The 2013 BMW Championship will be held at Conway Farms Golf Club in Lake Forest, Ill. beginning Thursday. It marks the final leg of the FedEx Cup playoffs before the season-ending Tour Championship.
This field of 70 will be reduced to only 30 when the tournament concludes, so it will be interesting to monitor not only those near the top of the point standings but also those on the bubble.
Rory McIlroy is the defending champion, but this event is being held at a different venue than last year's showdown at Crooked Stick. Plus, the world No. 4 hasn't won this season and is coming off a tie for 47th in Boston in defense of his Deutsche Bank Championship title.
An idle week has given those in underwhelming form time to recover, while somewhat stymieing momentum for others. That makes it all the more difficult to predict how this one will play out.
With plenty at stake for many of golf's biggest stars, let's take a look at tee times, the TV schedule and what groups to watch in particular throughout the first two rounds.
When: Thursday, Sept. 12, to Sunday, Sept. 15
Where: Conway Farms Golf Club, Lake Forest, Ill.
Tee Times: First groups are off at 10:20 a.m. CT. For a complete list of tee times for the first two rounds, visit PGATour.com.
Purse: $8 million
FedEx Cup Points: 2,500
TV Schedule (h/t PGA.com)
Thursday: Golf Channel 3-6 p.m. EDT
Friday: Golf Channel 3-6 p.m. EDT
Saturday: Golf Channel 1-3 p.m. EDT, NBC 3-6 p.m. EDT
Sunday: Golf Channel 12-1:30 p.m. EDT, NBC 1:30-6 p.m. EDT
Groups to Watch
No. 14: Harris English, Charl Schwartzel and Lee Westwood
These are the FedEx Cup bubble boys, so to speak. Harris English is a rising American star, and the latter two rank inside the top 20 in the world, so there is plenty of intrigue.
Which bubble player is likeliest to falter?
The 24-year-old English broke through for his first tour victory at the FedEx St. Jude Classic earlier this year and is 28th in the points standings, followed in descending order by Charl Schwartzel and Lee Westwood.
Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, hasn't looked quite the same since fading with a final-round 78 at the U.S. Open to finish in 14th.
However, he is second on tour in averaging just over four birdies per round, and if his iron play is on at Conway Farms, he could notch his first top 10 since the Memorial.
A run of four consecutive top 10s beginning in late March at the Shell Houston Open was Westwood's best stretch of golf outside of a strong tie for third at the Open Championship. Since then, his best finish is a tie for 25th at The Barclays, so he'll need a solid result to ensure a trip to Atlanta.
No. 16: Henrik Stenson, Tiger Woods and Adam Scott
The top three in the FedEx Cup standings constitute the most recent Deutsche Bank Championship winner in Henrik Stenson, the year's most consistently excellent golfer in Tiger Woods and the reigning Barclays and Masters victor in Adam Scott.
Few have been hotter than Stenson in the game of golf—arguably no one. He contended in each of the year's final two majors and finished tied for second at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, where Woods won by seven shots.
That fine play finally culminated in a triumph at TPC Boston for the Swede, and with the way he's playing from tee to green, only a few putts may stand between him and another trophy.
The week off probably helped Woods the most, who struggled through back spasms at The Barclays and was totally off in finishing tied for 65th in the second playoff event.
Scott has Woods' old caddie Stevie Williams on the bag, but that prior tension seems to be a non-story these days.
The focus will be strictly on golf in this group, which should be sensational presuming Stenson keeps up his hot streak, Woods is healthy and Scott bounces back from a tied-for-53rd finish in Norton, Mass.
No. 23: Ian Poulter, Charley Hoffman and Luke Donald
This trio is on the outside looking in with regard to the playoff picture at Nos. 52, 53 and 54 in the standings, respectively.
The supremely confident Ian Poulter realizes the importance and appears determined to build on his positive tie for ninth at the Deutsche Bank Championship, even though he closed with a double bogey.
Need a big week in Chicago at the BMW Championship. I want to play Tour Champs next week. Simple or it's 5 weeks off. Play well or go home.— Ian Poulter (@IanJamesPoulter) September 11, 2013
Charley Hoffman has sniffed contention a few times this season but hasn't found the winner's circle. He has made 18 of 22 cuts and posted eight top 25s, but he'll need to be in the hunt in Lake Forest to advance to the next stage.
Such is the case for Luke Donald too, who has missed three of his past six PGA Tour cuts and finished tied for 41st in each of the first two postseason tournaments.
The same man who won both major tour money lists just two years ago and was the world No. 1 for a time is suddenly 13th in the rankings. Donald hasn't won in 2013, and there couldn't be a better time to start than now.