2020 BMW Championship weekend betting preview

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First two rounds review

Olympia Fields CC has been the biggest challenge the golfers have faced in quite some time. The course is playing much harder than most anticipated it would before the tournament began. As we make the turn into the weekend, there are only two players under par with Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay tied for the lead at -1. Some players have been quoted saying this track is reminding them of US Open type conditions. The greens are firm and running lightning fast and the rough is longer than usual. Those two elements together can lead to a very challenging week, and that is exactly what we have here in Illinois. All of this coming on the heels of Dustin Johnson shooting 30-under par last week has certainly led to an interesting change of pace.

Driving distance has not been as important as I initially thought but stokes gained: off-the-tee has been crucial due to how challenging the rough is. It is a longer than average course though so distance is beneficial but overall off-the-tee play is more important than just strictly length. The greens have offered some of the biggest challenges so far. Getting the ball to stop on approach shots has been nearly impossible. For example, through his first 13 holes on Friday, Hideki Matsuyama had only hit 2 greens; and he was still tied for the lead at that point.

Below is the current leader board heading into the weekend:

Rory McIlroy-11
Patrick Cantlay-11
Dustin JohnsonE3
Hideki MatsuyamaE3
Tony Finau+15
Billy Horschel+15
Louis Oosthuizen+15
Brendon Todd+15
Adam Scott+15
Bubba Watson+210
Kevin Kisner+210
Jim Herman+210
Mackenzie Hughes+210
Brendan Steele+314
Russell Henley+314
Tyrrell Hatton+314
Alexander Noren+314
Bryson DeChambeau+314
Lanto Griffin+314
Xander Schauffele+314
Joaquin Niemann+314
Matthew Wolff+314
Leader board

Outrights review

There were only three golfers who I wrote up prior to the event starting and where we stand at the halfway point of the week, two of them are within a few shots of the lead. Our pre-tournament favorite to win the whole thing, Rory McIlroy (15/1), finds himself tied for 1st. He currently leads the field in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and Off the Tee. For someone of his stature, it was just a matter of time until his ball striking turned around and we have seen just that happen in Illinois. Our longshot of the week, Bubba Watson (100/1), is also right there in contention heading into the final two rounds. We’ll touch on him more later on. 

I also gave out Patrick Cantlay (25/1) on Twitter early Friday as a live add. He started the round three shots back and now finds himself tied for the lead with Rory. 

Live stats summary

Typically in this section, we would compare Strokes Gained: Approach to Strokes Gained: Putting and look for golfers playing well with the irons but struggling on the greens. This week we will be taking Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green instead of just Approach due to the importance of Driving for this week. Tee-to Green will combine Driving, Approach, and Around the Green all into one stat. For review, check out this detailed breakdown of the concept “Strokes Gained” to get an idea of the difference between them all. 

PlayerSG: T2GSG: P
Rory McIlroy141
Corey Conners268
Matthew Wolff364
Hideki Matsuyama428
Bubba Watson558
Billy Horschel632
Xander Schauffele754
Patrick Cantlay83
Dustin Johnson918
Jim Herman1016
Lanto Griffin1129
Carlos Ortiz1248
Joaquin Niemann1342
Louis Oosthuizen1411
Mackenzie Hughes1520
Kevin Kisner1619
Brendan Steele1740
Danny Lee1860
Tyrrell Hatton1934
Stats summary

Golfers at first glance who stand out as having potential for a solid weekend would be Corey Conners, Matthew Wolff, and Xander Schauffele.. We had already mentioned Bubba Watson and will definitely be looking to find him in matchups for the final two rounds as well as potentially adding him outright to win. 

Live outright value

The leaderboard is incredibly bunched up at the moment with a handful of world class golfers all within a few shots of the top. All 69 golfers will be playing the weekend in this no-cut event and with how difficult the course has been up until this point, no current score is safe. This leads to a lot of players all with a legitimate chance of taking home the title. I’ll be looking for golfers within 5 shots of the lead and will see if we can find some live outright value to take advantage of. 

Caveat: if you’re like me and have a bet on Rory McIlroy to win from before the event, don’t feel obligated to place additional live outrights. Feel free to just ride him through the weekend. 

