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Wells Fargo Championship: Preview & DFS Picks

After hosting the 2017 PGA Championship, Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina will return to hosting the Wells Fargo Championship after if its brief relocation last year to Wilmington at Eagle Point Golf Club. The tournament was founded in 2003 and this year will feature some of the PGA’s most popular and rising stars, including Hall of Famers Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods, as well as Justin Thomas (#2 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Rickie Fowler (#6),  Rory McIlroy (#7), Hideki Matsuyama (#8), Brooks Koepka (#9) and Masters champion Patrick Reed (#10). Tommy Fleetwood, Jason Day and Paul Casey will also make starts in an elite field just 1 week before the Players Championship- the PGA Tour’s unofficial 5th major. The course has gotten some major renovations, namely from Arnold Palmer in 1986, and more recently by architect Tom Fazio in 1997 and 2003. There have also been some adjustments made by staff in the past few years- first for the PGA Championship in 2017 and soon to be for the highly anticipated 2021 President’s Cup. For a yearly PGA Tour stop, Quail Hollow is a tough course with narrow fairways, thick rough, and difficult putting greens (which have been heavily criticized in recent years- a la Sergio chipping a 4 foot putt with a wedge). Of course, the signature 3-hole finish known simply as the “Green Mile” might be the most daunting non-major string of holes on tour. The par-4 16th is a 506-yard dogleg to the right with water left. Then comes the par-3 17th- an island green that fancies a 220 yard tee shot. The final hole is a 494 par-4 featuring water hazards on the left hand side and is a steady uphill climb to the green. Brian Harmon defeated Dustin Johnson and Patrick Reed by just one stroke to be crowned last year’s champion.

Las Vegas Odds

Rory McIlroy 7/1
Justin Thomas 10/1
Rickie Fowler 10/1
Jason Day 20/1
Patrick Reed 20/1
Hideki Matsuyama 20/1
Paul Casey 25/1
Tiger Woods 25/1
Phil Mickelson 25/1
Tommy Fleetwood 25/1
Louis Oosthuizen 30/1
Webb Simpson 30/1
Tony Finau 30/1
Alex Noren 40/1
Ryan Moore 40/1
Kevin Kisner 40/1
Bryson DeChambeau 40/1
Chesson Hadley 40/1
Brian Harman 50/1
Brooks Koepka 50/1
Adam Scott 60/1
Daniel Berger 60/1
Tyrrell Hatton 60/1
Emiliano Grillo 60/1
Luke List 60/1
Russell Henley 60/1
Francesco Molinari 60/1
Kevin Streelman 60/1
Byeong Hun An 60/1

 

Power Rankings

5. Kevin Kisner

In my darkhorse slot this week, I’m going with Kis and I’m still betting on him pulling out a W soon this season. The South Carolina native put up a great showing at last week’s Zurich Classic alongside teammate Scott Brown- holding the 54 lead before closing with a poor back 9 on Sunday. Kisner was one of just 12 players to shoot under par at the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, tying for 7th (-4) alongside Graham DeLaet. Excluding the 2017 Wells Fargo (which was played at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington), Kis has had a mixed relationship with the tournament. He missed the cut in 2016, but finished T38 (also -4) in 2015 and T6 (-9) in 2014. Despite a Friday 75, he still played well at Augusta National in early April finishing T28, and finished T7 (-9) at RBC Heritage in his home state two weeks ago. It’s a tough field, but Kisner’s accuracy off the tee might allow him to make a run against an elite field this week.

4. Jason Day

This might be Day’s first appearance in power rankings, and that’s because he’s having a solid year playing on a limited schedule. He’s 6 for 6 on made cuts this year, with his worst finish being in Orlando, FL at the Arnold Palmer Invitational at T22. Day last played at the Zurich Classic with teammate Ryan Ruffels this past week, finishing with a 2-over 74 on Sunday to tie for 34th. But don’t let that say how he’s been playing all year- he finished T20 at the Masters after a rough 75 on Thursday, and tied for 2nd at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am and won the Farmers Insurance Open earlier in 2018. Day tied for 9th at the 2017 PGA at Quail Hollow, finishing at -1 alongside the likes of Christ Stroud and Matt Kuchar. Let’s see if back-to-back starts will be a factor as Day competes alongside some of golf’s best this week in NC.

3. Rickie Fowler

Fowler made a great Sunday run at Quail Hollow last year, shooting 4-under in route to a T5 finish at -5 for the tournament. He has great history with this course as well- in 2012 at the Wells Fargo Championship he won his first PGA Tour event, defeating Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points in a playoff to win at 14 under par. After a MDF in 2013, Fowler tied for 38th in 2014 and finished tied for 4th in 2016 (2 strokes away from winner James Hahn). Fowler is getting hot after a solo 2nd at the Masters and he hasn’t missed a cut since late February. With 4 top-10s in just 10 starts this season, expect big things at Quail Hollow and next week as he returns to TPC Sawgrass, where he won in stunning fashion in 2015.

2. Justin Thomas

After owning the Green Mile in route to his first major win at Quail Hollow last year, Thomas will return looking to pick up right where he left off. He’s only played two other times at the Wells Fargo in Charlotte- in 2016 he missed the cut and in 2015 he finished T7 (but 10 strokes off of Rory in his dominating -21 performance). Still, with 4 top-10s, a scoring average of 69.2, and 10/10 on cuts made this season, the world #2 is still having a great year and is a threat any tournament. Excluding his Zurich Classic performance with Bud Cauley last week, he hasn’t finished worse than T22 since October. He’s well rested and should be good to go this week at QH once again.

1. Rory McIlroy

Rory is the overwhelming favorite this week at Quail Hollow, and it’s for good reason. Since 2010 no one has dominated Quail Hollow better than Rory has. He tied for 4th in 2016, won by 7 strokes (at -21) in 2015, T8 and T10 in 2014 and 2013 respectively, lost in a playoff to Rickie Fowler in 2012, and won in 2010 by 4 strokes. The world #7 is red hot coming into NC as well- after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitation in March, he followed up with a great T5 finish at The Masters, finishing at -9 for the tournament. He certainly struggled on the PGA Tour for much of 2018, but since the Valspar Championship in early March he has been firing on all cylinders, with long drives and better putting. According to the PGA Tour Stats and Analytics Department, he’s 5th in driving distance, 9th in scoring average and 36th in putting. What’s holding him back is his abysmal 183rd ranking in Green in Regulation. If he can better manage his irons and wedge play, especially on slower greens than the PGA Championship, then Rory is a threat to win his 3rd Wells Fargo Championship.

DFS Picks

Jason Day -> $10,200

Tommy Fleetwood -> $9,000

Kevin Kisner -> $8,300

Emiliano Grillo -> $7,700

Adam Hadwin -> $7,400

Francesco Molinari -> $7,400

Remaining Salary -> $0

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