Home » Seeking Major-Caliber Contenders Who Could Chase Down Max Homa at Olympia Fields
Entertainment Golf Golf News PGA Tour Sports

Seeking Major-Caliber Contenders Who Could Chase Down Max Homa at Olympia Fields

In terms of pre-tournament handicap at the BMW Championship, so far so good. I expected this course to play soft for the first couple of rounds, with the moisture in the area early this week. After his second straight round of 66, Chris Kirk, referenced as much while saying, “For a very difficult golf course, this is probably as easy as it will play.”

I also hit a First Round Leader play with Brian Harman, figuring past U.S. Open success would translate well at this golf course. The U.S. Open angle seems to still be holding up after two rounds with Harman tied for third place at 7 under – and former champions Matt Fitzpatrick and Rory McIlroy also in the mix. Rickie Fowler, who has had plenty of good runs at golf’s national championship, including a fifth-place finish earlier this summer, is lurking at 5 under.

Max Homa, however, is the story as the California kid shot a course-record 62 on Friday and is the leader at the halfway point at 10 under. Homa is two shots clear of Kirk, three clear of Fitzpatrick and Harman, and five better than a group of players that includes Fowler, McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler and another former U.S. Open champion, Justin Rose.

+180: Max Homa

+750: Rory McIlroy

+800: Scottie Scheffler

+1100: Brian Harman, Chris Kirk, Matt Fitzpatrick

+1800: Patrick Cantlay

+2000: Rickie Fowler

+2500: Xander Schauffele

+4000: Justin Rose, Viktor Hovland

Over the weekend is where the weather angle in our handicap will be tested. It is my thinking, looking at the forecast, that this golf course is going to continue to dry out, get firmer and faster, and ultimately become more difficult than it has been for the first two days. Both Saturday and Sunday are supposed to feature sunny skies and Saturday is expected to provide some wind as well. This will not only affect play but will also aid in sucking the some of the moisture out of the golf course.

With the weather changing and thus changing the golf course conditions, it makes our job of forecasting a winner more challenging. What we have seen from the players over the first two rounds, may not necessarily be a foundation for predicting what’s to come. For players that have been errant off the tee and are missing greens in regulation under soft conditions, it is not likely that they will improve in these areas when presented with firmer and faster conditions. For those that have performed well in these areas so far, it is tough to gauge if that will continue with the conditions possibly transitioning.

The winning score proposition bet prior to the tournament starting was Over/Under 272.5, meaning 7.5 under par. My thought is we will see the leaders come back closer to this number over the next two days with the golf course likely getting tougher. My belief is that someone as low as 3 under par still has a real crack at this championship. For the remaining handicap, I am going to stick with players that have fared well in U.S. Opens and on U.S. Open courses, along with an ability to play well on difficult courses in general.


Xander Schauffele (+2200)

I noted in the First Round Leader article, with Schauffele as one of my selections, his success in U.S. Opens as far as top-10 finishes. He is also sixth in this field for SG: Total on difficult golf courses. Currently, he is third in the field for SG: Off-the-Tee, fifth for SG: Approach, 12th for Driving Accuracy and 14th for Greens in Regulation. The putter is holding him back as he is losing nearly a full stroke to the field through two rounds. Schauffele ranks seventh on TOUR in SG: Putting, so it is likely he will improve dramatically in this area. If he does, he should have a real chance to win the BMW Championship. It is interesting to note that even at six shots off the pace, Schauffele is priced almost exactly where he was pre-tournament. It is possible that the oddsmakers believe he is still live too.

Tommy Fleetwood (+6600)

Fleetwood has three top-5 finishes at U.S. Opens in his career, most recently finishing fifth this past June in Los Angeles. He also ranks just one notch below Schauffele at seventh in this field for SG: Total on difficult golf courses. He is doing everything very well so far through two rounds. However, even though he ranks 14th in the field for Greens in Regulation, he is losing nearly a half stroke to the field in SG: Approach. Fleetwood is 31st on TOUR in SG Approach and should be able to improve in this area over the weekend. Fleetwood is only one shot further back than Schauffele but his current price is more than double what it was pre-tournament. Because of the seven-shot deficit versus our current leader, I believe there is good value in this price, on a guy who has been finishing Top 5 in his sleep lately. If his iron play just becomes a little sharper, he ought to have a chance on Sunday once again.


Rory McIlroy (+750)

McIlroy has only hit nine of 28 fairways (32%) through two rounds. He sits 22nd in the field for SG: Off the Tee and 24th for SG: Approach – and remember, that is out of just 49 players now with Hideki Matsuyama withdrawing on Friday. With this golf course only bound to get firmer and faster, it could make life even more difficult for Rory over the weekend. He got away with the inaccuracy on Thursday and was able to shoot 65 but it caught up with him a bit on Friday, en route to a round of 70. Again, with the golf course likely to become more challenging, it will subsequently make it even harder for McIlroy to turn around his woes off the tee. Finally, we are always paying a premium on McIlroy. He sits one shot ahead of Schauffele, yet we are getting roughly a third of the price. If McIlroy’s price was +1000 or better, I would say it makes sense – but I don’t believe it is a good bargain at single digits for a guy whose struggles may be a bit masked by his current score.

Source : PGA Tour