The 2018 BMW Championship, the third of four FedEx Cup Playoff events, begins this Thursday at the historic Aronimink Golf Club in suburban Philadelphia. The tournament is limited to the top 70 FedEx Cup points leaders following the Northern Trust and the Dell Technologies Championship, and is responsible for narrowing the field to the top-30 players who will compete at the Tour Championship in Atlanta. The BMW Championship received its current name in 2007, though it has roots in the much older Western Open.
BMW Championship History
The BMW Championship was founded in 2007 after the end of the older Western Open. The Western Open was first contested in 1899 and long considered one of golf’s most prestigious events. The Western Open was won by generation-spanning legendary golfers such as Willie Anderson, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson and Tiger Woods. The switch to the BMW Championship ended the “Open” nature of the tournament, and thus many see the two as completely different tournaments despite the fact that the Western Golf Association continues to run the BMW Championship. Since the name and format change, the tournament has been won by such heavyweights as Jason Day, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose. Tiger Woods and Dustin Johnson are the only two-time champions, while both Dustin Johnson and defending champion Marc Leishman can claim the lowest score of -23.
Defending Champion Marc Leishman
Marc Leishman is an Australian professional golfer with three PGA Tour wins to his name. Two of those wins came last year, as Leishman first won the Arnold Palmer Invitational before winning the BMW Championship. Leishman’s triumph was total, as early round scores of 62 and 64 gave Leishman a commanding lead he never relinquished. Leishman maintained a five stroke lead heading into championship Sunday and though Rickie Fowler cut the lead to as little as two strokes during the day, a confident and calm performance saw Leishman reestablish his five stroke lead to claim the win with the tournament’s record low score. Leishman enters this year’s BMW Championship 21st in the ranking and looking to repeat his exploits from last year.
Bryson DeChambeau is the current hot hand after winning the first two FedEx Cup Playoff events. With his position at the top assured heading into the Tour Championship, it will be worth watching to see if DeChambeau plays better or worse knowing that the pressure is off. Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson also are relatively safe atop the standings as well, meaning the tournament could see a win from a lower ranked golfer looking to grab points. Tiger Woods, Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods sit in the mid 20s, and a strong showing could help them jump up the standings. Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama sit in the 27th and 28th positions, and a poor tournament could see them fail to reach the Tour Championship. The tight standings surrounding the 30th position means that competition will be fierce. The high stakes assure the BMW Championship will be an enthralling tournament.