2021 BMW Championship Primer: History, TV, Field, Odds

Justin Thomas Wins BMW Championship
Justin Thomas celebrates on the 18th green after winning the BMW Championship at Medinah CC No. 3 on Aug 18, 2019 in Medinah, IL. Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images

The PGA Tour’s postseason circus will stay in the northeast this week as they travel from New Jersey to Maryland for the 15th annual BMW Championship at Caves Valley Golf Club, located just outside of Baltimore.

The second of three FedExCup Playoff legs, the BMW will feature the top-70 positioned players in the standings, with only 30 receiving a ticket to East Lake.

Jon Rahm will return to defend his 2020 title – although he was victorious at Olympia Fields, so he forfeits any home-field edge. Joining the current world No. 1, will be 69 additional elite tour players, with many seeking to cement a spot in the big-money finale next week in Atlanta.


The Skinny

Tournament: BMW Championship
Dates: Aug. 26-29, 2021
Where: Owings Mills, MD
Course: Caves Valley GC
Distance: 7,226 yards (Par 71)
Architect: Tom Fazio (1991)
Field: Top 70 in FedExCup
Purse: $9,500,000
Winning Share: $1,710,00
FedExCup Points: 1,500
Defending Champion: Jon Rahm


How to Follow the BMW Championship

Xander Schauffele
Xander Schauffele talks with his caddie on the 15th green during day two of the BMW Championship at Aronimink GC on Sep. 7, 2018 in Newtown Square, PA. Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

TELEVISION: Thu-Fri: 3-7 p.m. (GOLF Channel); Sat: 12-3 p.m. (GOLF Channel), 3-6 p.m. (NBC); Sun: 12-2 p.m. (GOLF Channel), 2-6 p.m. (NBC)

PGA TOUR LIVE: Thu-Fri: 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (Featured Groups); Sat: 8 a.m.-3 p.m. (Featured Groups), 3-6 p.m. (Featured Holes); Sun: 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (Featured Groups), 2-6 p.m. (Featured Holes)
Watch on Prime Video*

RADIO: Thu-Fri: 1-7 p.m.; Sat-Sun: 1-6 p.m.
(PGA TOUR Radio on SiriusXM and PGATOUR.com)

LINKS: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


BMW Championship History

Justin Rose BMW Championship
Justin Rose putts on the 17th green during the final round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms GC on Sep. 17, 2017 in Lake Forest, Ill. Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Depending on how it is viewed, the BMW Championship could be considered to have a relatively short history, or a long, illustrious one.

The event we know today as the BMW Championship was an original FedExCup event, started in 2007 – the same year as the first postseason, and rotates between several Chicago-area courses and other regions, primarily located in middle America.

Tiger Woods won the inaugural edition, and then took the championship again two years later in an eight-stroke shellacking at Cog Hill.

In 2016, Dustin Johnson won his second BMW, which tied Tiger for the most wins in event history. Other top-ranked stars who own BMW trophies include Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jason Day, Justin Thomas and Jon Rahm.

Dustin Johnson BMW Championship
Dustin Johnson plays his shot from the 17th tee during the final round of the BMW Championship on the North Course at Olympia Fields CC on Aug 30, 2020 in Olympia Fields, IL. Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

However, before it was the merciless third second leg of the FedExCup Playoffs, the BMW Championship was a regular PGA Tour stop known as the Western Open. And that tournament – once considered a major before the advent of official majors – has roots that go all the way back to 1899, making it the third-longest continuously running event on the PGA Tour, with only the U.S. Open and the Open Championship going back further.

For most of its history, the Western Open was an elite event that included such notable winners as Willie Anderson, Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, Sam Snead, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, and Tiger Woods, who holds the distinction of winning before and after it became a playoff event, and re-titled as the BMW Championship.

Recent Winners
  • 2020: Jon Rahm -4 (Olympia CC, IL)
  • 2019: Justin Thomas -25 (Medinah CC, IL)
  • 2018: Keegan Bradley -20 (Aronimink GC, PA)
  • 2017: Marc Leishman -23 (Conway Farms, IL)
  • 2016: Dustin Johnson -23 (Crooked Stick, IN)
  • 2015: Jason Day -22 (Conway Farms, IL)
  • 2014: Billy Horschel -14 (Cherry Hills, CO)
  • 2013: Zach Johnson -16 (Conway Farms, IL)
  • 2012: Rory McIlroy -20 (Crooked Stick, IN)
  • 2011: Justin Rose -13 (Cog Hill, IL)
Tournament Records
  • Score: 260 – Keegan Bradley (Aronimink GC, 2018)
  • To Par: -25 – Justin Thomas (Medinah CC, 2019)
  • Round: 59 – Jim Furyk (Conway Farms, Rd 2, 2013)
  • Wins: 2 – Dustin Johnson (2010, 2016), Tiger Woods (2007, 2009)

Course: Caves Valley

Caves Valley Golf Club
Caves Valley Golf Club is located in Owings Mills, Maryland, a suburb northwest of Baltimore. (Courtesy Caves Valley Golf Club)

Caves Valley Golf Club is a Tom Fazio design that will stretch to 7,542 yards for the PGA Tour. The par-72 track opened in 1991 but was recently renovated ahead of the big FedExCup Playoff event.

Upgrades include added length, pro tee boxes, buffed up water hazards, tighter fairways, deeper rough, and restored bunkers. For the BMW, the tour will swap the nines to allow for better spectator viewing on the finishing holes.

While it will mark the debut of the PGA Tour at Caves Valley, the course has hosted two Champions Tour majors (2002 U.S. Senior Open, 2017 Senior PLAYERS Championship) as well as the inaugural (2014) International Crown tournament on the LPGA Tour.

Course Stats
  • Opened: 1991
  • Architect: Tom Fazio (1991)
  • Renovation: Logan Fazio (2020)
  • Par: 36-36–72
  • Yardage: 7,542 yards
  • Greens: Bentgrass
  • Fairways: Bentgrass
  • Rough: Fescue, Ryegrass, Bluegrass
  • Water in Play: 5 Holes
  • Superintendent: Kyle Steidel

Field & Odds

Jordan Spieth
Jordan Spieth tees off on the 16th hole during the third round of the BMW Championship at Crooked Stick GC on Sep 10, 2016 in Carmel, IN. Photo by Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR via Getty Images.

The field will be comprised of the Top 70 in the FedExCup standings following completion of The Northern Trust.

World No. 1 Jon Rahm, the defending champion, is the heavy favorite to repeat. He will be joined by past BMW winners, and former world No. 1s, such as Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas.

Other top-ranked marquee names include Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau, Patrick Cantlay, Jordan Spieth, Collin Morikawa and Xander Schauffele.

Top-5 Betting Favorites

1. Jon Rahm 7-1
2. Justin Thomas 16-1
3. Collin Morikawa 20-1
3. Xander Schauffele 20-1
5. Brooks Koepka 25-1
5. Bryson DeChambeau 25-1
5. Cameron Smith 25-1
5. Dustin Johnson 25-1
5. Jordan Spieth 25-1
5. Patrick Cantlay 25-1
5. Rory McIlroy 25-1
5. Tony Finau 25-1

Full Field, Rank & Odds

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