2014 BMW Championship Picks + Predictions, Plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #CherryOnTop

This week’s BMW Championship, the third leg of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, takes us to historic Cherry Hills CC in Denver, CO, which of course was site of the infamous 1960 U.S. Open- you know, the one where Arnie drove the 1st green in the final round and charged from seven strokes behind to win and leave about every single golfing great ever in his dust (Nicklaus, Hogan, Snead, etc…).  Major kudos to Finchem and crew for taking us back to such a memorably awesome venue so many years later, which most thought was too outdated due to technology advances and all.

This week Cherry Hills will play as a par 70 (par 34-36) and measure out to 7,352 yards.  As everyone knows, the ball travels further at altitude—as in video game-like style.  So, that 7,352 yards is certainly “net” much lower at the mile-high elevation, approximately in the 6,700-6,800 range (actual additional yardages depend on how high a player hits his shots, but it’ll be upwards of 8-10% off the card this week).  Having been fortunate enough to play a lot of golf in Colorado, I can tell you that it is challenging at times to reign in accurate distances, but damn it’s fun.

In addition to just elevation and the “220-yard 7-irons” as Rory said, Cherry Creek’s greens are only 4,700 square feet on average.  So, it may very well be a bomber’s paradise, but those bombers better be able to do some scrambling as missing greens will surely provide a challenge for everyone in the field to get up and down to save pars.  Watch for players with all sorts of different strengths to be in contention this week (not just long hitters feasting on the altitude).

A bit of a letdown for my picks last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship as Keegan fizzled following his opening round 65 to finish t-16th, and both Furyk and Donald never really got going.  I was also just flat out shocked that Brandt Snedeker missed the cut for the second straight week while in pursuit of a Ryder Cup captain’s pick.

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: Keegan t-16th, Furyk t-23rd)

Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk
– It must be nice when a t-23rd is your second worst finish on the PGA Tour since early March, and when in your past twelve events you have a whopping seven top 8s (including three solo 2nds).  Why yes Mr Furyk, nice work.  With everyone focused on the bombers hitting it 900 yards in this thin air and the fact that he’ll be somewhat more overlooked following his t-23rd last week, this is the perfect week for Jimbo to slip in and nab his first title since the 2010 Tour Championship (yes, it really has been that long).

Jimmy Walker
Jimmy Walker
– Jimmy will be a highly popular pick this week, as not only is starting to rediscover his high level form (t-7th at PGA and t-9th last week), but his wife went to college at Boulder and he’ll no doubt have some locally positive vibes flowing his way this week.  Not saying he will win, but I’d be surprised to see him not finish in the top 10.

SEMI-FLIER (Last Week: Sneds MC)

Zach Johnson
Zach Johnson
– The Iowegian is finally trending in the right direction, finishing t-22nd at the Barclays and t-16th last week at the Deutsche Bank Championship to kick off the playoffs.  The defending champ will still fly under the radar this week, but once that putter heats up, watch out.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last Week: Kaymer t-7th)

Chris Kirk
Chris Kirk
– Not to bash a guy after the biggest victory of his career, but Kirk caught some ridiculously good breaks down the stretch on Sunday.  Balls bouncing out of knee high grass and onto the fairway, hitting downslopes and having his ball run up to back pins, toe-hooking drives that still somehow found the fairway, yowza, it was one big break after another.  Basically, this good fortune is simply not going to continue this week.   Dime-sized greens and the letdown following a massive victory = t-55th snoozefest.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last Week: Donald t-57th)

Chesson Hadley
Chesson Hadley
– The Chester has had a highly volatile rookie season, winning in Puerto Rico in March and notching a very impressive five other top 15s, but also missing (gulp) 16 cuts.  The latter isn’t a concern this week, as the BMW is a no-cut event, which I believe will take some pressure off youngsters like Chesson.  So, let that positive momentum from last week’s t-9th at TPC Boston continue this week and I believe we’ll see him on the first page of the leaderboard again this weekend.  Chesson Hadley is your Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week!

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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