BMW Championship Betting Tips: Side with Schauffele in Delaware
The PGA Tour just continues to throw out exciting finish after exciting finish this season. The latest of these came yesterday at the St Jude Championship, as Will Zalatoris picked up a first PGA Tour title that had been on the cards ever since he announced himself to a wider audience when 6th in the 2020 US Open.
However it wasn’t plain sailing, as he had to beat Austria’s Sepp Straka in an epic three-hole playoff. Where both players threatened to hand the event to their opponent. This on show on the second playoff hole, as Zalatoris narrowly avoided going out of bounds just as Straka had unfathomably avoided finding the water off-the-tee. But resulted in both making incredible par saves.
Then to the par 3 11th for the third playoff hole. Though Zalatoris was fortunate to avoid the water off the tee, he still appeared to hand the title to Straka as the ball stopped in an unplayable position up against the wall which surrounds the green, only for Straka to inexplicably go and dunk his ball in the water. All down to a wedge matchup from the drop-zone and as Straka went long and found the bunker, chipping out to around 6 feet for a double-bogey, Zalatoris hit a superb approach to eight feet, then exorcising those putting demons that had blighted much of his PGA Tour career, making the putt and taking a hugely memorable first title, surely the first of many.
Onto this week and with the season ending Tour Championship to come next week at East Lake, we first make a stop in Delaware at Wilmington Country Club for the BMW Championship.
The tournament has occupied this spot on the schedule since the inception of the FedEx Cup in 2007, with the top 70 in the FedEx Cup rankings following the conclusion of last week’s St Jude Championship eligible to compete. It’s a no cut event, meaning players who are not preoccupied with trying to win the trophy will have all four rounds to try and position themselves inside that top 30, to gain entry into next week’s season ending visit to East Lake.
The BMW Championship has had many host venues, with Cog Hill Golf and Country Club, Crooked Stick Golf Club and Conway Farms Golf Club all hosting the event multiple times. Though since 2016 has been of a more nomadic nature, changing to a different venue every year and this will not just be the first time Wilmington Country Club has hosted this event but the first time it has hosted a PGA Tour event full stop. However it has hosted multiple amateur events over the years, including the 2013 Palmer Cup which saw Team USA run out convincing winners over Team Europe.
Last year’s renewal took place at Caves Valley Golf Club, where Patrick Cantlay beat off Bryson DeChambeau in a thrilling six-hole playoff, producing an incredible putting performance that continually denied Bryson picking up the title despite him looking to be the better placed on many of the playoff holes. It was an event which also produced the lowest scoring renewal of the BMW Championship so far, as both Cantlay and DeChambeau finished tied on -27.
What kind of test awaits this week in Wilmington?
Wilmington Country Club’s South Course was originally designed by Robert Trent Jones Snr in the 1950s, though has gone through multiple renovations since. The most recent of those came in 2021 following a tornado that had severely impacted the course, including damage to every bunker and the felling of around 300 trees.
This, along with the need to renovate this old course to get it up to scratch for hosting this week’s event saw the removal of further trees and the introduction of some more strategic fairway bunkers, installed to provide the players with more questions off the tee. Whilst the course was also extended and will play as a par 71 this week and to a long 7534 yards.
This tree-lined course has generous fairways, many doglegging and are protected by some tricky fescue rough, as well as those large strategically placed bunkers. Whilst the speedy Bermuda greens are some of the largest they’ll play on tour this year, many with multiple tiers, again protected by some large bunkers and a few with water in-play. Which to me is where the biggest difficulty in this course could lie.
It is made up of 11 par 4s, 4 par 3s and 3 par 5s. The par 5s are no gimme birdie chances, all measure over 580 yards, with the 12th and 14th holes looking particularly challenging, measuring 634 and 649 yards.
This is where most of the length on this course comes, as barring a trio of close to 500 yards par 4s on the front 9, the majority of the par 4s are sub 450 yards, 8 to be exact, including 2 under 400 yards and look to offer up the best birdie opportunities on the course.
All in all I think those longer par 4s and the difficulty of the par 5s will keep the scoring below what we saw last year but there looks to be enough opportunities to score around this course and I would expect a winning score in the mid-high teens this week.
We have nothing to go off here in terms of past events but it very much looks like a bombers course. The generous landing areas aside, the hole lengths just set up perfectly for strong, long drivers. From the hugely lengthy par 5s, the trio of longer par 4s and the attackable shorter par 4s where they’ll be able to fly some of these bunkers and set up mere flicks into these giant putting surfaces.
