Steve Bamford

Steve Bamford's BMW Championship Tips 2020

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Congratulations if you were on-board Dustin Johnson at 20/1 last week at The Northern Trust. He made the rest of the field look pretty ordinary as he shot an amazing -30/254 winning total, beating runner-up Harris English by the mere matter of just 11 shots! We move onto the 2nd leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs this week, with the top 70 in the standings making their way to Chicago.

The Western Golf Association organises the BMW Championship, a tournament that traditionally tours a number of the Mid-West’s very best golf courses. 2020 sees the BMW visit Olympia Fields Country Club to play the famous North Course, 28 miles south of downtown Chicago. It’s a course that, since 1945, has hosted 2 Major Championships and the 2015 U.S. Amateur, and plenty in this field have course experience. 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 through my BMW Championship tips, the number of new visitors to Golf Betting System is increasing by the week. Welcome to you all and let me point you in the direction of our weekly Golf Betting System podcast (published Tuesday) the Golf Betting Show on YouTube and our hugely popular private group on Facebook – you can Join Here.

paddy power BMW Championship  – Featured Bookmaker:

Paddy Power are attacking this week’s BMW Championship on the PGA Tour. With a star-studded short field of 70 players, some bookmakers are only offering 5 Places Each-Way, but not Paddy Power, who offer their market-leading leading 7 places each-way at 1/5 odds. On PGA and European Tour golf in 2020 they have offered the most each-way places, the Number 1 position they also held in 2018 and 2019.

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Course Guide: The North Course at Olympia Fields Country Club, in the southern suburbs of Chicago, will certainly be a different challenge to what we saw at TPC Boston last week. Built in 2001, TPC Boston is undoubtedly a modern, inland links type affair. Olympia Fields Country Club on the other hand is steeped in tradition. It’s a classical, tree-lined golf course, which has had influence from Willie Park Jnr initially and a Mark A. Mungeam restoration as recently as 2014. Since 1945, the North Course has hosted the 1961 PGA Championship, 1997 Senior U.S. Open, 2003 U.S. Open, 2015 U.S Amateur and the 2017 Women’s PGA Championship. It plays this week as a long Par 70, at over 7,350 yards.

Olympia Fields Country Club, North Course, Olympia Fields, Illinois: Designer: Willie Park Jnr, 1915, with Mungeam restoration, 2014; Course Type: Up-State, Classical; Par: 70; Length: 7,366 yards; Holes with Water Hazards In-Play: 3; Fairways: Bentgrass/Poa Annua; Rough: Kentucky Bluegrass 3.5″; Greens: 5,000 sq.ft average featuring Bentgrass/Poa Annua; Stimpmeter: 11.5ft.

Course Overview: The BMW Championship has a habit of visiting Major Championship golf courses. Crooked Stick, Aronimink, Medinah Number 3, we’ve seen them all in recent years. Crooked Stick played to -20/268 and -23/265 when Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson won there. Keegan Bradley was a 140/1 shock winner at Aronimink – he won at -20/260 on a Par 70. And last year, the 7,600 yard length of Medinah Number 3 looked like it might put up a stern challenge. Soft throughout, Justin Thomas destroyed it with a -25/263 total. He was joined by Patrick Cantlay and Hideki Matsuyama as they went below 20-under par. Clearly the PGA Tour and the tournament organising Western Golf Association have the aim of making this particular tournament as low scoring as possible.

But could that change ever so slightly in 2020? The North Course at Olympia Fields is set at 7,366 yards and plays as a Par 70. That’s plenty! The course itself is a classical, parkland design, with mid-size greens, which are Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix. Player notes from the 2003 U.S. Open won by Jim Furyk, also mention that the greens feature pretty severe contouring.

Both par-5s, the 1st and 15th, are over 600 yards long, so 3-shot holes to the vast majority of this week’s 70-man field. 7 par-4s come in at 450+ yards and only 2 of the 4 par-3s look real birdie opportunities, namely the 6th (187 yards) and the 13th (168 yards). Undoubtedly the 10th through the 13th is the section of the course which is gettable, featuring 3 sub-450 yard par-4s and the shortest par-3. Expect the bombers to be able to get their drives close to the front of the green complexes on the 11th and 12th.

