BMW preview

A preview, stats and tips for this week's penultimate FedEx Cup play-off event - the BMW Championship in Chicago

By Dave Tindall Twitter: @DaveTindallgolf.   Last Updated: 11/09/13 11:21am

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Steve Stricker: Ready to post first win of 2013

Steve Stricker: Ready to post first win of 2013

Sky Bet

Stage three of the four-tournament FedEx Cup play-off series begins this Thursday at Conway Farms.

The reasonably flat Illinois course was designed by Tom Fazio and opened in August 1991, and was carved out of an area of woodland.

Needless to say there are plenty of trees around this spacious layout but not a great amount of water.

The venue has never been used on the PGA Tour although it has held some prestigious amateur events. Luke Donald, who was instrumental in helping bring the tournament here, is a member at Conway.

All 70 qualifiers are expected to tee-up in the event, with the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings at the completion of the tournament booking their spot in next week's finale in Georgia - the Tour Championship.

There, they will get the chance to play for the huge $10m bonus fund.

The leading contenders

Tiger Woods (6/1): "It wasn't my week," said Tiger after his tied 65th (joint worst finish of the year) in the Deutsche Bank two weeks ago. His putting was particularly off and the win for Henrik Stenson sent the Swede above Tiger and into the No.1 slot in the FedEx Cup standings. The lack of any previous course form is an added concern given that Woods does the vast majority of his winning on tracks where he's triumphed before but one huge plus is his career record in Illinois. He's won seven times from 16 starts.

Adam Scott (12/1): Four times in the previous six runnings, we've seen players win two of the four FedEx Cup events. So don't think Scott has already had his turn after landing the opening event - The Barclays - in New Jersey. He had a dip in the Deutsche Bank last time (53rd) but middle rounds of 66-67 there suggest he's still doing plenty right. Scott is third in the FedEx Cup standings so will want to keep his place in the top five as it's they who will control their own destiny in the finale in Atlanta.

Adam Scott: Has already won one FedEx Cup event this year. Can he land another?

Henrik Stenson (12/1): The man of the moment after finally banking his first win of the season at the Deutsche Bank. It had been coming for months after the Swede finished runner-up in The Open and WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and third in the US PGA and Scottish Open and there seems no reason why he can't continue his great run here. Stenson has been ranked first in Greens In Regulation in his last two tournaments so if he putts okay he'll again be right in the mix.

Phil Mickelson (16/1): After closing the Barclays with a 65 and kicking off the Deutsche with a 63, Mickelson looked as if he might hit the heights he reached when winning The Open at Muirfield two months ago. However, three closing 71s relegated him to 41st in Boston and in still one spot outside the desired top five in the FedEx Cup standings. The left-hander was runner-up in this event last year when it was held at Crooked Stick.

Justin Rose (18/1): US Open champion Rose won this event at nearby Cog Hill in 2011 and was also fifth in 2007 so he'll be hoping he can reproduce that form on this new course. So far in the FedEx play-off he's finished second at The Barclays and 16th in the Deutsche Bank so he's certainly rounding into some fine form again. As usual his iron play looks strong although it has been the trend in recent years that first-time major winners have struggled to bank a quick follow-up win on the PGA Tour.

Matt Kuchar (20/1): Many fancied Kuchar for a major this year after he won the WGC-Accenture Match Play and Memorial but, in the end, he couldn't do better than his eighth place at Augusta. Third in this event at Cog Hill in 2010, the American was also fourth in the Deutsche Bank last time out (his first top 10 there in 10 starts) so he has some very obvious credentials. Occupies fourth in the current FedEx Cup standings so is another who will want to consolidate his excellent position.

Rory McIlroy (20/1): Golf seemed an easy game for Rory this time last year. He'd just won the US PGA by eight shots, shot 20-under to capture the Deutsche Bank Championship and would go on to take victory here to make it three wins in four starts. That's unheard of unless your name is Tiger Woods. Going into this year's BMW and he's managed just one top 10 in his last nine starts. There are glimpses - a second round 65 at The Barclays and a third round 64 in the Deutsche Bank - but you have to go back to April for the last time he broke 70 in the final round.

Steve Stricker (22/1): See the stats below and Stricker's scoring average is the best in the field over the last 10 events. Playing a lighter schedule has certainly agreed with him and his last five finishes read 8-10-13-12-2. That runners-up finish in the Deutsche Bank confirmed his reputation as someone who thrives at this time of year - he even has the nickname "Mr September" - and he also loves Illinois after three wins in the John Deere Classic at TPC Deere Run. Has to be on the shortlist of punters this week.