As always, approach play will be key, it won’t just be important to hit these greens this week, as with the size of them, many will have a high % of GIR but precision iron-play to the right areas of the greens will be a must.
With greens this size, which are multi-tiered and potentially slick, a good putter will be needed and I also think it worth looking at players who rank well in 3-putt avoidance.
Finally, with holes between 400-450 yards making up 1/3 of the holes around this course, I think it could also be an area of importance this week.
Key Stats: SG: OTT, SG: Approach, Driving Distance, SG: Putting
Secondary Stats: 3-putt avoidance, 400-450 yard par 4 efficiency
There are forecast to be a few spots of rain about today, though from Tuesday to Friday the conditions are looking dry and warm, which means we could start the week with some firmness in the course. Though over the weekend there is forecast to be plenty of rain and with nothing more severe than a mild breeze on show at current, scoring conditions should be favourable.
As always this can all change prior to the start of the event.
68 of the 70 qualifiers will tee it up this week, as Tommy Fleetwood and Lanto Griffin are once again missing.
Wyndham Clark is the final man into the field, just about managing to hold on to 70th position in the FedEx Cup standings following a poor finish to his final round yesterday, that saw him go +4 over his final 5 holes and must’ve seriously felt he’d have slipped outside of that top 70.
Rory McIlroy heads the market at 11/1, followed by Jon Rahm at 14/1 and Justin Thomas at 16s. All with the right profile for this week but I just have question marks over each of them which puts me off at the prices on a course we’re all a little unsure about.
There’s a whole host of them at around 16/1, though I’m going to start this week with one of the tour’s most in-form players, having won back-to-back events just 3 & 4 starts ago and is a bigger price than them all at 20s, Xander Schuaffele.
BMW Championship Tips
- Xander Schauffele 20/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365 – Each Way Extra) – 2.5 pts ew
- Cameron Young 28/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365 – Each Way Extra) – 1.75 pts ew
- Joaquin Niemann 40/1 -1/5 7 places (Betfair) – 1.25 pts ew
- Cameron Davis 66/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365 – Each Way Extra) – 1 pt ew
- Maverick McNealy 100/1 – 1/5 8 places (Bet365 – Each Way Extra) – 1 pt ew
Often seen as a bit of a non-winner despite having successes in the Olympics and a WGC to his name, Schauffele emphatically proved his ability to win in those back-to-back victories. The first of which came in the Travelers Championship and was followed up with a fine battling victory in the Scottish Open the week later.
Since then, Schauffele has finished 15th in The Open and following a four-week absence after that, finished 57th in last week’s St Jude Championship. An ultimately disappointing result though I was pleased to see him return to the level of ball-striking on Sunday that had engineered that excellent sequence of results previously.
I think he can bounce back from that this week at a course which should suit. He’s one of the best ball-strikers on tour, ranking 16th in approach and 45th off-the-tee, whilst also no slouch in terms of distance, ranking 35th. He combines this with an excellent putter, ranking 27th on the greens and an excellent 11th in 3-putt avoidance. With further confidence found from his ranking of 10th in 400-450 yard par 4 efficiency.
Schauffele’s recent form outweighs that of many in this field, yet he’s priced 9th in the market this week. I’m hoping last week blew away a few cobwebs following the four-week break and with him ticking the box in every area I’m looking at, he looks a huge danger this week.
Cameron Young is the latest in a long line of PGA Tour players to have been linked with a move to LIV Golf, something which has since been disputed. Despite this speculation surrounding his future he played well last week, striking the ball better than almost everyone in the field and if it wasn’t for an unusually poor week on the greens he’d have almost certainly been a factor at TPC Southwind.
That quality ball-striking performance saw Young rank 1st in the field off-the-tee and 16th in approach, though ultimately only resulting in a 31st place finish because of the putting woes. A solid performance at a course that wouldn’t necessarily look ideal for his power-packed game.
Solid would be an understatement if using to describe the form Young has been in over recent months. Since the RBC Heritage, where he finished 3rd, he has recorded a further four top 3 finishes, coming courtesy of a 2nd in the Wells Fargo Championship and 3rd in the PGA Championship on his next two starts. Then following a poor run of form from the Memorial – Scottish Open, he bounced back with consecutive 2nd place finishes in The Open and at the Rocket Mortgage Classic, before that 31st place finish last week.
Every area of Young’s game has fired over those starts, particularly off-the-tee where he’s gained strokes in 8 of his last 9 starts and ranks 2nd off-the-tee on tour this season, as well as 4th in driving distance.
