anyone else as player of the year. All three of these guys have played phenomenal golf this season. With just two weeks left, they have eight rounds of golf to play for a $10M payday plus bragging rights for the 2017 season.
By the end of this week we will find out which 30 players will head to East Lake for the Tour Championship. Leading up to that, the Top 70 players in the FedEx Cup standings will head to Lake Forest, Illinois for the BMW Championship. After trimming the playoff field from 100 to 70, the remaining golfers will tee it up this week at Conway Farms Golf Club. The field will be stacked as expected, although, after last week we’ve lost notables J.B Holmes, Branden Grace, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson, and Brandt Snedeker. Surely, by next week another handful of big-name golfers will be sitting on the sideline for the Tour Championship.
Conway Farms GC is a Tom Fazio designed course that is built on 209 acres of land just outside of Chicago. If you look above at the recent winners of this tournament, you’ll see that the BMW Championship has been played at a rotating schedule of courses. The other two times this event was played here was in 2013 and 2015. So, if you’re looking for course knowledge look at those two years’ leaderboards.
At about 7,200 yards, Conway Farms is the shortest course on the playoff schedule. In recent years, it has been the lowest scoring playoff course as well, with scores ranging from 14 to 23 under par. Jason Day and Zach Johnson were the two winners when the event was held here, so clearly long and short-hitters can succeed here. When Fazio built the course, he had the intention of it mimicking a Scottish Links course. Although scores will be lower, players will need a skill set like that for a British Open win.
Zach Johnson is a good example of that, having won both here and at St. Andrews in 2015. Good Drive % will be key this week. Links course hazards are more along the lines of pot bunkers and fescue rather than water and woods. So, you’ll need someone who constantly gives themselves a good lie and angle towards the green each hole. Birdie or better % is a must for success here. Last year, Dustin Johnson won with a score of 261, or 23 under par. That’s nearly an average of six under per round. Pars will not get it done here.
Target players who rank high in strokes gained: approach. There’s a reason why this stat plays a crucial part week after week. If you look at the Top 10 players in that statistic, 18 tournaments have been won by players within the Top 10 this season. Good ball-striking will be necessary to score on the three par 5s this week. A good wedge game will go a long way this week, as a good handful of holes will have players firing from inside 125 yards, so look at good ball strikers from the 100-125 range.
The par 5s all play close to 600 yards and six par 4s play 420 yards or less. This means most golfers will find themselves needing their approach proximity from 100-125 yards to be on point. Finally, look at players’ overall recent form. This is an obvious statement, as we generally look at players recent form for every event, but this is the playoffs. Golf is no different than other sports in the way that the playoffs are all about who gets hot at the right time. In recent seasons, the winner of the Tour Championship had also won a playoff event in the weeks leading up to it. So far, our playoff winners (Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas) are among the best odds to win each week going forward.
2017 BMW Championship Key Stats
Good Drive %
Birdie or better %
Strokes gained: Approach
Approach Proximity 100-125 yards