2021 BMW Championship Odds, Picks, Preview: Which Stats Matter Most at Caves Valley Golf Club?
Andrew Redington / Getty Images. Pictured: Joaquin Niemann
- The FedExCup Playoffs continue this week with the BMW Championship at Caves Valley Country Club.
- The track is a different kind of course than Liberty National, so a different kind of player could thrive this week.
- Matt Vincenzi breaks down the numbers ahead of the penultimate event of the PGA TOUR season.
The second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs brings us to Owings Mills, Maryland to play the BMW Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club.
Built in 1991, Caves Valley is a beautiful course that will provide some picturesque views for those tuning in. The course is full of rolling fairways and elevation changes. The 2021 BMW Championship will be the first visit to Caves Valley made by the PGA TOUR and the first TOUR event in Baltimore since 1964.
Caves Valley Golf Club is a par-72 measuring 7,542 yards and features bentgrass greens. The Tom Fazio design was recently updated to create more of a challenge for professional golfers set to arrive this week.
Still, there are some questions as to whether the golf course will be able to hold its own against the best in the world. Despite the lengthening of some holes and added emphasis on making the rough more penal, I anticipate a low scoring event somewhere in the -20 range.
The BMW Championship will play host to the top 70 golfers in the FedEx cup standings. It will be a no-cut event with all 70 golfers playing the weekend. The top 30 remaining in the FedEx cup standings after this week will move on to East Lake to play in the TOUR Championship.
Past Winners at The BMW Championship
- 2020: Jon Rahm (-4): Olympia Fields Country Club
- 2019: Justin Thomas (-25): Medina Country Club
- 2018: Keegan Bradley (-20): Aronimink Golf Club
- 2017: Marc Leishman (-23): Conway Farms Golf Club
- 2016: Dustin Johnson (-23): Crooked Stick Golf Club
5 Key Stats For Caves Valley Golf Club
Let’s take a look at five key metrics for Caves Valley Golf Club to determine which golfers boast top marks in each category over their last 24 rounds.
1. Strokes Gained: Approach
When identifying key statistics at a golf course that hasn’t been played on TOUR, the most logical starting point is Strokes Gained: Approach. Approach play will always be a major factor regardless of the course and is the most accurate measure of current form.
SG: Approach Past 24 Rounds
- Collin Morikawa (+34.1) (+1800)
- Paul Casey (+32.8) (+3000)
- Daniel Berger (+29.8) (+3500)
- Russell Henley (+29.7) (+6500)
- Louis Oosthuizen (+24.7)(+2200)
2. Strokes Gained: Off The Tee
Caves Valley has been lengthened to over 7,500 yards in preparation for the BMW Championship. While I don’t anticipate it playing excruciatingly long or eliminating short hitters, length will provide an advantage.
There are many holes where it will take long carry distances to get over fairway bunkers and even potentially go for the green. Driving accuracy should also play a factor with troublesome fairway bunkers and potentially thick rough in some areas of the course.
Strokes Gained: Off The Tee Over Past 24 Rounds:
- Bryson DeChambeau (+24.7) (+2500)
- Jon Rahm (+21.6) (+600)
- Brooks Koepka (+21.1) (+2500)
- Sergio Garcia (+18.5) (+11000)
- Patrick Cantlay (+17.5) (+2500)
3. Birdie or Better: Gained
The score this week will likely be in the -20 range which will create a need for golfers to make birdies in bunches. With last year’s BMW Championship crowning a -4 winner, a low scoring affair may appear to be a sharp contrast. However, 5 of the past 6 BMW Championships have had winning scores of -20 or better.
Birdie or Better: Gained Past 24 rounds:
- Cameron Smith (+26.8) (+2800)
- Scottie Scheffler (+26.1) (+3000)
- Jordan Spieth (+24.2) (+1600)
- Harris English (+22.5) (+3500)
- Jon Rahm (+22.5) (+600)
4. Strokes Gained: Putting (Bentgrass)
Bentgrass specialists may have an advantage at Caves Valley this week. In what may turn out to be a birdie fest, a hot putter will likely be a requirement to winning the event. While putting is always difficult to predict, the better a putter a player is, the more likely they are to be the guy with the hot putter that week.
SG: Putting Bentgrass Over Past 24 Rounds
- Cameron Tringale (+26.8) (+6000)
- Jason Kokrak (+25.4) (+8000)
- Alex Noren (+19.1) (+8000)
- Cameron Smith (+18.6) (+2800)
- Cameron Davis (+18.5) (+15000)
5. Strokes Gained Total: Tom Fazio Designs
Tom Fazio designed this course and after analyzing the layout, it seems to have many of the features of a typical Tom Fazio design. Rolling hills, slopes, and emphasizing the importance of angles is what makes his courses unique. I am targeting golfer’s who have previous success on other Fazio designs.
