BMW Championship Preview, Picks & Analysis
JUSTIN THOMAS defends his title at the BMW Championship at Olympia Fields, the penultimate event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs. We start the tournament with a field of 70 and by the end of the week we will be down to an elite field of 30 who will head to East Lake for the Tour Championship.
And in this extraordinary season, a host of leading players need to produce something special if they are to be in the 30-man field. Ahead of the Northern Trust, it looked like a two-man battle for season-ending honours between Thomas and Collin Morikawa, but much can change, as Dustin Johnson's stunning performance illustrated.
Thomas has had another stellar season and will be one of the favourites for the US Open. His victory in the WGC-St Jude was his third of the season and he would be a shoo-in for player of the year were it not for a certain Morikawa, who beat him in a playoff at the Workday Charity Open and followed that with a sensational victory at the US PGA Championship.
It is worth taking some time to reflect upon what Thomas has achieved to date. He is just 27 years old, has won 13 times on the PGA Tour and first became world number one in 2018. His best year to date was 2017 when he won five times, including the US PGA Championship and the FedEx Cup.
Thomas only turned professional in 2013 and earned his tour card on the Web.com Tour through qualifying school. He wasted little time earning his first pro victory, at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship in 2014. And he hasn’t stopped winning ever since.
Thomas finished fifth in the 2014 Web.com Tour regular season, and earned his PGA Tour card for the 2015 season. And what a debut season it was. He enjoyed seven top-10s and 15 top-25s, with fourth-place finishes at the Quicken Loans and Sanderson Farms Championship. Thomas finished 32nd at the PGA Tour's FedEx Cup, losing the Rookie of the Year award to Daniel Berger.
(Justin Thomas Defends)
He won his first PGA Tour event only in November 2015 at the CIMB Classic in Kuala Lumpur, beating Adam Scott by a stoke despite a double bogey at the 14th. He had set himself on the way with a 61 in the second round on his way to a winning total of 26 under par. A year later, Thomas successfully defended his title and he didn’t have to wait long for his third - it came at the Tournament of Champions in January 2017.
The following week, at the Sony Open in Hawaii, he became the seventh player in PGA Tour history to shoot a 59. He also became the youngest player to shoot a sub-60 round. Thomas finished with rounds of 64, 65, and 65 to win the tournament by seven strokes, setting tournament records for 18, 36, 54, and 72 holes (59, 123, 188, and 253, respectively).
During the third round of the 2017 US Open at Erin Hills he equalled the tournament record with a spectacular 63. He eagled the last hole to finish at nine-under-par, also a U.S. Open record, beating the previous record set by Johnny Miller at Oakmont Country Club. He eventually finished ninth but put things right when he took the US PGA Championship later that year by two shots.
And he set the seal on an astonishing season when he won for the fifth time, at the Dell Technologies Championship - only the fourth golfer in history to achieve the feat before his 25th birthday. He joined Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth. Heady company indeed.
After finishing runner-up to Xander Schauffele at the Tour Championship, Thomas was crowned FedEx Cup champion.
In October 2017, Thomas won the CJ Cup in South Korea, defeating Marc Leishman with a birdie on the second extra hole of a sudden-death playoff. The win was Thomas' seventh on the PGA Tour.
And so it went on.
In February 2018, Thomas won for the eighth time on tour, claiming victory at the Honda Classic and climbing to third in the world rankings. The following week, he lost in a sudden-death playoff to Phil Mickelson at the WGC-Mexico Championship. He was level par after 36 holes but then shot rounds of 62 and 64. He got into a playoff by holing his second shot at the 18th but Mickelson got the better of him at the first extra hole.
After the Players Championship he replaced Dustin Johnson at the top of the world rankings, a position he only held for for four weeks.
In September 2018, Thomas was a member of the American Ryder Cup team that was thrashed by Europe at Le Golf National but he contributed four points and defeated Rory McIlroy in a thrilling singles encounter.
Last year, Thomas shot 25-under-par to win the BMW Championship at Medinah. It took him to the top of the FedEx Cup Playoff standings heading into the Tour Championship, but he would lose out to Rory McIlroy. He quickly shook off that disappointment, winning the CJ Cup in October before helping the USA to win the Presidents Cup in December.
And his sensational form has continued in 2020 with victories in the Tournament of Champions and the WGC-FedEx St Jude, which was his 13th PGA Tour victory and took him back to the top of the world rankings. In other words, it is very difficult to bet against him making a successful title defence.
The tournament was won in 2015 by Jason Day, in 2016 by Dustin Johnson, in 2017 by Marc Leishman, in 2018 by Keegan Bradley and last year by Thomas.
Justin Thomas. Class act
Daniel Berger. Has been a revelation
Bryson DeChambeau. Has changed golf forever
Justin Thomas. Serial winner
Daniel Berger. Playing like a man possessed
Bryson DeChambeau. Desperate to win the FedEx Cup
Rory McIlroy. Still searching for that piece of magic
Cameron Champ. Hugely impressive young player
Collin Morikawa. Player of the year. Period
Dustin Johnson. Was sensational in Boston, but can he keep it up?
Xander Schauffele. Underrated
Webb Simpson. A different player these days
Patrick Reed. Looking for big finish to the season
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