BMW Championship experts' picks

September, 10, 2013

Each week of the season, our experts share their insights into which players fit the criteria for our four categories: Horse for the Course (a golfer who knows the track inside and out), Birdie Buster (a guy who could take it low this week), Super Sleeper (a player who could unexpectedly contend) and Winner.

This week's tournament: the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Ill.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, senior golf analyst: Luke Donald or Kevin Streelman
The issue with having a home game -- and these guys are both Chicago-area golfers -- is the extra pressure you put on yourself to play well in front of friends and family. Because Streelman no longer lives in Chicago, I'd give him the edge over Donald if I had to choose one. Streelman's length off the tee doesn't hurt, either.

Farrell Evans, senior golf writer: Steve Stricker
Although Stricker is a Wisconsin native, he has deep roots in the Chicago area. He is a die-hard Bears fan and former star at Illinois. A great week at the BMW could give him a chance to win in Atlanta and postpone his elk-hunting adventure in Colorado.

Bob Harig, senior golf writer: Luke Donald
The Englishman lives in Chicago and is a member at Conway Farms, meaning he'll have played the course more than anyone in the field. He needs a big week, too, as he is 54th in FedEx Cup points and needs to move into the top 30 to advance to the Tour Championship.

Kevin Maguire, senior golf editor: Tiger Woods
Sure, he's never played a PGA Tour event at Conway Farms. Then again, neither has anyone else in the field. What Woods has done is win PGA Tour events in the Chicago area before -- as well as majors -- so you know he feels comfortable. And that always helps Tiger play well.

Birdie Buster

Collins: Ian Poulter
Not only did he play his way into the BMW Championship, but he jumped 25 spots from 77th to 52nd. After this week he'll jump into the Tour Championship, with whatever putter he found has been working.

Evans: Jordan Spieth
With a 62 in the final round of the Deutsche Bank, the 20-year-old Dallas native earned his eighth top-10 of the year with a tie for fourth. Now that Fred Couples has made him a member of the U.S. Presidents Cup team, at 10th in the playoff standings, Spieth only has to now play for the $10 million playoffs first prize.

Harig: Henrik Stenson
Can a week off cool the red-hot Swede? Stenson has been top-3 in five of his past six starts, including runner-up finishes at the Open Championship and Bridgestone Invitational and his victory at the Deutsche Bank Championship.

Maguire: Jason Dufner
In his past four starts, Dufner owns three top-10 finishes (including that PGA Championship victory.) At 13th in the playoff standings, a strong showing this week could put him in line to crack the top five heading into East Lake, where he could ... wait for it ... control his destiny to win the $10 million.

Super Sleeper

Collins: Kevin Stadler
If you don't think catching momentum at the right time matters, check out what Stads has done the past two events. After MC's at the PGA Championship and Wyndham Championship, he has flipped the switch. Look for a second straight top-10 finish.

Evans: Kevin Stadler
The 33-year-old son of former Masters champion Craig Stadler, Kevin Stadler has had three 64s in his past eight rounds. At 32nd in the FedEx Cup points standings, he has a very good chance of making his first Tour Championship.

Harig: Ernie Els
It's tough to think of the Hall of Famer as a sleeper, but Els needs a big jolt this week. He barely made it to Chicago, finishing in the 70th and final spot by less than one FedEx Cup point. He'll need a big week to advance to Atlanta.

Maguire: Ian Poulter
Of the players outside the top 30 in FedEx Cup points, the Englishman is tied for fewest PGA Tour events played (15) this season. That means he hasn't had as many chances to earn FedEx Cup points (by his own decision) and thus might be a little underrated at his ranking of 52nd.


Collins: Dustin Johnson
You knew as soon as U.S. Presidents Cup captain Fred Couples didn't choose him for the team he'd win the first week they're back on the course. Pure karma. You can decide whether it's good or bad.

Evans: Henrik Stenson
I like Stenson's chances of taking his second consecutive playoff event this week at Conway Farms. He's been the best player in the world since the Open Championship in July.

Harig: Keegan Bradley
Just a hunch here, but Bradley seems due. He has not won in 2013 but is still 11th in the FedEx Cup standings, one big week away from putting himself in position to win it all.

Maguire: Steve Stricker
Stricker -- who after his second-place finish south of Boston said that he might not even play in the Tour Championship unless he has a shot to win it all (read: the $10 million) -- just might skip that buddies hunting trip after a great week outside Chicago.





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