BMW Championship experts' picks

September, 14, 2011
09/14/11
7:03
AM ET

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

This week's tournament: The BMW Championship at Cog Hill in Lemont, Ill.


ESPN.com senior golf writer Michael Collins

Well, if you're not well-rested coming into the BMW Championship, it's your own fault. You had a whole week to chill at home, and if you looked at the forecast you know why I use the word "chill." Thursday and Friday are gonna start with temps in the low 40s. See what football season has done already!

Horse for the Course: Matt Kuchar
He's third in the FedEx Cup points race, and he finished tied for third here last year at the BMW. Most importantly, in 21 starts he's made 19 cuts, with 16 top-25s, nine top-10s and no wins. Almost $4 million in the bank already and a chance to win the Cup, without a win, but that's not what is going to satisfy Kooch's hunger. This course could be his Snickers bar.

Birdie Buster: Steve Marino
He wasn't in the field last year, so this will be his first look at the "new" Cog Hill, which some players complained was a bit too hard in 2010. I expect the winning score to be a little bit better than 9 under, but not by too much. The harder the course, the better Marino seems to rise to the occasion.

Super Sleeper: Jerry Kelly
It's going be cold outside Chicago, and a hockey nut is in the field playing with house money. Earlier this year, he would have been the first one to admit he didn't see himself making it this far into the playoffs. Kelly has a new attitude (he's trying to have fun on the course) and swing that takes pressure off a 44-year-old body that always seems to be dinged up. That new swing has him ranked fifth in driving accuracy, which is going come in handy at the redesigned No. 4 course.

Winner: K.J. Choi
Choi tied for third last year at this event with three straight 69s. He is 15th on the FedEx Cup list and in no danger of missing the Tour Championship. If I thought he had a chip on his shoulder, I'd say that's why he's going to win, since the movie he had a major role in got tattooed by critics. But he doesn't have a chip on his shoulder and he never spoke in the movie, so I'll say he's going to win because this course calls for his game. Patient attacks and a calmness that only a man nicknamed "The Tank" would understand.


ESPN.com senior golf writer Farrell Evans

Horse for the Course: Jim Furyk
In 2005, he won at Cog Hill when it was the Cialis Western Open. When the course reopened in '09 following a Rees Jones redesign, the 16-time PGA Tour winner closed with a 5-under 66 to finish in a tie for second. After slumping for most of this year, the 2010 FedEx Cup champion has had two top-10s in his last three starts.

Birdie Buster: Jason Day
The 23-year-old Australian had a tie for third at the Deutsche Bank Championship. He is always around the leaderboard -- nine top-10s on the season -- and has a great mental game. He just needs a couple of good breaks on Sunday.

Super Sleeper: Blake Adams
So far in the playoffs, there hasn't been a true Cinderella story. Webb Simpson denied Chez Reavie that honor at the Deutsche Bank Championship. Adams, a 36-year-old journeyman from Bartlesville, Okla., owns three top-10s this year, including a tie for 10th outside Boston and a tie for third at the Reno-Tahoe Open. At 57th in the playoff standings, he needs to have the best week of his season to make the top 30 and the Tour Championship.

Winner: Luke Donald
The 33-year- old Chicago resident has been playing Cog Hill since 1998 when he was a freshman at Northwestern. Not that familiarity with a course matters that much to him -- he plays them all well -- but after playing so consistently all year, it makes sense that the No. 1 player in the world would win on his home turf.


ESPN.com senior golf writer Bob Harig

Horse for the Course: Mark Wilson
After two early victories this year, Wilson cooled off. But he's still 17th in the FedEx Cup standings, and the Chicago resident is a frequent Cog Hill visitor.

Birdie Buster: Webb Simpson
He comes into the BMW Championship having won two of the last three tournaments to jump to the top of the FedEx Cup standings. He also has nine top-10 finishes this year.

Super Sleeper: Chris Stroud
He needed an eagle on the last hole at the Deutsche Bank to snag the 70th and final spot in the BMW field. He'll need another big performance this week just to advance to Atlanta.

Winner: Ernie Els
It has been a forgettable year for the Big Easy, but you have to like how he has fought his way to Cog Hill, earning enough points to advance from the Wyndham into the playoffs and through two more tournaments to the BMW. He needs a high finish to advance to the Tour Championship, so why not a victory.


ESPN.com senior golf editor Kevin Maguire

Horse for the Course: Marc Leishman
Expect to hear lots of grumbling from tour players about Cog Hill this week. Don't expect Leishman to be among them as the Aussie tied for second in 2009 and posted a T-11 last year.

Birdie Buster: Brandt Snedeker
Back-to-back third-place finishes to start the playoffs pushed Snedeker from 18th in the FedEx Cup points list to No. 5 entering this week. And remember, this is the same guy who choked away a chance to reach East Lake a couple of years ago when he four-putted the 18th green. Cog Hill owes him one.

Super Sleeper: Kyle Stanley
This week's bubble boy at No. 30 in the FedEx Cup points, Stanley posted a couple of top-25s in the first two playoff events. Granted, he's never teed it up in a pro tournament at Cog Hill, but he's got plenty to play for this week if he wants to reach the riches of the Tour Championship.

Winner: Nick Watney
After a torrid start to the season, Watney -- currently seventh in the FedEx Cup point standings -- needs a strong finish to get inside the magical top five heading into next week's Tour Championship. If he can do that, he'll determine his own fate at East Lake.

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