PGA Tour

Golfers Expecting Tough Test at BMW Championship

With hot temperatures forecast for the start of the tournament, Tiger Woods, Dustin Johnson and others think Olympia Fields' North Course will present a big challenge

The top 70 golfers in the FedEx Cup points standings will take on Olympia Fields' north course this week as they look to secure one of 30 spots in next week's Tour Championship in Atlanta.

Last weekend at The Northern Trust, Dustin Johnson was like a machine. An eagle and birdie-making machine. The top ranked player in the world shot 30-under par and won the opening event of the FedEx Cup Playoffs by 11 strokes, the largest margin of victory on the PGA Tour since 2006.

"For four rounds, it's the best I've ever hit it for sure," Johnson admitted this week as he prepared at Olympia Fields Country Club.

Now, Johnson gets set to try and do it all over again when the BMW Championship starts Thursday in south suburban Olympia Fields. But the 36 year-old isn't expecting a repeat performance, because the North Course at Olympia Fields C.C. appears ready to make life difficult for golfers.

"It's a great golf course," Johnson said. "It's in really good condition, a little bit tougher than last week I would say. But you know, it's kind of right in front of you, and you've just got to golf it around here. Obviously they hosted a U.S. Open, a PGA Championship. I mean, it's a real golf course. It's tough," he added.

Johnson isn't alone in his thinking. Fifteen-time major champion Tiger Woods expects a stiff test.

"Pars will be at a premium," Woods said. "Putting the ball in the fairway and trying to keep the ball in the correct spots. The greens are quick, hard and firm. Weather's supposed to be hot the next few days, maybe breaking Friday night, but until then, it’s going to be a difficult golf course."

Woods arrives in the Chicagoland area in need of a vintage performance. The 44 year-old is 57th in the FedEx Cup rankings, but needs to vault into the Top 30 by the end of the weekend to advance to next week's Tour Championship. It's likely Woods has to finish fourth place or better to do that.

"I have to play well," said Woods. "I have to earn my way to East Lake. Haven’t done so yet, and we have a big week this week in order to advance. If I don’t, then I go home."

Woods is one of four players in this week's field who's played a professional tournament at Olympia Fields, but he hasn't played it since the 2003 U.S. Open.

Justin Thomas -- last year's BMW Championship winner at Medinah Country Club -- has played it more recently, but in an NCAA event.

"It’s an unbelievable test," Thomas said. "I remember liking the course, I remember it being a very U.S. Open-like course. It’s long, the fairways are narrow. It’s the firmest greens we’ve played in awhile."

The tournament will tee off Thursday, with final round coverage on NBC 5 Chicago this Sunday.

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