Only three events remain in the PGA Tour’s 2015-16 season, and all will have very select fields.
This week’s BMW Championship, at Crooked Stick in Carmel, Ind., will feature the 70 survivors in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. The top 30 after it’s over advance to The Tour Championship Sept. 22-25 at East Lake in Atlanta and then the season concludes with the Ryder Cup – the high-profile competition between 12-player teams from the U.S. and Europe – Sept. 29 through Oct. 2 at Hazeltine National in Minnesota.
The BMW could well be the season-ender for both Wheaton’s Kevin Streelman and Luke Donald, the former Northwestern star. They remained in the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings after the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston concluded on Monday but need great weeks at Crooked Stick to be among the 30 who will tee it up at East Lake, where a $10 million bonus awaits the playoff champion.
Donald was bypassed in the selections for Europe’s Ryder Cup team and Streelman is a highly unlikely candidate for the four wild card spots available on the U.S. squad. Captain Davis Love III will announce three after the BMW Championship and his final one after The Tour Championship.
Both Streelman and Donald survived the final 36-hole of the season at the Deutsche Bank Championship, but that was about all. Streelman tied for 57th place and Donald tied for 65th. Both dropped in the FedEx standings because of those finishes, Donald from 53rd at the start of the week to No. 60 and Streelman from 57th to No. 63.
Still, both are assured big paydays this week, as there’s no 36-hole cut in the BMW Championship. The 70 qualifiers will share the hefty $8 million prize fund — the purse at all four of the playoff events.
The BMW Championship, conducted by the Chicago-based Western Golf Association, rotates in and out of Chicago every other year. Last year it was played at Conway Farms, in Lake Forest, with Jason Day winning the title. It’ll be back at Conway in 2017 and the only other future sites that have been determined are Aronimink in Pennsylvania in 2018 and Medinah in 2019.
Crooked Stick, a Pete Dye design in the Indianapolis suburbs, hosted the BMW Championship in 2012 with Rory McIlroy winning. A suddenly revived McIlroy also won the Deutsche Bank title on Monday after putting a new putter in his bag and hiring a new putting coach. Going 19-under-par in his final 69 holes he overcame a six-stroke deficit in the final round to climb to No. 4 in the FedEx standings.
Any player ranked in the top five who wins at East Lake will also pocket the $10 million bonus. The top three going in are Patrick Reed, Day and Dustin Johnson while Adam Scott is No. 5. If none of the top five win The Tour Championship the top prize will be up for grabs.
As for Streelman and Donald, both will have to play their best at Crooked Stick and hope that’ll be good enough to get into the top 30. Dramatic climbs in the standings are possible in the volatile scoring system, however. Billy Hurley, for instance, improved from 77th to 51st with a strong showing at Boston and Hudson Swafford climbed from 82nd to 61st.
Here and there
The start of the Web.com Tour Playoffs will coincide with the BMW Championship. First of the four events, which bring together the top 75 from the Web.com circuit and those ranked between 125 and 200 on the PGA Tour, is the DAP Championship at Canterbury in Cleveland. The field includes Elmhurst’s PGA veteran, Mark Wilson, and former University of Illinois golfers Luke Guthrie and D.A. Points.
Bloomington’s Todd Mitchell won the 24th Illinois State Mid-Amateur for the fifth time last week at Flossmoor Country Club. The fifth title pulled Mitchell into a tie with Jim Frisina for most wins in a single state amateur championship. Frisina won the Illinois State Amateur five times between 1942 and 1958.
Next big event on the state calendar is the 30th Illinois State Senior Amateur, which runs Monday through Wednesday (SEPT 12-14) at Bloomington Country Club. Mistwood’s McWethy Cup is also on tap for Monday in Romeoville.