BMW Championship expert picks: 4 wagers we really like this week

Do you like Justin Thomas this week? Our expert does.

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Still abuzz from a riveting finish in Memphis, we move on this week to the BMW Championship, the second stop in the FedEx Cup Playoffs and the first Tour event ever held in Delaware. The South Course at Wilmington Country Club is the venue, and the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings make up the field, with the notable absence of No. 3 Cameron Smith, who has withdrawn, citing hip discomfort.

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Will Zalatoris, who claimed his first Tour victory last week, now occupies the top spot, trailed closely by Scottie Scheffler. Both players are also near the top of the betting board, but Rory McIlroy is the current favorite, listed by the major books at 10-1.

With a limited field and no cut, the weekend promises to bring big names into the picture. To help sharpen our focus — and improve our betting prospects — we turn once more to GOLF.com’s expert prognosticator Andy Lack, who has supplied us with his four favorite wagers. 

And because we like to track public opinion, too, we’re also including data from Chirp.com, a free-to-play mobile platform (and GOLF.com affiliate) that allows fans to engage with the action through a range of games. You can check out those Chirp stats at the bottom of this page.

ANDY LACK’S PICKS

Outright Pick to Win: Justin Thomas (+1700)

Odds available at Bet365

If I were tasked with designing the ideal course for Thomas, it would look a lot like Wilmington Country Club. I want the World No. 7 on courses where there is little penalty for wayward driving, which has been a staple of Robert Trent Jones designs in the past. It should come as no surprise that the 2022 PGA Championship winner has finished fourth at Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, 12th at Congressional, sixth at Bellerive, and first and seventh at Firestone. These are all mid- scoring RJT courses (meaning winning scores in the minus 12-18 range) that place an emphasis on approach shots. Thomas remains one of the best middle-iron players in the world. I’m banking on the 15-time PGA Tour winner to pick up his second BMW Championship title in Wilmington. 

Top 10: Joaquin Niemann (+360)

Odds available at FanDuel Sportsbook

I was extremely encouraged from what I saw out of Niemann in Memphis last week, where he quietly rolled to a 13th-place finish while gaining a cool seven strokes ball-striking. The young Chilean might be the most underrated driver of the ball in the world, and he has not lost strokes off the tee all season. Now he returns to Bentgrass, a turf on which he’s enjoyed a great deal of success. Multiple top-five finishes at Detroit Golf Club, wins at the Greenbrier and Riviera, and third place finishes at Muirfield Village and Olympia Fields, all lead me to believe that tree-lined, parkland golf courses seem to really fit the 23-year-old’s eye.

Top 20: Aaron Wise (+160)

Odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook

In a much smaller field this week, I’ll forego the top-40 market and attempt to find value with a top-20 play instead. Wise is coming off a T31 last week in Memphis, where he gained 1.8 strokes off the tee and 4.4 strokes on approach. His ball-striking improved as the week went on, and I firmly believe the 26-year-old will be able to carry that momentum forward. Wise has shown his affinity for Bentgrass, tree-lined tests with a recent second-place finish at the Memorial, and a sixth in his only appearance at Robert Trent Jones-designed Firestone. He remains one of the better total drivers and mid iron players in this field. I’m expecting a strong showing from him this week.

Matchup: Rory McIlroy (-120) over Patrick Cantlay

Odds available at DraftKings Sportsbook

The price on McIlroy here just feels short to me. It’s rare for bettors to receive a discount on the World No. 3, but McIlroy is coming off a missed cut last week, a factor that has surely swayed opinions. I am far from deterred, as the four-time major winner has missed five cuts in the past two-and-a-half years and bounced back strong each time. As for Cantlay, I was concerned with how poor his ball-striking was last week, as this was the first time that the World No. 4 lost strokes both off the tee and on approach since the Players Championship. While Cantlay will certainly be pleased to return to Bentgrass, my numbers suggest that Wilmington Country Club remains a far better fit for McIlroy. 

WHO FANS LIKE TO WIN

Hundreds of users have already made their picks in Chirp’s weekly Trifecta game, a healthy sample that gives us a sense where public sentiment is leaning. As a refresher, the Trifecta game calls for users to make three picks: a winner, a contender and a long shot, all categories based on the Official World Golf Ranking. Here’s how the Chirp standings break down so far, with percentage of votes listed in parentheses. (Want to play for yourself? Click here!)

Favorites (players ranked 1-20)

Rory McIlroy (28.14 percent)

Scottie Scheffler (20.96 percent)

Jon Rahm (12.57 percent)

Contenders (players ranked 21-60)

Tony Finau (30.54 percent)

Will Zalatoris (27.54 percent)

Jordan Spieth (18.56 percent)

Long Shots (players ranked 61 and higher)

Kyoung-Hoon Lee, (23.05 percent)

Brian Harman (8.68 percent)

Sahith Theegala (8.08 percent)

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josh sens

Josh Sens

Golf.com Photographer

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.