2018 BMW Championship preview

Newtown Square, Pa. — In 1899 in a small village named Golf, Ill. was a tournament which began as The Western Open at Glen View Golf & Polo Club.

Now fast forward 119 years and while the village, which is in Cook Country, has 494 people living in it, the now BMW Championship is in high gear and coming to a new-look Aronimink Golf Club.

The third of four events tees off Thursday as the BMW Championship gets under way with a field of 69 golfers.

After Monday’s finish at the Dell Technologies Championship, there is a quick turnaround to prepare for this event with the top 30 golfers advancing to the TOUR Championship.

Tuesday, the field of 70 was cut by one when Daniel Berger withdrew due to a chronic wrist injury. He came into the week ranked 65th in the FedExCup point standings, meaning his season is over.

Someone whose season most certainly is not over is Bryson DeChambeau, who with his wins the last two weeks has assured himself of the top spot in the FedExCup Playoffs heading into the season’s final event at the TOUR Championship in two weeks time.

“I’m a little tired, not going to lie,” he admitted. “Winning two in a row is a lot more than I thought it would be mentally and physically. There’s a lot more obligations that come around with that but it’s really an honor and I want to keep doing it. Again, this is a new territory for me and I’m learning how to navigate the waters.”

DeChambeau is at a huge advantage and easily could have taken the next two weeks off to be fresh for the TOUR Championship and the Ryder Cup, of which he was named a captain’s pick Tuesday, but chose not to do so.

“I thought about taking a week off, I couldn’t do that,” said DeChambeau. “I couldn’t do that to the BMW and I couldn’t do that to all of the fans and sponsors that have helped put this event on. I want to win three in a row and get some world rankings points as well.”

Last year’s champion in this event was Marc Leishman who beat Rickie Fowler and Justin Rose by five shots in an event which took place at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Ill.

“It is obviously a different feeling being at a different venue, but the other two tournaments I’ve tried to defend at the same venue, I haven’t managed to do so,” he said. “I’ll look at it as a positive and see if I can do that here this week.”

The win along with playing on several occasions with Tiger Woods throughout the year has made him a more recognizable golfer outside of the ropes.

“I’m happy to be noticed a little more now, but that comes along with playing well I guess,” said Leishman. “I enjoyed it when I could just fly under the radar and all that, but I’m enjoying the way it is now too.”

Work left to do

This week has the most dramatic cut of all the FedEx Cup as 40 golfers will see their season end by tournament’s end.

So far, there are 20 golfers who have secured their places at East Lake Golf Club, which means there are 10 spots available for the remaining 49 in the field.

First on that list is Patton Kizzire who needs to finish the week without withdrawing to make it to East Lake. Leishman’s spot in Atlanta is secure, provided he finishes solo 53rd or better and Tiger Woods needs to place solo 37th or better.

Rory McIlroy enters the week 24th and will need to place a solo 44th or better.

“I haven’t played well enough when it really mattered,” McIlroy said of his season. “I’ve given myself chances and put myself in position to win golf tournaments. I had the one win at Bay Hill but I’ve been giving myself chances and I haven’t capitalizes. There’s still two events coming up and a couple of good weeks coming up can definitely change the perspective of the season.”

After missing the opening two FedExCup playoff events due to a right oblique injury, Rickie Fowler is currently 26th and also will advance if he finishes at least in solo 29th.

“We have some work to do this week and I think, ultimately, I’d like to not just get into East Lake but put myself in a good position to have a chance there,” said Fowler. “So, we’ve fallen back a little bit these last two weeks but no reason we can’t play well here, I’ve played well here in the past and go give ourselves a real legitimate shot going into East Lake.”

Our picks

Zac Weiss

1. Justin Rose- It is clear how much Philadelphia means for Rose who won on this course in 2010 and the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Country Club. Though Gil Hanse has led a renovation of Aronimink, Rose certainly has to feel a certain level of comfort. Additionally, Rose paced second at the Dell Technologies Championship and with one less day to prepare for this event compared to normal TOUR weeks, that could play a factor as well.

2. Tony Finau– Simply put, Finau enjoys the bigger events and right now

3.  Phil Mickelson– Mickelson’s Sunday round of 8-under par 63 is very encouraging, as was his statement that he seemed to figure something out. This has the potential to be a good week for him if that indeed holds true and his 4-under par round of 67 Saturday also shows that he seems to be in a good spot with his game.

4. Cameron Smith– This is not really a sleeper pick if you have been paying attention to the past two week’s results. Smith, tied for third at The NORTHERN TRUST and placed solo third this past week at Dell Technologies Championship. His game is in fine form right now and it would not be surprising at all if Smith ends up in the winner’s circle for a second time on the PGA TOUR.

Chris Pohl

1. Francesco Molinari – He still has one more victory in him this year and his fairways and greens approach bodes well at Aronimink.

2. Brooks Koepka – Yes, I know it’s not a major, but it is time for him to win a layman’s tourny

3. Tommy Fleetwood – His control style of play should fit Aronimink well

4. Jordan Spieth – To me he is more of a sleeper right now. He’s talking about putting together consistent rounds, lack of a cut should help him sustain that.

They said it

“I just continue to approach it the way I have the last couple weeks and that’s winning the FedExCup. Seems to have worked the last couple of weeks for me. There’s a lot of variables when you bring Ryder Cup talk into it, but I know if I just keep doing the things I’ve been doing and put together a good week, then hopefully it happens. It’s something that I dreamed of since I was a kid, to be able to represent my country and play in the Ryder Cup.” – Tony Finau on if he approaches this week as a one week audition for the Ryder Cup

“About 90 percent of the information that I have is proprietary and we will not let anybody know. I’m trying my best to keep it a secret as much as possible. That 10 percent, I love throwing out there and giving everybody a little thought of something that’s a little different and unique.” – Bryson DeChambeau

“Sorry for whoever is typing this or recording this.” – DeChambeau while explaining in some length how to measure body performance

Chris Pohl also assisted with this article

Author: Zac Weiss