On this short week we join the fresh prince and head to West Philadelphia for the third round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Without seeing PGA play since 2011, Aronimink Golf Club will host the 2018 BMW Championship and look somewhat different than it has in the past. Originally designed by Donald Ross in the 1920’s the course has seen several renovations but in 2003 was restored by Ron Prichard to it’s original layout. Most recently the club has seen $4 million in restoration by Gil Hanse to bring some elements back to life that were lost over time, including 176 new bunkers.
While digging for the reconstruction Hanse said they found sand and other remnants from the old course as well as civil war gold and 30,000 T-bones from steaks eaten by Andy Reid.
The course is a par 70 at 7,237 yards and is a true test of both long and short holes that require patience and accuracy with four par 3’s, twelve par 4’s, and two par 5’s.
With the recent changes made to the course and the fact that there hasn’t been an event here since the 2011 AT&T National, recent form will be more important than ever (especially ball striking). A far mix of doglegs, elevation changes and apparently half a million bunkers will test each golfer’s ability to hit their target. The Hanse restoration added fairway bunkers but increased the size of the greens as well as the fairways so this means that guys will have more options in terms of where they want to drive the ball and attack the pins from.
Aronimink has the flavor of a Scotland links style course, which is Donald Ross’s homeland. Most holes are fairly open with only some trees lining the course and several water hazards but most of the obstacles come in the form of sand. The green’s are also very undulated, being designed in a time when they weren’t nearly as fast, so being able to narrow in on hole locations will greatly increase the odds of a one putt.
Justin Rose won the AT&T National here in 2010 with a score of -10 while Nick Watney won with a -13 in 2011. There have been course changes that will both increase the difficulty of certain shots but make scoring opportunities more prevalent so it is hard to predict a finishing score but it wouldn’t surprise me to see this lot go even lower than -13. This might all depend on course setup and weather, for example if there isn’t any rain and the greens become quick it will be a rough couple rounds on the short grass for even the best putters.
Also, there won’t be any cuts this week so streaky scorers might be more valuable than they were in the previous two weeks.
- SG: off the tee
- SG: approaching the green
- Birdie or better average
- Par 4 Scoring
- Sand Save %
As we enter the third round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs the field narrows to 69 after Daniel Berger dropped out earlier today. C.T. Pan finished Monday T4 which bumped him from 72nd to 33rd. Other notable players that made a last-minute push were Tyrrell Hatton, Abraham Ancer, Brice Garnett, Peter Uihlein, and Keith Mitchell. Several big names got bounced after poor finishes at the Dell Technologies Championship such as Ryan Moore, Whee Kim, Stewart Cink, Nick Watney, Jimmy Walker, and Kevin Streelman.
Big Dogs ($9,000 and up on DK)
- My top picks in this range are DJ, JT, Brooks, DeChambeau, Finau, and Tiger. All of which are in good form and should be a perfect fit for this course being able to hit the long ball to get closer, higher percentage approach shots and easier scoring opportunities.
- Rory McIlroy ($10,300) – Rory has a 2nd, 6th, and 12th place finish in four events since, and including, The Open but what scares me is his inability to hit greens in regulation. He’s ranked 140th this year and if he’s not able to stick it close here then he’s going to be consistently scrambling to save par.
- Jordan Spieth ($9,400) – he has three straight top 25’s and has the right game for this course, getting from tee to green, but it will all come down to Spieth’s precision with the flat stick.
- Jason Day ($9,300) – Day might be the best short game player in the world, and that’s the main reason he is always in the conversation but I don’t like the idea of someone in this field and on this course playing from their heels.
- Rickie Fowler ($9,000) – great stats, great form, but Rickie sitting out the last two weeks with oblique problems is enough for me to stay away.
Value ($7,600 – $8,900 on DK)
- Tommy Fleetwood ($8,600) – Fleetwood was real chalky last week coming in at roughly 30% owned, rightfully so, and I would assume he will be fairly high again this week. He’s only been outside of the top 25 once in his last six events and that was a 35th place finish.
- Patrick Cantlay ($8,500) – Cantlay has been in very similar form to Fleetwood so it will be interesting to see which one of these two comes in with a higher ownership percentage.
- Phil Mickelson ($8,400) – lefty’s last two finishes were 12th last week and 15th the week before. I like him at this course as well, 2nd in birdie or better with no cut line and wider fairways with less trees which will limit the damage his wild driver can do.
- Rafa Cabrera Bello ($8,300) – Rafa is on a bit of a heater, in his last five events he’s finished 17th or better four times. He’s an excellent ball striker and 7th in GIR so the scoring chances should be there.
