World’s best start their engines for BMW

The BMW Championship is the penultimate event of the FedEx Cup playoffs

Rory McIlroy will play at BMW Championship
Rory McIlroy will play at BMW Championship
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The BMW Championship is the penultimate event of the 2015 FedEx Cup playoffs and Rory, Jordan, Jason and Rickie are all on the start sheet at Conway Farms in Illinois.

Jason Day sits atop the FedEx Cup standings coming into the BMW Championship, but he has a host of talented players breathing down his neck. Jordan Spieth is second on the list, Rickie Fowler is third and Henrik Stenson is fourth, following two runner-up finishes in the first two FedEx Cup events. Rory McIlroy is currently 17th and will be looking to move up and give himself a chance to win the $10 million top prize at next week's Tour Championship.

With only 30 players going through to play at the Tour Championship, competition in this event will be intense. Louis Oosthuizen is currently on the bubble in 30th spot and will be keen to defend his position. The likes of Sergio Garcia and Hunter Mahan will hope to play their way to East Lake.

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.

In last year’s event at Cherry Hills in Colorado, eventual FedEx Cup champion Billy Horschel held off Bubba Watson to win by two shots. Horschel is 67th on the FedEx Cup standings going into this week. He’ll need at least a third place finish at Conway Farms to progress. So too will Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter

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. Last time the tournament was contested here in 2013 Open champion Zach Johnson was the winner and Jim Furyk fired a superb 59 in the second round.

There might be some strong winds to contend with this week and that could make scoring tough, there have also been some subtle tweaks to the layout so it’s probable the winning score won’t be as low as Zach Johnson’s 16-under total in 2013.

Venue: Conway Farms GC, Lake Forest, Illinois Date: Sep 17-20 Course stats: par 71, 7,251 yards Purse: $8,250,000 Winner: $1,485,000 Defending Champion: Billy Horschel (-14)

TV Coverage: Thursday 17 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm Friday 18 – Sky Sports 4 from 8pm Saturday 19 – Sky Sports 4 from 5pm Sunday 20 – Sky Sports 4 from 5pm

Player watch: Jason Day – The Australian is the form player in world golf right now following his victories in the USPGA then The Barclays. He will have enjoyed his week off and will be ready to come out firing at Conway Farms.

Henrik Stenson – The former FedEx Cup champion is on a great streak at the moment with two second place finishes in his last two starts. He’ll be keen to bounce back from narrowly losing out to Rickie Fowler in the Deutsche Bank.

Henrik Stenson swing sequence:

Rickie Fowler – He looked superb in closing out victory at the Deutsche Bank. If he can continue playing like he did there, he’ll contend this week. There’s nobody better at finishing tournaments right now when in the hunt.

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 Golf Monthly's resident expert on the history of the game and has written extensively on that subject. He 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 history section of "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?