For a recent scoring level reference on the North Course, the U.S. Amateur was held here in 2015 and won by none other that Bryson DeChambeau. Within the strokeplay element of that tournament, both the North Course and South Course featured for 18 holes each. Rounds of -5/65 were possible. With the PGA Tour in control of the course this week, again I’d expect the most scoreable agronomy conditions possible. Expect something along the lines of Aronimink in 2018, where Keegan Bradley and Justin Rose both made a play-off with -20/260 totals.

bmw championship tips

Winners: 2019: Justin Thomas (-25); 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 | 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 Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Webb Simpson, Harris English, Daniel Berger, Bryson DeChambeau, Paul Casey, Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and Russell Henley.

Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which includes PGA Tour and European Tour (where recorded) 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:

  • Driving Accuracy: 1) Collin Morikawa; 2) Andrew Landry; 3) Brendon Todd; 4) Corey Conners; 5) Matthew Fitzpatrick / Jon Rahm; 7) Webb Simpson; 8) Daniel Berger; 9) Tyler Duncan / Jim Herman; 11) J.T. Poston; 12) Kevin Streelman; 13) Abraham Ancer / Russell Henley; 15) Paul Casey; 16) Dylan Frittelli; 17) Kevin Kisner / Matt Kuchar / Matthew Wolff; 20) Mark Hubbard / Sungjae Im.
  • Greens in Regulation: 1) Jon Rahm; 2) Xander Schauffele; 3) Russell Henley; 4) Justin Thomas; 5) Bubba Watson; 6) Viktor Hovland / Rory McIlroy; 8) Collin Morikawa; 9) Adam Scott; 10) Matthew Wolff; 11) Brendan Steele; 12) Paul Casey / Webb Simpson; 14) Tiger Woods; 15) Jason Day / Scottie Scheffler; 17) Tony Finau  / Ryan Palmer; 19) Harris English / Alex Noren.
  • Scrambling: 1) Russell Henley; 2) Harris English; 3) Kevin Na; 4) Daniel Berger; 5) Xander Schauffele; 6) Patrick Cantlay; 7) Kevin Kisner; 8) Max Homa; 9) Jason Day / Justin Thomas; 11) Join Rahm / Cameron Smith; 13) Hideki Matsuyama; 14) Adam Hadwin / Matt Kuchar; 16) Brian Harman / Collin Morikawa; 18) Abraham Ancer / Adam Long; 20) Alex Noren / Ryan Palmer.
  • Putting Average (Putts per GIR): 1) Daniel Berger; 2) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 3) Kevin Kisner; 4) Mackenzie Hughes / Webb Simpson; 6) Jon Rahm; 7) Tyrrell Hatton; 8) Billy Horschel; 9) Bryson DeChambeau / Patrick Reed; 11) J.T. Poston; 12) Tony Finau / Viktor Hovland; 14) Harris English; 15) Byeong Hun An; 16) Danny Lee; 17) Talor Gooch /  Kevin Na; 19) Jason Day / Xander Schauffele / Richy Werenski.

