As one of two men to qualify for each edition of the FedEx Cup Playoffs, Adam Scott's route to the top of the leaderboard at the 2022 BMW Championship has been an unconventional one. Entering the postseason securely on the bubble, the Australian captured his third top-five finish of the season at the St. Jude Championship to extend his postseason and roll into the Philadelphia area playing with house money.
He has put those chips to good use through the first two rounds at Wilmington Country Club. Scott commands the solo lead at 8 under ahead of several big names. Signing for rounds of 65-69, the former Masters champion has been the lone man to reach double digits under par, though a double-bogey on his 17th hole on Friday saw his lead contract from three strokes to one.
In the end, it may prove costly. Only one adrift of Scott at 7 under are Scottie Scheffler, Cameron Young, Corey Conners and Jordan Spieth. Scheffler is arguably the Player of the Year; Young the Rookie of the Year; Conners one of the best ball-strikers on Tour; and Spieth the ultimate wildcard, which almost makes him the most dangerous of all.
Only one stroke behind them is an equally daunting crop of pursuers, including the defending champion Patrick Cantlay and two-time FedEx Cup champion Rory McIlroy, both of whom have carded consecutive rounds of 67.
Yet to say this tournament will come down to this small group would be irresponsible; half the field is currently within six strokes of the lead. Set up to mirror the drama of the St. Jude Championship, the BMW Championship remains anyone's game with 36 holes to play.
1. Adam Scott (-9)
The 42-year-old sought out only the most important tournaments in 2022, playing primarily in invitational events and major championships. The end of his playing schedule was intentional, though, as he participated in the Rocket Mortgage Classic and the Wyndham Championship to gear up for a playoff push. It has proven to be a good idea; Scott is projected to move up to third in the FedEx Cup standings with a victory at Wilmington CC. While it has been some time since he has been in contention, the way in which he has been able to wield the broomstick through not only two rounds, but throughout the year as a whole, should inspire confidence in the leader.
"I felt really in control today. When you're playing that way, it always could be a couple better, and a poor shot on 17 was quite costly," said Scott. "It's a good reminder for the weekend that I've really got to keep it under control and don't want to have too many get off the map and get out of position around here. But I kept it in position really well all day and had so many good looks and was cruising there for a while. But I'm in great shape going into the weekend. I don't even know when the last time I led a tournament was."
Adam Scott will hold a one-stroke lead after the second round of the BMW Championship, the 17th 36-hole lead/co-lead of his PGA TOUR career in individual stroke-play events (6-for-16 to date).— PGA TOUR Communications (@PGATOURComms) August 19, 2022
T2. Scottie Scheffler, Cameron Young, Jordan Spieth and Corey Conners (-7)
T6. Cam Davis, Scott Stallings, Xander Schauffele, Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay (-6)
T11. Aaron Wise, Joaquin Niemann, Hideki Matsuyama, Harold Varner III, Kurt Kitayama and Shane Lowry (-5)
The man who entered the postseason atop the FedEx Cup standings had some work to do if he wanted to return to the top spot ahead of the Tour Championship. Playing alongside his good friend and the current FedEx Cup leader, Will Zalatoris, Scheffler is now projected to reclaim the No. 1 spot and start next week at East Lake with the lead.
While it has become routine to see Scheffler's name above the rest, this summer has not come without some hiccups. He entered the week off a missed cut at the St. Jude Championship, where he looked lost with the putter in hand. This has been a common theme in Scheffler's poor performances. He has lost strokes on the greens in seven of his last nine starts, including his last four tournaments. At the halfway point, the Masters champion ranks fourth in strokes gained putting, and if he is able to continue in this manner he will have a realistic opportunity to claim his fifth victory of the season.
"I definitely want to win again for sure. I want to win every week I tee it up, so this week is definitely no different," said Scheffler. "I've put myself in a decent position. Obviously, I'd like to be a little bit further up the leaderboard, but overall, we'll see how the scores play out this afternoon, but I'll definitely have a good chance going into the weekend."
Captain Trevor Immelman looks on intently
Unlike the United States Team, which has all but 12 members selected for next month's Presidents Cup, the International Team's leadership has a much more difficult decision on its hands. With qualifying for the team event ending at the culmination of the BMW Championship, captain Immelman will be tasked with selecting four additional players to go with the eight automatic qualifiers.
There are a few directions he could conceivably take for Quail Hollow. Bombers Cam Davis, Lucas Herbert and Taylor Pendrith are on the outside looking in and some of the more in-form players of the pool of potential picks. Then you have the veteran presence of Marc Leishman, or perhaps Jason Day, who is not in the field this week. Youth or experience – or a combination of the two – is Immelman's ultimate choice, but he must be pleased with how his team is rounding into form with 12 international men within six strokes of Scott's lead.
Is another dramatic finish looming?
The BMW Championship has a way of producing heart-pounding final moments over the last few seasons. With playoffs needed in three of the last four years, the composition of the leaderboard has a chance to put together a similar ending. Last year saw Patrick Cantlay and Bryson DeChambeau duke it out in a six-hole playoff in front of a rowdy Baltimore crowd.
While there were no crowds at Olympia Fields, one can only imagine the ruckus that would have ensued when Jon Rahm buried a 60-foot birdie effort on the first playoff hole to defeat Dustin Johnson in 2020. The fans will multiply over the weekend, and with an enormous build out of grandstands on the closing stretch of Wilmington CC will come an atmosphere typically reserved for major championships.
"The crowds have been great all week," said McIlroy. "This is obviously a big golf tournament coming to Delaware. I'm not sure the last time that happened or if it's happened in a long time. So it's great to see the crowds out here and so excited to watch us play."
2022 BMW Championship updated odds and picks
- Scottie Scheffler: 9/2
- Rory McIlroy: 13/2
- Cameron Young: 8-1
- Adam Scott: 17/2
- Jordan Spieth: 10-1
- Xander Schauffele: 11-1
- Patrick Cantlay: 11-1
- Corey Conners: 12-1
- Cam Davis: 22-1
- Joaquin Niemann: 25-1
- Shane Lowry: 35-1
- Hideki Matsuyama: 35-1
- Scott Stallings: 35-1
- Aaron Wise: 35-1
- Sam Burns: 35-1
Young, Niemann and Collin Morikawa are all potential winners. All else considered, there is still confidence in these three players, especially Young, who is third in the field in strokes gained tee to green. The presumed PGA Tour Rookie of the Year has been terrific thus far and, if not for a poor putting performance on Friday, would be in sole possession of the lead.
If you're looking for a bit more juice for your squeeze, it is hard to look past what Morikawa is doing. Returning to "Old Collin" as he put it on Thursday, the two-time major winner has been terrific with his irons and dreadful with his putter. Despite his shortcomings on the greens, he is only five strokes off the lead and listed at 60-1.