BMW Championship Preview: Olympia Fields Hosts Second Round Of FedExCup Playoffs
CHICAGO (CBS) -- With the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields Country Club, the FedExCup Playoffs move into the second round. Last week's Northern Trust shook up the point standings. This week's event, with lots more points up for grabs and another strong field chasing them, could reset the standings once again. Or the leaders could solidify their positions going into the Tour Championship.
Before breaking down the BMW Championship, let's revisit the FedExCup. PGA Tour players collect points throughout the season based on performance. Majors and The Players are worth 600 points to the winners, while WGC events are worth 550 points, and regular season events are worth 500. For each event, decreasing points are awarded to players down through 70th place.
Point awards multiply during the FedExCup Playoffs. Dustin Johnson, who dominated a 125-player field of the Tour's best, received 1,500 points for his win. Runner-up Harris English received 900, and third-place finisher Daniel Berger received 570. Point awards decreased down through the standings.
The top 70 in the overall standings have advanced to the BMW Championship, where the same point system applies. The top 30 after this week will advance to the Tour Championship. The player with the best point total going into the final event begins at 10-under par, with scores increasing through the 30th player. The winner over four rounds takes home the FedExCup and $15 million of the $60 million in bonus money.
The BMW Championship features another field of the Tour's best, with eight of the world's top 10 and 16 of the top 20. Missing will be Webb Simpson (6th), who is taking the week off to rest, and Brooks Koepka (7th), who withdrew from The Northern Trust because of injury and was in danger of not advancing anyway. Tommy Fleetwood (14th) and Justin Rose (18th) both placed outside the top 70 in points.
Johnson jumped to the top spot in point standings (2,571 points) and the world rankings with his impressive 11-stroke win last week. He's followed by Justin Thomas (2,479 points), who is ranked third and Webb Simpson (2,163 points), who is ranked sixth. Those are the only three players above 2,000 points. But plenty of players, including all of the top 10 who are playing, remain in striking distance. A strong showing could upset the point standings. Some reshuffling is almost guaranteed.
The BMW Championship will not have a cut, leaving ample opportunity for those outside the top 30 to play their way into the Tour Championship. The list includes plenty of notables, including Patrick Cantlay, Adam Scott, Tiger Woods and Bubba Watson. Among them, only Cantlay and Watson have a top-10 finish since the June return. Cantlay tied for seventh at the Workday Charity Open, and Watson tied for seventh at the Charles Schwab Challenge.
Woods sits at 57th in the points list and will need a strong showing to advance. He's capable of it, or at least he once was. Tiger won the BMW Championship and the FedExCup in 2007 and 2009. But he hasn't cracked the top 30 since this year's hiatus. And he generally isn't in the habit of playing in back-to-back weeks these days.
Tiger is one of the few players in the field who has played Olympia Fields on Tour. That was in 2003, at the U.S. Open, where he tied for 20th. Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa and Jon Rahm all played it as amateurs five years ago.
The North Course at Olympia Fields is a par-70 that exceeds 7,353 yards. It was designed in 1923 as the club's No. 4 course. Decades later, Olympia Fields sold land from its other three courses and turned what was left of those three courses into its South Course. The No. 4 course became the North Course. Over the years, it hosted the Western Open, the precursor to the BMW Championship, five times. Renovations before the 1997 U.S. Senior Open and before the 2003 U.S. Open added length and deepened bunkers. Rickie Fowler and Vijay Singh both hold the course record of 63.
The North Course largely adheres to its original design. It flows along rolling terrain, with a creek that meanders through seven different holes. Trees line most fairways. The course includes two par-5s, one of which extends past 600 yards. One of the par-3s measures a hefty 280 yards uphill to a green guarded by four bunkers. It's been ranked among the country's best courses on multiple occasions and should play at a major championship level.
Here are the favorites this week for the BMW Championship:
Dustin Johnson (8-1)
Johnson is coming off a career performance, in a career full of strong performances. He shot 30-under to win the Northern Trust going away and propel himself to the top of the points standings. It was his second win since the break. He also tied for second at the PGA Championship earlier this month.
Jon Rahm (10-1)
Rahm dropped to number two in the world rankings, despite a tie for sixth at the Northern Trust. He also won the Memorial in July. Rahm advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2015 U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields.
Justin Thomas (12-1)
Thomas, ranked third in the world, has four top-10 finishes since June, including a win at the WGC-FedEx St. Jude Invitational in early August. He won the BMW Championship last year and the FedExCup in 2017. Thomas currently leads the PGA Tour in shots gained: tee-to-green, which will help at Olympia Fields.
Bryson DeChambeau (12-1)
DeChambeau missed the cut at The Northern Trust, but has logged five top-10s post-return. That includes a win at the Rocket Mortgage Classic. He's leading the Tour in shots gained: off-the-tee. Olympia Fields fits his game, as evidenced by his win ate the U.S. Amateur at Olympia Fields in 2015.
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