Recent Player Strokes Gained Rankings: These top 25 in the field rankings are based on an 8-tournament window that stretches back to the Rocket Mortgage, which includes PGA Tour events where recorded. 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 25 SG Off The Tee: 1) Bryson DeChambeau; 2) Jon Rahm; 3) Collin Morikawa; 4) Cameron Champ / Corey Conners / Scottie Scheffler; 7) Daniel Berger; 8) Paul Casey; 9) Rory McIlroy; 10) Tony Finau / Xander Schauffele; 12) Patrick Cantlay; 13) Dustin Johnson; 14) Bubba Watson; 15) Jason Kokrak; 16) Justin Thomas / Matthew Wolff; 18) Jason Day / Patrick Reed; 20) J.T. Poston; 21) Abraham Ancer / Sungjae Im; 23) Andrew Landry / Louis Oosthuizen; 25) Brendan Steele.
  • Top 25 SG Approach: 1) Kevin Kisner; 2) Justin Thomas; 3) Russell Henley; 4) Tiger Woods; 5) Brendan Steele; 6) Harris English / Tony Finau / Rory McIlroy; 9) Collin Morikawa / Cameron Smith; 11) Lanto Griffin; 12) Daniel Berger / Tyrrell Hatton / Matthew Wolff; 15) Joaquin Niemann; 16) Patrick Cantlay / Viktor Hovland / Hideki Matsuyama; 19) Mark Hubbard / Jon Rahm; 21) Corey Conners / Ryan Palmer / Xander Schauffele; 24) Webb Simpson; 25) Jason Day.
  • Top 25 SG Around The Green: 1) Brian Harman; 2) Charles Howell III; 3) Justin Thomas; 4) Harris English; 5) Scottie Scheffler; 6) Russell Henley; 7) Jason Day / Mackenzie Hughes / Xander Schauffele; 10) Adam Hadwin / Jon Rahm / Webb Simpson; 13) Patrick Reed; 14) Hideki Matsuyama; 15) Marc Leishman; 16) Daniel Berger / Robby Shelton; 18) Kevin Na; 19) Dylan Frittelli; 20) Sebastian Munoz / Brendon Todd; 22) Viktor Hovland / Ryan Palmer; 24) Tyrell Hatton / Louis Oosthuizen.
  • Top 25 SG Tee to Green: 1) Justin Thomas; 2) Russell Henley; 3) Jon Rahm; 4) Xander Schauffele; 5) Daniel Berger; 6) Harris English; 7) Collin Morikawa / Brendan Steele; 9) Kevin Kisner; 10) Tony Finau / Hideki Matsuyama; 12) Jason Day; 13) Webb Simpson / Tiger Woods; 15) Corey Conners / Patrick Reed; 17) Rory McIlroy; 18) Patrick Cantlay; 19) Tyrrell Hatton; 20) Scottie Scheffler; 21) Dylan Frittelli; 22) Ryan Palmer / Kevin Streelman; 24) Bryson DeChambeau / Viktor Hovland.
  • Top 25 SG Putting: 1) Kevin Kisner; 2) Mackenzie Hughes; 3) Harris English / Billy Horschel; 5) Matt Kuchar; 6) Matthew Fitzpatrick; 7) Webb Simpson; 8) Abraham Ancer; 9) Bryson DeChambeau / Brendon Todd; 11) Daniel Berger / Mark Hubbard; 13) Max Homa / Alex Noren; 15) Jason Day / Xander Schauffele; 17) Jon Rahm; 18) Collin Morikawa; 19) Matthew Wolff; 20) Adam Scott; 21) Adam Long / Charles Howell III; 23) Marc Leishman; 24) Adam Hadwin; 25) Tony Finau / Talor Gooch.
  • Top 25 SG Total: 1) Kevin Kisner; 2) Xander Schauffele; 3) Harris English; 4) Daniel Berger; 5) Jon Rahm; 6) Justin Thomas; 7) Webb Simpson; 8) Russell Henley; 9) Viktor Hovland; 10) Billy Horschel; 11) Jason Day / Mackenzie Hughes; 13) Collin Morikawa; 14) Matt Kuchar; 15) Tony Finau; 16) Brendan Steele; 17) Bryson DeChambeau / Patrick Reed / Matthew Wolff; 20) Hideki Matsuyama; 21) Patrick Cantlay / Scottie Scheffler; 23) Adam Scott; 24) Adam Long; 25) Lanto Griffin / Tyrrell Hatton / Brendon Todd.

Winners & Prices: 2019: Justin Thomas 16/1; 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.  Past 6 Renewals Average: 47/1; Overall Average: 43/1.

Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Olympia Fields, Illinois, is here. We move to the mid-west this week with a visit to Chicago and from a weather perspective it’s more of the same, with decent weather again for the BMW Championship. Temperatures ranging from 27-31 degrees Celsius will be pleasant and despite the 40% threat of thunderstorms during play on Friday, the course should play very much as the organisers want. Gusts of up to 20 mph on Thursday subside throughout the rest of the week and scoring should be low enough.

