Well done to all you Patrick Reed backers from last week who landed at prices of up to 55/1, I know he was popular. In the end it boiled down to a 3-way fight between Reed, my selection Jon Rahm and Tour maiden Abraham Ancer. Rahm had a 2-shot lead standing on the 14th tee and was trading at 1.33 on the Exchange, but instead of keeping or stretching that gap, the Spaniard showed Sunday back-nine weakness in my opinion, 3-putting for bogey on the par-3 14th and making another bogey on the tough par-4 15th. That was all of the encouragement Patrick Reed needed who enhanced his mighty impressive 54-hole lead conversion rate, capturing his 7th PGA Tour title and pretty much guaranteeing a Captain’s Pick from Tiger Woods for the Presidents Cup.
Under the new 3 tournament FedEx Cup Playoffs system, this week’s BMW Championship will alternate every year with the Deutsche Bank at TPC Boston. The Western Golf Association organises the BMW Championship, a tournament that traditionally tours a number of the Mid-West’s very best golf courses. 2019 sees the BMW visit Medinah Country Club to play the famous No3 Course in the Western suburbs of Chicago. It’s a course that has hosted 5 Major Championships and the 2012 Ryder Cup. Punters this week should also look closely at the each-way terms which are being made available across this 70 man short field, with a huge 7 places each-way at 1/5 odds available with a select number of bookmakers.
Before we talk he BMW Championship, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is increasing by the week. Welcome to all new readers, listeners and viewers and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) our Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here.
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Course Guide: Course Number 3 at Medinah Country Club, in the western suburbs of Chicago, will certainly be a different challenge to what we saw at Liberty National last week. With a modern clubhouse, Liberty National was undoubtedly a freshly constructed, rather practical, modern golf course within sight of Manhattan. Medinah Country Club on the other hand is steeped in tradition. It’s a classical, tree-lined golf course, which has had influence from Tom Bendelow, A.W. Tillinghast and recently the ‘Open Doctor,’ Rees Jones. Since 1945, Number 3 Course, has hosted the 1949, 1975 and 1990 U.S. Opens, plus the 1999 and 2006 PGA Championship – both won by Tiger Woods. Most of us though will have fond memories of the last event to be played here – the 2012 Ryder Cup, which undoubtedly produced golf and drama from the top drawer.
Golf Course Number 3, Medinah Country Club, Medinah, Illinois: Designer: Tom Bendelow, 1928, with Rees Jones re-designs 2005 & 2009 – till present; Course Type: Classical; Par: 72; Length: 7,613 yards; Water Hazards: 3; Fairways: Bentgrass with Poa annua; Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, Fescue and Poa annua 1.25 to 4″; Greens: 4,800 sq.ft average featuring Bentgrass; Stimpmeter: 11.5 – 12ft; Scoring Avg 2006: 72.64 (+0.64), Rank 17 of 55 courses.
Medinah Number 3 Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Medinah Number 3 and how they compare to recent courses on Tour:
- Medinah No 3: 27 – 30 yards.
- Liberty National: 250 yards from tee: 37 yards wide; 275:33; 300:30 325:31; 350:27.
- Sedgefield: 250 yards from tee: 29 yards wide; 275:28; 300:26 325:23; 350:22.
- TPC Southwind: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:29; 300:28; 325:31; 350:25.
- Montreux G&CC: 250 yards from the tee: 37 yards wide; 275:41; 300:42; 325:40; 350:38.
- Keene Trace: 250 yards from tee: 34 yards wide; 275:31; 300:30 325:30; 350:29.
- TPC Deere Run: 250 yards from tee: 41 yards wide; 275:40; 300:36 325:33; 350:30.
- TPC Twin Cities: 250 yards from tee: 38 yards wide; 275:38; 300:31 325:30; 350:36.
- Detroit Golf Club: 250 yards from tee: 34 yards wide; 275:34; 300:35 325:34; 350:33.
- TPC River Highlands: 250 yards from the tee: 37 yards wide; 275:35; 300:28; 325:28; 350:27.
- Pebble Beach: 250 yards from the tee: 33 yards wide; 275:33; 300:29; 325:30; 350:26.
- Hamilton: 250 yards from the tee: 29 yards wide; 275:29; 300:29; 325:27; 350:28.
- Muirfield Village: 250 yards from the tee: 36 yards wide; 275:35; 300:30; 325:26; 350:30.
- Colonial: 250 yards from tee: 27 yards wide; 275:25; 300:26; 325:25; 350:22.
