The three tournament, FedEx Cup playoffs continue here with the BMW Championship, which is played the week after the Northern Trust. Only the top 70 in the FedEx Cup rankings get a place in the field for the BMW Championship. This will be further whittled down following this tournament to the top thirty who will compete in the Tour Championship where the FedEx Cup winner for this season will be crowned.
The BMW Championship was introduced in 2007, taking over from the Western Open which had been running since 1899.
Due to the format of the FedEx Playoffs, the BMW Championship field is packed with golf’s superstars, with past winners including Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Zach Johnson who are all winners of multiple majors.
|Olympia Fields Country Club||Olympia Fields, Illinois||7,366 Yards||$9,500,000|
The Western Golf Association, hosts of the BMW Championship, are proud of their event. It’s been named tournament of the year on the PGA Tour multiple times over the years, something that is in no small part due to the organisers’ decision to host it at an interesting and world class venue. As host of multiple major championships, Olympia Fields Country Club certainly fits that bill.
Only players with tremendous longevity – Tiger Woods, Paul Casey, Adam Scott and Charles Howell III – can draw upon their experience of the 2003 US Open as they lock horns with Olympia Fields again. A few players have more recent competitive experience though as Olympia Fields was host of the 2015 US Amateur.
Whether learning the layout for the first time or getting reacquainted with Olympia Fields, players will soon realise that it is necessary to be careful off the tee on the North Course (the host course is one of two at the club). The PGA Tour won’t allow for the rough to be overly penal but it is still important to hit the tree-lined fairways. This is a very long par 70 so players will need sufficient power to keep up but some rain early in the week may just soften the course up enough for another low score to win a FedEx Cup playoff event.
BMW Championship Recent Winners
|Year||Winner||Course||To Par||Winning Margin|
|2020||Jon Rahm||Olympia Fields||-4||Playoff|
|2019||Justin Thomas||Medinah||-25||3 Strokes|
|2017||Marc Leishman||Conway Farms||-23||5 Strokes|
|2016||Dustin Johnson||Crooked Stick||-23||3 Strokes|
|2015||Jason Day||Conway Farms||-22||6 Strokes|
|2014||Billy Horschel||Cherry Hills||-14||2 Strokes|
|2013||Zach Johnson||Conway Farms||-16||2 Strokes|
|2012||Rory McIlroy||Crooked Stick||-20||2 Strokes|
|2011||Justin Rose||Cog Hill||-13||2 Strokes|
About the BMW Championship
The BMW Championship is viewed by many fans of golf as one of the most exciting events on the PGA Tour calendar. This tournament has grown from strength to strength since taking over from the Western Open in 2007.
The BMW Championship has been held at various courses across the USA since the first, though Illinois has hosted eight of the 13 tournaments since 2007. The 2020 tournament is set to take place at Olympia Fields in Illinois.
The BMW Championship is the second of three playoff events for the FedEx Cup, preceded by the Northern Trust and followed by the Tour Championship. Prior to becoming the BMW-sponsored competition in 2007, the event was known as the Western Open from 1899 to 2006. Scotsman Willie Smith won the first, and South African Trevor Immelman won the final Western Open in 2006 when he held off the joint challenge of Mathew Goggin and Tiger Woods by two strokes.
Bolt from the Blue
This tournament has thrown up a number of memorable moments over the years, but none more so than the incident in the 1975 Western Open in Illinois. Lee Trevino and Jerry Heard were sitting under an umbrella near the 13th hole at Butler National in Oak Brook, with horrendous weather conditions suspending play.
The pair were struck by lighting on the course, with a second bolt striking Bobby Nichols and a bystander. Both Trevino and Heard had to undergo back surgery due to the burn marks they suffered.
Woods Ties with Hagen in 2009
In the 2009 BMW Championship, Tiger Woods ran out a comfortable winner at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club, finishing eight strokes ahead of Jim Furyk and Marc Leishman. Woods also won the first BMW Championship after it was rebadged in 2007.
Woods’ win in 2009 was his fifth BMW Championship success (including Western Opens), equalling Walter Hagen’s record in the process. Hagen was very successful in the 1920s and 30s, winning the Western Open in 1916, 1921, 1926, 1927 and 1932.
Hagen versus Woods (Western Open & BMW Championship)
|Year||Walter Hagen v Tiger Woods|
|1916||Walter Hagen (Western Open)|
|1921||Walter Hagen (Western Open)|
|1926||Walter Hagen (Western Open)|
|1927||Walter Hagen (Western Open)|
|1932||Walter Hagen (Western Open)|
|1997||Tiger Woods (Motorola Western Open)|
|1999||Tiger Woods (Motorola Western Open)|
|2003||Tiger Woods (100th Western Open presented by Golf Digest)|
|2007||Tiger Woods (BMW Championship)|
|2009||Tiger Woods (BMW Championship)|
Verplank’s Amateur Success
Scott Verplank had a reasonably successful career in golf, picking up seven professional wins. However, his Western Open victory as an amateur and member of the Oklahoma State golf team in 1985 will be one of his most memorable tournament wins.
Verplank played some excellent golf, taking Jim Dent to a playoff at Butler National Golf Club. The Texas man then won the playoff to become the first amateur to win on Tour since Doug Sanders did it in 1956 when he won the Canadian Open.
Day’s Time to Shine
After opening with scores 61 and 63 in the first two rounds respectively, Jason Day looked destined to win the 2015 BMW Championship from the start. Of course, Day went on to win the trophy in emphatic style, finishing six strokes ahead of Daniel Berger at Conway Farms Golf Club and in truth he rarely looked in much trouble of blowing it after the opening rounds.
Day had a year to remember in 2015. As a result of his BMW Championship victory, the Australian ace went on to become the number one player in the Golf World Rankings for the first time. He also won the US PGA Championship that year, which at the time of writing is his only Major success.
Rory’s 2012 Triumph
Rory McIlroy has won many competitions and tour events during his career, but his one and only BMW Championship success came in 2012. A year after Justin Rose became the first British winner of this competition in the new format (and the first since Harry Cooper’s Western Open victory in 1934), Northern Irishman McIlroy came out on top at Crooked Stick Golf Club in Carmel, Indiana.
Rory edged out fellow Brit Lee Westwood and American great Phil Mickelson to win the 2012 BMW Championship by two strokes. McIlroy, the top-ranked golfer at the time of the tournament, hit a score of 67 in the final round to seal the crown against an extremely talented field. He also won the US PGA Championship that year
Since the tournament became the BMW Championship, prior to the 2020 renewal, it has been won by American golfers on eight occasions, with two wins for Aussies (Marc Leishman in 2017 and Jason Day in 2015), two Brits (Rory McIlroy in 2012, Justin rose in 2011), and a Columbian (Camilo Villegas, who won by two strokes from Dudley Hart in 2008).