2021 BMW Championship Picks, Buys & Fades: 3 Players to Target in FedExCup Playoffs
- The FedExCup Playoffs continue this week at Caves Valley Golf Club with the BMW Championship.
- The grind continues with the second-last event of the season, with 68 of the 69 players in the field having played last week at the Northern Trust.
- Chris Murphy lays out which players are trending up and down entering the BMW below.
It took a long time to finally get a winner at the first playoff event of the season, but it was well worth the wait as Tony Finau finally broke through for his second TOUR win.
This win was a long time coming for the big man, who has time and again fell short in his opportunities to break the Puerto Rico curse and notch a second victory. Now, he vaults himself into first in the current FedExCup Standings and one step closer to locking himself into the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
Finau certainly got it done on his own merit on Monday, but a couple of others in contention also gave him some help. First, it was Jon Rahm who seemed to be in control as he turned to the back nine of the final round, but he was leaving some short birdie putts out there. He then failed to take advantage of the drivable par-4 16th and eventually played himself out of contention with a bogey at 18.
Cameron Smith was the player who stayed alongside Finau down the stretch, birdieing the 17th to tie him at 20-under. The Aussie notched a par on the 72nd hole to send it to a playoff, but a sprayed and lost drive on the first playoff hole effectively ended the tournament.
Now, the PGA TOUR heads down I-95 to Baltimore and Caves Valley for the second playoff event with the remaining field cut down to 70. Patrick Reed will definitely be missing this week due to sickness, and at least for now it appears Louis Oosthuizen will make his return.
3 Buys for the BMW Championship
The current number one player in the world, Jon Rahm, was in control at Liberty National for roughly 65 holes, but he was caught and passed down those final seven. The final result will not dissuade me from buying into the Spaniard at the BMW, where he will undoubtedly be the top man one the oddsboard once again.
Rahm finished the week gaining more than three strokes per round on the field with his game tee to green. The only metric where he lost strokes was around the green, and that came to bite him at the 16th hole on Monday.
I will look for Rahm to tidy that up leading into the tournament in Baltimore, and if he continues to gain strokes ball striking at such an elite level it’s hard to imagine a scenario where he won’t be in position for the win over the weekend.
The best number early in the week on Rahm is +650 at BetMGM.
We get the top-70 or so players of the season teeing it up this week, so it’s difficult to parse through and narrow things down to just a few. One player who jumped out to me this week is someone we expect to have elite play with his ball striking, in Canadian Corey Conners.
It’s been an interesting last few events for Conners, having struggled to find that part of his game, but it seems he found it last week in Jersey City. He gained 6.76 strokes on the field tee to green over the weekend, with both his off-the-tee and iron play gaining more than a shot per round. Conners was a better putter from being in the mix this week as he finished T8 despite losing more than two shots to the field on his greens on Monday.
Conners is a player whose game will travel to any course when he is on, and it seems he has things headed in the right direction entering the BMW, for which he’s +4500 on DraftKings.
If I am looking for a big name to have a bounce back week, it has to be Bryson DeChambeau. He was extremely volatile at Liberty National, where he had 17 birdies or better across his first 36 holes, then sputtered on Saturday as he completely lost his irons.
DeChambeau was able to work things back in a positive direction on Monday, when he gained shots in both ball-striking metrics in a 3-under final round. The volatility he showed this week is often a sign of things coming together at this level, which was really highlighted recently by Kevin Kisner’s win at the Wyndham.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see things normalize in a good way for DeChambeau this week and for him to build upon three really positive rounds on approach, which is always his key to success. The big hitter opened the week at +3500 on DraftKings.
3 Fades for the BMW Championship
There was a lot more bad than good this week for Jordan Spieth. He had one fantastic round last week — a 9-under 62 on Friday that included back-to-back eagles. Unfortunately, that round was the outlier for Spieth, who posted over-par days in each of the other three, including the worst round of the field on Monday with an 8-over 79.
Spieth looked completely lost on the course when he was off his game, which happened quite a bit. I am willing to take a wait and see on Spieth for the BMW at a course that seems to be set to favor the longer hitters. I also expect he will still be a short price going into Baltimore, which certainly gives us a little more comfort in the fade.
Brian Harman is a similar story to Spieth. The only round he gained strokes on the field tee to green was on Friday, when he shot a 6-under 66. He combined across the other 54 holes to lose 9.3 strokes in that metric, including 5.56 on Saturday alone.
The former Georgia Bulldog has to be elite with his ball striking to compete because of his length off the tee. Harman has shown now for back-to-back weeks that he simply doesn’t have his game right now off a missed cut at the Wyndham and this 75th-place finish. He won’t be someone on my radar going into the week ahead for the BMW Championship.
It’s not often that we see a missed cut from Collin Morikawa, so it makes sense that news has recently come out about some injury concerns for the young star. He is still scheduled to tee it up in Baltimore, but I’ll be fading him this week.
Morikawa missed the cut by three shots at the Northern Trust, where he lost nearly three shots to the field tee to green in his opening round. He bounced back in that category on Friday, but the putter failed to get going, leaving him short of the number.
Assuming Morikawa stays in the field this week, he will be a fade for me since a back injury is always a concern in this game and we aren’t likely to get enough of a discount for him to be in consideration.
The Northern Trust Final Strokes Gained Data (avg/rd)
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