2023 BMW Championship Preview: Everything To Know About Olympia Fields CC
The BMW Championship returns to the greater Chicago area to continue the PGA TOUR’s 2023 FedEx Cup Playoffs at Olympia Fields CC. The top 50 qualify for the field, a change from last year’s rules of the top 70. Find longer golf odds at the best sports betting sites to increase your potential BMW Championship payouts. Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, and Rory McIlroy are the favorites for this year’s BMW Championship.
Happy Monday, everyone! After four long and tremendous days in Montreal for my bachelor party, I am back alive and unwell to dive into the 2023 BMW Championship odds at Olympia Fields CC, the penultimate event of the 2023 PGA TOUR season.
The good news is, it can often be counterproductive to over-analyze a limited field of just 50 players. And with only one prior PGA TOUR event at Olympia Fields CC, there isn’t a ton of data to peruse anyway. Even still, we know Olympia Fields CC will offer a stern challenge to the field. It rivaled the other majors in 2020 as one of the most difficult scoring venues. This week, Total Driving, Scrambling, and scoring in difficult conditions — particularly on Bentgrass setups — is a simple formula I’ll be leaning on to whittle down my player pool for the second round of the FedEx Cup Playoffs.
Now let’s get into the key facts and info about Olympia Fields CC for the 2023 BMW Championship.
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BMW CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS: THE FAVORITES
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BMW CHAMPIONSHIP ODDS: FIELD AT A GLANCE
For the second leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, the field has been cut down from the top 70 in the FedEx Cup Standings to the best 50 players remaining. With no cut, we will once again see four rounds from all 50. The BMW Championship has historically hosted a field of 70, so players will perform in more exclusive company this week.
As expected in the playoffs, it’s a loaded field once again. Of the top-25 players in OWGR, 24 will tee it up (Cam Smith the only exception). All players will vie for a top-30 position in the FedEx Cup standings after this week in order to qualify for both the TOUR Championship and full suite of PGA TOUR signature events on the 2024 season.
Hideki Matsuyama and Cam Davis played themselves onto the good side of the top-50 bubble after strong performances at the FedEx St. Jude Championship. Notables with a premature exit from the playoffs just outside the top 50 include Mackenzie Hughes, Nick Hardy and Stephan Jaeger.
Jon Rahm emerged victorious the last time the BMW Championship came to Olympia Fields in 2020. Albeit on different, rotating courses, Patrick Cantlay, Keegan Bradley, Jason Day and Rory McIlroy join Rahm as past winners.
INTRODUCTION TO OLYMPIA FIELDS cc
A 40-minute drive south of Chicago, it’s exciting to see the PGA TOUR return to one of the richest golf areas of the country, and one that certainly deserves a year-round place on the schedule. Established in 1915, Olympia Fields CC has a storied history that includes hosting two U.S. Opens and two PGA Championships. Like Quail Hollow and Torrey Pines, Olympia Fields certainly has the look and feel of a majors venue. The track should reward long hitters with a complete all-around game, like we tend to see in most U.S. Opens and PGA Championships.
Despite its long history, we’ve only seen PGA TOUR pros face Olympia Fields CC once since 2003. That came in the 2020 BMW Championship when Jon Rahm defeated Dustin Johnson in an epic walk-off playoff. That unfolded in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be great to see the action unfold this week in front of full crowds.
At 7,366 yards, Olympia Fields plays long for a par 70. It features Bentgrass throughout, long and penal 4-inch rough, and firm, fast greens. The routing and course features remain exactly the same this year as in 2020. It will be interesting to monitor whether the course looks or plays differently with fans and grandstands lining throughout.
How It Breaks Down
As another par 70, Olympia Fields features a standard mix of two par 5s, four par 3s, and 12 par 4s. With both par 5s measuring over 600 yards, scoring opportunities are sparse. Not a single par 4 featured a scoring average below par here in 2020. That’s doubly significant when considering the concentration of the 70 best players on the PGA TOUR played.
In 2020, only five players finished under par: Jon Rahm, Dustin Johnson, Hideki Matsuyama, Joaquin Niemann and Tony Finau. Four-under-par qualified for a playoff that year. We should expect a similar winning mark this year.
Eight par 4s measure more than 440 yards. The constant threat of thick, penal rough on long, driver-heavy holes will place an emphasis on Total Driving (Distance and Accuracy with driver), Proximity from 125-175 yards, and scrambling for bogey avoidance.
For Olympia Fields CC course specs, hole-by-hole breakdown with yardages, and past BMW Championship winners with their pre-tournament odds, visit our BMW Championship betting odds page.
COURSE HISTORY AND COURSE COMPS
Referencing the 2020 BMW Championship again, eight players return this week who finished inside the top 15 the last time: Jon Rahm, Hideki Matsuyama, Tony Finau, Matt Fitzpatrick, Patrick Cantlay, Byeong Hun An, Brian Harman and Rory McIlroy.
Notables in the field who played poorly in 2020 (finished worse than 50th) include Tom Hoge, Jason Day, JT Poston, Max Homa, Sungjae Im and Nick Taylor.
Difficult scoring conditions defines Olympia Fields. That actually should make comp courses a useful and predictive measure of success this week. Oak Hill, The Country Club, Torrey Pines, TPC Harding Park, Winged Foot and Bethpage Black all come to mind as recent difficult major venues that offer a stern tee-to-green test on similar Bentgrass agronomy with thick and penal rough throughout.
