Conway Farms Golf Club is a 7251 yard par 71 course in Lake Forest, Illinois and is home to this year’s BMW Championship. The design of the course seems to vary hole to hole. Some holes have the look of a wide open Scottish links course. Other holes are so covered in trees that golfers might think that they got lost in a forest. This is an important aspect of the course because of the wind.
Looking at the weather for the last week in Lake Forest, afternoon winds have gusted up to 25+ mph. On the holes with no tree cover the wind can affect putts, approaches, and tee shots. Players that just miss off the tee will have a break because the first cut of rough is not bad. Miss wildly and golfers will be hitting out of rough 3+ inches deep. The fairways are wide up until a certain distance on most holes, then get more narrow as it gets closer to the green. For example, hole 3 has a wide fairway up until about 265 yards from the tee. Then there are well positioned fairway bunkers and a very tight fairway after the 265 yard mark. There are many holes like number 3 and most golfers won’t hit their driver too many times off the tee because of this, except for maybe Bubba and Phil.
The greens aren’t overly large or undulating but they are fast and have a lot of false fronts. Many of the greens are elevated and convex in shape around the perimeter. If golfers miss their approach just by a small amount, even if they land it on the green, they will see their ball roll down one of the false fronts into a bunker, water, or way back down the fairway leaving very difficult chip shots to get up and down.
Looking at the course description above, a few key stats come to mind. I will be using these stats and current form to select golfers for my DraftKings lineups this week. I might also peek at the results from 2013, which was the only other PGA event played here.
Key Stats For The Course
***In order of importance with the most important first. Not including Strokes Gained Putting (SG:P) and Strokes Gained Tee to Green (SG:T2G), which are key stats to look for every week.
Par 4 Scoring (P4):
Only one Tour event has been played here in the past, so there is a very small sample size for stats. Even so, it’s pretty evident P4 scoring is/was important. In 2013 thirteen golfers in the Top 15 finished 44th or better in P4 scoring for that year. Eight of the Top 15 finished 13th or better in P4 scoring in 2013. It’s one of the few stats that stand out from the 2013 BMW Championship at Conway Farms.
Driving Accuracy (DA):
The course is not overly long and golfers are going to have to hit to specific spots on most tee shots, so bombers won’t necessarily have an advantage here. They will also need to avoid the numerous fairway bunkers and the thick secondary rough off the tee. Leaving it in those spots will make it tough for golfers to land their approach shots on the quick, convex shaped greens.
Greens in Regulation (GIR):
Most of the greens on the course are surrounded by bunkers or water. Greens are also elevated, making chip shots tougher to play especially because of the speed of the greens. Golfers will need to keep it on the green on their approach shots or bogey becomes a distinct possibility.
Because of the convex shape on the perimeter of many greens, approach shots are going to have to be hit in certain spots. If golfers miss their spot a few feet right, left, or short the ball can potentially roll off into fairway bunkers or even water bringing bogey or worse into play.
If you factor in the wind, thick rough, and the shape of the greens, it’s pretty reasonable to conclude that shots are going to be missed. How golfers recover from those missed shots will be an important factor this week, whether it be from one of the 88 bunkers on the course, the lush rough, or the fairway around the green.
Bogey Avoidance (BA):
Avoiding bogeys is important every week but this is another stat that stood out from the 2013 tournament held at Conway Farms. Seven of the Top 10 in 2013 finished 40th or better in this stat at the end of that year.
High End Picks ($9000 and up)
***Day, Fowler, and Bubba aren’t my favorite high end plays this week but I will still be using each in a lineup or two. Day can contend every week, Bubba plays well in wind, and Fowler is hot after his victory last week.
Jordan Spieth ($11,600):
Spieth was less than 5% owned in the $100 GPP on DraftKings last week and I expect him to be even more lowly owned this week after missing two cuts in a row. He makes for a great GPP play because his ownership level will be low and he has an opportunity to win. I think the last two tourneys were an aberration and he will be playing with a chip on his shoulder. He also has the 3rd best stats for the course this week behind only Jason Bohn and Jim Furyk.