So let’s take a view from players as to how Olympia Fields’ North Course sets up and what specific skills it requires:

Jim Furyk (2003 U.S. Open): ” I like the golf course. I like the fact that a lot of times we go to the U.S. Open, and I was telling someone over here we play on some real old golf courses, and I like the older style golf courses, but a lot of times they’re very quirky, they have some blind shots, some sharp doglegs, and it’s hard to get — we’re used to playing courses year in and year out and you get to know courses well and know the conditions and after about two or three practice rounds you’re still undecided, where this golf course is very straightforward. It’s right in front of you. There’s one blind tee shot on 12. It gives you some options off the tee. There’s three shorter par 4s where you can,  you can lay it back with an iron or with a short fairway wood and maybe hit an 8-iron to the green, or you can actually try to drive it up into the neck and get yourself a wedge into the green. It gives you some options but it’s right there in front of you and you can read your yardage book and figure out how to play it.”

Kenny Perry (2003 U.S. Open): ” This style of golf course, I hit a lot of 2-irons and 3-woods today. I didn’t hit my driver very many times, where at Muirfield and Colonial you can hit a lot of drivers. I think this week it’s going to bring a lot of players into the field. I don’t think length has much of an advantage this week except for 9 and 18. Those are two very difficult finishing holes. So it’s going to be more of a course management, ball control. It seems like whoever putts the best. The greens are pretty severe, a lot of slope from back to front. It’s going to be quite a test of golf.

Ernie Els (2003 U.S Open): “There’s a couple of holes, these dogleg holes, and you can lay up with maybe a 2- or 3-iron and go in with a 6- or 7-iron to these greens. Some of these greens are very small but very undulating. You’ve got to try to get it into the right side of the green and try to put yourself under the hole. Obviously that’s easier with a shorter iron into the greens. But then again, you’ve got to hit the fairway. So if you miss the fairways with your driver and you’re very aggressive, you might get lucky and get good lies in the rough. But if you have a nice lie in the rough, it’s still hard to control the ball out of there. So it’s going to be — you can be, in a certain time in the event, I think you can be quite aggressive and try to shoot a low score. But if you’re going to try to do that for four days, I don’t know if that’s going to be the right strategy. But certainly some holes, like No. 10, it’s a dogleg left, I just hit 2-iron off the tee and I went in with an 8-iron. Vijay played with a driver, and he only had a sand wedge in there. 11th hole, similar, there’s one up the hill there at 13. 14, there’s another one. Even 16, you can take it over the left bunker there. And 2, that’s one where you can take it over the left side or you can go to the right side and take an 8-iron in. So it all depends on how you feel on the day.

Bryson DeChambeau (2015 U.S Amateur): “But it’s a U.S. Open-style golf course, and that’s what I love about it. I’m a U.S. Open player. Unfortunately it was a little different dynamics this year at Chambers Bay so I wasn’t able to maximize my potential of hitting every single fairway and every single green for the most part. But out here you need to hit fairways and greens and that’s what I’ve always liked best; I thought I would be a good U.S. Open player, when it’s tight fairways and fast greens and long rough.”

Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 10 winners of this event:

  • 2019 – Justin Thomas: Round 1: 1st, Round 2: 4th, Round 3: 1st.
  • 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 10 winners and where they were positioned in terms of shots from the lead during the tournament:

  • 2019 – Justin Thomas: Round 1: level, Round 2: 2 back, Round 3: 6 ahead.
  • 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:

  • Justin Thomas: 12th Northern Trust/12th St Jude/11th Open/9th Scottish Open.
  • 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.

  • 2019 – Kokrak/Thomas – Group 16/Group 7 -7/65 – 55/1 & 20/1.
  • 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 Poa Annua and Bentgrass/Poa Annua mix PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:

  • 11 – Dustin Johnson.
  • 6 – Bubba Watson.
  • 4 – Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods.
  • 3 – Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa.
  • 2 – Jon Rahm, Patrick Reed, Adam Scott, Brendan Steele, Gary Woodland.
  • 1 – Patrick Cantlay, Cameron Champ, Billy Horschel, Matt Kuchar, Marc Leishman, Hideki Matsuyama, Nick Taylor, Justin Thomas, Richy Werenski.

