Wells Fargo Championship Betting Preview

Rickie Fowler

Rickie Fowler (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

Rickie Fowler will try and defend his first PGA Tour win this week, as he and a stacked field head to Quail Hollow for the 2013 Wells Fargo Championship.
 
2013 Wells Fargo Championship Fact Sheet

  • Course: Quail Hollow
  • Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Yardage: 7,492 yards, par 72
  • Defending Champion: Rickie Fowler
  • Five Consensus Favourites: Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Webb Simpson, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson

TV Schedule:

  • Thursday – 3:00 to 7:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Friday – 3:00 to 7:00 PM ET (Golf Channel)
  • Saturday – 1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)
  • Sunday –  1:00 to 2:30 PM ET (Golf Channel) & 3:00 to 6:00 PM ET (CBS)

Key Storyline This Week
 
All of the talk in the past week has been about the condition of Quail Hollow, particularly the greens. Back in 2010, Phil Mickelson wasn’t happy with the upkeep on the greens, saying:

As beautifully designed as this golf course is tee-to-green, the greens are by far the worst-designed greens we play on tour…I would say that 18 would be the worst green that we have on tour – except that it’s not even the worst on this golf course. [No.] 12 is.

Well, Mickelson and the other pros certainly won’t be happy with recent developments, as according to reports, five of the eighteen greens on the course have seen varying degrees of problems. The 8th and 10th had to be completely re-sodded last Tuesday, just nine days before the tournament gets underway because they were completely dead. The 9th, 12th and 13th all have smaller issues, and four of the five holes were using temporary greens for Monday’s pro-am. This kind of work is what you’d expect at your local muni, not a course that’s planning on giving away $6.7 million to players this week.
 
Scott Verplank told Steve DiMeglio of USA Today that while the greens are bad, he’s seen worse:

“I’ve played worse,” veteran Scott Verplank said Tuesday halfway through his practice round. Verplank said the greens when he won the 2007 EDS Byron Nelson Championship were very troubling as well. “It’s a premium golf course, but the greens are a problem. You just have to go with the flow.
 
” … You know what you are going to get. You won’t get a smooth roll like at Augusta, but you have to deal with it. Actually, other than the brand new green at 8, and 9 is struggling, the greens on the front nine aren’t that bad.”

Word got out to the players last week, and some aren’t happy. Ian Poulter, known to be petulant at the best of times, tweeted about it and suggested he might not play if the greens were as bad as the reports.

When Jason Sobel from Golf Channel suggested that Tiger Woods pulling out of the event had something to do with his less than stellar record at the course, Poulter wasn’t so sure:

 
It’s a shame that a field of this quality and a course of good repute is going to be overshadowed by the conditions, but sometimes that happens. Those that can put it out of their minds and just deal with it, and you probably know who those are, will be just fine. Others will probably let it get in the way and conveniently use it as an excuse.
 
UPDATE: Poulter has now withdrawn from the event. Shocking.
 
Quail Hollow
 
Aside from the nonsense with the greens, Quail Hollow is actually one of the more likable courses on the PGA Tour schedule, and it has arguably the toughest finishing stretch of holes on the PGA Tour. The Green Mile, holes 16, 17 and 18, provide an intimidating test, with the closing hole being the number one handicap hole on the course in each of the last five years. In fact, the final three holes have been the hardest three on the course in two of the last five years. What makes them so hard?
 
Par-4 16th (480 yards)
 
The toughest thing about the 16th is the green, which is probably the most difficult to read on the entire course. Players will want to avoid the bunker on the right side of the fairway to give them the best possible look into that green with a mid-iron.
 
Quail-Hollow-16-Flyover
 
Par-3 17th (217 yards)
 
The island green at next week’s event, the Players Championship, gets a lot of attention but the 17th here might be even more difficult. Players have to carry 200 yards of water into a green that slopes both from back-to-front and right-to-left. More than any hole on the course, the 17th will likely be a swing hole.
 
Quail-Hollow-17th-Flyover
 
Par-4 18th (478 yards)
 
One of my favourite holes on the entire PGA Tour is the closing hole at Quail Hollow. The bunker on the right side must be avoided to give players a solid chance at hitting the uphill green in two, but they can’t go too far left because of the creek that runs up the entire left side and up to the green, which is severely sloped, is protected entirely on the right hand side by bunkers. It’s one of the most underrated holes on the entire PGA Tour schedule.
 
Quail-Hollow-18th-Flyover
 
Suggested Plays
 
What we’re looking for this week are guys with good ball striking who putt well, as Quail Hollow presents a lot of challenging greens. That was the case even before the developments of the last few weeks, which makes it even more likely that it’ll be one of the better putters that will get the job done this week. Of course, the usual leans to quality current and course form apply.
 
Webb Simpson (Best Odds 18-1 at Spreadex)
Simpson is from the area and has played Quail Hollow more than any other course on the schedule, and everything else just seems to be lining up for him this week. He lost to Graeme McDowell in a playoff in his last start two weeks ago at Harbour Town, bouncing back nicely after a pair of missed cuts. His stats were solid that week too, finishing seventh in driving accuracy, third in scrambling and first in GIR. He led here going into the final round last year before posting a 1-over par 73 to finish in solo fourth, and he has prior success in the area, picking up his first PGA Tour win at the Wyndham in 2011.
2pts outright
 
Sergio Garcia (Best Odds 28-1 at Stan James)
Garcia continues to be one of the hottest players in the world, finishing tied for 12th in his last start at the Open de Espana two weeks ago. That gave him 15 consecutive top-25 finishes worldwide, and at this point, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t keep that up. He ranks second on the PGA Tour in adjusted scoring behind only Tiger Woods, and his track record here is decent enough to give him a go, with his best finish coming in 2005 when he lost in a playoff to Vijay Singh.
1pt each-way
 
Bill Haas (Best Odds 31-1 at You Win)
Despite not picking up a win so far in 2013, Haas is tied for the PGA Tour lead in top-10 finishes with five, and he usually plays well here despite last year’s missed cut. His putter has let him down a little bit this year, but his other stats are solid, as he sits 8th in GIR’s and 13th in scrambling. Usually too consistent to take himself out of a tournament with a bad round.
1pt each-way
 
Padraig Harrington (Best Odds 81-1 at BETDAQ)
Not sure why Harrington is valued this low. Outside of his missed cut at the Masters, which can happen to anyone, Harrington had gone about two months without a poor tournament, including back-to-back top-10’s in Malaysia and Texas. His track record here is impressive too with consecutive top-10’s in 2010 and 2011, with zero over-par rounds.
1pt each-way
 
Matteo Manassero (Best Odds 135-1 at Paddy Power)
Manassero is my dartboard pick this week even though he’s never played Quail Hollow. Much like Harrington, he hasn’t had a poor event worldwide in 2012 outside of his MC at the Masters, and even though he doesn’t drive the ball like others on the PGA Tour, he hits more greens and makes more putts than the average player. You should never be able to get a player of his quality at this kind of a number, so jump on it.
1pt each-way

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2 Comments on “Wells Fargo Championship Betting Preview

  1. This was a great read. Didn’t hear about the greens being so terrible. Will be interesting how it effects the players’ games. Great, clean site with excellent info on it. Will continue following you. Checkout http://www.mulligang.com if you have time. Cheers!

  2. Pingback: Derek Ernst wins at Quail Hollow | AdamSarson.com

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