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Wells Fargo Golf Preview
by Matt Fargo - 05/01/2012
The Wells Fargo Championship, formerly known as the Quail Hollow Championship, is the tour’s next stop this week and the drama continues from Charlotte as this is the final tuneup prior to THE PLAYERS Championship next week. Jason Dufner is coming off his first PGA Tour win at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last week in a playoff over Ernie Els but it will be tough this week for a first timer to win as the field is a packed one with many high profile players.
Quail Hollow is no easy track as the 7,422-yard layout is tight so accuracy is of the utmost importance here. Three years ago, the course ranked 19th in difficulty (out of 51) and two years ago, it was the second-most difficult of all par-72s in non-majors. Last year was an aberration as it finished under par for the first time ever but don't expect that trend to continue. The final three holes is dubbed the 'Green Mile' and this is where the tournament can be won or lost.
The last event before THE PLAYERS features five of the top ten in the OWGR as well as 10 of the top 25 players in the world, highlighted by Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood and Hunter Mahan. The field also includes 11 of the 18 different winners on the Tour so far this year and the last seven winners of this event. This is slowly becoming one of the bigger stops on tour that is not a Major despite taking place the week before the 'fifth Major'.
The favorite this week is Rory McIlroy (+700) and for pretty good reason. He owns the course record at Quail Hollow following a 62 on Sunday two years ago when he ran away with the championship. He missed the cut last year which coincidentally was his first PGA Tour event after his blowup at the Masters and this is his first event this year after a bad weekend at Augusta. There is no value in betting him now.
Phil Mickelson (+1000) is back in action for the first time since the Masters and the time off could help him here. He finished T3 at Augusta no thanks to his triple at the par three fourth and even though he has never won here, he always plays well. He would have won here two years if not for McIlroy as he finished solo second. He has never missed a cut at Quail Hollow and of his eight starts, seven have resulted in 12th or better.
With Rory, Phil and Tiger in the mix, we get value down the board and that includes Webb Simpson (+3,000). He has been somewhat of a disappointment this year after finishing with two victories and 12 top tens last season. Still, he has three top tens and has yet to miss a cut so isn't all that bad. After missing the cut in his first two starts here, he finished T21 last year and it certainly doesn't hurt being a member at Quail Hollow.
We had Keegan Bradley (+3,000) last week and he missed the cut in New Orleans but he should bounce back this week. Even though he has not won this season, he has been outside the top 25 only once, which was at the Masters, and he has three top tens including two top fives. He did miss the cut here last year, his only ever start at Quail Hollow but if his putter gets going, he will be one to watch out for.
We are getting some good odds with Rickie Fowler (+4,000) who is still gunning for his maiden PGA Tour win. He moved back to a cross-handed putting grip last week and it paid off with a T10 in New Orleans, his best finish since a T7 at the Honda Classic. He has played very well at Quail Hollow as he finished T16 last year following a very strong solo sixth the year before that. Last week's confidence carries forward.
Jonathan Byrd (+5,000) gets the longshot odds this week and it presents excellent value. He is playing in his first event since a T27 at the Masters as he headed home for the birth of his third child. This is the perfect spot to jump back into the game as it was Byrd who lost to Lucas Glover here last year in a playoff. Byrd has won five times on tour and in addition to his solo second here last year, he finished T5 in 2009.
Recommended Tournament Win Five Pack at the Wells Fargo Championship (all for One Unit)
Phil Mickelson (+1000)
Webb Simpson (+3,000)
Keegan Bradley (+3,000)
Rickie Fowler (+4,000)
Jonathan Byrd (+5,000)
Record to date after 16 events: +17.1 Units
Sony Open -5 Units
Humana Challenge -6 Units
Farmers Insurance Open +22 Units
Waste Management Phoenix Open -5 Units
AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am -5 Units
Northern Trust Open -5 Units
Accenture Match Play +7.1 Units
Honda Classic -5 Units
WGC-Cadillac Championship -5 Units
Transitions Championship +6 Units
Arnold Palmer Invitational -4 Units
Shell Houston Open +16 Units
The Masters -6 Units
RBC Heritage -5 Units
Valero Texas Open -4 Units
Zurich Classic of New Orleans +21 Units