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BMW Championship Tips: Get behind JT at Caves Valley

Justin Thomas features amongst our BMW PGA Championship Tips.
Justin Thomas features amongst our BMW PGA Championship Tips.

He finally did it! The extremely likable Tony Finau picked up his first title in five years at Liberty National, after an excellent final round 65. Only enough to get him into a playoff, where Cameron Smith effectively handed it to him on a plate, with his drive finding the hazard on the first playoff hole but for a guy who’s had his fair share of bad beats, it was nice to see one finally go Finau’s way.

Onto the 2nd event of the playoffs, the BMW Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club in Maryland. Where the remaining 70 players will be looking to get themselves into the top 30 in the FedExCup rankings and advance to East Lake for the Tour Championship.

It’s the first time we’ve seen the Tom Fazio designed Caves Valley Golf Club on the PGA Tour but it has played host to multiple amateur events, an LPGA event, a US Senior Open and the Senior Players Championship. 

Recent alterations to the course have resulted in more length being added, meaning it will this week play as a 7542 yard, par 72. Plus new/re-modelled bunkers and extra rough.

The two nines are contrasting in the sense the front is quite open, with the back 9 becoming more traditionally tree-lined. With plenty of elevation changes throughout.

Golf tips

Though the undulating fairways are generous, the chatter is that the rough will be difficult and punishing for those players missing the short stuff. Large and undulating would also be the description of the bentgrass putting surfaces. Protected by bunkers and run off areas. 

With water in play on around a quarter of the holes, there is enough danger out there but with plenty of rain in the build-up, which has softened the course up, the expectation is that it’ll be scorable. In stark contract to last year’s renewal at Olympia Fields, which saw Jon Rahm beating Dustin Johnson in a playoff after both players finished on -4.

As far as the forecast is concerned, this already receptive course will have little chance to dry out, as there is currently rain scheduled to appear throughout the event. Adding further to the scorable conditions. It looks like a week to be on quality ball-strikers, particularly quality approach players and guys who like to make an abundance of birdies.

BMW Championship Tips

Golf odds
Justin Thomas each-way (7 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-08-24 15:05 Odds subject to change.

Jon Rahm once again heads the market, coming as no surprise considering his continued excellent form but at single figures, is of no appeal. A couple caught my attention from this area of the market, Morikawa would’ve been in the staking plan but three poor performances in a row with his irons was enough to just put me off. Instead, I’ll start with a man who finally found something with the putter at Liberty National, Justin Thomas.

Since winning The Players Championship back in March, the putter has been the main thing stopping Thomas from adding to his trophy cabinet in 2021. In which time he’s only put up positive numbers on a couple of occasions. The US Open the only time he genuinely putted well. In last week’s 4th place finish at The Northern Trust, the putter was the best part of his game, ranking 11th in the field and showed that when that clicks, he’s always a danger. As his tee-to-green game continues to be of a high standard.

The irons are, as always, the best part of his game. 3rd on tour for the season in approach and it should be a huge asset on this soft golf course. He drives it solidly, ranking 50th and as ever, hits it long. In what is expected to be a low scoring affair, it’s also a positive to see him rank 12th in birdie average and 26th in bogey avoidance.

He has form at Muirfield Village, where he finished 2nd last year. A course which could offer clues as to which players will go well this week. A long course, with elevated, large and undulating greens. Also possessing positive results on Fazio designs, amongst them a 13th place finish at Conway Farms in this very championship in 2015 and a 12th in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek last year. 

He’s clearly a very good suit to these longer, ball-striker’s courses and has a great chance here if he can keep it rolling like he did last week.

Bryson DeChambeau each-way (7 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-08-24 15:05 Odds subject to change.

I expect big hitting birdie machines to thrive here and that description matches nobody better than DeChambeau. 1st on tour off the tee & in driving distance, to go with him ranking 7th in birdie average and 36th in putting, a deadly combination in itself. Add in the fact he’s hitting his irons well at the minute, for the most part and he really looks a good fit for this test.

A 31st place finish last week, where he hit the ball excellently and would’ve finished higher if it wasn’t for a rare poor putting performance. This was following on from the St Jude Invitational, where he finished 8th after entering the final round two off the lead and conspiring, much like overnight leader Harris English, to play himself out of the tournament in that final round. 