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. Justin Thomas (15th in 2019), Keegan Bradley (52nd in 2018), Marc Leishman (7th in 2017), Billy Horschel (20th in 2014), Zach Johnson (27th in 2013), Justin Rose (34th in 2011) 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 at 2/1, 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 2 years ago, entering the BMW Championship with moderate direct from of 49th at the Deutsche Bank and 34th at the Northern Trust. Every other BMW winner in the Playoff era has had a top-11 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 latest FedEx Cup Playoffs structure should now start to come into its own. We’ve 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 2021 WGC-Mexico Championship, 2021 Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship.

We had 6 players move into the top 70 last week, but only Kevin Kisner broke into the top 30, as he jumped from 40th to a Tour Championship qualifying 23rd in the FedEx Cup standings. Matthew Wolff (33rd), Patrick Cantlay (37th), Adam Scott (38th), Gary Woodland (39th), Jason Day (50th), Matt Kuchar (55th), Tiger Woods (57th), Bubba Watson (58th), Matthew Fitzpatrick (60th), Paul Casey (64th) and Louis Oosthuizen (70th) all have work to do this week if they want a slice of the Tour Championship action next week.

For those higher up the rankings, things start to get serious this week. The Tour Championship sees a FedEx Cup Starting Strokes Index used, 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:

Xander Schauffele 2pts EW 18/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

For me Xander Schauffele is a big game hunter and the FedEx Cup is the kind of opportunity he likes to focus on. I’m also thinking that Xander has an old head on relatively young shoulders and will have taken learning from 2019.

Runner-up to Rory McIlroy in the overall FedEx Cup, Xander started the Tour Championship at Number 8 in the FEC standings and at -4 on the Tour Championship leaderboard. Ultimately Rory McIlroy had the advantage of a top 5 FedEx Cup position and used the extra shot starting advantage as the perfect platform for his successful East Lake campaign. So I’m thinking that Xander, who’s currently 11th in the standings, will use this week as the platform he needs to get that top 5 position for East Lake. So with a 544 point gap to Collin Morikawa who currently holds 5th spot, Xander needs a fantastic week in Chicago and a long-awaited 4th PGA Tour win would not go amiss.

I also think Xander is in a great spot to deliver it. Straight 67s across the weekend at Boston provides momentum and Schauffele has been playing some great stuff of late. 3rd at the Charles Schwab Challenge in June – a tournament he had control of – July saw 6th at the WGC-FedEx St Jude Invitational. August has already delivered 10th at the PGA Championship and nobody would be surprised if ‘X-Man’ delivered this week at the tough Olympia Fields Par 70.

In my 8-week trackers you’ll find Xander 2nd for Greens in Regulation, 19th for Putting Average (Putts per GIR), 10th for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, 21st for SG on Approach, 4th for SG Tee to Green, 15th for SG Putting and 2nd for SG Total. 20th at Conway Farms in 2017, 3rd at Aronimink in 2018 and 19th at Medinah Number 3 where he was 5th after 36 holes last year, Xander loves the BMW Championship. This week sees Xander needing to peak and like Justin Thomas did last year at 16/1, I can see Schauffele right in the mix at 18/1. RESULT: T25

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Scottie Scheffler 1.5pts EW 33/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Betfred

Taking the youth approach will always have success and failures. Whilst I chased and had success with Collin Morikawa at 35/1 at the PGA Championship, Matthew Wolff  last week disappointed. Rounds of 66 and 67 had him in a top-10 position heading into the weekend, but Saturday saw him eject wildly for no real apparent reason. Those are the breaks with this crop of stunningly talented youngsters.

