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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My "5 to Watch" at the BMW

Ebb and flow. It's just the nature of things in life, and golf is no different.

And so it is, as we enter the penultimate FedExCup Playoff event, that I'm trying to base my choices more on the ebb and flow of human emotion and endurance. The Playoff events follow hard on the tails of a tough major season, and now we've had two high-pressure events and a week off. With this week's picks I'm guessing how that may affect the remaining players.

Players like defending champion Zach Johnson, who shocked everybody with a win at the Open and has had an up-and-down season on both sides of that victory. Does he have enough gas in the tank to make another run at the Conway Farms course? Read on to find out...

Sorry, I couldn't resist that. In fact, I'm not so sure he does. Even a grinder like Zach has to crash and burn eventually. I suspect he'll make it to East Lake but this may be a tough week for him.

Zach Johnson, defending champion at the BMW

As you probably already know, there is no cut at the BMW Championship this week. That, of course, is not a gimmick but simply the way things have worked out. We normally cut to 70 and ties for the weekend... but there are only 70 players in this week's event. There's no need for a midway cut!

But after four rounds the field will be cut by more than half since only 30 move on to East Lake. That pressure may have an outsized effect on the guys as they tee it up this week.
  • Jim Furyk shot a 59 last year when Zach won. I see a bit of an up-and-down pattern in his play this season, and I think he'll follow up his T4 at Deutsche Bank with a high finish this week.
  • Rickie Fowler is far more erratic than Furyk -- he either has a high finish or a lackluster one. I'm gambling on a high finish this week 'cause I think he's had just enough time (with that one week break) to get the adrenaline back under control so he can focus.
  • Yes, Jordan Spieth is back on my radar. (Ironically, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy aren't. I don't like this course for their games.) After a week hanging out at football games I suspect he'll be fresh and ready to go.
  • Henrik Stenson may seem like an oddball pick, given that I'm looking for players that haven't spent a lot of energy lately. (Rickie, for instance, missed the cut in round one, won round two, then had a week off.) But Henrik's bout with illness earlier in the year meant that he simply didn't have the energy to expend early on. I think he's still on the upswing after two runner-ups and I think his 3-wood play alone would be a good reason to pick him, although his record on this course isn't so hot.
  • My flier pick was a tough one because the two guys I like here -- Kevin Kisner and Russell Knox -- are both on upswings and have identical finishes in the last two events. In the end I decided to go with Kevin Kisner because I think he just needed a recharge from being in contention so often in the early months of the year.
So there you have it. I've gone all touchy-feely with these picks but I think Conway Farms lends itself to certain kinds of players. The favorites don't seem to play particularly well there, so I'm thinking Kisner may have a better-than-average chance to break through and get his first win this week.

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