BMW Championship ~ 2021
Unfortunately Corey Conners just couldn’t get it going over his final 18 holes, and a final hole bogey meant just a share of the place money in the end. He did reward each way support in the Top Rest of World market, and in truth the week never promised much more.
The event itself was very exciting indeed. Jon Rahm once again didn’t really convince from the front, even when he has won he has given the feld a chance at some stage. On this occasion it was Tony Finau who showed the mettle that he has often been goaded for missing, and grasped the tournament by the scruff of the neck. It really was a superb showing on the back 9. It won’t be thrown at Jon Rahm, but if Finau has missed a 5ft par on 15, knifed a chip on 16, and drove it into the scrub on 17 he would have been called all sorts. Small margins, little bits of luck, everyone needs it. Tony finally got his, and made it count. Well done Sir.
We see a new layout for this week’s BMW Championship, the second event in the season ending FedEx Cup Playoffs.Typically this event has been a low scoring birdie fest over the years, with the winning score being 20 under par or lower each of the 5 years prior to last year’s edition at Olympia Fields. I could be way off the mark, but I view this layout more in line with a US Open set up without the firmness, than what we saw from 2015-2019.
At 7540 yards, this Par 72 certainly isn’t short. It also features much narrower fairways than we saw last week, and with an array of bunkers more penal than a typical PGA layout, I feel players are going to face a decent test here. I would envisage 12-14 under par getting it done. There are plenty of scorable holes, but also enough trouble to make this trickier than the point and shoot faced at Medinah and Crooked Stick.
The playoffs from year to year can often see the same players contend week after week, and though I am keen to stay with players in form at this time of year, I do wonder if the late Monday finish at Liberty National may have an adverse effect on those that went closest.
Players of Interest:
As said in the mails last night and earlier today, with less study time due to the late finish yesterday, and market being 24 hours later in developing, I will keep things briefer for this preview.
Jon Rahm has been unbelievably consistent at the top level this term, and looked set to add yet another win last night. He did though once again portray the worrying tendency to let others back into events he had looked set to wrap up. He is obviously a deserving favourite here, I do feel his lighter than most recent schedule will be a benefit, and he could very well put last night’s wrong to right straight away. But this is a very high class field, and at just 13/2 and the chance that he could be still hot under the collar from the recent loss, I can let him run.
Dustin Johnson once again looked away from his best, I feel Jordan Spieth could struggle off the tee here, and an injury sustained in the final round of the Olympics seems to be affecting Collin Morikawa.
I certainly wouldn’t rule out Brooks Koepka, and if there was one more that I would back from near the head of the market, it would be him. Less appealing is Cameron Smith, though in excellent form of late, will be doing very well to bounce straight back from the playoff defeat.
It’s rare in recent times that I will have backed BRYSON DECHAMBEAU, but I really do like his chances here. He has undoubtedly struggled since his win in the Arnold Palmer back in March, but recent signs are that he is beginning to find his game again. A very encouraging display at the WGC was backed up by one not so obvious last week. That he made 25 birdies, and an eagle, yet only finished in a tie for 31st, tells you there were far too many errors in his play. But it also shows that there were plenty of positives too. Any player at the top level will tell you that it is easier to fix the bad stuff, than find the good. And there is no one that works harder on their game than Bryson. Tee to green last week he was excellent, the putter was just a no show. At 28/1 I am certainly prepared to take my chances that the flat stick warms up a bit this week.
I feel the course is an ideal Bryson layout. He is very wayward off the tee, lying 187th in driving accuracy off the tee. Yet he leads the Tour on strokes gained off the tee. And courses like this are where his advantage is accentuated. A long challenging layout, shorter hitters will try to eke out that bit more. They will need to, as a lot of the trouble lies in their wheelhouse. Tight fairways will mean usual fairway finders will miss a higher percentage than normal. Bryson will still miss them, but he will be a long way down, and as one of the best gougers in the business, he will be hitting greens while others are advancing it to a favoured yardage. He’s also now a bigger price than many players he was half the price of a few months back, and with more than enough to be positive about in his recent play, he is a cracking bet here for me. He was 2nd for strokes gained off the tee at Liberty, and regardless what the Sky commentators tell you, that is where he wins and loses titles. Back at his best there, on a layout like this, and he will be a threat to all.
I make no apology for once again going to war with COREY CONNERS. Another who had no joy on the greens last week, he was the only player to finish on the top 10 who lost strokes to the field in that department, he should also relish the tee to green test here. It’s always a risk backing someone like Conners, who will have more bad putting days than good, but at 40/1 in a 69 strong field I am more than happy to take my chances. His display on Saturday showed just what he is capable of when a few putts do drop, and with his long game back at it’s imperious best, I am in no hurry to cast him aside.
