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Congratulations to Bryson DeChambeau backers – he landed at a best price 35/1. ‘The Scientist’ is up to Number 7 in the Official World Golf Rankings after winning 3 PGA Tour titles since June and the mere matter of $7.8 million. He’s also the FedEx Cup Number 1 who now has a huge chance of landing the 2018 FedEx Cup and another cool $10 million. With the Ryder Cup in mind, he’s also the hottest player in golf right now and his pick selection from Jim Furyk today (Tuesday) will add real strength to Team USA.
It’s a fast turnaround this week with the BMW Championship starting just 3 days after the action finished at TPC Boston. The Western Golf Association organises this tournament and the BMW traditionally tours a number of the Mid-West’s very best golf courses. However 2018 sees the BMW move East as it’s hosted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Aronimink Golf Club. Punters this week can’t complain with 5 places each-way across a short field of the last 70 players standing in the FEC Playoffs, although 6 places each-way at 1/5 odds is also available with a few select firms.
70 into 30 doesn’t divide easily; it’s even trickier when you consider that the top 20 are pretty much guaranteed their place at East Lake having already accumulated sufficient points on their season-long quest. But those ranked 21st to 30th certainly can’t take in the scenery in Pennsylvania this week – just ask Rickie Fowler, who missed out on a Tour Championship spot in 2016, falling from 22nd to 31st at Crooked Stick. Things weren’t as brutal in 2017, but Louis Oosthuizen was 24th heading to Conway Farms and fell out of the coveted top 30 as did Henrik Stenson (26th), Brendan Steele (27th) and Bill Haas (30th). And what’s more, 2017 Tour Championship winner Xander Schauffele was outside of the top 30 heading to the BMW! Patton Kizzire, Marc Leishman, Kevin Na, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Hideki Matsuyama, Emiliano Grillo and Gary Woodland currently round out the top 30. Some big name players there.
Qualifying for the Tour Championship is always a massive deal for plenty of players who don’t reside in the OWGR top 50 – all qualifiers for East Lake will play across next season’s WGC-Mexico Championship, Masters, U.S. Open and Open Championship. So the BMW Championship is a huge deal this week.
Course Guide: Considered the 3rd best course in Pennsylvania behind Merion and Oakmont, which between them have hosted 14 U.S. Opens, Aronimink is another classical golf course which is held in high esteem and which will host the 2027 PGA Championship. Aronimink hosted the 2010 and 2011 AT&T National tournaments hosted by Tiger Woods, but since then the course which received a Ron Prichard makeover in 2000 has very recently been restored by Gil Hanse. A pretty strict par-70, Hanse’s restoration has focussed solely on returning Aronimink back to its Donald Ross roots and the course we see this week will be longer, wider, feature bigger greens and more bunkering than the one we witnessed in 2011.
Aronimink GC, Newtown Square, Philadelphia: Designer: Donald Ross 1928, with Ron Pritchard 2000 renovation & Hanse 2016 restoration, Course Type: Up-State, Classical; Par: 70; Length: 7,267 yards; Water Hazards: 5; Fairways: Bentgrass; Rough: Bentgrass Fescue 3.5″; Greens: 7,900 sq.ft average featuring Bentgrass; Stimpmeter: 11-12ft; Course Scoring Average 2010: 71.22 (+1.22), Difficulty Rank 4 of 52 courses. 2011: 70.72 (+0.72), Difficulty Rank 12 of 51 courses.
Fairway Widths (yards): Below are the fairway widths for Aronimink and how they compare to recent courses that we’ve seen on Tour:
Course Designer Links: For research purposes other Donald Ross and Gil Hanse re-designs include:
Course Overview: Aronimink 2018-style has received huge changes from the golf course that we saw back in 2010/11. Many will be playing it for the first time, but it was described by players from the AT&T National renewals as being “straightforward” and “all in front of you.” – that doesn’t mean easy though. Back then it played as a 7,237 yard par-70, which ranked as the 4th (2010) and 12th (2011) toughest course on the PGA Tour. This classical, tree-lined course was undoubtedly tough, although Nick Watney shot -8/62 on Saturday when he triumphed on greens that had been surprisingly watered by the PGA Tour. But effectively only 3 players – namely Justin Rose (2010), Nick Watney and K.J. Choi (both 2011) – managed to break into double-digits under par around this course, which featured severely tiered Bentgrass putting surfaces.