Outside of recent majors, TPC Potomac, host of the 2022 Wells Fargo Championship, embodies all the same characteristics of premium total driving around a par 70 with multiple 600-plus-yard par 5s. Amongst PGA TOUR stops, TPC Potomac stands out as the closest comp. In addition, Quail Hollow, Muirfield Village and Bay Hill should also serve as string comps amongst regular PGA TOUR stops.
Outside of 2020, the BMW Championship has been known to become a bit of a shootout. So, I’m not placing much emphasis on recent event history this week.
Combine performance across this list and the top-10 players in Comp Course History here are Rory McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Scottie Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Matt Fitzpatrick, Keegan Bradley, Viktor Hovland, Collin Morikawa, Tyrrell Hatton and Patrick Cantlay.
KEY STATS TO CONSIDER
- SG: T2G
- SG: APP
- SG: OTT / Driving Distance
- Scrambling Gained / SG: ARG
- SG: TOT (Difficult Scoring Conditions) / Recent Major History
- Bogey Avoidance
- Prox: 125-175
- SG: P (Bent) / SG: P (Firm & Fast greens)
- Par-4 Scoring: 450+ Yards
- Course & Comp Course History
When in doubt, start modeling with SG: T2G to prioritize the top-trending players leading into the week. I’ll be doing just that in a week like this with such limited prior course history data. The top-10 players in SG: T2G are Scottie Scheffler, Rory McIlroy, Lucas Glover, Patrick Cantlay, Viktor Hovland, Rickie Fowler, Si Woo Kim, Collin Morikawa, Tommy Fleetwood and Russell Henley.
Approach play is pivotal on any given week. Even though these greens are slightly above average in size, the most precise players with their irons can still capitalize on some expected tight pin locations. The top-10 players in SG: APP entering this week are Scheffler, Jon Rahm, Henley, Glover, Hideki Matsuyama, Morikawa, McIlroy, Xander Schauffele, Adam Schenk and Justin Rose. In 2020, 45% of approaches came from 125-175 yards. So if history repeats, the top-10 players from this range are Jordan Spieth, Rahm, Hovland, Sepp Straka, Morikawa, Max Homa, Rose, Scheffler, Tom Hoge and Glover.
Total Driving — a weighted average of Driving Distance and Accuracy — is crucial in weeks like these where rough around the fairways can be so penal. The top 10 in this category are Cantlay, Scheffler, Fleetwood, Hovland, McIlroy, Glover, Kim, Straka, Byeong Hun An and Corey Conners.
The ideal player for this week should be above average in SG: OTT, Par-4: 450+, Bogey Avoidance, SG: ARG, and Comp Course History. Nine players meet each of those criteria: Scottie Scheffler, Patrick Cantlay, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Jordan Spieth, Max Homa and … Hideki Matsuyama.
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: HIDEKI MATSUYAMA
I am a big believer in not overcomplicating things in limited-field events. Especially in a week like this where we have limited prior course history, Matsuyama simply clears the eye test for what is needed at Olympia Fields.
Course History, Comp Course History, Recent Form, Course Fit, and — because it’s Monday — betting odds all look great for Matsuyama this week. He was one of only five players to finish under par at Olympia Fields in 2020, en route to a T3. He’ll enter in even better form over his last 10 events leading in to 2023, an encouraging sign that he can channel another repeat performance at Olympia Fields.
Though still chasing his first win since last year’s Sony Open, Matsuyama has 11 top-25 finishes this season. I love his fit for difficult conditions that do not call for a putting contest. The major champion left little doubt that he is capable of stepping up in such conditions in his 2021 Masters victory. He ranks top 10 in the field in both Comp Course History and total strokes gained in difficult scoring conditions.
We always seem to get a discount on Matsuyama. I’ll happily take advantage at anything longer than 35-1 as he looks to build on a T16 from last week.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR AT THE 2023 BMW CHAMPIONSHIP
The 2020 BMW Championship had the most electric finish we’ve seen on the PGA TOUR since the COVID restart. DJ and Rahm exchanged blows from long range on the 18th hole. We can only hope for a similarly star-studded leaderboard with a more packed crowd in 2023, in conditions that should allow the cream to rise to the top.
With all the course-fit profiles in mind, I’m leaning early towards the below player pool. Naturally, I’m looking their way in the 2023 BMW Championship odds as well. I’ve broken the list down by projected pricing/odds tier for DraftKings.
2023 BMW Championship Model Breakdown
In my model, I’m emphasizing SG: T2G, Comp Course History, SG: APP, Prox: 125-175, SG: OTT and SG: ARG, followed by a more balanced mix of Fairways Gained, Driving Distance, SG: P (Bent), Bogey Avoidance and SG: TOT (Difficult Scoring Conditions).
To little surprise, world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler continues to hold No. 1 honors in the model this week. There isn’t a course in the world that does not suit his game. While I won’t chase a single bullet this week, I’ll find exposure through DFS or the placement market instead.
After Scheffler, the rest of my model’s top 10 features Patrick Cantlay, Viktor Hovland, Tyrrell Hatton, Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Xander Schauffele, Jordan Spieth, Jon Rahm and Rickie Fowler.
Whenever my body has fully recovered and my brain cells have replenished from this weekend, I’ll look for the best odds available on Hideki Matsuyama. I’ll follow with a tight card including the likes of Patrick Cantlay, Tommy Fleetwood or Viktor Hovland. Check back in later this week for more updates, and best of luck navigating the 2023 BMW Championship odds!
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