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FedEx Cup Playoffs Preview: BMW Championship at Cherry Hills

Preview – PGA Tour – FedEx Cup Playoffs – BMW Championship – Cherry Hills  Country Club – Cherry Hills Village, Colorado –

The PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup Playoffs heads to Colorado near the Mile Hile City of Denver this week for the third-leg of the four-tournament series with just 70 qualified players able to participate.

Top prize earns the champion 2,500 FedEx Cup points and $1.4 million.

Famed Cherry Hills Country Club hosts the event, which will challenge players through altitude changes and its impact on traveling distances of golf shots. The no-cut event will feature 69 players – Dustin Johnson is qualified but is sitting out until further notice – with only the Top 30 in the FedEx Cup after this week advancing to the TOUR Championship next week at East Lake in Atlanta.

The game’s biggest names have advanced to the limited-field event including Top 10 players Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia, Matt Kuchar and Justin Rose. But, McIlroy and Stenson are both citing fatigue (Stenson is also right soreness) heading into Denver. Both are also trying to prepare and rest up for the Ryder Cup next month.

Fan favorites like Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler are also competing along with surging players in the standings like Hunter Mahan, who won two weeks ago at The Barclays, and FedEx Cup Playoffs standings leader Chris Kirk.

Several others are coming into this week rested after a week off including Rose and Garcia. Graeme McDowell returns to action after the birth of his child.

Cherry Hills is a par-70 layout with both par-5s on the back nine and stretches to more than 7,300 yards.

Look for players outside the Top 30 this week to be more aggressive creating drama down the stretch. Recent past champions at this event include Stenson, Tiger Woods, Rose and Dustin Johnson. Mickelson won a U.S. Amateur here in 1990 and Arnold Palmer captured the U.S. Open at Cherry Hills in 1960.

2013 Recap:

  • Zach Johnson (16-under) captured the title in Illinois thanks to opening with a 64 and closing with a 65 at Conway Hills. Nick Watney was solo second at 14-under and Jim Furyk finished 13-under. At T-4 included Mahan, Day, Steve Stricker and Luke Donald. Charl Schwartzel, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kirk leads Rory and Mahan in the FedEx Cup StandingsJones logged Top 10s.

The Golf Channel has exclusive television coverage Thursday and Friday for the opening rounds. NBC Sports handles the prime-time weekend action.

FANTASY:  Day keeps knocking on the door for a victory. His last win was in February at the WGC-Match Play. Fully recovered from a wrist injury that stalled his season, Day is a threat to contend, but he continues to struggle to close. Jimmy Walker, who led the FedEx Cup standings most of the season, rallied for a strong finish at TPC Boston last week. Look for his game to keep trending this week. Consider Russell Henley, the 54-hole leader last week. He finished runner-up and is trending.

BETTING: Rory is the top betting selection at 4-to-1 odds at Ladbrokes.com. He logged a T-5 at the Deutsche Bank, but said he’s fatigued playing for the 6th time in eight weeks. He also failed to mount a charge in the final round with a shot to win in Boston. Scott is next best at 12-1, but you can take a rested Rose (16-1). Now that he is set up as a captain’s pick for the U.S. team in the Ryder Cup, Keegan Bradley is freed up to relax and win. At 33-1, he’s a great value. Patrick Reed folded in round three last week (after a 68-68 start). But, at 66-1 odds, he is a long-shot pick worth a wager.

Other Golf News:

  • The Web.com Tour Finals continues this week at the Chiquita Classic. Bud Cauley won last week’s title.
  • Captains for the 40th Ryder Cup, taking place in mid-September, have finalized their teams with captain’s picks. Captain Tom Watson added Bradley, Webb Simpson and Mahan to the U.S. Team, while Captain Paul McGinley selected Ian Poulter, Lee Westwood and Stephen Gallacher to Team Europe. McGinley hit the winning putt for Team Europe at the Ryder Cup back in 2002. Gleneagles in Scotland hosts the event.
  • The European Tour hosts the Omega European Masters in Switzerland this week. World No. 21 Victor Dubuisson, a member of the European Ryder Cup team, headlines the field which includes 26th-ranked Thomas Bjorn and 28th-ranked Jamie Donaldson, who is the betting favorite at 10-1 odds.
  • Esteban Toledo is the defending champion as the Champions Tour hosts the Quebec City Championship this week. Toledo edged Kenny Perry in a playoff last year.
  • McGinley added Miguel Angel Jimenez, Padraig Harrington and Jose Maria Olazabal as vice-captains for the European Ryder Cup squad.