Tournament: BMW Championship
Preview and Picks
Dates: Thursday, September 4th through Sunday September 7th, 2008
Course: Bellerive Country Club St. Louis, MO
Television: Golf Channel/NBC
Its week three for the PGA Tour playoffs and the BMW Championship is on the card from the Bellerive CC in St. Louis. For the second week in a row, the players are competing for an undefended title as the 07 champ, Tiger Woods, is still on the shelf. Vijay Singh has been very Woods-like in winning the first two legs of the FedEx Cup, and looks to seal the deal with a few decent finishes on the way in. Anyone with aspirations of catching Vijay and winning the $10 million annuity better cash in a win here and hope for a Singh slip. That will be tough as the BMW field is made up of the top-70 on the FedEx list and therefore is a no-cut event with everyone cashing a check and earning some points. The points list cuts again after this week, down to the top-30 for the TOUR Championship, so look for the guys on the outside of that number to set the goal of living to play one more week and cash another guaranteed check.
The Bellerive Country Club will do its part to identify the best player this week, testing the pros on a par-71 track that will measure a significant 7,456 yards. The course will demand some length to set up quality birdie looks, but the steady and accurate player can score here with the precision game, as well. As always, a hot putter will separate the contenders from the also-rans. Like many events, the tournament could be decided on the last few holes with 17 and 18 providing the opportunity for drama. The 600 yard, par-5 17th plays as the second easiest hole on the course and will be the last opportunity to gain ground for the chasers. The 18th plays as the second toughest hole, with the 460 yard, par-4, playing over a half stoke over-par in PGA competitions. The cream should rise to the top this week with the strong field and formidable course providing a Major-style atmosphere. Catch all the early round action on The Golf Channel and tune to NBC for the weekend and the primetime finish. XM also broadcasts a full week of coverage for the BMW Championship.
Each week we take a look at the golf sportsbooks and highlight some key contenders. Well make a short, middle and long odds pick to win and breakdown a few matches as well. This weeks odds and matches come courtesy of the board at Bodog.
6 to 1 to win and 11 to 10 for a top-5 finish (including ties)
Vijay has all but locked up the playoff crown with wins at The Barclays and Deutsche Bank. In fact, there are numerous scenarios that have Singh still taking home the FedEx Championship should he go on to finish last these next two weeks. Singh has shaken the putting woes that kept him outside the winners circle for much of the early part of the year and now has the look of the former number one in the world. Singhs game lines up well with the Bellerive, as he can shorten the track with his 26th ranked driving distance and can also be pinpoint to the greens with a 7th best GIR%. If the putter stays hot, look for more low scores from the 4th best on Tour in terms of scoring average. (69.5)
9 to 1 and 7 to 4
Sergio has played better than anyone not named Vijay over the last few weeks, earning a playoff runner-up and a T5 in the Playoff events. Garcia will look to knock off Singh and put himself in place to win the FedEx Cup with a victory here. Sergio can handle the length here off the tee and is solid into the greens, ranking 29th. The putter that has given him issues all year has been better, but the clutch putts have been staying up. Pouring a few in on Sunday could have Garcia lifting the trophy. Sergio is second in Tour in scoring at 69.54 and ran nicely here in 07 with a solo 9th.
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10 to 1 and 2 to 1Mickelson is still getting rather short odds at 10 to 1, but this week marks the first time since Tiger has been out that Phil is not the outright favorite. Micks play over the last month is below average for him and he bottomed out last week with a T73 at the Deutsche Bank. Still, Phil has the length at 295 off the tee to put him in position and the 38th best GIR% will lead to birdie looks. A turnaround is always possible for the 2nd ranked All Around player and the Tours second best scoring average cant be ignored.
18 to 1 and 3 to 1
After winning the final two Majors of 08, it seems Paddy might be worn out a bit, missing the cut the last two weeks. Hell want to show well here at the BMW to lock his spot for the TOUR Championship and did show some signs with a second round 65 last week. Harrington is plenty long at 298+ off the tee to have scoring clubs in his hands, but his main asset has been the 4th ranked putting average on Tour. A solid all around game along with the flatstick has led to the best scoring average of 69.52, and the extra rest gained by missing the weekends could be enough for a return to form this week.
18 to 1 and 3 to 1
Its been a while since Ernie has been this high on the list, but a T3 at the Deutsche Bank has Els in 19th on the FedEx list and a win here could make things interesting. Els has always fared well on courses like Bellerive given his length off the tee, but the iron game has been missing a bit this year, leading to his uneven results so far in 08. If Ernie can improve on that 159th ranked GIR%, he certainly has the experience factor to handle this premier field.
20 to 1 and 7 to 2
Furyk has been lurking the last few events, logging T12 and T7 finishes and showing the type of game that has him Ryder Cup qualified even without a win this year. Furyk is the 05 champ in this event and will tackle the layout with accuracy versus the long tee ball. Jim is 26th in fairways hit and relies on his 20th best GIR% for his birdie bids. An above average putter leads to the 15th best scoring average (70.05) and no one has more seasoning at this point than Furyk. This course can be managed and still yield low scores, and he is obviously overdue.
25 to 1 and 9 to 2
Kim is another who is faring well in the playoffs with T12 and T27 runs, proving that his two wins earlier in the year should not have surprised anyone. Kim has youth and strength on his side, averaging over 300 yards off the tee, but shows veteran nerves as the 29th ranked putter on Tour in terms of average. A solid greens hit stat rounds out the overall package and leads to the 6th best scoring average. (69.7).
33 to 1 and 6 to 1
Camilo rebounded nicely after a missed Barclays cut with a T3 at the Deutsche Bank and is our longshot pick this week. Villegas has the 8th best birdie average on the strength of his 293 yard driving distance and 27th ranked putter. A complete stat sheet has Villegas the 9th ranked All Around player and finished T7 in 07 to add a confidence boost.
For the Win
Short Favorite: Sergio Garcia (9-1 odds) - three in a row will be tough for Vijay and Sergio should be right there again on this track.
Middle of the Road: Anthony Kim (25-1 odds) hes been hanging around for a few weeks on the second page, the length of Bellerive fits the game.
Longshot: Camilo Villegas (33-1 odds) long off the tee and a solid putter, not exactly longshot stats.
Head to Head Matches (our pick)
(all matches are for entire event)
Vijay Singh (-130) v. Sergio Garcia (EVEN) (Garcia)
Just like for the win, three top flight weeks for Singh seems a little harder to pull off than Sergio breaking through and beating Vijay. Its pretty seldom Sergio is even money.
Ernie Els (-115) v. Jim Furyk (-115) (Furyk)
Ernie had the good week last time out, but Furyk has been solid for a month. An outright win for Furyk may not be in the cards, but he should hold off Els in this matchup of true PGA pros.