After something different last week the PGA Tour returns to normal this week when it heads back to Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo Championship. This event is relatively new on the Tour having been established since the turn of the millennium but it is becoming one of the better tournaments.
That is proven by the quality of the field teeing it up this week. Although it is The Players Championship next week, a number of high profile players have been attracted to tee it up here. They include the defending champion Brian Harman and a certain Tiger Woods.
2017 – Brian Harman
2016 – James Hahn
2015 – Rory McIlroy
2014 – JB Holmes
2013 – Derek Ernst
2012 – Rickie Fowler
2011 – Lucas Glover
2010 – Rory McIlroy
2009 – Sean O’Hair
2008 – Anthony Kim
The tournament returns to Quail Hollow this week after it was forced to move for last year’s edition due to this track hosting the USPGA Championship in August. Since the last time this tournament was played here the par has dropped from 72 to 71. The course now measures 7,554 yards so it is a bit of a monster.
Length is very much an asset this week but like with all major courses you have to be precise with iron play and putting tends to sort the big boys out from those who are just making up the numbers. Driving distance and putting average found many a high finisher at the USPGA last year.
The winner of that USPGA Championship, Justin Thomas, tees it up here as does The Masters champion Patrick Reed. Rory McIlroy has won twice around here and he is in the field again this week as is another high profile former winner in Rickie Fowler. Phil Mickelson has a great record here too and he tees it up this week as does the man so long attributed as being his rival in the great Tiger Woods.
Some of the finest players from Europe tee it up here as well as McIlroy. Paul Casey, Tommy Fleetwood and Alex Noren are also in the field while international stars Emiliano Grillo, Hideki Matsuyama, Jason Day and Louis Oosthuizen are all here too.
As you would expect as a two times winner of this tournament Rory McIlroy is an 8/1 favourite. In truth the fact he is not shorter is due to concerns over the consistency of his game and indeed a tribute to the strength of the field. McIlroy is too short for me in this company but I wouldn’t be quick to take him on at the same time.
The winner here last year is 10/1. That is of course Justin Thomas. He arrives here ready to be the number one player in the world and with his length you certainly can’t rule him out. He is probably the best player in the game right now and other than the price being perhaps a little on the skinny side there isn’t a lot more to like about him.
Rickie Fowler is another man who has won around here in the past and he is 12/1 to win again. It has been a while since he has looked completely at ease with his game though and whilst I respect him here he isn’t for me at this price in a field of this quality.
Jason Day has top 10s on his last two appearances here if you include the USPGA Championship. I think he’s playing a lot better now than he was in August too so he certainly shouldn’t be ruled out at 20/1 and neither should Hideki Matsuyama at 25/1. Patrick Reed is a 22/1 shot as he looks to go one better than he managed here at the USPGA. It is 28/1 bar.
I’m going to go with two main bets this week with the first of those being on a man who has already won for me in Jason Day. Day won at a tough course at Torrey Pines earlier in the season and having had two decent efforts around here I expect him to go well again. He smacks it miles off the tee and is putting very well this season. There isn’t any weakness in his game and at 20/1 he is my first main bet.
Phil Mickelson is enjoying an excellent year which hit a high spot in Mexico when he won the WGC Mexico tournament. With nine top 10 finishes around this course this track is perfectly suited to him. He is still able to get it out there off the tee and as one of the best scramblers and putters on the PGA Tour so if he can dial his irons in then another top 10 and better is well within his compass.
There are two outsiders that I am interested in who follow the same path as the two main bets in that they belt it a million miles off the tee, have decent short games and have the short stick playing the tune they want.
The first of those is Byeong-Hun An who arrives to this tournament with top ten finishes in Dubai, at the Honda and at The Heritage. He is hitting a huge number of greens in regulation and was in the top 10 of this tournament last year, albeit on a different track. An is regularly high on the scrambling stats so if his iron play is solid he should outride his 80/1 odds.
The other man I am interested in is Grayson Murray. There is a bit of an all or nothing element to his form this year. He either has a top 20 or he missed the cut but in his last three outings where he has made the cut he has been bang in the mix at halfway and indeed after three rounds only to drop off in the final round. He was sat in a good position after 54 holes of the USPGA last season and if he can just put in a solid finale he could well deliver the goods at a three figure price.
WON – Back J.Day to win Wells Fargo Championship (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 21.00 with Boylesports (1/5 1-7)
Back him here:
PLACED – Back P.Mickelson to win Wells Fargo Championship (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 29.00 with 888sport (1/5 1-6)
Back B-H.An to win Wells Fargo Championship (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)
Back G.Murray to win Wells Fargo Championship (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Coral (1/5 1-7)