Course Overview: Medinah Number 3 is a Major Championship venue. It’s a classical golf course, tree-lined and it’s particularly lengthy. This week’s scorecard states 7,613 yards, which is slightly shorter than the course can play. But to place that in context, only Torrey Pines South and Corales have played longer across the 2018/19 PGA Tour season. It’s worth noting that Medinah Number 3 for the 2012 Ryder Cup played as short as 7,200 yards, with wide fairways and nominal 1.25″ rough. That rough could be up to 4″ this week.
A traditional Par 72 format with 4 par-3s and 4 par-5s, it’s the 3 shot holes which grab the attention measuring 192 yards, (2nd), 201 yards (8th), 245 yards (13th) and 193 yards (17th) respectively. 2 of the par-5s are reachable for the whole field, but it’s interesting to note from player interviews going back to the 2006 PGA Championship that the par-4s here tend to be more about position from off the tee rather than brute power. Unless the course plays extremely soft, many of the par-4s are less than driver holes, especially as many feature dog-legs. Taking driver and cutting corners is more than possible, but in itself is a dangerous ploy around a golf course which is tree-lined and features some pretty stringent fairway bunkering.
You can rest assured that Medinah Number 3 won’t be a wedge-fest this week, so look for players who are consistent and comfortable with long to mid irons in-hand. Undoubtedly those who are consistent green-finders from 175 yards and out will gravitate towards the top of the leaderboard. The course is described in professional golfer parlance as “straight in front of you” and “a very fair and tough golf course”, so I’m expecting a strong mid-score test this week, although forecasted strong winds on Saturday will provide a stern challenge.
Winners: 2018: Keegan Bradley(-20); 2017: Marc Leishman (-23); 2016: Dustin Johnson (-23); 2015: Jason Day (-22); 2014: Billy Horschel (-15); 2013: Zach Johnson (-16); 2012: Rory McIlroy (-20); 2011: Justin Rose (-13); 2010: Dustin Johnson (-9).
Tournament Stats: We’ve published some key player statistics for this week’s event that are well worth a look. Naturally they’ll help to shape a view on players who could go well this week: Current Form | Tournament Form | First Round Leader | Top 20 Finishes | Combined Stats.
Published Predictor Model: Our published predictor is available here. You can build your own model using the variables listed on the left hand side. Top 10 of my published predictor are Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson, Justin Thomas, Jon Rahm, Matt Kuchar, Justin Rose, Paul Casey, Tony Finau and Patrick Reed.
Recent Player Skill Rankings: These top 20 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Travelers Championship and BMW International Open, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour events. Players must have played in a minimum of 2 Tour events to be included and rankings are based on performance relative to the rest of the field:
- Top 20 Driving Accuracy: 1) Ryan Moore; 2) Abraham Ancer; 3) Jim Furyk; 4) Chez Reavie; 5) Si Woo Kim; 6) Kevin Kisner; 7) Adam Hadwin / Jon Rahm; 9) Rory McIlroy / Kevin Na; 11) Billy Horschel; 12) Webb Simpson; 13) Collin Morikawa / Rory Sabbatini; 15) Vaughn Taylor; 16) Tommy Fleetwood / Justin Rose; 18) Emiliano Grillo; 19) Lucas Glover; 20) Xander Schauffele.
- Top 20 Greens in Regulation: 1) Corey Conners; 2) Paul Casey; 3) Jon Rahm; 4) Kevin Kisner / Louis Oosthuizen; 6) Francesco Molinari; 7) Xander Schauffele; 8) Justin Thomas; 9) Abraham Ancer / Collin Morikawa; 11) Hideki Matsuyama; 12) Tony Finau; 13) Matt Kuchar; 14) Vaughn Taylor; 15) Keegan Bradley / Rickie Fowler / Adam Hadwin / Brandt Snedeker; 19) Jason Day; 20) Adam Scott.
- Top 20 Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Nate Lashley / Rory McIlroy / Justin Rose; 4) Andrew Putnam; 5) Jon Rahm; 6) Rafa Cabrera-Bello; 7) Shane Lowry; 8) J.T. Poston / Patrick Reed; 10) Webb Simpson; 11) Jordan Spieth; 12) Billy Horschel / Chez Reavie; 14) Dustin Johnson / Justin Thomas; 16) Max Homa / Joaquin Niemann; 18) Rory Sabbatini; 19) Adam Hadwin; 20) Ryan Moore / Brandt Snedeker.
