Local heroes for BMW boost
We are halfway through the FedEx Cup play-off schedule with two down and two to go and the field is now slashed to 70 for the BMW Championship.
It is off to a new venue as well at the Conway Farms GC in the north suburb of Chicago – a move championed by member Luke Donald.
“I feel like it offers one of the best all-around tests of golf in the Chicago area and will be a course that my fellow pros really enjoy,” he said and fortunately the Englishman is around to play in the event.
That said, he has got work to do if he is going to make the cut-off for the finale at East Lake in Atlanta as he will have to move from his current spot of 54th in the rankings to inside the top 30.
While clearly not beyond the realms of possibility, particularly with some handy knowledge of the venue, Donald has rarely fired on all cylinders during 2013 in the USA judged on the levels he has hit in the past.
Modest efforts in New Jersey and Boston hardly scream he has rediscovered somewhere near his best either.
The same can’t be said for Steve Stricker, who has cherry-picked his tournaments this season on a reduced schedule and more often than not, made it count when he plays.
He has recorded six top-10s from 11 events and produced his best effort last-time-out when second behind Henrik Stenson at the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.
That makes him a 22/1 chance for victory this week but what makes him particularly appealing is that this is a just about home fixture with the event taking place a relative stone’s throw from his home in Madison in neighbouring Wisconsin.
Stricker is a big family man and that has been the reason for him playing less in 2013 so teeing it up virtually in his back garden is a bonus – we know from past history too how much he loves playing close to his roots with multiple victories at the John Deere Classic down the road in Silvis, Illinois.
Stricker has spoken at length about a hunting trip with friends that he keeps postponing and next Monday is the offical departure date – that could well have to be amended again as Stricker has every chance of being in the top five of the FedEx Cup standings moving on to Atlanta.
I don’t think even the mild-mannered Stricker is going to forgo the chance of a $10m payday and a place in golfing history.
Tiger Woods is the 6/1 market leader and cut a rather glum figure in his closing interview after a T65 in Boston that saw Stenson poach his number one spot in the FedEx Cup standings.
The body has been ailing for a little while with back and knee problems troubling him but the week off should have done him the power of good on that front.
I would have been pretty tempted to put him up if this was being staged at the old venue of Cog Hill – where he has five wins – bearing in mind the world number one’s penchant for banging in the trophies this season where he has enjoyed success in the past.
But a new venue is enough to lead me elsewhere and to another local man in Kevin Streelman who can be backed at a pretty generous 150/1.
Streelman, a native of Chicago suburb Winfield, is enjoying a career-year on the PGA Tour having bagged his first victory in Tampa Bay and also a runner-up spot at the Players Championship.
Conway Farms GC is even closer to his neck of the woods than Stricker’s and clearly Streelman is relishing the prospect of teeing it up in the event.
“It’s a great course in my favorite city in the world,” he said and I would think that should give him something of an edge over his rivals.
He sits in 16th place currently in the FedEx Cup standings having done the majority of the work to get into position back in the spring and his form has petered out a little to be brutally honest.
But a return to familiar surroundings might just rekindle the fire and he looks worth a chance at the price to make a splash – he could be worth a play as well in the first-round leader market at three figures.
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