Henrik Stenson ($11,400):
Stenson is probably playing the best golf out of anyone in this tournament. I think he is safe for cash games this week and even though he will be highly owned, using him in GPPs might be a good idea because he is going to win a tournament soon and this might be the one. His stats are superb. He’s 2nd in SG:T2G, 21st in SG:P, 11th in DA, 6th in P4 scoring, 15th in BA, and 1st in GIR. Use him with confidence this week.
Jim Furyk ($10,000):
Jim is one of the most consistent players on Tour and his results show it. He has finished 4th, 11th, 30th, and 3rd in his last four tournaments and finished 4th at Conway Farms in 2013. His stats for the course are 2nd best for the week. He’s 3rd in SG:T2G, 17th in DA, 10th in P4, 2nd in Prox, 21st in SCR, 16th in GIR, and 8th in BA. He usually fizzles on Sunday but I still think a Top 5 finish is within reach.
Justin Rose ($9800):
Rose is another great GPP play this week because his ownership will be low (MC last week) and his price is right. His stats are good, not great but before his missed cut last week he finished 16th, 4th, 3rd, 4th, and 6th in his previous five tournaments. To get someone on your team with that current form at this price is a steal. Even though he is a high end pick, I think he is the best value pick for GPPs this week. You can fit a lot of top golfers in your lineup if you have Rose as your highest priced player.
Zach Johnson ($9500):
ZJ won the BMW Championship at Conway Farms in 2013 and there is no reason he can’t do it again. He has four Top 6s in his last seven events and his stats for the course are solid.He’s 14th in SG:T2G, 6th in DA, 12th in P4 scoring, 35th in GIR, and 12th in BA. I’m a little worried about his putting (109th in SG:P) but if he can get his flat stick working he has a chance to finish high.
Matt Kuchar ($9200):
Kuchar has been having an off season by his standards but his game has been picking up lately with three Top 10s in his last five starts. His stats for the course are good. He’s 19th in SG:T2G, 45th in SG:P, 10th in P4 scoring, 14th in SCR, and 11th in BA. He also plays well in windy conditions. Expect another Top 10 finish from him this week.
All Other Picks ($6600-$8900)
***Since there is no cut this week I will be taking a more risky approach with golfers in this price range. To win in cash games this week you will need to employ more of a GPP strategy because of the lack of cut. Look for upside and don’t worry too much about the inconsistency of certain golfers.
Hideki Matsuyama ($8900):
At this price, I’m a little hesitant to use Hideki this week but his stats for the course are some of the best. He’s 6th in SG:T2G, 51st in DA, 3rd in P4 scoring, 30th in Prox, 25th in SCR, 24th in GIR, and 12th in BA. I won’t have him in a ton of lineups but he will be in a couple.
Brooks Koepka ($8200):
This is more of a gut pick for me because this course doesn’t really suit his game and he has missed two cuts in a row. I just feel that him being bypassed for the President’s Cup team will motivate him to perform. He is going to want to prove Jay Haas wrong and this is a good week to start. As we have seen throughout the year, if his game is on he can get a Top 10 every week.
Kevin Kisner ($8100):
Kisner was a PGA DFS darling during the middle of the year but started to slip after his 2nd place finish at The Greenbrier. It looks like he’s starting to round back into form with a 20th and 12th place finish in his first two playoff starts. His stats are Top 10 for the course as well. He’s 43rd in SG:T2G, 34th in SG:P, 22nd in DA, 41st in P4 scoring, 15th in SCR, and 7th in BA. I can see him with a Top 15 finish this week.
Brandt Snedeker ($7900):
Snedeker hasn’t been playing his best golf recently but at his price you have to give him a long look this week. He finished 8th at Conway Farms in 2013 and is one of the best putters in the game. In my opinion he has the best chance to win out of all the golfers under $8000 this week. I also don’t expect him to blow up. So he is a safe play with massive upside at a reduced price. Can’t ask for more than that. I’d even feel safe in using him in cash games.
Matt Jones ($7900):
Jones finished 4th last week and finished 8th at Conway Farms in 2013. His stats for the course are not great but he plays very well in wind and is a great putter. He is a risky pick but as I said earlier, upside is more important than consistency in GPPs every week and that same thought should apply to cash games this week with no cut.
