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Golf fans can only hope for a repeat of last year's epic finish when the 2021 BMW Championship tees off Thursday at Caves Valley Golf Club near Baltimore. Jon Rahm and Dustin Johnson traded epic blows in last year's FedEx Cup Playoffs event at Olympia Fields, with Rahm getting the knockout on the first playoff hole. Johnson rolled in a snaking 43-foot putt on his 72nd hole to force the playoff, but Rahm responded with an even more diabolical 66-footer for birdie and the victory. Johnson ended up with the FedEx Cup Playoffs title the following week with his victory in the finale, the Tour Championship at East Lake.    

Caesars Sportsbook lists Rahm, the No. 1 ranked player in the world, as the 13-2 favorite in its latest 2021 BMW Championship odds, with Xander Schauffele a distant second at 18-1. Others expected to contend include Johnson (20-1), Justin Thomas (20-1), Jordan Spieth (20-1) and Collin Morikawa (22-1). Before locking in any BMW Championship 2021 bets or making any PGA Tour predictions, you have to see what proven golf insider Sal Johnson has to say.

The media legend and esteemed golf insider has a strong track record on picks, and he knows what it takes to win in the FedEx Cup Playoffs. Before last year's BMW Championship, he had both Rahm and Johnson in his best bets, and they battled into the playoff. Johnson had won by 11 strokes the previous week, but It was Rahm, whose game the golf expert noted had been "shaping up," who came out on top with a dramatic birdie on the first extra hole.

And in 2019, he had Patrick Cantlay in his best bets and Thomas among his other top contenders. Johnson said Thomas' game was "finally coming together after his wrist injury." and he proved that by going 25 under at Medinah. He held off Cantlay, who was the runner-up after a 7-under 65 in the final round.

The golf expert has been on fire all season. He was one of the few to say Kevin Kisner had a legitimate chance before he got his first stroke-play win in more than four years at the Wyndham Championship. And before the Olympics, he had Xander Schauffele, Collin Morikawa, Rory McIlroy and Hideki Matsuyama among his top five golfers. Schauffele won the gold medal for Team USA, while the other three made the playoff for the bronze. Anyone who has followed Johnson's advice has cashed in huge.  

Now Johnson, the first producer of "Inside the PGA Tour," a longtime ABC Sports golf producer who worked with Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, and founder of the world's top golf stats database, has released his highly confident 2021 BMW Championship golf picks, and they will surprise you. You can only see Johnson's expert golf picks and FedEx Cup Playoffs predictions at SportsLine.

Top 2021 BMW Championship golf predictions

Shockingly, the golf expert is fading Rory McIlroy, even though he has won the FedEx Cup title twice (2016 and 2019). The Northern Irishman went 66-70 in the final two rounds at the Northern Trust, and that underscored his problems. He finished 43rd, and he has a stubborn habit of firing a round (or two) to derail his chances. The 32-year-old's drought-breaking victory at the Wells Fargo was a positive sign, but he hasn't been able to capitalize on it. His inconsistency makes him a player to avoid, and Johnson has numerous better options.

On the other hand, Johnson has been as impressed as anyone by Rahm's recent run. The world's top-ranked player and reigning U.S. Open champion was locked in almost all week at Liberty National. He followed an opening-round 63 with a pair of 67's before fading to 69 to finish third. That "disappointing" finish gave the 26-year-old an uncanny 13 top-10's in 19 events this season, and he boasts 14 worldwide wins at age 26. He leads the tour in scoring average (69.335) and strokes gained tee-to-green and is second in greens in regulation (71.98 percent). 

The stats expert has been waiting for Schauffele's breakout for some time, and his Olympic gold medal finally gave him something to show for his stellar stats. The 2017 PGA Tour Rookie of the Year doesn't have a tour victory since January 2019 but has three runner-up finishes this season. He has been in the top 10 seven times in 19 events, but his Olympic win was bracketed by a T-26 and T-46. He shot 62 in the second round at Liberty National and ended up T-16 at 11-under. He is sixth on tour in scoring average (69.769) and 17th in strokes gained putting.   

How to make 2021 BMW Championship golf picks

This week, Johnson is backing a massive long shot who comes in at well over 50-1. This veteran consistently and quietly hangs around inside the top 25 and is capable of pulling off a stunning victory. Anyone who backs this underdog could cash in huge. Head to SportsLine to see who it is

Who wins the BMW Championship 2021? Where do Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa finish? And which huge long shot is a must-back? Check out the odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Sal Johnson's full leaderboard, picks and analysis for the 2021 BMW Championship, all from the insider who knows what it takes to win in playoffs, and find out.

2021 BMW Championship odds, field, top contenders (via Caesars)

Jon Rahm 13-2
Xander Schauffele 18-1
Dustin Johnson 20-1
Justin Thomas 20-1
Jordan Spieth 20-1
Collin Morikawa 22-1
Cameron Smith 22-1
Patrick Cantlay 25-1
Brooks Koepka 25-1
Tony Finau 25-1
Bryson DeChambeau 28-1
Corey Conners 28-1
Rory McIlroy 28-1
Scottie Scheffler 28-1
Louis Oosthuizen 28-1
Viktor Hovland 28-1
Webb Simpson 33-1
Daniel Berger 35-1
Paul Casey 35-1
Abraham Ancer 35-1
Hideki Matsuyama 35-1
Shane Lowry 40-1
Joaquin Niemann 40-1
Harris English 40-1
Kevin Na 50-1
Sam Burns 50-1
Sungjae Im 50-1
Cameron Tringale 66-1
Jason Kokrak 66-1
Russell Henley 66-1
Erik Van Rooyen 70-1
Harold Varner 80-1
Si-Woo Kim 80-1
Alex Noren 80-1
Sergio Garcia 80-1
Cameron Davis 80-1
Kevin Streelman 80-1
Billy Horschel 80-1
Kevin Kisner 80-1
Keegan Bradley 80-1
Branden Grace 100-1
Maverick McNealy 100-1
Jhonattan Vegas 100-1
Brian Harman 100-1
Emiliano Grillo 100-1
Mackenzie Hughes 100-1
Sebastian Munoz 100-1
Stewart Cink 100-1
Charley Hoffman 100-1
Cameron Champ 100-1
Marc Leishman 125-1
Lee Westwood 125-1
Max Homa 125-1
Keith Mitchell 125-1
Phil Mickelson 125-1
Carlos Ortiz 125-1
Ryan Palmer 125-1
Charl Schwartzel 150-1
Talor Gooch 150-1
Harry Higgs 150-1
Aaron Wise 150-1
Tom Hoge 150-1
Chris Kirk 150-1
Lucas Glover 200-1
Patton Kizzire 200-1
Kyoung-Hoon Lee 200-1
Robert Streb 250-1
Hudson Swafford 250-1
Matt Jones 250-1