2021 BMW Championship Odds, Picks, Predictions: Top 5 Course Fits for Caves Valley Golf Club
Stacy Revere / Getty Images. Pictured: Viktor Hovland
The FedExCup Playoffs roll into their second week with the top 70 players on the PGA Tour advancing to the BWW Championship. It’ll be a quick turnaround for most of the field as they are coming off of a Monday finish thanks to the weather difficulties in New Jersey at the Northern Trust.
For bettors, there is even more cause for hesitation with the Tour playing at Caves Valley Golf Club in the Baltimore area for the first time.
A limited number of the players in this week’s field have seen Caves Valley during its time hosting some premier amateur events, but this will be the first time the 30-year old course will welcome the world’s top pros to its fairways and greens.
With limited data on Caves Valley, it is more difficult to parse out exactly who best fits at Caves Valley, yet we can use some context clues and similar courses to approximate as best as we can.
Billy Horschel (+8000)
A small handful of this week’s field has competitive experience at Caves Valley. The course hosted the 2005 Men’s NCAA Championships, won by a Georgia team featuring several future pros. Chris Kirk and recent Tour winner Kevin Kisner both played for the Bulldogs that year and are in the field this week.
You’d have to expect one tournament played 16 years ago is a distant memory, especially with the course playing differently for pros than the college players.
If you do want to infer future success based on past success at Caves Valley, my eye is on Billy Horschel. Two years after those NCAA Championships, Horschel was a member of the United States team that won the 2007 Palmer Cup, an annual Ryder Cup-style event for college golfers.
That team also featured Dustin Johnson, Brian Harman, Chris Kirk, and Webb Simpson, who are in the field this week, though it was Horschel who stole the show.
The Florida Gator was 4-0 that week, with only one of his matches even continuing past the 16th green. It’s a faint hope to assume he harbors some institutional knowledge about they course, but with odds these long, it’s worth a flier.
Joaquin Niemann (+6000)
While the pros have not played this particular course, they are all intimately familiar with its designer. Caves Valley is one of the many creations of golf course architect Tom Fazio, whose work is spotted throughout the PGA Tour season.
Just this season, the Tour has already visited three Fazio designs – Shadow Creek, Congaree, and Quail Hollow. Niemann’s been one of the more consistent performers across those events, finishing 6th at the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek and T18 at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.
His mix of bombs off the tee and ball-striking in the fairway makes him malleable to most courses, and this has made him particularly effective at Fazio’s designs.
Viktor Hovland (+3300)
Similarly, Hovland has been strong in his two trips to Fazio courses on Tour this season. The young Norwegian placed in a tie for 12th at the CJ Cup and a tie for 3rd at Quail Hollow.
In both tournaments, he protected against his weakness around the green with strong performances off the tee, on approach shots, and with his putter.
If Hovland can repeat that recipe, he’s a factor to win this week in Baltimore. He has not missed a cut in any event since the Players Championship all the way back in March.
Webb Simpson (+4000)
With a spot on the American Ryder Cup team on the line, Simpson has been playing very strong golf lately. He’s made his last four cuts, including three top 20 finishes in that span.
Simpson is riding his short game to those strong finishes, ranking 8th in the world in Strokes Gained: Around the Green over the last six months.
As a veteran on Tour, he’s highly aware of Fazio’s work. Simpson has always played well at Firestone, a Fazio build, averaging 1.66 strokes better than the field in his rounds there. He also finished in the top ten the last time this event went to a Fazio course, in 2017 at Conway Farms.
Collin Morikawa (+2000)
When every player is facing a new challenge, there are certain skills and mindsets that prevail. Sure, you’d expect Jon Rahm to also play well this week, but at just +550, it’s tough to find value on the world’s top ranked player.
A bit lower down the board, Collin Morikawa is a more intriguing bet. The game’s best ball-striker is going to be in line to compete on almost any course set-up.
If he can learn the greens at Caves Valley by the weekend, his irons will have him lining up birdie putt after birdie putt. That chance is worth the value of these odds.
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