BMW Championship 2013: Early Contenders Who Most Need a Victory at Conway Farms

Jesse Reed@@JesseReed78Correspondent ISeptember 13, 2013

LAKE FOREST, IL - SEPTEMBER 12:  John Merrick hits off the 15th tee during the First Round of the BMW Championship at Conway Farms Golf Club on September 12, 2013 in Lake Forest, Illinois.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Unheralded PGA Tour veteran John Merrick has a chance to wiggle his way into the top 30 in the FedEx Cup standings with a win at Conway Farms this weekend.

He's not the only contender at the BMW Championship who needs to win in order to secure a spot in the final event, either. 

The top 70 golfers are duking it out this weekend in Illinois in the second-to-last FedEx Cup event of the 2013 season. At the end of this tournament, points will be handed out based on where golfers finished, and then the top 30 players in the FedEx Cup standings will earn a trip to the Tour Championship.

The winner of the Tour Championship wins $10 million, so to say the stakes are high may not be a grand enough statement. Competition is fierce for these final spots.

Once the 30-man field is set for the final event, all accumulated points are then reset, so every single golfer has an equal chance of becoming the FedEx Cup champion. 

With that in mind, here's a look at the current leaderboard, as of 2:35 p.m. ET on Friday, Sept. 13, followed by a closer look at a few top contenders who desperately need to win the BMW Championship. 

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John Merrick

Merrick turned pro back in 2004, but he won his first PGA event this year at the Northern Trust Open back in February. Since that victory, however, he's had a rather unremarkable 2013 campaign, earning just five top-25 finishes and two top-10s. 

The veteran got off to a hot start at the BMW Championship, though, taking an early lead with a birdie and eagle in his first five holes, as noted by the PGA Tour:

But he cooled off a bit in the latter half of his first round, finishing the day at four-under par.

Heading into the tournament, Merrick was ranked No. 44 in the FedEx Cup standings. He needs to finish in the top five to give himself a chance at a top-30 spot, but a win would secure it without a doubt. 

Nick Watney

A five-time winner on tour, Watney has struggled through a mediocre season that has seen him earn just three top-10 finishes. Heading into The Barclays, he'd missed the cut in three of his last four tournaments, but he surged up the FedEx Cup standings with a ninth-place finish in that tournament.

Heading into this tournament, he sits right outside the 30-man cut for the Tour Championship at No. 34 in the rankings. He opened up this tournament with a strong first round, finishing at four-under par. He played steady golf, carding just one bogey on the round with five birdies. 

Midway through his second round, Watney has been shaky, carding three bogeys and three birdies, and he currently sits in a tie for 10th place. If he finishes in the top 10, he's projected to make it up to No. 28 in the rankings, but he'll need to play better over the weekend in order to make it happen. 

Brian Davis

Heading into this tournament, Davis was No. 49 in the rankings and very much on the outside looking in heading into the Tour Championship. He's never before won on tour before, and in 27 events this year, he's finished in the top 10 just four times.

Davis' first round didn't appear to be a good omen for his chances of earning a berth in the Tour Championship, as he shot one-over par thanks to a triple-bogey on the par-three No. 11. He was well off the pace set by Brandt Snedeker, but he's gotten things turned around nicely in Round 2. 

Starting out on the back nine on Friday, Davis shot five-under par in his first nine holes to shoot up the leaderboard. He still has nine holes left to play and is in a tie for 10th place currently. If he were to finish in 10th place, Davis would still miss the Tour Championship, as his projected ranking would be No. 35. 

He must put on a show over the weekend and finish in the top five, if not win the tournament outright. 

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