John Rahm is the defending champion of the 2021 BMW Championship, but much like The Northern Trust, the event floats around to different courses. This year is being held at Caves Valley Golf Club in Owings Mills, Maryland.
It’s geographically close to Liberty Golf Club (the site of The Northern Trust). So one less off-day between tournaments shouldn’t impact the players too much.
Caves Valley is hosting a PGA Tour event for the first time in its history, which dates back to 1991. It’s a par-72, 7,542-yard track. Baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr., one of Maryland’s most famous athletes, is a member and is serving as a tournament host.
The fairways are a bit generous but the greens are well-protected, so a misfire on the first shot will likely require a golfer to lay up to recover instead of trying to roll one up onto the green. If they’re feeling daring, they can try to land one on the green, but a mistake there could land them in the rough or a bunker.
It looks like ball-strikers who can eat up distance on their first shot will benefit the most from this course, and then the pin hunters will also have an advantage if they can have good ball placement on the green.
The BMW Championship is the second of three FedEx Cup playoff events after the championship field was narrowed down from 125 to 70 golfers last week. This is a no-cut event, and the winner will go into the Tour Championship with a several-stroke head start at that event, which will determine the FedEx Cup champion. Overall, the top 30 in the standings will advance to East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta next week for the finale.
There’s not much course history to draw from, but experts say the closest comparison is Quail Hollow in North Carolina, home to the Wells Fargo Championship. Rory McIlroy won that even this year, and he’s +2200 to win this weekend. Jordan Spieth (+1800) has played the course around 10 times in connection with visits to sponsor Under Armour. He was inconsistent last week, posting rounds of 62 and 79 in a three-day span.
Rahm is the odds-on favorite by a wide margin (+650), and he said himself before last week that he expects to round into form this week after he missed a month of play due to a COVID-19 diagnosis. He was in control at last week’s The Northern Trust, leading going into the back nine in Monday’s rain-delayed final round, but he faltered down the stretch and finished third, two shots behind Tony Finau and Cameron Smith (which Finau won on the first playoff hole).
Finau‘s win last week was his first in over five years after eight runner-up finishes in between. He’s +2200 to repeat. While he’s already assured a great starting spot at next week’s Tour Championship to determine the FedEx Cup winner, he’s also currently in the sixth and final automatic-qualifying spot for the U.S. Ryder Cup team, so he’s motivated to not let up after last week’s victory.
Olympic gold medalist Xander Schauffele is second on the board at +1600 to win the 2021 BMW Championship. The Olympic tournament was also a limited-field, no-cut event, and he hit well off the tee last week.
Dustin Johnson leads five golfers at +1800. D.J. He has had success at long golf courses in this part of the country, having won The Northern Trust at TPC Boston last year, along with WGC-Firestone and a U.S. Open at Oakmont near Pittsburgh. He missed the cut last week, but that could play to his advantage since he’s been able to rest since Friday evening, while most of the rest of the field played well into Monday evening.
Smith, also at +1800, played a wonderful 72 holes last week, but his drive on the 73rd hole, which was No. 18 in a playoff, was yanked into the Hudson River. Collin Morikawa (+1800) says he’s recovered from a pulled-back muscle that occurred in the Olympic tournament. He said he was hitting too many draws to compensate for his injury, so after missing the cut in New Jersey, he’s worked on his traditional swing and says he’s feeling good.
Justin Thomas (+1800) struggled with his putter all year, but he went back to his old one at The Northern Trust; where he led after the first round and gained five strokes on the greens. He’s also had a solid history in no-cut events.
Bryson DeChambeau (+2000) is a good bet if you’re confident that his driver will be working in his favor. He has the driving ability to do very well here if he’s on point.
Patrick Cantlay (+2200) quietly finished 11th at The Northern Trust, and the greens at Caves Valley are to his liking.
Just off the board below is Louis Oosthuizen, who is at +2500. He’s the only golfer ranked in the top 18 in the Official World Golf Rankings not to have scored a win this year, but he has several runner-up finishes and led The Open Championship after each of the first three rounds. He did sit out the last two events with a neck injury, but he claims that he’s good to go this weekend.
A good long-shot bet is Corey Conners (+4000). He finished eighth last week and ranks sixth on tour in strokes gained off the tee over his last 36 rounds; he was also great on the approach at Liberty. If he’s good on the tee and on the approach here, he could contend.
|GOLFER||ODDS TO WIN THE 2021 BMW CHAMPIONSHIP|
|Patrick Cantlay / Tony Finau / Rory McIlroy||+2200|
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