The third playoff event of the FedEx Cup takes us to Pennsylvania for the BMW Championship. It's crunch time now in the FedEx cup where this week's field of 69 (Daniel Berger missing) will be whittled down to 30 for the season finale in Atlanta in two weeks time. The event sees the return of Rickie Fowler, who is well rested following his partial oblique tear, while Francesco Molinari is also back in action for this week's event. Big names including the likes of Adam Scott, Zach Johnson and Ian Poulter all currently sit outside the top 30 of the FedEx Cup standings and will need a big week in Pennsylvania should they want to extend their season.
Last year, Marc Leishman ran away with the BMW Championship, posting a total of 23 under par to win the title by a five-stroke margin.
Aronimink Golf Club was last seen on the PGA Tour when it hosted the 2010 and 2011 editions of the AT&T National. In both of these events, some of the best tee to green performers excelled. Justin Rose, Adam Scott, Ryan Moore, Marc Leishman, Webb Simpson and Charles Howell III have all finished in the top 10 at Aronimink in the past, and I'm expecting elite ball strikers to thrive once again in 2018 in Pennsylvania this week. The par-70 golf course measures 7,267 yards and possesses Bentgrass greens. Aronimink has gone under a Gil Hanse-led restoration since it was last seen in action on the PGA Tour, with fairways having been widened and the addition of a plethora of bunkers to the course, however, just like in 2010 and 2011, you can expect ball striking and players who can flush their long irons consistently this week to be factors for the title here.
Hideki Matsuyama's game has well and truly returned, and this week looks an excellent opportunity for him to claim his sixth career win on the PGA Tour. Matsuyama has struggled to shake off niggling injuries in 2018, and it's led to a frustrating season for the Japanese star; however, it seems that he has now returned to his best. Matsuyama has recorded three consecutive top-15 finishes, and last week he tied his best performance of the year with a T4 finish at the Dell Technologies Championship.
Aronimink looks set to be a ball strikers paradise, and the Japanese star fits the bill this week. Over his previous 12 rounds, Matsuyama ranks third in strokes gained approaching the green, sixth in ball striking and fifth in strokes gained total. With his ball striking this sharp, whether or not he contends this week may well come down to how he putts, and the signs are good in this regard for Matsuyama. The world number 18 has gained an average of 2.3 strokes over the field in his last four events. 22/1 doesn't scream value, however, because of the golf course and his trending performances the price looks a little too big, and Matsuyama leads my card for the week.
Adam Scott went off in the 20s at last week's Dell Technologies Championship. It was a price based on his recent form, but also his unusually brilliant back to back weeks with the flat-stick. After a poor performance on the greens at TPC Boston, the market has corrected itself for this week; however, I believe that it has gone too far, and at 40/1 in a limited field Scott looks an excellent price to go well in Pennsylvania.
Scott finished T3 at Aronimink in 2011, and he has the perfect game to perform just as well here again this week. Over his previous 12 rounds, the Australian sits 16th in strokes gained approaching the green, and seventh in strokes gained total. Despite the poor week on the greens last week in Boston, it's undeniable that Scott has looked much more comfortable than he has done all year over putts recently. His stroke has looked pure with the broomstick putter, and while I don't expect him to produce a performance on the greens as he did in the first playoff event (gained 8.5 strokes), I do expect him to roll it better than he did last week (lost four strokes). On the basis that the golf course is an excellent fit for the Australian's supreme long game, and that the market has over-adjusted after a disappointing performance in Boston, Scott represents excellent value at 40/1 this week in Pennsylvania.
I'm all in on elite ball striking this week, and that's why I feel Keegan Bradley looks an excellent bet at 4/1 to claim a top-20 finish in a field of just 69. Bradley has gained strokes for his approach play in 17 of his last 18 events which is a remarkable achievement in itself. Over his last 24 rounds, Bradley sits sixth in strokes gained approaching the green and 14th in ball striking. Even while struggling on the greens, Bradley has still put himself in good positions lately. He played in the final group in the fourth round of the Northern Trust, and at 4/1 in a field less than half the size of a regular event, Bradley is a bet to claim his fourth top-20 of the year.
72 Hole Match Bet
There is a whole host of pressure on Tony Finau this week. The prohibitive favorite to receive Jim Furyk's final captain's pick for the Ryder Cup, Finau will understand the importance of his performance this week in Pennsylvania. Lacking the freedom to go out and play his normal game I feel he's worth taking on this week. Jordan Spieth looks the man to take over him too, with the 4/5 price on offer. The Texan has recorded four top-25 finishes in his last five starts, and Spieth currently ranks second for strokes gained putting over his previous 24 rounds. Take Spieth to get the better of a man under severe pressure to perform this week at 4/5.
2018 BMW Championship recommended bets
- Outright Winner (All Each Way): Hideki Matsuyama 22/1 (Six places, SkyBet), Adam Scott 40/1 (Six places, General)
- Top 20: Keegan Bradley 4/1 (BoyleSports)
- 72 Hole Match Bet: Jordan Spieth over Tony Finay 4/5 (BetVictor)