Danny Lee ($7700):
Danny Lee is a pretty safe play AND has upside. The perfect type of golfer you want in your lineups this week especially with his favorable price. His stats are just okay but in his last seven non Major starts he hasn’t finished worse than 33rd with four Top 6s and a win. Expect no worse than a 35th place finish with a good chance to finish in the Top 10.
Russell Henley ($7500):
Henley is another golfer on the list with sub par overall stats for the course. With no cut, this doesn’t really bother me because he is a great wind player and is one of the best putters on Tour (4th in SG:P). This is a good combo to look for this week. He also has four Top 20s in his last six starts.
Russell Knox ($7400):
Knox is one of the most wildly inconsistent golfers on Tour but has played well in the playoffs so far with a 12th and a 20th place finish. His stats for the course is the main reason I’m picking him this week. He’s 23rd in SG:T2G, 28th in DA, 7th in P4 scoring, 4th in Prox, 6th in GIR, and 9th in BA. If he can make a putt or two I could see him with a Top 20 finish.
Daniel Summerhays ($7400):
Summerhays is playing some solid golf when he makes the cut. In his last five made cuts he has finished 9th, 6th, 43rd, 11th, and 8th. He also has missed 6 of his last 13 cuts, so consistency is an issue. With no cut this week, I can look past that especially since he finished 28th at Conway Farms in 2013. Even though his game is all over the place his upside and price make him a solid play this week. He’s also a great putter (6th in SG:P) which is a theme you will see when looking at my picks this week.
Rory Sabbatini ($7300):
Sabbatini has made less than 60% of his cuts this year, yet he is still playing in the 3rd round of the playoffs. What this tells me is that when he makes the cut, he finishes well. Another high upside guy for a cheap price. In his last seven made cuts, he has finished outside the Top 25 only once and that was a 30th place finish. His stats are just okay but he is 9th in P4 scoring and six of the Top 10 in 2013 finished 13th or better in P4 scoring for that year. Sabbatini and Summerhays are my favorite under $7500 value plays for GPPs this week.
Jason Bohn ($7200):
Bohn’s missed cut last week might benefit you if you decide to use him this week. His ownership level should be lower, his current form prior to last week is very strong, his price is cheap, and his stats for the course are the best in the field. He’s 42nd in SG:T2G, 27th in SG:P, 5th in DA, 4th in P4 scoring, 3rd in Prox, 35th in SCR, 26th in GIR, and 3rd in BA. I’m comfortable using him in both cash games and GPPs.
Jerry Kelly ($7000):
Jerry’s season reminds me of Sabbatini’s season this year. He has barely made 50% of his cuts this year but he is still playing. Here’s the reason why. In his last eight made cuts he has finished outside the Top 22 only once, a 30th place finish at the Byron Nelson. He also finished 9th last week at TPC Boston. His stats for the course are very good as well. He’s 32nd in SG:P, 10th in DA, 28th in P4 scoring, 2nd in SCR, and 18th in BA. Another risk/reward player that I don’t mind using this week because of the lack of a cut.
William McGirt ($7000):
McGirt holed out from 170 yards for eagle on his 71st hole at TPC Boston to make the Top 70 this week. Without the hole out he would not have qualified for the BMW Championships. He is basically playing with house money this week and I think that can help him mentally. He wasn’t supposed to be there so the pressure is off. Another reason I like him is because his stats for the course are Top 15 in the field. He’s 47th in SG:T2G, 26th in DA, 34th in P4 scoring, 30th in Prox, 12th in SCR, and 10th in BA. I wouldn’t be surprised seeing him on the leaderboard at some point this week.
Bryce Molder ($6800):
Molder is another great putter that I like this week. Not only does he putt well, but his other stats for the course are very strong. He’s 10th in SG:P, 39th in DA, 12th in P4 scoring, 20th in SCR, and 23rd in BA. At $6800 he will be my punt play in many GPP lineups. I also don’t mind using him in cash lineups as well this week.