Jason Day and Nick Watney may have infiltrated the top 5 and ties in 2013 at Conway Farms but the presence of Jim Furyk, Steve Stricker, Luke Donald and ultimate winner Zach Johnson may give you a hint about which type of player fits the profile for the BMW Championship. Conway Farms is the home course of Luke and unfortunately for the Englishman he just missed out on qualification on the Sunday in Boston.
The top 70 on the Fedex Cup tee it up in Lake Forest, Illinois and only 30 will advance to the season showpiece at East Lake, along with the chance to play for 10 million dollars. Jordan Spieth - 10.00 - and Jason Day - 7.00 - have already sewn up top five spots in the rankings whatever happens this week and that means it's in their own hands at East Lake. There are 2,000 points on offer for the winner at Conway.
Sergio Garcia - 51.00 - returns from self-imposed exile and will need a big performance after slipping to 54th in the rankings, while Rory McIlroy comes back after resting his ankle and sits second in the market behind Jason Day at 9.00.
The course - Conway Farms
"We know we've got some easier holes out there, and if you drive the ball well, you're going to have a lot of 8-iron on down, and those are some scoring clubs," "There's a lot of funnelling where you can get to some of these pins. You don't have to fire it right at the flag, you can funnel it in there. You can get the ball pretty stiff. Yeah, the scores are going to be low." This was Tiger Woods’ take on Conway Farms before the 2013 renewal and keeping the ball in play off the tee along with smart, accurate iron play looks set to be the brief this week.
Conway farms plays circa 7,200 yards to a par of 71 and the Tom Fazio project is said to be designed around the traditions of Scottish links golf. Heather, pot bunkers and grassy dunes are a feature here, while gusty winds generally have to be contended with. Low numbers can be had; Jim Furyk posted the 6th 59 in PGA Tour History back in 2013 here. There are a couple of drivable par 4s given the right conditions.
Three from the pack
Jim Furyk - 21.00 or 5.50 - was the man to break home boy Luke Donald's long standing course record (61) at Conway Farms shooting the historic 59 in 2013. It's horses for courses and this is Jim Furyk's type of ball park. That 59 helped Jim to a solo third finish. When you see a ranking of 17th in driving accuracy in 2015 is actually poor for Jim, you realise how accurate he is. Furyk backs up his big stick efficiency, lying second in proximity to the hole. The former Fedex Cup champ comes here showing progressive 30-11-4 finishes since his third at Bridgestone.
Zach Johnson - 26.00 or 6.00 - was your winner of the BMW at Conway in 2013 but it wasn't his first visit to the course. Zach played in the 1997 NCAA Championship at the venue: "I remember it being phenomenal then," said Johnson. "I hadn't played many courses of this stature at that point. But it's good. It's matured a little bit since then. Typically you see big greens out of Tom Fazio, but these greens are not very big, they are quadrant-like, and I think it's going to be a good test."
This is also a Zach Johnson course and he is by far the best value of the top 10 in the betting in my opinion. The Open Championship winner is arguably the best on tour with a wedge, although currently averaging 27th from the breakdown of the 50-125 yards range. He comes here off a T4 at the Barclays and a T22 at the Deutsche Bank where he hit 78.57% of fairways.
Matt Kuchar - 41.00 or 8.00 - certainly had a mixed bag in his appearance at Conway in 2013. Three over par rounds sandwiched a sneaky 61 in round three and I feel Kuch is being overlooked this week at 41.00 or 8.00. He looks to be hitting top form this season on the back of top 10 finishes at the PGA Championship and last time out at the Deutsche Bank Championship - on a TPC Boston course he does not exactly have a stellar record on. The American hit an average of 72.7% of fairways and greens there. Matt ranks 7th in the all-round and 10th in strokes gained and could be relatively under the radar here.
I feel Conway Farms could be a perfect track for Kevin Na - 126.0 or 21.00. This is a player who contends in strong fields and usually doesn't go away. There are signs that his game is very close. Na etched a T15 at Firestone and a T20 at The Barclays into the history books. Some of his best performances this year have come at the likes of The Players Championship (T6), Bay Hill (T6) and the WGC at Doral (T9). Na also posted a top 15 finish at Augusta and could challenge the big boys again this week.