The BMW Championship is the second of the three events in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The tournament determines the final field of 30 for the TOUR Championship at East Lake Golf Club in Atlanta.
Formally known as the Western Open, the BMW Championship is the second oldest tournament in the United States. The Western Golf Association, which founded and ran the Western Open, runs the BMW Championship.
The BMW Championship is contested by the Top 70 PGA Tour golfers following the completion of The Nothern Trust. As it is a reduced field event there is no cut after two rounds.
The North Course at Olympia Fields Country Club in Chicago will host this year’s BMW Championship. The championship course is consistently rated among the top golf courses in the United States.
Founded in 1915, Olympia Fields boasted four 18-hole courses and the largest private clubhouse in the world. It had an 80-foot, four faced clock tower visible to golfers from all four first tees.
After the club fell into financial difficulties during World War II, it was forced to sell off half of its land. Course No. 4 became the North Course and the remaining holes from the other three courses were reconfigured to make the South Course.
The North Course was designed by two time British Open champion Willie Park Jnr. It features some significant elevation changes, a meandering creek called Butterfiled Creek and hundreds of native oak trees. It was lengthened prior to hosting the US Open in 2003 which was won by Jim Furyk.
“I have examined thousands of places adaptable for the ideal golf course, both in Europe and America, but I have never seen a more natural setting for a championship course. I am satisfied now that your number IV course is the equal of any golf course I have ever seen and I know of none that is superior, either in beauty or natural terrain.”Willie Park Jnr.
Notable tournaments played on the North Course include;
- 1925 PGA Championship Walter Hagen (6&5)
- 1928 US Open Johnny Farrell +10 (294)
- 1961 PGA Championship Jerry Barber -3 (277)
- 1997 US Senior Open Graham Marsh E (280)
- 2003 US Open Jim Furyk -8 (272)
- 2015 US Amateur Bryson DeChambeau (7&6)
In 2015, with the hosting of the US Amateur Championship, Olympia Fields joined only eight other American clubs, including Winged Foot, Oakland Hills and Cherry Hills, that have hosted the US Open Championship (1928, 2003) the US Senior Open Championship (1997), the PGA Championship (1925, 1961) and the US Amateur Championship (2015).
Olympia Fields began a $9.5 million renovation project in 2005 to improve the practice facilities, revamp some of the bunkers and other improvements. The North Course remains faithful to Park’s original design with precious few changes over the decades other than deepened bunkers and additional length.
The layout is a Par 70 that can stretch to 7,353 yards from the championship pegs. It is routed over naturally rolling terrain and uses Butterfield Creek, which winds its way through seven holes, including twice on numbers 12 and 14. The course record is 63 shared by Rickie Fowler and Vijay Singh.
The North Course is parkland golf at its best. The tree lined layout while known for its length is much more than just a ‘bombers’ paradise. Players hoping to score on the famous course will need every club in their bag. Doglegs feature on a number of holes where accuracy will out-trump length. Greens are sloped and well protected and those looking to advance to East Lake will require a better than average week with the putter.
The course design rewards well executed shots and good strategy. The fairways are framed by trees with a good blend of long and short holes. The layout demands a premium on shot-making and distance control with particular emphasis on hitting the right part of the tricky greens. There is plenty danger in the form of strategic bunkering and rough combined with trees.
This week should suit the player who plots his way around with good course management and a premium on hitting greens in regulation.
With such a high-class field and no halfway cut, the competition will be unrelenting in this week’s penultimate FedEx Cup playoff event.
BMW Championship Betting Tips
Daniel Berger 20/1 (E/W) – has two Top 10’s in the recent past in the BMW Championship. A solo 2nd in 2015 when played at Conway Farms and a T10 a year later at Crooked Stick. His Current Form is noteworthy to say the least. Followed up a T2 in the WGC FedEx St Jude with a T13 in the PGA Championship and a solo 3rd in last week’s Northern Trust. Features 2nd in this week’s Stats Analysis as you would expect from regular appearances on leader boards. He is also 12th on Tour for Strokes Gained Putting and 3rd for Scoring Average. His game has scaled into unchartered territory, manufacturing one superior performance after another. Zero red flags and zero reason to expect a letdown this week.
Kevin Kisner 35/1 (E/W) – a regular at the BMW Championship, he finished T9 last year when the tournament was played at Medinah. His Current Form is what puts him firmly on this week’s radar. Has finished in the Top 25 in each of his last four starts which includes a T3 at the Wyndham Championship and a T4 in last week’s Northern Trust. Around TPC Boston he was 18th for Strokes Gained Tee-To-Green, 7th for Strokes Gained Putting and only squared 4 Bogeys for the week. Places inside the Top 20 in this week’s Stats Analysis, he is also 25th on Tour for Driving Accuracy and 15th for Strokes Gained Putting. The North Course sets up perfectly for his accurate play from the tee especially if the rough is going to be as high as suggested in some reports. Hard to ignore based on form and skill set.