Xander Schauffele +3000

As mentioned above, I am looking for top-tier golfers who are currently within five shots of the lead heading into the third round. Xander fits the mold of both of those criteria. After two rounds he sits at 3-over par which is just four shots back of the leaders. He is 7th in the field in Tee-to Green and 10th in Approach. Even with him being 54th in the field in putting, he still finds himself right in the mix. He is known to be a specialist in these no-cut style events and this week proves to be another example of just that. If he can get some putts to drop over the weekend it would not surprise me to see Xander make a run towards the leaders. 

Mar 28, 2019; Austin, TX, USA; Bubba Watson on the sixth hole during the second round of the WGC – Dell Technologies Match Play golf tournament at Austin Country Club. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Spillman-USA TODAY Sports

Bubba Watson +3300

I wrote up Bubba Watson as my longshot pick at 100/1 earlier this week. If you didn’t happen to get that number, feel free to take a stab at 33/1 instead. Coming off of a top 20 finish last week, he was in great form coming into the BMW and has maintained that play through the first two rounds. Watson is in the top 10 in all major ball striking categories as we conclude the halfway point of the event. That premier driving and approach game has him sitting in a tie for 10th even though he is near the bottom of the field in scrambling and putting. He typically struggles with the flat stick but hopefully he can get the ball rolling the next two days and move near the lead.

Matthew Wolff +5500

Any week when Off-the-Tee is important you are sure to find Matthew Wolff on the first page of the leaderboard. The first two rounds have been another example of that. He is currently 4th in the field in both Strokes Gained: Off-the-Tee and overall Tee-to Green. His unique swing almost always has him near the top in driving distance but he is really dangerous to the rest of the field when he starts finding fairways, which he is doing so far at Olympia Fields. Combine that type of driving with an elite around the green game and there is no reason why Wolff can’t move up the standings early into the weekend. He currently sits four shots back and can make those up in a hurry. 55/1 is definitely a value for a golfer of his ability. 

Matchups to consider

Below are the golfers that I will be looking to bet when their given head-to-head matchups are released for the 3rd round on Saturday. 

Corey Conners

Continuing on what has been a solid year, Conners is looking to make a weekend push to get himself into the tour championship. He will need some solid play over the next two rounds in order to accomplish that feat. He is an elite driver of the golf ball and above average with his irons as well. He almost always struggles with the putter but this week has been especially poor on the greens. 

Corey Conners3116566732
Corey Conners strokes gained

I am hoping that trend can shift slightly in our direction and if so, he is poised for a great weekend. I’m willing to take his top 5 approach and tee to green in almost any matchup heading into round three.

Danny Lee

Coming off a top-20 finish at the Northern Trust, Lee is back in great form through the first two rounds this week. He is typically consistent across the board in most statistical categories. He doesn’t gain too many strokes anywhere but doesn’t lose a ton either. This week has been way better ball striking than most.

Danny Lee311185160516
Danny Lee strokes gained

Last week he gained off the tee and with approach as well so hopefully that shows he has found something in this game as of late. If he can show some positive regression with the putter this weekend he could be in store for a great couple rounds to finish the event. 

Lanto Griffin

Two weeks ago Lanto had a solid top-20 finish in the year’s first major. He has followed up that result with strong play into the first part of the playoffs. He is currently inside the top 24 in the field in Approach, Driving, Ball Striking, and total strokes gained. 

Lanto Griffin14242124421610
Lanto Griffin strokes gained

This would be the 7th straight event that Griffin has gained positive strokes on approach. Over his previous five events played, he has actually gained strokes putting as well so I am looking for that to move in the right direction this weekend which would make him very live in a head-to-head matchup. I also placed a live wager on him to win outright at 100/1. Sitting only four shots off the lead, this is too big of a number. 

With the quality of the three names at the top of the leaderboard (McIlroy, Cantlay, and Johnson), don’t be surprised if they begin to pull away from the field. But with how challenging Olympia Fields has been so far, this is still anyone’s event to win. By my count, there are roughly 20 golfers still very much alive to win this. Hopefully, the ones mentioned above piece together some solid rounds and find themselves in the mix come Sunday evening. 

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