Though not quite to that standard, his iron play has also been impressive in recent months, gaining on 7 of 9 starts and though the putter hit a bit of a flat spot a couple of months ago he’s been strong in that regard over recent starts, producing two of his better putting performances of the season in those 2nd place finishes in The Open and RMC.
His suitability for what awaits this week is strengthened by a ranking of 23rd in 400-450 yard par 4 efficiency and coming to this favourable setup where his long, excellent driving could be a big asset, if he can find his usual quality on the greens he can follow in Zalatoris’ footsteps in getting that breakthrough win on the PGA Tour this week.
Big things were expected of Chile’s Joaquin Niemann this season after his impressive victory in the Genesis Invitational earlier in the year. Though he hasn’t quite kicked on from there, recording just the one further top 10, his form has remained solid overall and coming into this week off the back of one of his best iron performances of the year, where he ranked 2nd last week when finishing 13th, this strong ball-striking type can kick off a strong finish to the year this week at Wilmington.
Since that victory at Riviera, Niemann has played 13 times, recording seven top 25s, the one top 10, when 3rd at the Memorial Tournament and just two missed cuts. It’s tough to find any real negatives in his game, everything has fired throughout most of those starts, though he has occasionally gone off the boil with the irons and in recent weeks, the putter hasn’t quite fired. But nothing to be overly concerned about.
The driver has been the biggest weapon in the bag this season, gaining strokes in every start in 2022 and ranking 16th off-the-tee, as well as 35th in driving distance. Though the irons have been almost as impressive, where he ranks 23rd overall and it is notable how much high-class approach performances elevate his results from solid to excellent.
He too ranks well in 400-450 yard par 4 efficiency, in 37th and though the putter, as mentioned, has been a little off of late, he did find a solid one last week, his best in five starts. If he can improve that again this week, with his strong ball-striking game he’d look an ideal fit for what we’re looking for at Wilmington Country Club.
I’ve backed Cam Davis a couple of times over recent weeks. The most recent was last week when finishing 13th, a result he achieved whilst struggling in approach, an area of his game that had been on fire over that strong run of form he’s been on lately. I’m hoping that was just a small blip and as a typically strong ball-striker and strong putter, he looks set to take to this weeks course and continue that excellent form.
Davis’ year turned around in April at the RBC Heritage, where he finished 3rd. He’s since made a further ten starts, finishing top 20 on six occasions, including his last five starts and has three top 10s, which came when 7th at the Charles Schwab Challenge, 8th at the John Deere Classic and 6th at the Barracuda Championship.
These results have been enabled by a strong all-round game, but one where he’s particularly excelled in ball-striking. He’s gained in 11 of his latest 13 starts in approach and 8 of 10 off-the-tee. Ranking 50th and 66th in both areas respectively this season, whilst also ranking 40th in driving distance.
The putter has been solid through these starts too, gaining on 8 of his previous 13 starts, though stepped up on that even further last week, producing his best putting numbers of the year when ranking 22nd in the field. Also ranking an impressive 26th in 3-putt avoidance on the PGA Tour this season.
Davis is a player with a serious level of talent, having been a #4 ranked amateur before turning pro. He made good on some of that promise when gaining his breakthrough PGA Tour title last year in the Rocket Mortgage Classic and following an ultra-consistent run of form where all areas of his game have shown positive signs, he can challenge for PGA Tour title number 2 this week.
Maverick McNealy produced an eye-catching approach performance last week following months of mediocrity in that area and as an excellent putter with a strong, power-packed driving game, he has the game to contend at Wilmington Country Club this week if able to maintain that improvements with the irons.
That strong iron performance last week, where he ranked 15th in the field was combined with a typically strong putting performance, ranking 14th. Though he was only able to achieve a 31st place finish because of an unusually poor performance with the driver, indeed it was his worst driving performance of the year. However he should benefit from the more generous nature of this week’s venue off-the-tee.
Last week’s performance was following a two-event run of 49-MC, though prior to that, McNealy had been in excellent form, recording finishes of 9th in the Barracuda Championship, 16th in the Scottish Open and 8th in the John Deere Classic in consecutive events.
Those performances were engineered by a combination of strong putting and driving, something on show from McNealy for much of this year, as he ranks 24th in putting and 41st in 3-putt avoidance, whilst ranking 54th off-the-tee, where he also possesses plenty of power, ranking 46th.
The strong putting and quality, long driving ticks two important boxes this week. If he can also add that improved iron play he’ll be a lively outsider and could be another would-be 1st time winner to follow in Will Zalatoris’ footsteps.