Experts' picks: BMW Championship

September, 3, 2014

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, the PGA Tour heads to Cherry Hills Country Club for the BMW Championship in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado.

Horse for the Course

Michael Collins, senior golf analyst: Jordan Spieth
His caddie Michael Greller worked the 2012 U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills, so he might have more knowledge of the course than most of the guys caddying. Doesn't hurt that Spieth's had two top-30 finishes in the past two weeks. He just needs to take care of that one round where things get away and he shoots 73. This week, that round turns into 68 and he's golden.

Farrell Evans, senior golf writer: Phil Mickelson
The five-time major champion won the 1990 U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills in a 5 and 4 victory over fellow San Diego native Manny Zerman. At 56th in the playoff standings, Mickelson will need another very good week at the Denver-area club if he wants to advance to the Tour Championship next week.

Bob Harig, senior golf writer: Phil Mickelson
A bit of a reach here, but Mickelson at least has the memory of winning the U.S. Amateur at Cherry Hills -- in 1990. A majority of the field was seeing the course for the first time this week.

Kevin Maguire, senior golf editor: Rory McIlroy
The fact that Cherry Hills isn't in the normal rotation of PGA Tour events -- but is a par-70 that tops out at 7,352 yards -- lends credence to the fact that to play this major venue well, you'll need to be a long hitter. Only Bubba Watson and Dustin Johnson average longer drives this year than McIlroy.

Birdie Buster

Collins: Rory McIlroy
You already know he's going to drop at least one 65 on the field, the question is, can he get enough rest and relaxation to drop two instead of a couple of 70s to finish top-5 instead. That just sounds funny, "Two bad rounds for McIlroy and he had to settle for fifth."

Evans: Geoff Ogilvy
The former U.S. Open champion was 100th in the standings heading into the Deutsche Bank Championship and seemingly headed toward the end of his playoff run. But then a 65 on Monday almost carried him to victory outside Boston and into the thick of the playoff race at 24th in the standings.

Harig: Chris Kirk
You have to like how he performed at the Deutsche Bank Championship -- playing the final 36 holes with McIlroy also -- to get his second victory of the 2013-14 season as well as go to the top of the FedEx Cup standings.

Maguire: Chris Kirk
He'll probably never say it, but Kirk has to have a chip on his shoulder after the Ryder Cup snub. The best way to prove something? Go out and dust his Thursday playing partner McIlroy (for the second time in less than a week.)

Super Sleeper

Collins: Chesson Hadley
He started last week 84th in the FedEx Cup standings, but a ninth-place finish catapulted him into the Cherry Hills field. Now playing with house money and 57th on the FedEx Cup list, a top-10 finish should get him into the coveted Tour Championship in his rookie year.

Evans: Kevin Stadler
At 32nd in the playoff standings, the 34-year-old son of Masters champion Craig Stadler can easily advance to the Tour Championship with a decent week. Cherry Hills gives him a good chance to do it. Kevin Stadler knows the course very well, having lived near here as a teenager.

Harig: Jerry Kelly
The PGA Tour veteran grabbed the 70th and final spot and needs a high finish, likely a top five or better, to advance to the Tour Championship.

Maguire: Graeme McDowell
The Northern Irishman will likely go in one of two directions at Cherry Hills. Either he plays completely carefree after becoming a father this week or his likely lack of sleep gives him early tee times on the weekend at this no-cut event. I'm going with carefree.


Collins: Sergio Garcia
The worst part about this win? Next time around, more guys inside the top 15 will feel comfortable skipping a playoff event. But it's also proof positive that six events in seven weeks is just too much, even for the most experienced and youthful golfers.

Evans: Jason Day
Day is good all day, every day, until the finish when he manages to make a mistake that derails his chances. Arguably, the 26-year-old Australian should have won the past three events he entered. Last week at the Deutsche Bank, where he finished in a tie for seventh, was his latest opportunity to add to his two career wins.

Harig: Jason Day
The Aussie keeps knocking on the door, contending week after week. One of these times he is going to break through and perhaps it is at Cherry Hills.

Maguire: Adam Scott
The Aussie has done nothing spectacular since his win at Colonial in May, but how's this for a steady streak: Scott hasn't finished outside the top 16 since the Players Championship (and that, of course, includes three major championships and a WGC).





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