Punch Shot: Who has most to gain at BMW?

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Thirty players will carry on after this week's BMW Championship. And more than a hefty bonus is on the line with a Tour Championship appearance. Who has the most to gain with a trip to East Lake? Our writers weigh in:

By REX HOGGARD

This week’s BMW Championship will prove to be a tipping point for many players, as well as a few interested observers, vying to crack the top 30 on the points list and advance to the Tour Championship – but none more so than Daniel Berger and J.B. Holmes.

Although both are outside the top 30 on the FedEx Cup points list and currently not qualified to play the finale at East Lake, the bigger picture goes beyond the normal perks of playing the Tour Championship.

Holmes is among a handful of players leading the way as a potential U.S. Ryder Cup captain’s pick, while Berger would currently be considered a long shot for a spot on Davis Love III’s team.

Berger, at 31st on the FedEx Cup points list, could secure his spot at East Lake and take the lead in the race to be Love’s final pick on Sept. 25 with a solid week in Indiana, while Holmes, who is 42nd on the points list, could possibly lock up a spot on the Ryder Cup team with just a decent week at Crooked Stick.

Both players could easily take advantage of the “Billy Horschel rule” by getting hot at the right time, and both could make Love’s job of selecting the rest of his team much easier.


By RYAN LAVNER

Justin Rose. Save for the Olympics, it has been a quiet year for the Englishman, who battled a back injury in the spring and never found his form. Throw out the Games, where he outdueled Henrik Stenson for the gold medal, and Rose doesn’t have a top-10 worldwide since the Masters. He probably should already be in the top 30, however, if not for a disastrous back nine last week at TPC Boston. His closing 45 sent him crashing to a tie for 57th and leaves him in this current predicament: 50th in points, and likely in need of a top-3 at Crooked Stick to secure his spot in the Tour Championship.

If he does, he’ll be one of the few players currently outside the top 30 who still have a realistic chance to win at East Lake – in his last four starts there, he has finished no worse than sixth, with a pair of runners-up. That’s why he has the most to gain. 


By RANDALL MELL

J.B. Holmes probably seals his Ryder Cup fate if he doesn’t make it to East Lake.

Matt Kuchar and Rickie Fowler appear to be consensus frontrunners to grab two of the three captain’s picks American skipper Davis Love III will make on Monday for different reasons. Jim Furyk, Bubba Watson and Holmes are less certain and Holmes may be the least certain given he missed so many cuts with a spot on the line as pressure mounted this summer. Behind in the Ryder Cup race because of injury, Furyk still showed Love more than Holmes this summer, more consistent good play. Watson, at least, hasn’t eliminated himself by missing a batch of cuts and has the better overall championship level pedigree. Holmes has missed four of his last seven cuts. And if Holmes doesn’t make it to East Lake, he’s got no shot at being Love’s “hot-hand” fourth captain’s pick at the end of the Tour Championship.


By WILL GRAY

At age 31, Jason Kokrak has never played in the Masters. He’s never booked a trans-Atlantic flight for The Open, and he’s never teed it up in a WGC event. In fact, this is only the second time that he’s even made it to the season’s penultimate event.

Kokrak is a bit of a late bloomer, sure, but he has everything to play for this week at Crooked Stick. He enters the BMW Championship at No. 34 in the points race, right on the cusp of the all-important top 30 and having found some form at just the right time. He chased a T-7 finish at Bethpage with a T-8 finish in Boston, making him one of only six players to open the postseason with back-to-back top-10s.

A Tour Championship berth would net Kokrak a huge bounty: spots in each of the first three majors next year, plus his first round of WGC invitations. What’s more, he could even sneak into the discussion for the fourth and final Ryder Cup pick before the month is over, just as he got a late invitation to that first task force dinner in February. It’s a tantalizing array of incentives for a player who could be poised to make a jump in class.