- Paul Casey ($8,000) – He finished T21 at the Dell Technologies Championship so Casey is headed in the right direction but I believe he is flying under the radar and is one of the best on tour at going into the green, 7th in SG: approaching the green, so he might surprise people this week.
- Gary Woodland ($7,800) – Gary posted another top 25 this last week and continues to hit greens (9th in GIR). It also helps that he is 3rd in SG: off the tee and 17th in SG: approaching the green.
- Tyrrell Hatton ($7,700) – Tyrrell seems to be priced about $500 under what he should be so I’m guessing he will be one of the higher owned golfers this week, but I’m apparently terrible at predicting ownership so take that with a grain of salt. In his last eight starts he’s averaging 19th place.
- Jon Rahm ($8,900) – Rahm hasn’t been too great going into the greens this year or scrambling to save par. If you want to take a stab at him in GPP that’s not a terrible idea but I wouldn’t go very heavy on him.
- Francesco Molinari ($8,800) – this one might be grasping at straws but Molinari missed the cut in the first round of the playoffs and then sat out the second round, his putting has been bad and his proximity from the rough and the fairway isn’t great. I don’t like the idea of a possibly rusty Molinari trying to sink putts from 45 feet.
- Adam Scott ($8,700) – Scott is an excellent ball striker and has two top 5’s in his last three tournaments but I see a similar problem with him as Francesco here, a bad (but improving) putter and poor proximity is a recipe for disaster at this course.
- Patrick Reed ($8,200) – Reed keeps coasting but hasn’t really popped yet. He’s T25 in par 4 scoring but outside of 150th in GIR and proximity so I don’t see this as being a friendly course for the Master’s champ.
- Webb Simpson ($8,100) – I’m not sure Aronimink is a spot where Webb can make a ton of birdies but he’s T7 in par 4 scoring so his floor seems to be fairly high.
- Bubba Watson ($7,600) – Bubba is coming off of a recent skid and finished T7 this last week so he might be a good play in GPP.
- Henrik Stenson ($7,600) – Henrik still doesn’t look right and continues to lose strokes putting but he’s one of the best ball strikers on tour, maybe second only to DJ, so at this price tag it gives you something to think about.
Sleepers ($7,500 and under on DK)
- Kyle Stanley ($7,500) – he’s 4th in GIR and he finished 28th in the first round of the playoffs and 12th last round so it’s safe to say Kyle is playing some pretty solid golf.
- Louis Oosthuizen ($7,500) – Louie’s 31st place finish this last week was his worst finish out of his last five events. Certain aspects of his game are great and others are poor but he has the hot hand and a high floor.
- Emiliano Grillo ($7,400) – Grillo finally bounced back with a T7 at the Dell Tech Championship and is solid everywhere besides approaching the green from the rough but with wide fairways that shouldn’t kill him.
- Kevin Na ($7,200) – I look at Na like a cheap Phil Mickelson because he’s a great scorer but very bad off of the tee. The setup of this course should be forgiving for those that are inaccurate with driver so I could see Na climbing the leader board.
- Zach Johnson ($7,100) – ZJ has slipped in the playoffs from where he was coming in but I see this course fitting his game better than the previous two. He’s also T7 in par 4 scoring so I could see him flying in under the radar.
- Chris Kirk ($6,700) – Kirk finished 8th here in 2011 and he continues to stay consistent. He was lower owned last week than I thought he would be and he’s T15 in par 4 scoring so he could be a great pick for this price, assuming he’s low owned again.
- Keegan Bradley ($7,300) – Keegan is one of the best ball strikers on the tour but putts like he’s got a blindfold on. This should be a good course for him but I’m not sure he’s got the firepower to crack the top 25.
- Ian Poulter ($7,100) – Poulter had a good stretch but fizzled out so far in the playoffs so I see him as being low owned. He’s been one of the best this year in approach shots in both strokes gained and proximity so he could surprise people here.
- Jason Kokrak ($6,900) – Kokrak has quietly scraped together three top 25’s in his last five events where his worst finish was 57th. He’s also 23rd in GIR and T26 in birdie or better.
- C.T. Pan ($6,900) – he’s got two top 5’s in his last three events and C.T. is 5th in GIR which is the name of the game at Aronimink.
- Abraham Ancer ($6,800) – this is strictly based off of the hot hand theory but Abraham has two top 10’s in his last four events including a T7 last week.
Click Here to see Mark’s odds and projections for the BMW Championship.