Wells Fargo Championship — Takes, Breakdown & Picks

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It’s a Tiger week. Two in a row actually, but one step at a time.

Any time, and I mean, ANY TIME that I can use this picture going forward, best believe I will be:

TigerWoodsSlider

I’ve looked at that caption SO many times today that I’ve come to the conclusion it’s genius. I don’t know what they’re asking me I’m back from, but I feel it in my loins.

Tournament

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Tiger Woods, and a bunch of other good golfers, will be in Charlotte, North Carolina this week, teeing it up in the Wells Fargo Championship.

After a One-year hiatus due to hosting the PGA Championship, Quail Hollow has returned to its usual spot as the tournament host for the Wells Fargo.

Coming in at a whopping 7,554 Yards and a Par-71, it’s not rocket science to figure out what made this the toughest ranked course on Tour last season. Granted, it was set up for a Major, but still. Although The Players Championship, a marquee event on Tour, will be held next week, this week serves as a perfect US Open prep ahead of Shinnecock Hills in June. Pars will be at a premium, and you’re bound to see some high scores.

With the event being played at Eagle Point last year, Brian Harman was able to pull off his biggest win yet. Coming to the Par-5 18th hole looking destined for a playoff with Dustin Johnson, Pat Perez and potentially Jon Rahm, Harman drained a 28-foot birdie putt to win by a stroke.

Field & Pairings

As is usually the case when we have a top-notch course in the rotation, this weeks field is pretty, pretty, pretty good.

9 of the top-15, and 14 of the top-25 golfers in the World Rankings are on site at Quail in search of a win. Just some of those names: Tiger, Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas, Rickie Fowler, Jason Day, Brooks Koepka, Patrick Reed and Phil Mickelson. The list goes on, but check for yourself šŸ˜‰

Some are more familiar with the course than others. Justin Thomas, for example, most likely comes in feeling like a million bucks after earning his first major the last time here (2017 PGA Championship) and technically the latest golfer to win a PGA Tour event here. Rory McIlroy comes in having won twice at Quail Hollow and in good form. He, Tiger, and Rickie Fowler will be making their first start since The Masters. For Tiger, it’s his first time sticking a tee in the ground at Quail since 2012. Meanwhile, Phil Mickelson has 11 top 12’s in his last 14 starts at the Wells Fargo, but no wins. To get THAT close, that many times, and not win, is absurd.

Rooting Interests

Of the over 150 players in the field this week, there are a few holding a special place in my heart/the dark, tattered part of my soul I root from.

Those would be:

The usual — Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau and Ollie Schniederjans

The Canadians – Corey Conners, Adam Hadwin, Nick Taylor and Mackenzie Hughes

The Kid – 19-year-old Joaquin Niemann. This young Chilean was the #1 Ranked Amateur in the world for some time, before turning pro after The Masters. In his first PGA Tour start as a pro, Joaquin finished in 6th at the Valero Texas Open. Here’s hoping he can ride the hot hand and fully emerge on Tour as a new young stud.

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Weather, Course Breakdown/Key Stats

On any other week I would be bitter that the weather report is perfect. And by perfect I mean 26-30 (Celsius) all week, with Sun and light clouds. But, since we’re finally getting our own share of it in the Toronto area, I’ll let it slide.

As for the course — we already know its long, but what else do we need to know?

Its worth taking notice of The Green Mile. Amongst the toughest finishing stretches on Tour starts with a par-4 over 500 yards, then goes to the 223-yard par-three over water in the 17th, and then players finish on yet another long par-4 that comes in just a hair under 500 yards. Might need an extra stroke or two lead to feel comfortable coming through this stretch.

These are my key stats for the week, broken down by the percentage at which I’ll weigh them. (*Note* Stats included are for 2018 only and last 24 rounds only)

Strokes Gained: Total (30%), SG: Tee-to-Green (25%), SG: Around-the-Green (20%), Proximity 200+ (15%), Driving Distance (10%)

It’s also worth taking a look at putting stats on Bermuda Greens, as that’s what they’ll be on this week.

And as usual, I always combine those Stat Rankings with Recent History, Cuts Made, and Tournament History, to compile a spreadsheet and narrow down my choices.

Picks

With that being said, here is that spreadsheet and the 25 players I narrowed the field down to.

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If that’s a little small for the eyes, my top-five are as follows:

  1. Rory McIlroy
  • Last two starts: 5th and 1st, with Recent Strokes Gained of 29.09
  • 2x Wells Fargo winner – Since 2013 at Quail: 4th, 1st, 8th, 10th
  • 9th Overall in Stats Ranking
  • Potential weakness: Putting on Bermuda Greens (49th in the field)

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2. Patrick Reed (Yes, I know)

  • 1st (Masters) & 7th in last two starts
  • 2nd at 2017 PGA Championship
  • 20th in Stats, 14th on Bermuda Greens
  • Potential Weakness: Last three Wells Fargo Starts at Quail: 28th, 58th, 32nd

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3. Phil Mickelson

  • Last 4 Wells Fargo starts at Quail Hollow: 4th, 4th, 11th, 3rd
  • 11 top-12’s in last 14 starts at Wells Fargo
  • 8th in Stats, 9th on Bermuda Greens
  • Potential Weakness: MC in 2017 PGA, Last two starts: Finished Outside top-20

Phil-Mickelson

4. Justin Thomas

  • Won 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow
  • Has made all 10 Cuts this year
  • 2nd in the field in Stats Ranking
  • Potential Weakness: MC in 2016 Wells Fargo (Last played at Quail)

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5. Kevin Streelman

  • Back-to-back Top-10’s (8th and 7th)
  • Last Four Wells Fargo Finishes at Quail Hollow — MC, 9th, 14th, 6th
  • 10th in Stats Ranking
  • Potential Weakness: 43rd Ranked on Bermuda Greens

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Bets

I’ll be putting my picks on the line again this week, placing Outright (To Win) Bets on:

Rory Mcilroy at 8/1

Justin Thomas at 10/1

Patrick Reed at 20/1

Phil Mickelson at 18/1

Kevin Streelman at 80/1

*Will add others from the sheet if in contention going into the weekend

Next week we’ve got The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass. I’ll be all over that thing come Monday, so be sure to come back and check things out.

In the meantime, check out this weeks Podcast:

 

 


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