First-round leader picks and odds

The 2022 FedEx Cup Playoffs pick up on Thursday with the BMW Championship at Wilmington Country Club in Delaware. This is the first time this course has hosted a PGA TOUR event, but judging by the length and early reports, it does seem to favor a specific type of golfer. Namely, players who can hit the ball a mile.

“This golf course is definitely just like last year, extremely distance biased,” Patrick Cantlay said. “You’ve got to hit it as far as you can and hit a lot of fairways. I don’t think there’s too much strategy to this golf course.”

While we’re likely to see one of the game’s true elites take home the title by Sunday afternoon, any player can get hot for a single round of golf and cash a first-round leader ticket. And with this course making its TOUR debut, there is a chance we could see someone come from out of nowhere to post the low score on Thursday.

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2022 BMW Championship first-round leader picks and predictions

Emiliano Grillo (+8000, BetMGM)

If Wilmington Country Club is all about the driver, Emiliano Grillo could have a chance to make some noise at a big price. Grillo ranks 62nd on the TOUR in driving distance, but is 17th in Strokes Gained: Off the tee, meaning he should have the power and accuracy needed to get himself enough scoring opportunities to go low. The Argentine likely doesn’t have the short game needed to contend with a field like this, but he is certainly live as a FRL pick.

Emiliano Grillo.
Emiliano Grillo shoots during the FedEx St. Jude Championship.
Getty Images

Brendan Steele (+8000, BetMGM)

After a strong run of results in June, Brendan Steele has cooled off of late, missing the cut in two of his last three starts with a T30 sandwiched in between. Those MC’s ended a run of seven consecutive made cuts (full-field events only) for Steele, who finished inside the top-26 six times in that span and had top-10 finishes at the Memorial and PGA Championship in May. One of the best drivers on TOUR, Steele ranks 42nd in driving distance, but sixth in SG: Off the tee. If his short game cooperates, Steele is very dangerous at this course.

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Alex Smalley (+8000, FanDuel)

A TOUR rookie, Alex Smalley has basically alternated missed cuts with strong performances over the past five months. In that span, Smalley has finished T2, T6, T10, T13, T16 and T21 and has shot 67 or better in four of his last seven first rounds. Smalley missed the cut at last week’s St. Jude Championship, but he posted a T13 at the Wyndham Championship in his previous start. Like any debutante, Smalley will need to add some consistency to his game to become a regular contender on TOUR, but he’s proven he’s got the game to go low on a moment’s notice and has a few hot starts under his belt already.