MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 19: Dustin Johnson of the U.S. Team and teammate Tiger Woods look at the green on the eighth hole during the Day Three Afternoon Four-Ball Matches of the 2011 Presidents Cup at Royal Melbourne Golf Course on November 19, 2011 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)
The BMW Championship marks the third leg of the 2012 FedEx Cup playoffs, and the game's biggest names are once again expected to contend.
The third leg of the 2012 FedEx Cup Playoffs gets underway this week from Crooked Stick Golf Club outside Indianapolis. The BMW Championship, formerly known as the venerable Western Open, typically stops in the Chicago area but with the 2012 Ryder Cup at Medinah just weeks away, the Tour moved it to the nearby Pete Dye course in Indiana. Until this week, the layout is best known for being the scene of John Daly's improbable PGA Championship win in 1991, when the unknown bomber burst onto the public scene as an alternate.
This week the course will host the top 70 in the FedEx Cup standings, serving as the last test to trim the playoff field down to 30 for the Tour Championship in Atlanta. The first two playoff events have produced top-flight champions, and there's no reason to think this week will be any different. The drama of the Ryder Cup rosters is now settled, and the American team members figure to be a factor at Crooked Stick.
While he doesn't have a win, Dustin Johnson has perhaps played the best golf over the past two weeks. The South Carolinian finished in the top five at both The Barclays and Deutsche Bank and he now arrives at a course suited to his strength -- namely, crushing the hell out of the ball. Crooked Stick favors the bomb-and-gougers and Johnson is among the best in the world at that. It was one of the main reasons why Davis Love III tabbed him for the clash at Medinah. Johnson was thought to be on the outside for one of the four captain's selections, but his play over the past eight weeks made it impossible for Love to keep him off. He captured this event in 2010, a signature win at that point which really fulfilled his enormous potential and athleticism and propelled his career to the next level. He's currently in the top six in the FedEx Cup standings and it would be surprising to see him not in contention on Sunday.
Tiger Woods is of course expected to be in the mix this week. Tiger played well throughout the weekend in Boston, and finished with a fabulous 66 on Monday -- an emphatic comeback from that ugly final round at Bethpage. Woods is currently third in the standings and just passed the $100 million career earnings mark. But he's certainly ready to add a nice $10 million bump to that figure with a playoffs win. Woods has some momentum with the putter lately, which has supplemented his solid ball striking to put him at the top of daily leaderboards throughout the past two weeks. He played with Johnson on Monday at TPC Boston, and the two could be paired again during the final round this week.
Then there's Rory McIlroy, who's capable of going back-to-back and continuing his amazing two-month stay in the States. Rory is in the middle of a stretch that could be one for the ages if he can add the FedEx Cup to the PGA Championship, and then head on to Medinah. He's now No. 1 in the standings to go along with being No. 1 in the world, so there's no reason to count him out even after turning around on a short week. Just like The Barclays, he'll be paired with Woods during the first two days.
After this week, the Tour will take its one-week break before the finals in Atlanta. Without Ryder Cup drama, we could see guys like Johnson and Brandt Snedeker settle in and win it all.
For more new and updates throughout the week at Crooked Stick, stay with this StoryStream. For all your news and analysis on the FedEx Cup and Ryder Cup, visit SB Nation's golf hub.