Tuesday, 2 September 2014

BMW Championship - FedEx Cup Cherry Hills GC, Denver




The third leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs heads to Denver, Colorado this Thursday and to a course that is steeped in history having hosted three US Opens, the US Amateur and the PGA Championship twice, the Women’s US Open and the Senior US Open. We are off to Cherry Hills Country Club, where Phil Mickelson captured the 1990 US Amateur title, and in the process joined Jack Nicklaus in winning both the US Amateur and the NCAA titles in the same year (Nicklaus in 1961). This course is situated about 1 mile above sea level and should play shorter than its official yardage of 7,400 and whilst the opening holes may appear to be short (Arnold Palmer drove the first in the final round 1960 US Open when starting 7 shots behind to win and proceed to birdie it and 5 out of the next 6 holes), the course is known to get trickier and we could be in for some excitement on the 17th, par-5 with island green, dubbed “The Moat”. Ben Hogan infamously lost that 1960 US Open to Palmer on this hole when after laying up, he dumped his wedge into the water. It was Palmer’s first and only US Open win, Hogan was trying for his 5th. 

So with travel required from Boston to Denver to consider for the majority of the players and just 2 days to prepare, does new dad, Graeme McDowell, who tees it up again this week having missed the Deutsche Bank for the birth of his daughter, have a slight advantage over the other 68 competitors? Well, he may have the “Nappy Factor” on his side this week and given that accuracy will be key this week he must come into consideration. He will also be buoyant knowing he will represent Europe in the Ryder Cup later in the month and a confident Gmac is a formidable competitor. He is currently outside the TOP30, and he’ll need a good week to make it to East Lake. He has all the incentives and positivity to put in a top effort at Cherry Hills.

 Phil Mickelson didn’t exactly give his backers much hope last week before setting out in the Deutsche Bank saying his game wasn’t feeling where he needed it to be. He will be a different player this week, returning to course where he captured his US Amateur Title. Cherry Hills was designed by William Flynn who also designed Merion and Shinnecock Hill, and close inspection of Lefty’s performances on these courses suggest that this will indeed be a better week for the Californian. Phil was runner-up to Justin Rose at Merion last year and was runner-up to Retief Goosen at Shinnecock in 2004 and 4th behind Corey Pavin at the same course in 1995. He has superb William Flynn course form. He cannot be dismissed lightly here.

 Justin Rose and Geoff Ogilvy are also likely to enjoy this layout. Rose has had a brilliant season somewhat overshadowed by Rory McIlroy. With seven TOP10s in his seventeen starts including a win on the PGA Tour, Rose will be looking to improve on his position of 18th in the rankings and his tee to green game is ideal for Cherry Hills and he can ask Rory a question or two before the Tour Championship concludes next week.
Staking Plan
1 pt e/w G. McDowell @ 55/1 Bet365
1 pt e/w P.Mickelson @ 33/1 Betpack
2 pts e/w J.Rose @ 20/1 Ladbrokes
1 pt e/w G.Ogilvy @ 66/1 Betpack