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Who will win the BMW Championship? Here's what history tells us

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Golf

A surgeon won at Conway Farms in 2013. A masher shrank the course in 2015.

What does that tell you? That practically anyone in the FedEx Cup playoff field of 70 can win this week's BMW Championship as it boomerangs back to Chicago's North Shore.

"It's not a bomber's course," said Jim "Bones" Mackay, the NBC golf analyst who caddied at Conway Farms in 2013 and '15 for Phil Mickelson. "The guys who don't blast it off the tee like this course a lot."

Two of the tour's middleweights squared off in 2013 under cool, wet conditions that pushed the final round to Monday. Native Iowan Zach Johnson wedged his way to a final-round 65 that took some shine off Jim Furyk's second-round 59.

Jason Day called his 2015 final round "stressful," but only he could tell. After blitzing Conway Farms with scores of 61-63-69-69 (22 under), Day overtook Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth in the world rankings and proclaimed: "Knowing right now there's no one on this planet that's better than me, that's pretty cool."

Jeff Mory, the director of golf at Conway Farms, expects the rough to be higher, the fairways to be firmer and the greens to be faster than they were in 2013 or 2015.

"It's been dry," he said. "We've had cool nights. The course will be firm and fast. Everyone has a chance to win this week -- and that's what these guys like."

Here's a scouting report, courtesy of Mackay, on some of the biggest names in the field:

Jordan Spieth (13-2 odds at Bovada.com): "A guy like Jordan has that much better a chance because you put the ball in play and then it's a second-shot golf course. With him coming off two near-wins (back-to-back second-place finishes), I think he will show up with a chip on his shoulder. He has more grit and guts than just about anybody. Yeah, he wins tournaments. When he plays poorly, he finishes sixth. He finds a way. He's the Greg Maddux of golf. He's not throwing 98 but he's getting you out with what he has."

Dustin Johnson (7-1): "Obviously none of us knows how hurt he was at Augusta (he withdrew at the last minute with a back injury) and how much that lingered. He's as physically gifted as anyone in the game, him and Rory. I got a chance to see DJ up close early in his career. He and Phil would play Tuesday games. As good as he was then, that guy's level of play is up two, three notches. He is an absolute force who can overpower a golf course. And he's gotten good with his wedges. He is someone you don't want to deal with on Sunday because he has big, big ... let's just say guts."

Jason Day (18-1): Day revealed Wednesday that Colin Swatton, his mentor and swing coach since age 12, would no longer caddie for him. "It's kind of cliche to call a player-caddie relationship brothers or relatives, but those two guys would be it. Whatever is going on, if Colin continues to be his teacher, that's great for Jason. ... Player-caddie relationships can be high-stress."

Sergio Garcia (45-1): Told that Garcia wore his Masters green jacket to Luke Donald's First Tee of Greater Chicago wine-tasting event Tuesday night, "I'd wear it to the beach if I were him. It has to feel amazing, like he's still on a honeymoon. To get that monkey off your back ... it's one thing to win a major and another to do it the way he did it, with an eagle on 15 down the stretch."

Phil Mickelson (66-1): "Phil's a pretty explosive guy. I've always thought of Phil like a 3-point shooter. When he makes the first couple, you give him the ball and get out of the way and he makes a high percentage. When he gets some momentum going, he can hit from anywhere."

(c)2017 Chicago Tribune

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