Intrinsically the make-up of those putting surfaces hasn’t changed, but Aronimink 7 years down the line has seen significant changes. In 2015 the course membership hired Gil Hanse to review Aronimink and put forward a course Master Plan, with the aim of capturing a Major – with the PGA Championship the target. After looking at the course in its Ron Pritchard re-designed state and researching what exactly the Donald Ross course of 1928 looked like, Hanse decided that a renovation wasn’t required. Instead Gil wanted to restore the course as close as possible to how it was built by Donald Ross. It’s worth noting that Ross revered Aronimink in these terms, “I intended to make this my masterpiece, but not until today did I realise I built better than I knew.”
Aronimink 2018-style, or should that be 1928-style, will be different from 2011. The course will play 30 yards longer. From tee working our way to green, it features 18 new tee boxes which have been set-up to be free-form and not elevated, offering different driving angles if the Tour officials want to take that route. 6 acres of fairway turf have been added to the course, effectively adding 20% of width to each fairway. 70 trees were removed to help with this. This is a big golf course and it’s worth noting that the fairways we see this week will be easier to hit than at either Ridgewood or TPC Boston.
Next up, where Aronimink previously featured 74 bunkers, it now features 175, with the original Ross design featuring clusters of 3 to 4 smaller bunkers. And the green complexes have also been expanded with 29,000 square feet of original green being reclaimed as part of the restoration. They remain Bentgrass and the same physical sculpturing of the complexes remain the same as we saw back in 2010/11. However the whole restoration has focussed on giving players more fairway in which to position themselves strategically for their approaches to bigger greens, which will feature more tucked pin positions. Overall I think the course will remain quite difficult, with thick rough in play and green complexes which are typical Donald Ross, i.e. difficult to master. As Charles Howell III described Aronimink in 2011, “There are times out there, yeah, where maybe I’d like to be aggressive but the golf course doesn’t allow it and you’ve just got to keep going. I think the golf course is hard enough that you just have to take what it’ll give you.“
Winners: 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).
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, Justin Rose, Brooks Koepka, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Justin Thomas, Tony Finau, Rickie Fowler and Hideki Matsuyama.
Recent Player Skill Rankings: These rankings are based on a 10-tournament window that stretches back to the Quicken Loans National / Open de France and includes both 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:
Winners & Prices: 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: 34/1. Past 4 Renewals Average: 32/1.
Weather Forecast: The latest weather forecast for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is here. Turf conditions will be similar to TPC Boston last week, so expect run on the fairways and perfect greens when the tournament starts on Thursday. However from there onwards we could see a little of everything. Light breeze and temperatures up to 35 degrees Celsius will bake the course on Thursday and Friday. A passing front through Saturday though sees moderate gusting breezes, temperatures plummet, with the chance of rain rated at 65%. On Sunday temperatures remain very Northern European with easterly winds gusting up to 25 mph.
Tournament Trends & Key Factors: Analysing the final stats of the 2 winners here across 2013 and 2015 gives us a little more insight into the requirements for this test:
Tournament Skill Averages:
So let’s take a view from players as to how Aronimink played in 2010/11 and what specific skills it requires:
Nick Watney: “I love this golf course, really. I played well here last year, and it’s a bummer we’re leaving. I think the greens are a bit softer than they could have been. I heard they put some water on them. They gave us a drivable par-4. Other than that, I mean, I guess the greens are so good that you can really start making putts. But I’m not sure why there’s so many low scores today whereas the first six rounds here it was very difficult.“
Justin Rose: “I’m really enjoying the challenge of the golf course. It’s a cool golf course. I told them earlier this week this is my U.S. Open. I missed out on playing Pebble Beach. But this golf course has a lot of those types of characteristics where you need to play smart, you need to leave yourself below the hole, you need to not take on a lot of shots out there. You need to be very patient. So I was quite excited about the prospect of facing that challenge this week. Obviously you have a day like today where everything goes your way and it’s easy to think, well, kind of this course isn’t that difficult. But you just need to really keep your patience around here.
Yeah, like I said, when you do manage to get it up-and-down you just keep your momentum. That’s key out there. I think it’s also those are the challenges you are going to face around this golf course, too. I don’t think there’s going to be too many perfect rounds out there. It is tough. It is difficult. So you’ve got to accept sometimes that you are going to have to grind. I did that well today. When I did miss a shot, didn’t worry too much about it, just sort of went up and sort of did my best with it, with the approach with the short game shot. But I putted nicely today from six, eight feet. That’s really what keeps rounds going.
