Tony Finau with the Northern Trust trophy, Can he win back-to-back? Mike Kern doesn't think so.
Tony Finau with the Northern Trust trophy, Can he win back-to-back? Mike Kern doesn't think so.@PGATOUR on Twitter

FedEx Playoffs: Mike Kern picks BMW Championship, likes Xander Schauffele, Paul Casey, longshot Keith Mitchell

The BMW Championship tees off Thursday morning from Caves Valley in Baltimore.

After a few good weeks in a row, we didn’t cash last week, although one of our picks, Patrick Reed, was a late withdrawal due to an illness. So there was that.

Now it’s on to the BMW Championship, the next to last event before the season-ending Tour Championship. So there will be some jockeying going on to get into the top 30 to make it into the final field. And some guys will be playing on short rest, since the last event didn’t end until Monday because of the hurricane that impacted New York. And the BMW is being played at a new venue, Caves Valley in Baltimore.

Jon Rahm, who was in position to win last week, is the fave at 5.5-1. As he should be. But as you know, that’s probably too low of a price for me. That being said, he is the best out there right now. Doesn’t mean he’s going to win, but I’d be surprised if he wasn’t at least in serious contention.

Xander Schauffele is next, at 14-1. He doesn’t win much but is usually in the mix. And three of his four wins have come in short field, no cut events like this one. And Tony Finau won last week to end a long drought. Maybe he strikes back to back.

Justin Thomas is 18-1, Bryson DeChambeau 20-1. I have Bryson in my yearlong pool, so don’t say you weren’t warned. Collin Morikawa is also 20-1, along with Jordan Spieth, who didn’t play well last week. Patrick Cantlay, Finau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Louis Oosthuizen are all 22-1. Dustin has played well in this event, but hasn’t played well in awhile. And that’s a fairly high number for Koepka, but this isn’t a major, which is usually a red flag for him.

Rory McIlroy is 25-1. Some folks seem to like him at that price, but he hasn’t done enough for me yet to back him. Cam Smith is also 25-1. He lost in a playoff last week. Paul Casey is 28-1. He’s been quietly having a strong season. Viktor Hovland, who some folks also seem to favor, Scottie Scheffler and Webb Simpson are 28-1 as well.

Daniel Berger, who let us down last week but who is having a really solid year, is 33-1 along with Hideki Matsuyama. Abraham Ancer, Corey Connors, Harris English, Shane Lowry and Joaquin Niemann are each 40-1. Sam Burns and Jason Kokrak are 50-1. Burns has two runner ups this season, while Kokrak has two victories.

Russell Henley, who nearly won two weeks ago but stunk last week, is one of many at 60-1. Some think Cameron Champ could be a legit longer shot at 100-1. Si Woo Kim, who lost in a playoff two weeks ago, is 125-1. So is Kevin Kisner, who won that playoff. And so it goes.

I could go a lot of different ways, which isn’t always a good thing. Of the faves I would lean toward Xander Schauffele at 14-1, but I’m in no way in love with that play. Just a hunch. He’s also +300 for a top five, but that doesn’t get me too excited either.

I’d rather try a few blokes scatted throughout the so-called middle tier. I’d give Paul Casey a shot at 28-1, and +500 for a top five. Again, nothing too much. I would say the same for Hideki Matsuyama at 33-1 and +550. I know that’s probably too many names fairly close to the top, so I apologize for that. I’m just trying to throw out some names I think could — and I repeat could — be worthwhile investments. Obviously they can’t all cash. I mean, can they?

In the little longer range, Joaquin Niemann seems to be generating a lot of interest at 40-1. And +700. Again, that may be one or two too many to get too serious about any of them. But I’m just trying to be as honest as possible.

If I was going to suggest a longshot, how about that Keith Mitchell at 125-1. And +900 for a top 10. Not for too much. But he did have a third recently and finished birdie-birdie on Monday to tie for eighth, which was just enough to get him into this field. Sometimes those are the kind of stories that keep on giving.

Sorry I couldn’t show a little more commitment in my observations. There are probably a few others I could have gone with, but that really would be too many. Here’s hoping whoever you decide to go with gives you a reason to keep watching right until the end. And then we’ll try to gear up for a run at the Tour Championship, where of course the players will be seeded and have to start a certain amount of strokes behind the top guy in the FedEx Cup standings going on. Just one more thing to consider in the equation.

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