CURRENT FORM on PGA TOUR

Last Ten Weeks

Player: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8 / 9 / 10

Sang-Moon Bae: / MC / - / - / - / 31 / 53 / MC / 52 / MC / MC
Jonas Blixt: / MC / Won / MC / 26 / - / 59 / 4 / - / 58 / 53
Keegan Bradley: / - / - / 61 / 15 / - / 2 / 19 / - / 33 / 16
Angel Cabrera: / 13 / - / - / 11 / - / 38 / Wd / - / MC / 76
Roberto Castro: / 2 / MC / 68 / - / 6 / - / 12 / MC / 25 / 9
Kevin Chappell: / 28 / 41 / - / - / 68 / - / MC / 73 / 15 / 22
Brian Davis: / 8 / 30 / 33 / MC / MC / - / - / MC / MC / 8
Jason Day: / 21 / - / - / 32 / - / 53 / 8 / - / 25 / 13
Brendon de Jonge: / MC / 17 / 54 / 46 / - / - / 33 / 52 / 19 / 9
Graham DeLaet: / 8 / 30 / - / - / MC / - / MC / - / 2 / 3
Luke Donald: / - / - / - / MC / MC / 9 / MC / - / 41 / 41
Jason Dufner: / - / - / - / 26 / - / 4 / Won / - / 37 / 9
Ken Duke: / 52 / MC / 48 / 64 / - / 65 / 57 / - / MC / MC
Ernie Els: / - / - / - / 26 / 21 / 48 / MC / 20 / MC / 20
Harris English: / 34 / - / 15 / 15 / - / 14 / 61 / - / MC / 27
Matt Every: / MC / 38 / - / 35 / 28 / - / MC / 5 / 9 / 62
Rickie Fowler: / 21 / - / - / MC / - / 21 / 19 / - / 9 / MC
Jim Furyk: / 44 / - / - / MC / 9 / 9 / 2 / - / 6 / 27
Sergio Garcia: / - / - / - / 21 / - / 40 / 61 / 29 / 37 / 4
Brian Gay: / - / MC / 61 / - / 73 / 63 / MC / - / 43 / 27
Bill Haas: / Won / 9 / - / MC / - / 7 / 25 / 20 / 25 / MC
David Hearn: / 44 / MC / 2 / - / 44 / - / 47 / - / 72 / 35
Russell Henley: / 34 / 30 / - / 73 / - / 27 / MC / - / MC / 62
Charley Hoffman: / 28 / - / MC / - / 16 / - / 40 / - / 70 / 27
Billy Horschel: / 61 / 30 / - / MC / 68 / 44 / MC / - / MC / 70
Charles Howell III: / MC / MC / 33 / 26 / - / - / MC / Dq / 33 / 53
John Huh: / 28 / - / MC / MC / MC / - / MC / 3 / 15 / 22
Dustin Johnson: / - / - / - / 32 / 2 / 33 / 8 / - / MC / 27
Zach Johnson: / - / - / 2 / 6 / - / 4 / 8 / 5 / - / 27
Matt Jones: / 64 / 2 / 7 / - / - / - / 40 / 5 / 33 / MC
Chris Kirk: / MC / - / 22 / 9 / 21 / - / 57 / 65 / MC / 16
Jason Kokrak: / 3 / 41 / - / - / 31 / - / MC / MC / 9 / 73
Matt Kuchar: / - / - / - / 15 / 2 / 27 / 22 / - / 19 / 4
Marc Leishman: / MC / - / - / MC / - / - / 12 / - / 71 / 16
David Lynn: / - / - / - / MC / - / 53 / 22 / MC / 19 / MC
Hunter Mahan: / MC / - / - / 9 / Wd / - / 57 / - / 25 / 13
Graeme McDowell: / - / - / - / 58 / MC* / 40 / 12 / - / MC / 47
Rory McIlroy: / - / - / - / MC / - / 27 / 8 / - / 19 / 47
John Merrick: / MC / - / - / - / 6 / 19 / 47 / - / 50 / 53
Phil Mickelson: / - / MC / - / Won / - / 21 / 72 / - / 6 / 41
Bryce Molder: / 61 / 17 / 27 / - / - / MC / - / 16 / 25 / 41
Ryan Moore: / - / - / 22 / 32 / - / 33 / 55 / - / 25 / 75
Scott Piercy: / - / MC / - / MC / 52 / 59 / 5 / - / 43 / 13
DA Points: / - / 54 / MC / MC / - / 59 / 40 / - / 6 / MC
Ian Poulter: / - / - / - / 3 / - / 19 / 61 / - / MC / 9
Patrick Reed: / 34 / MC / 7 / - / 9 / - / - / Won / MC / 70
Justin Rose: / - / - / - / MC / - / 17 / 33 / - / 2 / 16
Rory Sabbatini: / Wd / 9 / MC / 17 / 12 / 7 / - / 8 / 13 / 53
Charl Schwartzel: / - / - / - / 15 / 28 / 21 / MC / - / 25 / 22
Adam Scott: / 57 / - / - / 3 / - / 14 / 5 / - / Won / 53
Webb Simpson: / - / 41 / - / 64 / - / 14 / 25 / 11 / 15 / 53
Brandt Snedeker: / 8 / - / - / 11 / Won / 33 / 66 / MC / MC / 47
Jordan Spieth: / 6 / 23 / Won / 44 / - / - / MC / 2 / 19 / 4
Kevin Stadler: / - / - / 27 / - / MC / 32 / MC / MC / 43 / 4
Scott Stallings: / MC / 23 / MC / MC / MC / - / 55 / - / MC / 35
Brendan Steele: / 16 / 41 / MC / - / 68 / 4 / - / 11 / MC / 20
Henrik Stenson: / - / - / - / 2 / - / 2 / 3 / - / 43 / Won
Kevin Streelman: / - / - / 44 / 79 / - / 59 / 12 / - / 19 / 41
Steve Stricker: / - / - / 10 / - / - / 13 / 12 / - / - / 2
Chris Stroud: / 28 / - / - / 9 / MC / - / MC / 37 / 33 / 35
Daniel Summerhays: / MC / 9 / 4 / 2 / MC / - / - / MC / 15 / 22
Michael Thompson: / - / - / - / MC / - / 21 / 22 / - / MC / 53
Nicholas Thompson: / 28 / MC / 12 / 4 / 28 / - / - / 72 / 50 / 22
Jimmy Walker: / MC / 2 / - / MC / - / - / MC / MC / 54 / MC
Nick Watney: / 61 / 23 / 27 / MC / - / 44 / MC / MC / 9 / 35
Bubba Watson: / - / 30 / - / 32 / 21 / 27 / MC / - / 13 / 67
Boo Weekley: / - / MC / 27 / 58 / - / 33 / 12 / 37 / 58 / 35
Lee Westwood: / - / - / - / 3 / - / 40 / 33 / - / 25 / 27
Gary Woodland: / 16 / 62 / 48 / - / 61 / Won / 74 / - / 2 / 41
Tiger Woods: / - / - / - / 6 / - / Won / 40 / - / 2 / 65