I like these greens. These greens remind me of The Memorial greens. I like the greens where they’re a little bit quicker; you can stroke the ball. I’m seeing my lines nicely.“
Ryan Moore: “It’s a great golf course, but it’s straightforward, and if you hit good shots, you get rewarded with good spots, and I fortunately kept it on the correct side of the hole quite a few times and actually had some good opportunities on the second nine. You know, it’s certainly that type of golf course, which I enjoy, but it’s a very fair type of golf. The fairways aren’t too incredibly narrow for as firm as they are, and the greens are generous in size but you’ve got to put it in the right spot. I think it’s a very good, very fair test of golf.
You know, I have no idea why I play well on his (Donald Ross) golf courses. You know, they seem to be fairly demanding off the tee, generous but demanding. They’re not tiny little fairways, but they’re sloped and they kick and bounce and can run through pretty easily. And I think I’m one of the top couple people in all-around driving for the year. So I’ve been driving the ball really well this year, actually getting a little bit of my distance back, but the accuracy has still been there. I think first and foremost you really have to do that on his golf courses because the greens are so tough. If you’re in the rough all day long, you’re just hitting it to 30 or 40 feet on the green, and there’s no such thing as an easy 30-footer, especially on Donald Ross greens.“
K.J. Choi: “This course, the tee shot is very difficult, but luckily I’ve been able to hit the ball off the tee well and put it on the fairway. My irons have been very good this week. I’ve had good control with the irons. You know, the greens are very difficult, but I think I was able to put the ball on the green and place it where I needed to with my irons. I think I credit my iron play for the good round.“
Path to Victory: Below are the end of round positions for the last 8 winners of this event:
Here are the end of round positions for the 2010 and 2011 AT&T National played here at Aronimink:
Incoming form of winners since 2010:
First Round Leader Analysis: First round leader(s), their wave and winning score since 2010.
For the record, here’s the breakdown of pure Bentgrass green PGA Tour victors in the field since 2008:
The BMW Championship – the third 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. 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 current 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.
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.“
Punters looking for Donald Ross designs on the PGA Tour need to look at Sedgefield CC (Wyndham Championship), Plainfield (The Barclays 2011 & 2015) and East Lake (Tour Championship). Recent Majors at Donald Ross original designs include the East Course at Oak Kill (2013 PGA Championship) and Pinehurst Number 2 (2014 U.S. Open). Gil Hanse renovations on the Tour include TPC Boston, Trump National Doral WGC Cadillac Championship 2014 through 2016), Plainfield and Ridgewood (2010, 2014 & 2018 Northern Trust), where won Bryson DeChambeau won 2 weeks ago.
My selections are as follows:
Dustin Johnson 3pts Win 9/1 with Coral
I’ll lead this week with Dustin Johnson who must be due a win very, very soon. I struggle to see Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau and Cameron Smith being competitive for 3 straight weeks. The added pressure that Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Justin Rose continue to feel trying to chase down DJ for the World Number 1 spot puts me off those 3 at the top of the market. So at a tournament where 4 of the last 7 renewals have been won by players residing in the top 7 of the FedEx Cup standings, I’m going to place a rare win-only bet on Dustin Johnson. Stats-wise Johnson ticks every box for me this week, as he would need to do: 1st for Strokes Gained Off the Tee, 1st for Strokes Gained Tee to Green, 4th for 3-Putt Avoidance and 19th for Scrambling across the 2017/18 season. 8 of his 19 PGA Tour victories have been in the northern United States or Canada and it’s worth remembering that a return to Pennsylvania will only bring back fond memories. Indeed this is the first time that he’s returned to the state where he won his first (and only) Major Championship at Oakmont in 2016. We know he plays tough tracks brilliantly and we also know he’s perfect when the wind blows. His fast finish yesterday at TPC Boston was eye-catching as his -7/64 was only beaten by Phil Mickelson and matched by Aaron Wise. 3rd for Driving Distance, 7th for Greens in Regulation, 2nd for Proximity to Hole, 5th for SG Off the Tee and 4th for SG Tee to Green in Massachusetts, plus he putted at 1.53 Putts per GIR in the final round. RESULT: T24
Hideki Matsuyama 2pts EW 28/1 with Boylesports