- Top 20 Scrambling: 1) Rafa Cabrera Bello / Tommy Fleetwood / Jim Furyk / Webb Simpson; 5) Sungjae Im; 6) Wyndham Clark; 7) Byeong Hun An; 8) Jordan Spieth; 9) Bryson DeChambeau / Rickie Fowler; 11) Patrick Cantlay / Keith Mitchell / Joaquin Niemann; 14) Patrick Reed; 15) Scott Piercy / Brandt Snedeker; 17) Tony Finau; 18) Charles Howell III / Nate Lashley / Shane Lowry.
Winners & Prices: 2018: Keegan Bradley 140/1; 2017: Marc Leishman 45/1; 2016: D Johnson 10/1; 2015: Day 15/2; 2014: Horschel 66/1; 2013: Z Johnson 40/1; 2012: McIlroy 7/1; 2011: Rose 66/1; 2010: D Johnson 33/1. Average: 46/1. Past 5 Renewals Average: 54/1.
Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Medinah, Illinois, is here. As opposed to Jersey City last week, Medinah, which is in the Western suburbs of Chicago, has had little precipitation. A cold and wet Spring in the area has been followed by a largely dry July and August. The course looks in great condition but undoubtedly it must be quite firm under foot.
Rain tonight will soften the grounds, but with a dry week ahead and temperatures of 27-28 degrees Celsius throughout, I can see conditions on the fairways having plenty of roll. Tournament organisers want green stimpmeter readings of 11.5 to 12, and with 4″ rough on the course this should turn into a near Major Championship test. That could certainly be the case on Saturday with forecasted 15-20 mph south-westerly winds hopefully making Medinah Number 3 a stern challenge.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the past 2 winners here at Medinah gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:
- 2006, Tiger Woods (-18). 318 yards (2nd), 64.3% fairways (36th), 77.8% greens in regulation (1st), 81.3% scrambling (1st), 1.63 putts per GIR (12th), 6th total driving, 4th ball striking.
- 1999, Tiger Woods (-11). 308 yards (1st), 69.6% fairways (34th), 72.2% greens in regulation (8th), 60.0% scrambling (9th), 1.62 putts per GIR (3rd), 8th total driving, 7th ball striking.
Tournament Skill Averages:
- Driving Distance: 2nd, Driving Accuracy: 35th, Greens in Regulation: 5th, Scrambling: 5th, Putting Average 8th, Total Driving 7th, Ball Striking 6th.
So let’s take a view from players as to how Medinah Course Number 3 has set up in the past and what specific skills it requires:
Tiger Woods: “Yeah, the golf course is absolutely fantastic. Obviously they’ve lengthened some of the holes and the greens have been redone, but the golf course is such a wonderful layout, wonderful shape to it. It’s one of the neat golf courses we get to play. It’s old and traditional and it’s just very straightforward. I mean, you’ve got to hit the ball well and obviously control your irons into these greens in order to have a chance.
I’m not going to hit that many drivers because it won’t really allow me to. Most of the holes are doglegged. Obviously I’d have to take driver up over the top of these tall trees, and it doesn’t make any sense. Yeah, I’m going to use it a few times, definitely. But overall, just like it was back in ’99, I hit just a bunch of 2 irons and a bunch of 3 woods here. Just because that’s the way the golf course allowed you to play. You play to a lot of the corners and obviously fire from there. If you try to take on a lot of the corners or shape the ball around the corner, yeah, you can, but it’s not always the easiest thing to do. I’ll take driver on just the par 5s and maybe one or two more. Depends on the conditions, honestly. Obviously the par 5s for sure, and then maybe two other than that, maybe three.”
Geoff Ogilvy: “There’s a few that are tricky. 16 is the obvious toughest hole on the golf course because it kind of forces you to lay it way back because it’s awkward to you can’t get a short shot because of the way the hill is. So you’re going to be hitting between 3 iron and 7 iron into that green, and we’re not very used to hitting 3 irons into par 4s anymore. That will be interesting. As I said, you can hit it on the left hand side of that fairway and be blocked out by trees on the fairway. It’s a wide-ish fairway that plays really narrow. I think 9 is an awkward tee shot, that dogleg left, quite an awkward tee shot. There’s a lot of awkward tee shots. The par 5s are very key because there’s bunkers in play on both sides of the fairways in a lot of situations. If you hit nice tee shots, it’s almost a one shot penalty to miss the fairways on the par 5s because you can mostly reach them or get them close on par 5s. There’s a couple situations where you’re going to have to wedge it sideways and have a 5 iron for the third. The difference between hitting the fairway and missing the fairway is going to be at least a shot. Driving is going to be key.