Strokes Gained: Total (Fazio Designs) Over Past 36 Rounds:
- Justin Thomas (+17.9) (+2000)
- Aaron Wise (+17.2) (+14000)
- Rory McIlroy (+14.2) (+2800)
- Dustin Johnson (+12.8) (+2200)
- Hideki Matsuyama (+12.8) (+4500)
BMW Championship Model Rankings
Below, I’ve compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Tee to Green (25%), SG: Approach (25%%), SG: Putting: bentgrass (14%), Birdie or Better: Gained (18%), and SG: Tom Fazio (18%).
- Rory McIlroy (+2800)
- Jon Rahm (+600)
- Jhonnatan Vegas (+13000)
- Hideki Matsuyama (+4500)
- Harris English (+3500)
- Brooks Koepka (+2500)
- Patrick Cantlay (+2500)
- Collin Morikawa (+1800)
- Dustin Johnson (+2200)
- Abraham Ancer (+3500)
BMW Championship Best Bets
Rory McIlroy(+2800, DraftKings): Rory let a lot of us down last week, but I have no problem going right back to him this week. Caves Valley should be a dream fit for McIlroy for a multitude of reasons.
For starters, he has historically been outstanding at Tom Fazio designs. He won at Quail Hollow earlier this season despite not having his “A” game and had another strong showing at Kasumigaseki Country Club for the Olympics – which is another Fazio design.
Something about these course layouts seemingly makes the Northern Irishmen feel at ease and looks very comfortable on those particular setups.
While his less than stellar performance last week may be a cause for concern, it should be noted that when he won at Quail Hollow back in May, he was coming off of back to back missed cuts.
Rory ranks 1st in my model this week and is in the top 13 of each of the five important stat categories, emphasizing how well Caves Valley may suit him.
He can be one of the more frustrating golfers to back of late due to his inconsistent play, but one thing that has been remarkably consistent throughout his career is his FedEx Cup playoff success.
McIlroy has five career playoff wins, which is second only to Dustin Johnson (6). Bettors should give Rory one more shot this week at the BMW Championship.
Hideki Matsuyama (+4500, DraftKings): Hideki Matsuyama is another golfer who excels at Tom Fazio designs. The 2021 Masters champion is a former winner at Firestone Country Club (2017) and also had a strong showing at this year’s Tokyo Olympics where he narrowly missed out on a bronze medal despite the exorbitant amount of pressure of playing in his home country.
Despite a subpar showing at The Northern Trust and the Wyndham Chamionship, Matsuyama is still in excellent form. Even though he only gained 0.2 strokes from tee to green at Liberty National and 1.9 at Sedgefield Country Club, he still is averaging +5.3 strokes in that category in his past five starts. He ranks 4th in my stat model this week and fits the mold of the type of golfer I am looking to bet at Caves Valley.
Grass type is always a factor when considering Matsuyama, and he has putted very well in his career on bentgrass. Augusta National has bentgrass greens and also shares some other similarities (blasphemy!) with Caves Valley.
Undulating fairways and strategically placed green locations that emphasize taking the correct angle on approach shots are important factors at Augusta, and that should also be the case this week. Caves Valley is a “shot makers” golf course and Hideki tends to thrive at those types of layouts.
Matsuyama is a bit of a forgotten man on the odds board this week due to back to back poor finishes. I will gladly take the discount on a golfer who is having one of the best seasons of his career and fits this course beautifully.
Joaquin Niemann (+6000, DraftKings): Although he is my final selection in terms of odds, Joaquin Niemann is my favorite bet on the board. The last time I tipped him was at the Rocket Mortgage Classic where he narrowly lost in a playoff to Cameron Davis. While the field is much stronger this week, I have a similar feeling on “The Wonder Kid”.
When considering whether or not to bet Niemann, there are always a few important factors that I consider. The first is putting surface. Bentgrass is far and away his preferred green type and much of his PGA TOUR success has come on similar greens.
The second is area of the country. Niemann’s first career win came at The Old White TPC (West Virginia), which is just a four hour drive to Caves Valley in Maryland.
The third and final factor is whether or not his incredible driving distance gives him a big advantage. After analyzing the course (albeit with limited data), I am of the opinion that driving distance will be a major factor this week.
With strategically located fairway bunkers that can be cut with big drives and potentially three driveable par 4’s on the course, Caves Valley should be a perfect fit for Joaquin.
I believe Niemann’s ascension to super stardom on TOUR is an inevitability, and a victory at the BMW Championship in a stacked field would propel the 22 year old Chilean to that destination.