BMW Championship: Phil Mickelson and 5 Golfers Who Will Be in the Hunt

David Kindervater@TheDGKCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2011

BMW Championship: Phil Mickelson and 5 Golfers Who Will Be in the Hunt

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    The PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedExCup continue this week with the BMW Championship from The Dubsdread Course at Cog Hill Golf and Country Club in Chicago. And it's another loaded field with 70 of the best golfers in the world battling for the right to play in the Tour Championship next week.

    Have fun picking a winner. And get this. Everyone teeing off this week is still mathematically alive to win the FedExCup.

    Honestly, I could put all 70 names in a hat and pick a handful that has as good a chance as the next to win this week. But here's a look at six players who are sure to be in the hunt.

Luke Donald

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    It's hard to ignore the numbers from Player of the Year candidate Luke Donald.

    First of all, he's playing well right now. Donald  has carded top 10 finishes in three of his past four tournaments, including a T3 at the Deutsche Bank two weeks ago. His scoring average in the PGA Tour Playoffs thus far is a very impressive 67.57.

    Secondly, look at the year this guy is having statistically. He has the best scoring average. He's second on the money list, 5th in Birdie Average, 6th in Par Breakers and Strokes Gained-Putting. And he has a top ten All Around Ranking with 11 top ten finishes.

    Oh, one more thing. He's the No. 1 player in the world.

Camilo Villegas

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    Call me crazy, but I'm jumping on the Camilo Villegas bandwagon. I've often wondered what all the hype was about. Now, we're starting to see results.

    Villegas is playing his best golf of the 2011 season right now. And I have to say, it's about time he lived up to the billing. Villegas is finally playing the way he's been expected to—and the way he expects himself to play.

    Like a wild card who gets hot at just the right time, Villegas could sneak in and win it all. He's been a "bubble boy" since the playoffs started, beginning the race to the FedExCup at No. 125. But look at him now—he's 47th with two top tens in his past three tournaments.

    This "bubble boy" is busting that bubble.

    Plus, you have to like the way Villegas has fared at this golf course at Cog Hill. The past three times he played here—T7, T8 and T11. And, he won this BMW Championship when it was in St. Louis three years ago.

Webb Simpson

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    As long as I'm talking about golfers who are playing well right now, I'll include Webb Simpson in that group.

    Simpson has given plenty of reason to be dubbed a favorite this week. He's won two of the past three tournaments on the PGA Tour, including the Deutsche Bank two weeks ago. In between, he was T10 at The Barclays. I have no reason to doubt Webb Simpson this week.

    All this great play has also les to his ascension in stats as well. He's No. 1 in Playoff Points for the FedExCup, but for the entire year, Simpson is the tour's leading money winner and he's tops in All-Around Ranking. Plus he's third in Birdie Average, Scoring Average and Par Breakers.

    Webb Simpson might just walk away with Player of the Year honors.

Steve Stricker

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    This summer, I thought Steve Stricker was a lock to win the PGA Tour's Player of the Year award. He was on cruise control. Now I'm not so sure. He has some competition after hitting something of a dry spell. Stricker hasn't managed a top 10 finish since he won the John Deere Classic back in

    The quick fix? A win at the BMW Championship this week wouldn't hurt.

    Stricker finished in 8th place here last year and he's still top ten in a pile of PGA Tour statistical categories—first in Birdie Average, Par Breakers and Strokes Gained-Putting; second in Scoring Average—I'll stop there. It's actually pretty ridiculous how good he is. The only category he doesn't dominate—or fare well in—is Driving Distance. I guess he has proven that doesn't really matter.

    It's been an outstanding season for Stricker. I believe he'll finish strong.

Matt Kuchar

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    Matt Kuchar is currently third in FedExCup points, but he hasn't won a golf tournament this year.

    That's kind of shocking considering how well he has played. Kuchar has nine top ten finishes and 16 top 25s. He was second at The Memorial and most recently, The (weather shortened) Barclays.

    What does all of this mean?

    OK, I'll say it. I think Matt Kuchar is due. He finished T3 here at Cog Hill last year and T10 the year before. He's playing really well right now. Simply put, I like his chances this week.

Phil Mickelson

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    It's football season. How about a football analogy?

    Like that elite skill position player who can "take it to the house" every time he touches the ball, Phil Mickelson is a serious threat to win any golf tournament he enters.

    Mickelson has six top tens in 2011, including a win at the Shell Houston Open and second place finishes at the Farmers Insurance Open and British Open. Not bad for a season on the PGA Tour. But he can still make a decent year a great one, depending on how well he does these next two weeks.

    Mickelson has had a couple weeks to work with his new belly putter, so it will be interesting to see how much more comfortable he is this week as compared to the Deutsche Bank.

    Something had to change. I mean, Phil Mickelson—98th in Strokes Gained-Putting?

    I think this is just a fad for "Lefty." I think he'll stick with the belly putter as long as he's scoring well. But he's too much of a purist to buy into trends. And the long belly putter is a trend right now. Sure, he looked pretty comfortable in shooting a 63 two weeks ago, but I don't see him married to this, even if he hoists the FedExCup.