First Look: BMW Championship
New dad Graeme McDowell will rejoin the playoffs at the BMW Championship. (Kinnaird/Getty Images)
By Jeff Shain
• FIELD: BMW Championship
• COURSE: Cherry Hills Country Club, 7,466 yards, par 71. Opened in 1922 just south of Denver, the William Flynn design has crowned a stellar array of champions in some of the nation’s top event. Cherry Hills is best known as site of the 1960 U.S. Open, when Arnold Palmer drove the green at No.1 to start his final round and launch a comeback from seven shots back. Eight other USGA events have come to the club along as well as the 1941 and ’85 PGA Championships, producing such winners as Jack Nicklaus (1993 U.S. Senior Open), Phil Mickelson (1990 U.S. Amateur) and Hubert Green (1985 PGA).
• FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 2,500 points.
• CHARITY: The Evans Scholars Foundation, an arm of the Western Golf Association which awards college scholarships to caddies across the country with limited financial means. The foundation currently supports more than 800 caddies attending college.
• FIELD WATCH: Hunter Mahan, winner at The Barclays, and World No.1 Rory McIlroy head the roster of 69 players to advance past the halfway mark of the FedExCup Playoffs. … Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell all rejoin the playoffs after opting to sit out the Deutsche Bank Championship. McDowell went home to Florida for the birth of his first child; the others simply took a week’s rest. … The only qualifier missing from Cherry Hills is Dustin Johnson, who announced a leave of absence in August to sort out personal matters. … The BMW field is expected to include all nine U.S. qualifiers for the Ryder Cup, along with six of the projected nine automatics from Europe.
• 72-HOLE RECORD: 262, Tiger Woods (2007 at Cog Hill G&CC).
• 18-HOLE RECORD: 59, Jim Furyk (2nd round, 2013 at Conway Farms GC).
• LAST YEAR: Zach Johnson wiped out a three-shot deficit with a final-round 65, putting away Nick Watney with two birdies in his final three holes in a Monday finish at Conway Farms. Watney’s 64 gave him a share of the lead until Johnson drained an 18-foot birdie at No.16 and followed with a 12-foot birdie at No.17. Left wanting was Jim Furyk, who entered the record book Friday with the first 59 in FedExCup Playoffs history and sixth in PGA TOUR annals. He took a one-shot lead into the final round, but ran out of steam over the concluding nine and placed third after a 71.
• STORYLINES: It’s the last chance for players to put their chances for the FedExCup season title into their own hands by moving into the point list’s top five. The points will be reset before the TOUR Championship, giving any of the top five the chance to sew up the crown by winning at East Lake. … Mickelson, who went to the Deutsche Bank with just one top-10 all season, hopes some magic remains from the site of his 1990 U.S. Amateur triumph. He also won the NCAA title that year, becoming the first to sweep those crowns since Nicklaus in 1961. … Not only does the TOUR Championship await the top 30 in FedExCup points after Sunday’s finish, but automatic entry to all four majors in 2015. In each of the past two years, two men have played their way to East Lake after starting the BMW Championship outside the top 30.
• SHORT CHIPS: The BMW Championship has its roots in the old Western Open, which dates back to 1899. That ranks as the third-longest running event in professional golf, behind only the British Open (1860) and U.S. Open (1885). … With the tournament now alternating between Chicago and other Western venues, the BMW Championship returns to Conway Farms next year for its second visit.
• TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 4-8 p.m. ET (Golf Channel). Saturday, 1-3 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (NBC). Sunday, noon-2 p.m. (GC), 2-6 p.m. (NBC).
• RADIO: Thursday-Friday, 2-8 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, noon-6 p.m. (PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com).
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