MC* = Missed Additional 54-Hole Cut

Course Key: 1 - Congressional; 2 - The Greenbrier; 3 - TPC Deere Run; 4 - Muirfield/Annandale; 5 - Glen Abbey; 6 - Firestone/Montreux **; 7 - Oak Hill; 8 - Sedgefield; 9 - Liberty National; 10 - TPC Boston

Note: ** - Montreux (hosted 72-hole Stableford tournament)

LOWEST 20 STROKE AVERAGES

(Last 10 Weeks on PGA Tour)

Average (Rounds)

67.94: Steve Stricker (16)
68.54: Zach Johnson (24)
68.75: Henrik Stenson (20)
69.03: Jordan Spieth (30)
69.19: Daniel Summerhays (26)
69.23: Rory Sabbatini (26)
69.30: Graham DeLaet (20)
69.35: Jason Dufner (20)
69.36: Roberto Castro (28)
69.38: Bryce Molder (24)
69.45: Tiger Woods (20)
69.46: Patrick Reed (24)
69.53: Brendon de Jonge (30)
69.54: Bill Haas (28)
69.54: Matt Jones (26)
69.63: Keegan Bradley (24)
69.63: Nicholas Thompson (30)
69.69: Jim Furyk (26)
69.71: Matt Kuchar (24)
69.71: Matt Every (28)

Min. No. of Rounds = 16

Conway Farms: Par 71; 7,216 yards

Conclusion

The decision to go virtually part-time has worked extremely well for Steve Stricker and after garnering three second places from his 11 starts this season he's ready to win.

The American has some wonderful stats to his name (second in Greens In Regulation, second in Scoring Average, second in the All-Around ranking and first in Par 4 Performance) and they suggest a victory is on the way.

Add in his past achievements in Illinois and superb record at this time of year and all the planets are aligned for the 12-time Tour winner.

Snap up the 22/1.

The stat about four of the six FedEx Cup play-off series producing multiple winners is an interesting one and shows that players can often stay hot.

Tiger Woods won two of the four events in 2007 and that's been repeated by Vijay Singh (2008), Camilo Villegas (2008) and Rory McIlroy (2012).

Adam Scott (Barclays winner) and Henrik Stenson (Deutsche Bank winner) are the two who could add to that record this year and preference is for the Aussie, who is the subject of a Sky Bet price boost (14/1).

Scott still has his eyes on Player of the Year and probably still needs a win or two given that Tiger has five victories to his two (even though one of Scott's was a major).

Finally, have a little play on Roberto Castro to be the first round leader.

Roberto Castro: Loves a fast start

The improving American topped the leaderboard after an opening 63 in January's Humana Challenge, repeated the feat with a 63 at Sawgrass and finished as first round leader for the third time in 2013 after a 66 in the AT&T National.

He was fourth after a round one 65 in Boston last time out so loves flying out of the blocks.

Castro is 66/1 to take the day one honours again this time.

Best bets

2.5pts e.w. Steve Stricker at 22/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)
3pts win Adam Scott at 14/1 (Priceboost)
1pt e.w. Roberto Castro to be first round leader at 66/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5)

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