Who you should bet on and roster for this week's Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.
After a week of team play down in New Orleans, the PGA Tour heads back to traditional stroke play for this week’s Wells Fargo championship
Jason Day returns as the defending champion to Quail Hollow, where he held off Aaron Wise and Nick Watney a year ago for his 12th career Tour victory. Day comes in riding some solid play that saw him finish T5 at the Masters, though he did miss the cut alongside Adam Scott at last week’s Zurich Classic.
Along with Day, Rory McIlroy will tee it up for the first time since finishing T-21 at Augusta. Mcilroy is kicking off a busy stretch to his schedule that will see him play in five of the next seven weeks. In Quail Hollow, Rory returns to the site of his first PGA Tour victory, the 2011 Quail Hollow Championship which he won with a final-round 62.
The field will also feature another former champion Rickie Fowler, who also earned his maiden tour victory at Quail Hollow, the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship. Phil Mickelson is also in action, and he’s never missed the cut at this event.
The golf course has been adjusted and tweaked over the years, alternating between the Wells Fargo and the PGA Championship, which it hosted in 2017. The 1961 George Cobb design features “The Green Mile” closing stretch and is traditionally one of the toughest courses on tour, ranking as the fifth most difficult in 2018.
Strokes gained off the Tee and driving distance be key this week as nearly all of the par 4’s at Quail Hollow measure over 450 yards. Par 5 scoring will be important as well, as players need to take advantage of the par 5s due to the difficulty of the par 4s.
Nuts and bolts
Course: Quail Hollow Club (7,554 yards, par 71)
Defending champion: Jason Day (-12, 272)
Weather forecast: Temperatures in the low 80’s. Chance of thunderstorms Saturday and Sunday.
Justin Rose (14/1, $12,100)
My personal take on Rose is that he was mortified by his missed cut at the Masters. The current world No. 2 has had time to stew over his performance at Augusta, which should serve him well heading into the Wells Fargo, PGA Championship and U.S. Open.
Despite a MC at the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow, Rose has fared well at the WF version of the golf course, finishing third in 2016 and fifth in 2014. He currently ranks 24th in driving distance and 58th in strokes gained off the tee, and his improved putting makes him dangerous at any major-like setup.
Phil Mickelson (28/1, $11, 200)
Mickelson is at the point in his career where he’s primarily going to play courses and events he enjoys, and make no doubt about it, Lefty loves Quail Hollow. The Big ballpark means Phil can “hit bombs” all week at a course where he’s pretty much done everything but win. He’s 15 for 15 in cuts made at the Wells Fargo and has racked up 10 top-10s over his career. His recent performance at Quail is equally impressive as he has top fives in four of his last six Wells Fargo starts, including a T5 last year.
Coming off a top 20 at the Masters, Phil is rested and plenty long to contend this week, ranking 27th in driving distance and 68th in strokes gained off the tee.
Gary Woodland (66/1, $11,100)
A missed cut at last year’s Wells Fargo was an anomaly for Woodland, who had seen the weekend in all seven of his previous trips to Quail Hollow, including a T22 at the PGA Championship in 2017 and a T4 at the Wells Fargo in 2015.
Statistically Woodland should have already won at least once this season. He has two seconds in 2018-19 and ranks fifth in strokes gained off the Tee, ninth in driving distance and seventh in GIR percentage. He also ranks third in Par 5 scoring, which will be key this week.
If his putter can heat up like it did at the Tournament of Champions, Woodland has every other aspect of his game in order to snag a W.
Aaron Wise (125/1, $8,500)
Last year’s runner-up at this event has eye opening odds at 125/1, which alone makes him worth a look. The 22-year-old is still learning his way around the PGA Tour, but he has consistently popped up on leaderboards since winning last year’s Byron Nelson. Wise ranks 24th in driving distance and 28th in strokes gained off the tee. At times, he can be a birdie machine (eighth in birdie everage), many of those coming on par 3s, which will help this week on the long par 3s at Quail Hollow.
Jason Day (8/1, $11,800)
A year ago, Day dominated the Wells Fargo. He stumbled a bit on Sunday, blowing a three-stroke lead on the back nine, but ultimately held on for a two-stroke victory, calling it one of the best wins of his career. Along with lights out putting, a key to Day’s win last year was his ability to bomb it off the tee. He averaged 325 yards per drive at the 2018 Wells Fargo. This season his average driving distance is down to 298 yards, which is the lowest it’s been in six years. As Day’s back issue lingers, his length continues to dip. Not a good sign.