The BMW Championship shifts gears from the East Coast and returns to its roots in Chicagoland at Olympia Fields Country Club (North Course).
Historic Olympia Fields, designed by Willie Park Jr. and opening in 1923, has recently hosted the 2020 BMW Championship and 2003 U.S. Open. Measuring 7,366 yards and playing to Par-70, it will provide a comprehensive examination to determine the penultimate champion of the 2022-23 PGA TOUR season.
Without a cut to worry about again this week, the focus will be turning in four solid rounds on one of the most difficult golf courses used on TOUR. Jon Rahm won the previous edition in 2020 at 4 under par, 276.
The top 50 players will be tested on the Northern grasses of Bent/Poa on the greens, plus four inches and up of Kentucky Bluegrass rough for the final time this season.
This week provides the final opportunity to burn rubber and join the top 30 in the final event of the season next week outside Atlanta at East Lake Golf Club.
The purse of $20 million will include $3.6 million and 2,000 FedExCup points to the winner. The other “winners” will be those in the top 30 in the points race at the end of the four rounds.
Players listed are competing this week. Stats from the current 2022-23 season.
Olympia Fields requires the total package this week. The 2020 edition, the first time the North Course was in play for the PGA TOUR since Jim Furyk won the 2003 U.S. Open, provided the fourth most difficult test of the 2020 season, including the major championships. Only five players broke par for the week, and the scoring average was almost two shots over par. I will remind you that it was the top 70 players on TOUR playing that week, not sectional qualifiers, amateurs or the rank-and-file. If the wind howls again, and the set-up is similar to 2020, this will feel like a major championship between the ropes.
|11||Si Woo Kim|
The classic design only provides 20 acres of fairway targets off the tee. The top 70 players didn’t hit half of their fairways, just 48.11 percent, the worst on TOUR in 2020. Shaping the golf ball, cutting corners and avoiding four inches of Kentucky Bluegrass will leave irons into firm, 6,000 square-foot greens with sloping, slick Bent/Poa surfaces to navigate. Water penalty areas are in play on half of the holes while 85 bunkers linger, strategically positioned to catch imprecise tee balls and approaches. Par is a fantastic target this week.
Players who miss fairways and greens (both ranking in the top five of most difficult from 2020) will have to be steady with the putter to cap the damage. The rankings from 2020 remind all of us that putting will matter this week. Only the greens at Waialae were more difficult from that truncated season. No course surrendered worse Birdie-or-Better-Percentage numbers. Saving shots on the short grass will be part of the winning formula again this season.
Source : PGA Tour