16 was not pivotal last time, but it was the exciting hole last time with Sergio’s shot. It’s interesting. There’s a couple of doglegs you have to be pretty careful about your line. A couple of holes I think 7, the par 5, quite an awkward second shot, you have to hit quite a pronounced fade off that second shot, and you’ve really got to know where you want to lay it up. And there’s some bunkers hidden from view because they’re over hills. You’ve got to know your lines off the tees because there’s trees overhanging everywhere.”
Jim Furyk: “Obviously in the way the golf course played today, if it were really wet, if the ball wasn’t rolling, if you put a lot of long irons in, and the guys that hit it around my distance, if you put a lot of long irons in our hand, then I think the length would be a huge difference. But the golf course, I won’t say it was firm because I felt the greens were pretty soft. But there was still some chase out there. When I go back through the card, I didn’t miss the only long par 4 I didn’t play today was 16, and I didn’t hit a 3 iron into any hole today on the 4s. The longest iron I hit into any green today was a 5 iron. You know, the par 3, the one that jumped up and got me was 13 definitely raised an eyebrow for me. It was 244 straight downhill. It plays close to ten yards shorter because of the hill, but that green isn’t all that deep, and there’s a pretty severe bunker fronting it. There’s some tough holes. It’s always an advantage to have length and be able to hit the ball far and high and spin the ball and have some options. But there’s still a lot more important things I think on this golf course, as far as you still have to drive the ball extremely well, and the greens are very severe from back to front on a lot of them. You have to put the ball underneath the pin to give yourself some opportunities. I would love to be 20 yards longer, don’t get me wrong, but usually at major championships usually, not always, length isn’t an important factor. We’ve played a few courses where that is the case.”
Lucas Glover: “The majority of the length comes from the long par 3s, and the long par 5s. And then the long par 4s always seem like you’re landing it on a downslope; for instance, No. 12, that’s like 475 or something and it runs, and you hit the fairway, I can’t seem to do that. If you get it on that left side it runs down. I played with Trevor Immelman Monday and he hit eight, nine, wedge, and 4 is the same way, it chases down and long iron hitters can have a short iron in.”
Luke Donald: “Length it’s not really too much of a factor. I think with the way the holes dogleg, some of them, it takes driver out of your hand on some holes. I think I used a driver maybe six or seven times today. For a course that’s 7,500, there’s a lot of par 4s out there, you’re not hitting driver, you’re hitting 3 wood or 2 iron the way the holes angle. I really don’t think length is a huge factor. I was able to get if I hit a good drive on 10, I would have hit driver on three out of the four par 5s.”
Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 9 winners of this event:
- 2018 – Keegan Bradley: Round 1: 12th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 6th.
- 2017 – Marc Leishman: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
- 2016 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 3rd, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
- 2015 – Jason Day: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
- 2014 – Billy Horschel: Round 1: 4th, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 3rd.
- 2013 – Zach Johnson: Round 1: 2nd, Round 2: 3rd, Round 3: 4th.
- 2012 – Rory McIlroy: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 2nd, Round 3: 3rd.
- 2011 – Justin Rose: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 1st, Round 3: 1st.
- 2010 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 6th, Round 2: 4th, Round 3: 2nd.
Shots From the Lead: Below are the last 9 winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:
- 2018 – Keegan Bradley: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 3 back.
- 2017 – Marc Leishman: Round 1: 2 ahead, Round 2: 3 ahead, Round 3: 5 ahead.
- 2016 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 2 back, Round 2: level, Round 3: 3 ahead.
- 2015 – Jason Day: Round 1: 4 ahead, Round 2: 5 ahead, Round 3: 6 ahead.
- 2014 – Billy Horschel: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 3 ahead.
- 2013 – Zach Johnson: Round 1: 1 back, Round 2: 3 back, Round 3: 3 back.
- 2012 – Rory McIlroy: Round 1: level, Round 2: 1 back, Round 3: 1 back.
- 2011 – Justin Rose: Round 1: 2 ahead, Round 2: level, Round 3: 4 ahead.
- 2010 – Dustin Johnson: Round 1: 4 back, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 1 back.
Incoming form of winners since 2010:
- Keegan Bradley: 49th Dell/34th Northern Trust/42nd PGA/4th Canadian Open.