The fast finishing Hideki Matsuyama is another to get on-board with this week in Pennsylvania. An undoubted talent who’s coming back from an injury initiated mini-slump, the tournaments cannot come quickly enough for the Orlando-based former World Number 2. Whilst others wane, Matsuyama has been firing some excellent rounds of late: a closing round 66 at Bellerive; 64/65 over the weekend at Sedgefield; a couple of 67s at Ridgewood; then -10/132 across the closing 36 holes at TPC Boston was only beaten by winner Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson. 4th and 1st for SG Approach and 6th and 10th for Greens in Regulation across Sedgefield and Ridgewood, it was the short-game which warmed up in Massachusetts. Indeed Hideki was 2nd for Putts per GIR, 3rd for SG Putting and 16th for Scrambling at the Dell Technologies. Ultimately we’re always looking for the spark which is the catalyst for victory and such a spike in his putting numbers has preceded his first PGA Tour win at Muirfield Village in 2014, his amazing run at the close of 2016 where he won 4 tournaments and was runner-up twice in 6 tournaments and for his last United States win at Firestone in 2017. On top of his wins at The Memorial and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, results across Torrey Pines (12th 2018), TPC Scottsdale (2nd 2015, 1st 2016 & 2017), Bay Hill (6th 2016), Augusta National (5th 2015, 7th 2016), Quail Hollow (5th 2017), the Ross-design at Sedgefield (3rd 2016), the Ross-design at Plainfield (13th 2015), Conway Farms (7th 2015), the Ross-design at East Lake (5th 2016) and Sheshan (1st 2016) link in really well with Aronimink winners Rose and Watney. Still in danger of not making the Tour Championship as he sits 28th in the FedEx Cup, I think the 26 year-old will kick-on again this week. RESULT: 15th
Adam Scott 1pt EW 40/1 with Boylesports
Of the players on the outside of the FedEx Cup top 30, I will take Adam Scott. He’s a perfect storm really: course form marries nicely with current form and at 48th in the FedEx Cup standings he needs a seriously lofty finish to make the Tour Championship. 3rd here at the 2011 AT&T National won by Nick Watney, Scott described the course as, “I have to say it’s set up very, very nicely here. It’s a great golf course obviously, but in great shape. But they’ve set the course up beautifully. You know, the greens are perfect, and they’ve got very generous fairways but severe rough, which is a nice balance. There’s good scores out there, but you have to play well, I think.” In my view I’m looking for players who are patient and strategic this week and naturally with 3rd at the PGA Championship and 5th at the Northern Trust in his past 3 outings, ‘Scotty’ is playing some superb golf right now. Ranked 12th for Greens in Regulation and 4th for Putts per GIR in my 10-week rolling skill statistics, Scott has plenty to offer this week and importantly he finished like a train in Boston where a closing -5/66 was tied-6th in the field. A winner at the Donald Ross designed East Lake (2006), Adam has plenty of top-10 finishes across other Ross and Gil Hanse designs such as Pinehurst Number 2, Doral and Ridgewood. His BMW Championship record includes 4 top-8 finishes in his last 8 appearances, so very much a horse for the course this week. RESULT: T51
Bubba Watson 1pt EW 66/1 with Paddy Power
The prices on offer for Bubba Watson never fail to amaze me. Remember that Bubba is a 3-time winner on the PGA Tour in 2018 and arrives in Pennsylvania 7th in the FedEx Cup rankings. He finished a career-best 7th at TPC Boston yesterday – a course which he’s never really got on with, shooting -9/132 across the closing 36 holes. 1st for Strokes Gained Off the Tee and 1st for Strokes Gained Tee to Green, the putter has also warmed nicely and Bubba looked a positive individual walking off the 18th yesterday after just eagling it for the 2nd day running. Old-style, classical courses in my opinion are his domain and naturally the 12-time PGA Tour winner is a 4-time winner on pure Bentgrass greens. One look at his career results CV highlights intrinsic links between Watson and 2010/11 winners here Justin Rose and Nick Watney. Torrey Pines (1st 2011), Doral (2nd, 2012, 2014 & 2016), Copperhead (3rd 2010), Augusta National (1st 2012 & 2014, 5th 2018), TPC Louisiana (5th 2007, 1st 2011), Quail Hollow (2nd 2009), TPC River Highlands (1st 2010, 2015 & 2018), Whistling Straits (2nd 2010), the Ross-design at Plainfield (3rd 2014), Conway Farms (10th 2015), the Ross-design at East Lake (5th 2012, 5th 2015) and Sheshan (1st 2014). That’s some carryover. Looking back at 2014 – the last time he represented Team USA in the Ryder Cup – he was a 2-time winner early that year and had qualified automatically for Tom Watson’s Gleneagles bound team. A mid-season slump turned to an up-swing with a closing Monday round -5/67 at TPC Boston where he finished 29th, followed by a quick flight to Colorado for the Thursday start of BMW Championship at Cherry Hills which saw him finish 2nd to Billy Horschel. RESULT: T16
Watch these tips on YouTube with Steve Bamford: Golf Betting System YouTube Channel
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Odds and bookmaker offers correct at 14:05BST 4.9.18 but naturally subject to fluctuation.