Another with form at Muirfield Village, a winner there in 2018. He’s also got an excellent record at Bay Hill, where he won earlier in the year in the Arnold Palmer Invitational, another course I felt may offer clues as to who will contend this week. A similarly long par 72 with water in play and plenty of doglegging holes.

That victory in Florida remains his only win of 2021, though he’s had plenty of chances and should give himself another this week on a setup which looks to suit him more than almost anyone else in the field.

Sebastian Munoz each-way (7 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-08-24 15:05 Odds subject to change.

A few appealed at three-figures, namely recent winner Cameron Champ. Who put up some impressive approach numbers last week and big hitting Venezuelan, Jhonny Vegas, who should find a setup that suits. However, both are passed over for Colombia’s Sebastian Munoz.

Munoz has been in excellent form of late. A 4th place finish in the John Deere Classic five starts ago, he then followed a missed cut in The Open with a superb 4th place finish in the Olympics, a course heavily renovated by Tom Fazio in preparation for the Olympics, finding himself an unlucky loser in that huge play-off for the bronze medal. 

Two solid performances in his next couple of starts, first finishing 29th in the Wyndham Championship. Before firing four rounds in the 60s last week to achieve a 21st place finish in Jersey City.

Every part of his game has looked in decent shape but it’s the approach play that is the standout. The best iron player in the field in the John Deere Classic, he also ranked in the top 15 in approach play both last week and at the Olympics. 

That 4th in the Olympics wasn’t the only piece of form he has on Fazio designs, as he finished 9th in the CJ Cup at Shadow Creek last year. Another lengthy course, which is impressive when you consider he’s not the longest hitter. Top 10 in the Texas Open and Top 20 in The Masters providing further evidence that he’s capable of playing well on a longer setup.

He reached East Lake last year for the first time, a course which I thought had a real look of this week’s venue and finished 7th to add another positive. Currently sitting 59th in the FedExCup standings, he’ll need a big week to get into that top 30 and make it there for the 2nd year on the bounce. Hopefully this Colombian birdie machine can get in there once again.

Hideki Matsuyama each-way (7 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-08-24 15:10 Odds subject to change.

Plenty of attractive prices in the middle part of the market with Paul Casey hitting the ball excellently last week, though I do prefer him on a tougher setup. With reigning Masters Champion, Hideki Matsuyama getting the nod instead.

The 2nd place finish at the St Jude Invitational three starts ago summed up the game of Matsuyama perfectly. With blistering tee-to-green play, where he gained almost a stroke more per round than anyone else, covering for the sins on the greens, where he lost strokes. This was enough to see him on the best score, only finishing 2nd via a playoff defeat to Abraham Ancer.

He’s followed that with a couple of poor results. A missed cut at the Wyndham Championship, where he once again hit the ball excellently, particularly his irons, though this time it wasn’t enough to cover up the putting deficiencies. Then a 43rd place finish last week, driving the ball to a high standard, ranking 4th in the field off the tee and putting well. His usually excellent iron play, the biggest asset of his game, letting him down. 

Though those two results look poor, there’s been enough quality in the game to forgive them and he should find a course that suits this week. 11th in approach, 28th in birdie average and 42nd off the tee. He’s an excellent ball-striker and makes plenty of birdies.

Another winner at Muirfield Village, also possessing a book of form at Fazio designs. Most notably 4th at the Olympics just four starts ago and a 7th in the 2015 BMW Championship at Conway Farms.

I fancied the win at The Masters would give him the confidence in his game and would see him win again before the year is out. Hopefully that comes to fruition this week.

Sam Burns each-way (7 places)
Odds correct as of 2021-08-24 15:10 Odds subject to change.

After Burns burnt us by missing a 4 footer in the playoff at TPC Southwind three starts ago, he bounced back well last week in Jersey City and looks the ideal type to go well at Caves Valley.

An excellent iron player and putter, where he ranks 17th and 15th respectively. He also drives the ball well and far, ranking 52nd off the tee and 34th in driving distance. This combination adds up to a player who makes more birdies than most on tour and should see him thrive in this week’s conditions.

The only thing that stopped him winning the St Jude was the driver, it was the only part of his game that didn’t fire. He seemed to put that right last week in his 21st place finish at Liberty National, ranking 11th off the tee, with it being the best area of his game. 

A huge talent, who claimed his first win at the Valspar this year. He showed at St Jude that he can and will contend right at the very highest level of the game, in the strongest of fields. With a game that sets up well for a birdie fest on a long course, he has a chance this week to put right what went wrong in Memphis.

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