LONG ISLAND, New York – When it comes to betting the PGA Tour, picking “horses for courses” is a key component every week. But some layouts offer more pronounced rewards to players who have a strong record over a particular track, and that most certainly is the case for the Wells Fargo Championship from May 4-7 over the testing 7,538-yard, par-71 layout at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C.
Quite simply, no one has a better record at Quail Hollow than Irishman Rory McIlroy, who is my favorite to win this week. It doesn’t matter that he is coming off two missed cuts in his past two stroke play events, The Players Championship and the Masters. He has finished in the top 20 nine times in 10 appearances at Quail Hollow, including three victories in 2010, 2015 and 2021. In addition, he tied for first in 2012 before losing a playoff. McIlroy also is one of the best and longest drivers on the Tour, and that is a pronounced advantage over such a difficult track as Quail Hollow.
Several other players jump off the starting sheet to me as leading contenders this week. Max Homa is a two-time Wells Fargo champ, but it must be noted that only his 2019 win was at Quail Hollow because last year’s victory was over a different course because Quail Hollow hosted the 2022 President’s Cup. It also must be noted that Homa posted a 4-0-0 record in the President’s Cup even though he missed the cut at Quail Hollow the previous year in the 2021 Wells Fargo event.
I am going to deviate from my “local knowledge” template for my third pick, who is Jordan Spieth, but only slightly. Spieth has made just one appearance in the Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow, but he had a stellar 5-0-0 record in the 2022 President’s Cup there. Spieth also is in great form with five top-6 finishes since mid-February, including a playoff loss at the RBC Heritage event at Harbour Town in Hilton Head, S.C.
My fourth and fifth choices are Rickie Fowler and Justin Thomas, both of whom have significant accomplishments at Quail Hollow. Fowler won the 2012 Wells Fargo there, and this year on PGA Tour, he has regained form with nine top-20 finishes, including seven of his past eight events. As for Thomas, he won the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow in a years when the Wells Fargo event moved to another course, and his recent play is showing signs of improvement.
My next five picks that could be included in Draft Kings lineups in no particular order include Patrick Cantlay, Matt Fitzpatrick, Viktor Hovland, Keith Mitchell and Xander Schauffele. All are in excellent current form. Cantlay had a 3-1-0 record in the 2022 President’s Cup, Fitzpatrick recently defeated Spieth n the RBC Heritage playoff, Hovland was T-3 at the 2021 Wells Fargo over Quail Hollow, Schauffele was 3-1-0 in the 2022 President’s Cup and has four straight top-10 finishes, and Mitchell could be a bargain even though has had made the cut in all four of his Wells Fargo appearances at Quail Hollow, including a T-8 in 2019 and a T-3 in 2021. Jason Day won here in 2018, has been playing well and overdue for a win in the midst of a five-year drought.
Four prominent players are making their Wells Fargo debuts, including Collin Morikawa, Cameron Young, Tom Kim and Sahith Theegala. Morikawa had a modest 2-1-0 record in the 2022 President’s Cup, and Theegala has been very impressive on Tour of late with seven T-10 finishes in 17 events and 16 made cuts.
My six-man Draft Kings team includes McIlroy, Fowler, Theegala and Mitchell along with lower priced Ben Martin and Akshay Bhatia, who have seven combined T-10 finishes. Good luck to all.
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