I have however been quick to cast JUSTIN THOMAS aside of late, with last week being the first time in awhile that I was slightly tempted. He showed promise aplenty in finishing 4th there, and a strong emphasis on the tee to green game here once again, he makes the team sheet this time. What was most important, and I feel it will have been to JT too, was that he finally had a decent week with the putter. He has been bereft of confidence with that club for much of the year, and though one swallow doesn’t make a summer, it can be a very quick switch with these elite golfers. I also feel he will have not only enjoyed seeing Tony Finau win, but that he himself can take something from it. His drought is nothing like the one Finau ended, but for a player of JT’s ability and expectations, The Players win will seem a long time ago. Last week was his best finish since then, and I expect him to build on it here.
Others I gave close consideration to were Sam Burns, Shane Lowry, Kevin Na and Pat Cantlay.
You can’t however back them all, though I do have one additional outright bet to those that were sent out earlier. KEEGAN BRADLEY had a poor finish to last night, playing his last 4 holes in 2 over par, but in going 69-67-67-69, he produced a very solid week’s work. I much prefer to get Keegan on side when conditions are a bit tougher, and tee to green is a real test. That promises to be the case this week, and his skill set can come to the fore. So good is he when there is a premium on finding fairways and greens, that his suspect putting can be overlooked to a degree. He is nearly just as likely to shoot 65 on a tougher layout as an easy one. That isn’t the case for the others. Like Conners, if Bradley can find his touch in the greens this week, he could be set for a big pay day. At 80/1 to 7 places in a limited field, I’m sold.
I won’t include it as an official bet, but I wouldn’t put anyone off playing Bradley in the First Round Leader market also. He has a penchant for going low on Thursdays.
Slow to be priced up this week, but many will feature very few runners anyway, so would not have been much interest to me.
Top 20 Finish:
I am going two pronged in this market this week, with one being one of the outright selection, and the other being one that just missed out there.
KEEGAN BRADLEY seems to be trending right back to his best at the moment, and at a time of year when players can really do ride the wave of good form, he represents a decent bet to notch back to back top 20 finishes at odds of 9/4. Keegan is more than adept at stringing good performances together, and at a layout which promises to suit, he can do so again here.
KEVIN NA has been in excellent form of late, and that showed no sign of abating at Liberty National. His lack of length could be put forward as a slight worry here, but that didn’t trouble him at a hefty enough Par 71 last week. His last 4 outings have seen him finish 2nd at the John Deere, 23rd at the WGC, 2nd at Sedgefield, and 8th at the Northern Trust. He is walking the putts in with ever increasing confidence, and doesn’t seem to care a jot for who he plays with or against. Back on Bentgrass greens, scene of 4 of his 5 wins on Tour, and that confidence can only increase. He is enjoying a very rich vein of form at the moment, and it is hard to see him throw in a bad one. 9/4 underestimates his chances of notching his 4th top 20 in his last 5 outings in my opinion.
K.H. LEE didn’t reward our support last week, but he didn’t pay badly, and is another I am sticking by this week. His game from the tee over the final 18 holes was excellent, and if he can carry that in here, he can go well on a layout that should suit. As with a few other selections, it is the putter that can be the sticking point for the Korean. Playing him as 7/1 outsider of 4, that is more than factored in for me.
The 3 rivals he faces aren’t in formidable form themselves. Not surprisingly, Hideki appears to be struggling after a hectic schedule which included a trip to his homeland for the Olympics, and wouldn’t appeal at a short price in this market. Si Woo Kim missed the cut last week, but he is nearly more dangerous off a poor week, and may be the danger.
At the prices though I give Lee more than a sporting chance of upsetting his better known opposition and provisioning us with a nice priced winner.
1.4pts ew Bryson DeChambeau 28/1 (1/5 odds 7 places, WH) *25/1+ acceptable
1.5pts ew Justin Thomas 20/1 (1/5 odds 7 places, WH) *18/1+ acceptable
.75pt ew Corey Conners 40/1 (1/5 odds 7 places, Betfred/Skybet) *45/1 with various internet firms *Any version of the 40/1 available is fine
Above 3 advised earlier today
.4pt ew Keegan Bradley 80/1 (⅕ odds 7 places, WH/888) *90/1 to 5 places with 365 also
Top 20 Finish:
6pts Keegan Bradley 9/4 (PP/BFSB/Skybet) *Currently 3.45 on a weak exchange. Hold fire on that until tomorrow, and plenty will be available at that and bigger. *11/5 Bet365 acceptable
6pts Kevin Na 9/4 (PP/BFBS) (3.5 on exchange, as above)
2.5pts K.H. Lee 7/1 (365/WH/) *15/2 available with a few internet firms