As the season draws to a close, there’s time for the PGA Tour train to make two more stops, the first of which is at Caves Valley Golf Club, where the prestigious BMW Championship, which is the second oldest competition in the US, will be hosted. This will be the first time in nearly 50 years that a PGA Tour event has taken place in Baltimore. FedEx Cup challengers will be looking to gain valuable points in this penultimate event.
Following THE NORTHERN TRUST, which finished late due to adverse weather conditions, the top 70 in the FedEx Cup rankings will tee it up this week. Current FedEx Cup champion Dustin Johnson had his hopes of retaining his crown dented last week as he narrowly missed the cut at Liberty National, though Jon Rahm, who usurped the likes of Collin Morikawa, Jordan Spieth, and Patrick Cantlay, who won this event last year, was leading the way following ahead of last week’s event, and it looked for all to see that he was on his way to holding a big lead in the standings as he appeared to have victory sewn up in Jersey City, but it wasn’t to be. The Spaniard bids to defend his BMW Championship title and claim his second win of the campaign. Don’t be fooled, though, with 2000 FedEx Cup points on offer to the winner this week, Rahm isn’t the only player in the running.
No fewer than 142 events after his last victory, Tony Finau finally grabbed his second win on the PGA Tour on Monday, beating Cameron Smith in a play-off at Liberty National, and as a result, the big-hitting Ohioan has leapfrogged everybody in the standings. Finau comes into this tournament as the leader in the FedEx Cup race. Despite losing in Monday’s Playoff, Aussie Smith is by no means out of the fight for FedEx Cup glory, while Jon Rahm, Patrick Cantlay, and Justin Thomas are all among the realistic candidates too.
The Aforementioned trio of Morikawa, Cantlay, and Spieth all still have real chances of success, as does Harris English, who prior to last week
Caves Valley Golf Club
Another of the Tom Fazio-designed tracks, Caves Valley Golf Club, which opened in 1991, tests many aspects of a player’s game. At 7,542 yards, distance is reasonably important, but so is accuracy, especially after updates have been made in recent times. The course now features more strategically placed rough, while additional bunkers have been added too.
This will be the first time that a PGA Tour event has been played at Caves Valley, which contains speedy greens, as well as no shortage of hazards, particularly hazards of the wet variety, meaning that clever position play is required. Being long off the tee should be an advantage this week, but with some short Par 4’s, distance isn’t likely to be everything.
As we’re talking about a new course for all the players involved, there’s some guesswork to be done, but as always, the trusty strokes gained: tee-to-green is something to focus on, while thanks to the layout in Baltimore, those known for both plotting their way around courses and hitting plenty of greens in regulation should be at an advantage.
Stats to consider at Caves Valley
Some stats worth focusing on ahead of this event have been included below, followed by the current top 15 (from this field) in those areas on the PGA Tour this season.
Strokes gained: tee-to-green: Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa, Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Keegan Bradley, Bryson DeChambeau, Paul Casey, Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Corey Conners, Viktor Hovland, Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Sergio Garcia, Will Zalatoris.
Strokes gained: off-the-tee: Bryson DeChambeau, Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy, Viktor Hovland, Corey Conners, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Champ, Joaquin Niemann, Patrick Cantlay, Scottie Scheffler, Sungjae Im, Matt Fitzpatrick, Dustin Johnson, Abraham Ancer.
Strokes gained: approach: Collin Morikawa, Paul Casey, Justin Thomas, Russell Henley, Keegan Bradley, Jon Rahm, Daniel Berger, Corey Conners, Will Zalatoris, Charley Hoffman, Hideki Matsuyama, Emiliano Grillo, Xander Schauffele, Tyrell Hatton, Sam Burns.
Greens in Regulation: Jon Rahm, Emiliano Grillo, Collin Morikawa, Daniel Berger, Aaron Wise, Corey Conners, Keegan Bradley, Will Zalatoris, Sergio Garcia, Martin Laird, Russell Henley, Kevin Streelman, Patrick Cantlay, Webb Simpson, Abraham Ancer.
Driving Accuracy: Abraham Ancer, Corey Conners, Collin Morikawa, Sungjae Im, Martin Laird, Matt Fitzpatrick, Webb Simpson, Kevin Kisner, Kevin Na, Russell Henry, Kevin Streelman, Keegan Bradley, Harris English, Billy Horschel, Daniel Berger.
|Odds To Win +1800|
|Draft Kings $10,000|
|World number three Collin Morikawa is impossible to ignore this week. At a course where plotting seems like it will be key, one of the best plotters on tour needs to go in as a must-have.|
Accuracy off the tee is something that Morikawa has in droves, while he’s also the best player on tour (and thus in this field) in terms of strokes gained: approach, meaning that he ranks very highly in terms of strokes gained: tee-to-green too. In fact, only Jon Rahm boasts better numbers in that area. Four top-five finishes in his last six events, one of the very best players in the world should be high up in anybody’s draft preferences this week, that’s for sure.
|Odds To Win +700|
|Draft Kings $11,700|
|Bolstering the must-haves with the most high-end pick possible does mean sacrificing quality further down the order, but you want the big players in the big events, and how can we not include the Spaniard.|
The current holder of this event was outstanding in defeat last week, while he’s been a high-finishing machine this season, winning once and finishing inside the top ten on no fewer than TEN other occasions. Rahm hits more greens in regulation than anybody else in the field, while he’s also the best here in terms of strokes gained: tee-to-green. Quite simply, if he’s on it, few names will be above him on the leader board come Sunday evening and thus he’s a man to have on side.
|Odds To Win +10000|
|Draft Kings $6,500|
|Outside of the big names, few players appeal more than Emiliano Grillo this week. With iron accuracy, as well as precision on approach, likely to be at a premium, the man who hits no shortage of greens in regulation, ranking as the second best in this field with a GIR percentage of 71.44, fits the bill.|
The Argentine also picks up plenty of strokes on approach, while he’s not exactly been a stranger to positioning himself high up the leader board this season, posting finishes of T11, T6, T2, T14, T8 and T12.
|Odds To Win +4000|
|Draft Kings $8,200|
|Without turning too many heads, it has been an ever-steady season for Paul Casey, who continues to prove his worth in the upper echelons of world golf. The man with three PGA Tour victories under his belt has produced another cluster of high finishes, hitting the top ten on eight occasions, with a season-best of T4 at the PGA Championship.|
What catches the eye about the Englishman ahead of this week’s event is how steady he is tee to green, while there are few better on approach. Casey ranks as the second-best in this field in terms of strokes gained: approach. On that basis, he’s worth a place in the team.
|Odds To Win +9000|
|Draft Kings $7,700|
|Keegan Bradley hasn’t won this year and is now without a win since claiming this prize back in 2018, but that doesn’t mean that the man from Woodstock has been out of form. This season has been something of a renaissance year for the American, who has produced lots of solid golf, finishing inside the top ten three times, as well as posting four additional top-20 finishes.|
Bradley isn’t likely to be short of confidence after finishing T11 at THE NORTHERN TRUST last week, where he once again proved he can get seriously competitive in a high-class field. In fact, he’s one of the best in this field in terms of strokes gained: tee-to-green, while he’s among the best in terms of accuracy off the tee and when it comes to hitting greens in regulation. All of this makes him a valuable addition at a price that may just be on the generous side.