- Marc Leishman: 3rd Dell Tech/MC Northern Trust/13th PGA/41st Bridgestone.
- Dustin Johnson: 8th Deutsche/18th Barclays/MC PGA/2nd Canadian Open.
- Jason Day: 12th Deutsche/1st Barclays/1st PGA/12th Bridgestone.
- Billy Horschel: 2nd Deutsche/ MC Barclays/47th Wyndham/59th PGA.
- Zach Johnson: 27th Deutsche/5th Wyndham/8th PGA/4th Bridgestone.
- Rory McIlroy: 1st Deutsche/24th Barclays/1st PGA/5th Bridgestone.
- Justin Rose: 68th Boston/6th Barclays/MC PGA/33rd Bridgestone.
- Dustin Johnson: 57th Deutsche/9th Barclays/5th PGA/15th Bridgestone.
First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010. Full First Round Leader stats are here.
- 2018 – McIlroy/Woods – Group 9/Group 2 -8/62 – 22/1 & 33/1.
- 2017 – Leishman – AM -9/62 – 40/1.
- 2016 – Castro – AM -7/65.
- 2015 – Day -10/61.
- 2014 – McIlroy/Spieth/Woodland -3/67.
- 2013 – Snedeker -8/63.
- 2012 – DeLaet/McIlroy/Simpson/Van Pelt -8/64.
- 2011 – Rose -8/63.
For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Bentgrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:
- 7 – Justin Rose.
- 6 – Rory McIlroy.
- 5 – Jordan Spieth.
- 4 – Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Webb Simpson, Tiger Woods.
- 3 – Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Matt Kuchar, Phil Mickelson, Francesco Molinari, Kevin Na, Adam Scott.
- 2 – Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler, Lucas Glover, Marc Leishman, Hideki Matsuyama, Troy Merritt, Patrick Reed, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas.
- 1 – Patrick Cantlay, Dylan Frittelli, Billy Horschel, Kevin Kisner, Danny Lee, Louis Oosthuizen, Ian Poulter, Chez Reavie, Rory Sabbatini, Brandt Snedeker.
The BMW Championship – now the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs – has a number of trends that are intriguing. In an event where the focus of the media and watching public is as to who will make it to the Tour Championship, recent champions are split down the middle when it comes to FEC starting position. Bradley (52nd), Leishman (7th), Horschel (20th), Zach Johnson (27th), Justin Rose (34th) and Dustin Johnson (16th in 2010) all arrived at the BMW with decent enough immediate form, however it didn’t directly translate to a top 5 FEC position. However the other 4 BMW champions since the Playoff structure was put in place back in 2009 have all been elite, in hot form and high in the FEC standings. Tiger Woods in 2009 won his fifth title of the season when ranked 2nd in the FEC standings. Jason Day and Rory McIlroy were both Number 1 in the FEC standings and had won previous Playoff tournaments at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank prior to winning the BMW at 15/2 and 7/1 respectively. And in 2016 Dustin Johnson, who had previously won the U.S. Open and Bridgestone Invitational, went on to win the BMW at 10/1 when ranked 3rd in the FEC standings.
Keegan Bradley broke a very strong trend 12 months ago, entering the BMW Championship with moderate direct from of 49th at the Deutsche Bank and 34th at the Northern Trust. Prior to him, every one of the previous BMW winners in the Playoff era have had a top 9 finish within their past 2 Tour outings and this really highlights this comment made by Nick Watney prior to the BMW in 2013, “Out of 70 guys, there’s kind of…there’s a big gap between guys playing really well, like you said, and guys struggling.”
The new FedEx Cup Playoffs structure should now start to come into its own. We have cut 55 players from the original 125 qualifiers, so the top 70 move onto the second of 3 Playoff events. Many will be motivated to ensure that they qualify for the Tour Championship next week which opens the door to invitations to the 2020 WGC-Mexico Championship, The Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship. We had 4 players move into and out of the top 70 last week and that number could increase slightly this week with a smaller field. Those from 25 and below in the standings must be concerned.
For those higher up the rankings, things start to get serious this week. The Tour Championship will see a new FedEx Cup Starting Strokes Index used for the very first time, with the FedEx Cup standings leader starting the next week at -10, FEC Number 2 at -8, FEC Number 3 at -7, FEC Number 4 at -6 and Number 5 at -5. This then cascades down to those ranked 26th to 30th starting at Even. Previously at the Tour Championship, any player ranked 1-5 had the same chance of taking the overall FedEx Cup title by winning the title.
My selections are as follows: