The PGA Tour heads to Medinah Country Club this week for the BMW Championship, which is the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Barring any late withdraws, the field for the no-cut event is set at 69 players. The smaller group suppresses the betting odds of the favorites while leaving a lot of value on the board, as there are fewer players the eventual winner needs to beat.
Medinah - which has hosted only major championships (the PGA Championship in 1999 and 2006) and the 2012 Ryder Cup - will present the loaded field with a stiff test. It's long and will reward length plus accuracy off the tee and elite long-iron play.
1. Tiger Woods (-18)
2. Shaun Micheel (-13)
T3. Luke Donald (-12)
T3. Sergio Garcia (-12)
T3. Adam Scott (-12)
6. Mike Weir (-11)
T7. K.J. Choi (-10)
T7. Steve Stricker (-10)
T9. Ryan Moore (-9)
T9. Geoff Ogilvy (-9)
T9. Ian Poulter (-9)
Key takeaway: The leaderboard in 2006 was lined with elite ball-strikers, which should be the case in 2019, too.
2018: Keegan Bradley
2017: Marc Leishman
2016: Dustin Johnson
2015: Jason Day
2014: Billy Horschel
2013: Zach Johnson
2012: Rory McIlroy
|Player (Odds)||Northern Trust||WGC-St. Jude||The Open|
|Brooks Koepka (8-1)||30||1||4|
|Rory McIlroy (8-1)||6||4||MC|
|Jon Rahm (10-1)||3||7||11|
|Dustin Johnson (14-1)||24||20||51|
|Justin Thomas (14-1)||12||12||11|
|Justin Rose (16-1)||10||11||20|
|Patrick Cantlay (20-1)||12||12||41|
|Webb Simpson (20-1)||18||2||30|
|Patrick Reed (20-1)||1||12||10|
|Adam Scott (25-1)||5||40||MC|
|Rickie Fowler (28-1)||MC||DNP||6|
|Jordan Spieth (28-1)||6||12||20|
|Tommy Fleetwood (28-1)||43||4||2|
The American struggled with his irons last week at The Northern Trust, but no one can argue with his track record on long courses, such as Bethpage Black and Shinnecock Hills. He's a proven dominator of long, major-championship venues like Medinah.
McIlroy should also thrive at this lengthy layout, but 8-1 feels too short given the number of close calls he's had without a win.
Rahm (10-1) is coming off a stellar showing at Liberty National, where he was in the thick of it until late on Sunday. He did everything well last week, which should continue at a monstrous course that still isn't long enough for the Spaniard.
Johnson (14-1), Rose (14-1), and Thomas (14-1) round out the sub-20 range. DJ hasn't finished inside the top 20 since May's PGA Championship and Rose has been saved by his short game of late, while Thomas turned in another fantastic ball-striking week at The Northern Trust but was held back by his putter.
Thomas, once again, presents the best value with Rahm and Koepka a close second and third option, respectively.
A number of elite iron players are priced in this range starting with Cantlay (20-1) and Scott (25-1). Both have success on long courses during their respective careers, whether it's Augusta National, Torrey Pines, or Riviera. Such a history is something worth looking at when determining who may perform well at Medinah.
Here are some other courses over 7,400 yards that have been played in recent years:
Names such as Fleetwood (28-1), Xander Schauffele (33-1), Tony Finau (40-1), Paul Casey (50-1), and Hideki Matsuyama (50-1) come to mind as players who have performed well in recent majors on the longest PGA Tour courses. Taking a couple of these golfers instead of one of the favorites is the better bang for your buck.
Tiger Woods (40-1) is a two-time winner at Medinah but it's extremely concerning that he withdrew last week with an oblique strain.
With the reduced field, this is the time to take a chance on an underdog. Not only are there fewer players to beat, but the odds on the lowest tier of golfers remain unchanged compared to a full field.
Francesco Molinari (66-1) and Gary Woodland (66-1) both won majors in the past two seasons but are priced as if they haven't played well in years. Molinari is one of the best long-iron players in the world and Woodland played brilliantly last week for three rounds.
Defending champion Keegan Bradley is 150-1 and still possesses the tee-to-green game to contend.
J.B. Holmes won at Riviera this season and was in the final round of the Open Championship a month ago. He's one of the longest players on Tour off the tee and is priced all the way down at 250-1. His 12-1 top-10 odds are also enticing.
Justin Thomas (14-1)
For as long as Thomas continues to be one of the best iron players, he's going to be a pick to win. Call it stubbornness if you want, but not a single player in the field has gained more strokes through approach shots over the past 12 rounds - if you're looking for recent dominance - or 50 rounds than JT has. He's one hot-putting week away from reaching the winner's circle.
Tony Finau (40-1)
Finau loves long courses, as he's proven with his high finishes at Torrey Pines, Riviera, and Augusta in the past two years. He regularly shows up for major championships, which this week will essentially mimic given the strength of the field and difficulty of the course. Finau should thrive in a similar environment without the pressure of winning a major title.
Francesco Molinari (66-1)
Despite not being known as a bomber, Molinari impresses on long courses and typically gains strokes with his driver due to his combination of length and accuracy. He won at Bay Hill and Carnoustie within the past two years - both courses are over 7,400 yards. It wasn't long ago when Molinari was among the favorites, but given his recent run of mediocre results, his price has plummetted to one that's too juicy to pass on.
(Odds courtesy: Bodog)