One I backed earlier in the year and haven’t recently is Scottie Scheffler but his immediate performances have demanded he be included in this week’s staking plan. 22nd at The Memorial, 15th at the WGC-St Jude Invitational, 4th at the PGA Championship and 4th at The Northern Trust, Scottie just seemingly mixes it with the very best in the world. Rounds of 66 (Thursday), 65 (Saturday) and 68 (Sunday) at TPC Harding Park in only his 4th Major start were hugely impressive. And I mistakenly took Wolff over Scheffler last week at TPC Boston – where Scottie wrote himself into PGA Tour history with that Friday morning -12/59. Scheffler held his own with Dustin Johnson when paired in the final Saturday group shooting a -4/67 and only returned to earth on Sunday when paired with the panic-stricken Louis Oosthuizen.

So, all in all, Scottie Scheffler has been hugely impressive in his rookie season and although Tour maidens don’t jump to the front of mind when it comes to FedEx Cup Playoff tournament winners, Camilo Villegas with form of 4 (PGA Championship), MC (Barclays), 3 (Deutsche Bank) did win his first ever PGA Tour title at the 2008 BMW Championship played at Cog Hill. I undoubtedly see similarities between TPC Harding Park and Olympia Fields, which are both long Par 70s featuring Bentgrass and Poa Annua mix greens. And Scheffler has recent experience of Olympia Fields with a couple of top 23 finishes at the OFCC Fighting Illini Invite. 2nd for SG Tee to Green at TPC Boston last week, Scheffler was also 2nd for Greens in Regulation. He’s some player and I like his chances in Chicago this week. RESULT: T20

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Tony Finau 1.25pts EW 40/1 (6EW, 1/5) with Unibet

I’ll stick with Tony Finau at 40/1 this week. He disappointed hugely in The Northern Trust at TPC Boston with a Missed Cut, but there were signs that his game is in good nick. 12th for SG Off the Tee and 5th for Greens in Regulation, Finau forgot how to putt and that ultimately cost him a weekend in Massachusetts. So he heads to Chicago in danger at 29th in the FedEx Cup standings.

At 16th in the Official World Golf Rankings you would expect Finau to qualify for his 4th consecutive appearance at East Lake, especially after finishing 4th at the PGA Championship only 3 weeks ago. So it’s now or never for Finau, who undoubtedly needs a strong finish this week.

Be in no doubt that Finau likes ‘big boy golf courses.’ And since 2016 across both the Northern Trust, Dell Technologies (as was) and BWW Championship Playoff events Finau has finished 12th at Bethpage Black (2016), 7th at Conway Farms (2017), 2nd at Ridgewood (2018), 4th at TPC Boston (2018), 8th at Aronimink (2018) and 4th at Medinah (2019). RESULT: 5th

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Kevin Kisner 1.25pts EW 40/1 (7EW, 1/5) with Paddy Power

Kevin Kisner is throwing darts right now and that makes him a man to follow this week on a classical Par 70.

In terms of recent SG on Approach, Kisner has ranked 10th (Rocket Mortgage), 10th (PGA Championship), 5th (Wyndham) and 19th (Northern Trust) in 4 of his last 6 appearances. And there’s undoubtedly been a late season renaissance for the 36 year old, who’s up to 29th in the OWGR. 3rd in Detroit, 25th at the WGC in Memphis, 19th at the PGA Championship in San Francisco, 3rd in Greensboro and 4th last week in Boston, two things we know about Kevin are that he holds form when confident and is Par 70-positive.

9th at the BMW Championship 12 months ago at Medinah Number 3 shows a liking for Chicago golf and at 23rd in the FedEx Cup standings, Kisner will want to keep the pedal to the metal, especially as he must fancy his chances at East Lake, where he finished 3rd in 2017 and 9th last year.

One of the ultimate money hustlers on the PGA Tour, it’s no real surprise that he’s come to the party when the big cheques are getting handed out. And that translates to my 8-week skill trackers in this field, where he ranks 17th for Driving Accuracy, 3rd for Putting Average, 1st for SG on Approach, 9th for SG Tee to Green, 1st for SG Putting and 1st for SG Total. RESULT: T25

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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 15:50BST 24.8.20 but naturally subject to fluctuation.