FedEx Cup battle heats up at BMW Championship

Dustin Johnson is defending champion at Conway Farms in Illinois

Dustin Johnson defends BMW Championship
Dustin Johnson defends BMW Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The top-70 players on the FedEx Cup rankings head for Conway Farms in Illinois this week. Dustin Johnson is defending champion in the BMW Championship and Jordan Spieth goes into the event atop the FedEx Cup standings.

The BMW Championship is the third of the PGA Tour’s four FedEx Cup playoff events. The leading 30 players after this tournament will go on to contest The Tour Championship at East Lake. The leading player following that event will be FedEx Cup champion.

Jordan Spieth currently leads the way on the FedEx Cup standings from Dell Technologies winner Justin Thomas. Dustin Johnson is third and those men are guaranteed to go into The Tour Championship in the top-five. That is important because the top five players going into the PGA Tour season’s final event control their own destiny. If any of them win at East Lake they will also win the FedEx Cup.

Hideki Matsuyama and Jon Rahm currently sit fourth or fifth but they will need to perform well at Conway Farms to secure the spots, or hope that others behind them don’t have good results.

Currently on the bubble in 30th place is Bill Haas and among those looking to play their way in to the top-30 are: Sergio Garcia in 34th, Ian Poulter in 47th and Rory McIlroy in 51st. Phil Mickelson in 36th also needs a good week to progress. He is playing in his 41st FedEx Cup event – nobody has participated in more.

Rory McIlroy practice tips:

Up until 2007 this event was known as the Western Open and it has a long, distinguished history. The first Western Open was contested in 1899 and was won by Willie Smith. Since then, Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Nick Price and Tiger Woods have all been champions.

Last year at Crooked Stick, Dustin Johnson produced a tremendous display of golf to hold off England’s Paul Casey and claim tournament victory.

Conway Farms in the Chicago suburb of Lake Forest opened for play in 1991 and was designed by renowned course architect Tom Fazio. It’s a windswept layout delivering a number of risk, reward holes.

The weather forecast looks reasonable for the week. The wind might get up slightly during the tournament but shouldn’t be too much of a significant factor.

Venue: Conway Farms GC, Lake Forest, Illinois Date: Sep 14-17 Course stats: par 71, 7,251 yards Purse: $8,750,000 Defending champion: Dustin Johnson (-23)

TV Coverage: Thursday 14 – Sky Sports Golf from 8pm Friday 15 – Sky Sports Golf from 8pm Saturday 16 – Sky Sports Golf from 6pm Sunday 17 – Sky Sports Golf from 5pm

Player Watch: The top-three of Justin Thomas, Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson will surely contend again, but who else might get involved.

Paul Casey – The Englishman has recorded top-15 finishes in his last six PGA Tour starts. He has finished in the top-five in his last five FedEx Cup playoff events and has had a chance to win in the last two without converting. He was runner-up in this event last year. He keeps knocking on the door and perhaps this time, he’ll walk through it.

Jason Day – He hasn’t been at his very best but he has finished top-25 in his last four events. He won at this venue in 2015 and fired a sparkling 61 in the first round.

Marc Leishman – He’s playing some great golf and was third on his own in the Dell Technologies. He might just spring a surprise this week.

Key Hole: 15th. Just 334 yards there are a number of options on this par 4. With a favourable wind, the green is driveable but, with water all down the left side, it’s a risky shot. Three testing pot bunkers also protect the green. The players will feel this is a birdie chance but it could also witness a few disasters.

Fergus Bisset
Contributing Editor

Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and his passion for the sport was bolstered during his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?