Some golfers are trying to play well enough at this week’s BMW Championship to advance to the Tour Championship. Others, however, others are already thinking about the season-ending tournament.

Harold Varner’s tie for third last week at the Northern Trust moved him from No. 102 to 29th in the FedEx Cup standings. (Image: AP)

It’s almost two tournaments in one. You have a group of golfers that are outside the top 30 that will be trying to qualify for next week. Then there are others that are well inside the cutline, wondering how the new system of starting strokes.

The way it works is golfers are giving strokes depending on where they are in the standings. The top golfer will get 10 strokes on the field, second place at 8-under, third 7-under, fourth 6-under and fifth at 5-under. Players ranked 6-10 will start at 4-under, 11-15 at 3-under, 16-20 at 2-under, 21-25 at 1-under and 26-30 at even par.

Jordan Spieth, who won the Cup in 2015, said it won’t be as big an advantage as people think.

“It’s going to be pretty exciting at the end just because of the style of play that you go out with,” Spieth said. “It’s going to be an unusual circumstance mentally, standing on the tee when you’re three or four down. It’s actually almost like a freedom feeling. And if you’re holding a two-shot lead over four guys, it’s like, don’t make the mistake, just play to the center of the green. It will make for better finishes.”

McIlroy Believes Advantage Good

Rory McIlroy is one of the golfers that should benefit from the format. The Irishman is third in the FexEx Cup Standings, behind leader Brooks Koepka and last week’s winner, Patrick Reed. He knows he’ll be at Eastlake Golf Club, he just doesn’t know where he’ll stand.

He, along with Koepka, are the favorites to win the BMW Championship at 8/1. McIlroy is also the second pick at 6/1 to capture the FedEx Cup Championship. Koepka is the overwhelming pick at 2/1.

Still McIlroy is aiming at doing well this week and getting some strokes for the Tour Championship.

“I want to be 10 under par standing on that first tee in Atlanta next week,” McIlroy said. “It’s hard enough to win golf tournaments when you’re all starting on a level playing field. But whenever it’s staggered like that, it’s a tough proposition if someone like Brooks Koepka or Patrick Reed or whatever is starting two or three shots ahead of you. Obviously 72 holes is a lot of golf to play, and things can happen. But I think it all evens out over the course of the week, and to spot guys of that caliber a few shots at the start of the week is pretty tough.”

BMW Holds Key

For some golfers, it is get through this week at Medinah Country Club, then worry about where you are in the standings at the Tour Championship. Harold Varner III began the Northern Trust last week at No. 102. His tie for third at the event vaulted him to No. 29 in the standings.

Another solid week, he is 125/1 to win, and he’ll be in his first Tour Championship. He told Golfweek he is ready to make some noise this week.

“I earned my way to the BMW Championship and then, when I saw I was in the top 30, you bet I felt like a winner. I was like, man, let’s go,” Varner said. “I know what’s out there. I’m going to compete to be the best I can be. I’m playing well. And when you’re playing well, it’s easy to go. Everything ahead of me is an opportunity. So, it’s time to get busy.”

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