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BMW Championship: Jason's Day again

Jason Day can get back to winning ways
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The PGA Tour heads to Conway Farms for this week's third FedEx Cup Playoffs event - the BMW Championship. Dave Tindall provides his best bets...

"History tells us that it pays dividends to keep it simple at this time of year so Day, who boasts a victory in 2015 (by six shots!) and a top four in his two starts at the track, has to be a bet."

Main Bet: Back Jason Day @ [15.0]

Each-way terms: 1/5 odds, 6 places

Main Bet: Back Jason Day e.w. @ 14/1

Strong current form has been the chief indicator to success in the final two FedEx Cup Playoff events as the following list shows.

These are the last 10 winners of the BMW Championship along with their full results in the four final series tournaments.

This week's course, Conway Farms, has been used just twice and the winners in those years are bolded up.

2016 Dustin Johnson (18-8-1-6)
2015 Jason Day (1-12-1-10)
2014 Billy Horschel (MC-2-1-1)
2013 Zach Johnson (DNP-27-1-7)
2012 Rory McIlroy (24-1-1-10)
2011 Justin Rose (6-68-1-20)
2010 Dustin Johnson (9-57-1-22)
2009 Tiger Woods (2-11-1-2)
2008 Camillo Villegas (MC-3-1-1)
2007 Tiger Woods (DNP-2-1-1)

Looking at the above list, six had posted a top three while nine of the 10 had posted a top 10.

Next then, here's a list of the players who've posted at least one top 10 in the first two Playoff events (Northern Trust, Dell Technologies Championship). Those with a top three are bolded up.

Patrick Cantlay, Paul Casey, Kevin Chappell, Jason Day, Bill Haas, Dustin Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Marc Leishman, Phil Mickelson, Kevin Na, Louis Oosthuizen, Pat Perez, Jon Rahm, Chez Reavie, Patrick Reed, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson, Jordan Spieth, Robert Streb, Justin Thomas, Jhonattan Vegas

Of those above 21 players, the one with the best course form is Jason Day so, in a move that squeezes out every last drop of the bleeding obvious, it's the Aussie that is my number one pick.

History tells us that it pays dividends to keep it simple at this time of year so Day, who boasts a victory in 2015 (by six shots!) and a top four in his two starts at the track, has to be a bet.

We've seen other players come good after tricky years (Rory McIlroy an obvious example) and Day has dropped enough hints that he's ready to sparkle again.

In his last three starts, he's finished T9 at the PGA Championship, taken T6 at The Northern Trust and added another top 25 at TPC Boston, closing with a 66 after starting with a 75. He actually bogeyed three of his final five holes in Boston so that T25 could easily have been another top 10.

One other factor is that he's 28th in the FedEx Cup standings and only the top 30 advance to the big shootout in Atlanta next week. Day will want a crack at that massive jackpot and I see that as extra motivation rather than extra pressure.

There are plenty of options at the front of the betting but, with six places on offer, I'll take Day at 14s.


Next Best: Back Marc Leishman e.w. @ 45/1

To get a decent angle on how Marc Leishman could be a good bet at 45/1 this week, let's try a comparison with Paul Casey, who is just 18/1.

True, the Englishman has chalked up a lot of fine finishes but whenever he's been in position to strike in the final round, I've almost expected him to start missing putts and go backwards.

That failure to get over the line is now rather ingrained and I can't have him carrying my money at these sort of prices when he's up against players who chalk up multiple wins in a season.

Since Casey won the Shell Houston Open in 2009 - his one and only PGA Tour success - Leishman has captured two PGA Tour titles (2012 Travelers Championship and this year's Arnold Palmer Invitational) and lost a play-off in a major (2015 Open at St. Andrews). The Englishman hasn't done any of those things.

Leishman also finished T6 and T13 in the last two majors. Casey had similar finishes (T11 and T13) so, again, there's no way the Aussie should be two-and-a-half times the price.

Going into the BMW, Leishman is a very healthy seventh in the FedEx Cup standings after he took another big leap with third place at TPC Boston last time.

Leishman got himself in a great position to win the tournament before a poor tee-shot at 10 set him off on the wrong path coming home but it's hard to be too down about a top three.

"Game is in a good spot, playing well," Leishman said later. "Putter feels good. Looking forward to getting up to Chicago and hopefully climbing up the FedExCup standings and then anything can happen in the Tour Championship."

Looking at the stats, Leishman gained 7.45 strokes on the field with his putter and 4.56 tee-to-green so the numbers back up his words.

Season-long, he's 9th in Strokes Gained: Total, 8th in Scoring Average and 10th in the Money List with over $4m so no wonder many good judges bring up his name when asked to name the most underrated player on the PGA Tour.

Leishman has only played Conway Farms once and T39 doesn't exactly leap off the page but he improved as the week went on (73-71-71-69) four years ago and he'll know more this time.

More than capable of getting in the mix and challenging the big names, I'll back Leishman to join fellow Aussie Day in a title charge and sharpen his game further for the upcoming Presidents Cup.


Final Bet: Back Xander Schauffele for Top 20 Finish @ 4/1

One problem I have this week is that I don't think the course is quirky enough or the weather not bad enough to stop the big names doing what you'd expect.

A mass collection of the market leaders at the top of the leaderboard would come as no surprise at all.

Apart from Day, I can't really separate them although preference is for the 11/1 about Justin Thomas rather than the 11/2 Jordan Spieth, 15/2 Dustin Johnson, 12/1 Jon Rahm, Rickie Fowler or 14/1 Hideki Matsuyama.

It may well be the elite players clog up much of the top 10 market too so let's jump down to the Top 20 finish prices.

The one I like is Xander Schauffele at 4/1.

Since mid-June his results read 5-14-35-1-20-13-MC-17-53 so six top 20s from nine starts immediately suggests this bet is good business.

But what really makes the 4/1 stand out is that he hasn't just been recording these results in much weaker events.

The T5 came in the US Open, the T20 in the Open Championship, the T13 in the WGC-Bridgestone and the T17 in The Northern Trust.

Any ideas that his top five in the US Open was a one-week-only tale of little guy did good is simply wrong; Schauffele keeps going up against the world's best and performing with credit.

His excellent effort at Erin Hills in the year's second major was the turning point though.

"The U.S. Open was a huge moment in my career, it was one of the biggest stages and for me to kind of be calm and collected throughout the week and just kind of hang on and come in tied fifth was huge for me mentally.

"It kind of gave me the confidence and allowed me to play and win this week," he said when landing the Greenbrier Classic just three weeks later.

Okay, there are some great names likely to be in front of him but let's not forget this is a 70-man field so there's much less chance of some of the lesser lights pushing him down the leaderboard.

The other one I considered for this market was Rafa Cabrera Bello.

Fourth in the Players Championship, fourth in the St. Jude Classic, a winner of the Scottish Open and fourth in the Open Championship, it was almost bizarre to see him go 72-MC-MC in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, PGA Championship and Northern Trust and shoot some big numbers.

But he bounced back with T18 at the Dell Technologies Championship two weeks ago (final-round 65) and, rather than reveal some secret injury, RCB said simply that he'd lost concentration after a long year but having to stay alive in the Playoffs had given him back the necessary focus.

Now he'll have his eyes on the Tour Championship and 16/5 for a top 20 or even 9/1 for a top 10 both appeal.

Dave's 2016/17 PGA Tour P/L (based on £5 e/w per selection outrights, £10 win top 5s/10s)

Staked: £1220
Returned: £2155.18
P/L: +£935.18
(After the Dell Technologies)

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