The legendary Course No.3 at the Medinah Country Club was the spectacular setting for the appearance of the 70 best players on the PGA TOUR at the BMW Championship. On Saturday, Major winner Justin Thomas slotted into the lead role at the penultimate playoff event on the PGA TOUR. The 26-year-old produced an otherworldly performance in the third round, setting a course record of 61 to head into the final day with a six-stroke lead. The 2017 FedExCup champion held his nerve on Sunday, repelling every attacking move and claiming victory with an overall score of 263 strokes.
In 2012, the Medinah Country Club had been the venue for Team Europe’s great Ryder Cup comeback that has gone down in golfing history as the “Miracle at Medinah”. The round that had effectively secured a tenth PGA TOUR win for Thomas was scarcely less astonishing. The winner of the 2017 PGA Championship started the Saturday with a five back-to-back birdies, adding three more and two eagles during the round to leave the world-class field in his wake. The eagle on the 16th hole (435 metres, par 4) was particularly spectacular, as Thomas found the hole from 160 metres out. The former world no. 1 (2018) finished 25 under par to relegate Patrick Cantlay (-22) and Hideki Matsuyama (-20) to second and third places. It is the lowest score to par in the history of the BMW Championship.
“I am excited. It has been a lot of hard work today, conditions were very tough. I was happy to stay patient and come though victorious in the end”, said Thomas. “It feels great.”
Thomas started the final round in controlled fashion, sensibly defending his lead. The situation looked critical after a bogey at the 10th hole, as Cantlay and Matsuyama went on a run of birdies to cut the gap to two strokes. However, “JT” showed that he is a real champion, with nerves of steel: When the going got tough, he moved up a gear to sink one challenging putt after another, fending off the attacks with a dominant display.
The BMW Championship also represents a critical part of qualification for the season finale, the TOUR Championship, which is only open to the 30 best players in the FedExCup rankings. Sitting pretty at the top of the season standings, Thomas is now well-placed to win the FedExCup for the second time. That achievement has only been recorded by Tiger Woods (-7, T37), with wins in 2007 and 2009 – and the 15-time Major winner also won the BMW Championship in both of those years. Cantlay, Brooks Koepka (-10, T24), Patrick Reed (-11, T19), and Rory McIlroy (-11, T19), follow in second to fifth positions.
Woods missed out on qualification for the TOUR Championship, as did Jordan Spieth (-7, T37), Phil Mickelson (-5, T48) and last year’s BMW Championship winner Keegan Bradley (-6, T43).
On Sunday morning, BMW and the Western Golf Association had announced a three-year extension to their partnership that has been in existence since 2007. This means that BMW will remain the BMW Championship title partner up to and including 2022. All proceeds from the BMW Championship will go to the Evans Scholars Foundation, which awards full college scholarships to hard-working young caddies. The foundation has benefited from more than 30 million US dollars thus far – not including this year's tournament.
The 2020 BMW Championship will once again be in the greater Chicago area. It will take place from 20th to 23rd August at the Olympia Fields Country Club.