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Wells Fargo Championship Preview and Picks

   by Matt Fargo - 05/03/2011

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. Last year, Rory McIlroy ran away from the field with a final round 62 to take home the title and the defending champion is back on American soil for the first time since his debacle at the Masters last month.

Quail Hollow is no easy track as the 7,422-yard layout is tight so accuracy is of the utmost importance here. Two years ago, the course ranked 19th in difficulty (out of 51) and last year it was the second-most difficult of all par-72s in non-majors and it is the closing three holes where the tournament can be won or lost. In 2009, the 'Green Mile' was the second-toughest closing stretch on tour with a scoring average of +0.374 over par and last year it was the toughest at +1.008 over par.

The last event before THE PLAYERS features five of the top ten in the OWGR as well as 12 of the top 25 players in the world, highlighted by Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and Nick Watney. The field also includes 12 of the 17 different winners on the Tour so far this year. 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'.

As mentioned, Rory McIlroy (+1200) was a runaway winner at Quail Hollow a year ago and he seems to be ready to defend his title. He contended and ultimately finished third behind Matteo Manassero in the Malaysian Open which was the week after the Masters. He has moved to a career high sixth in the latest OWGR, ahead of Tiger Woods and the positives he took from Augusta will help him moving forward.

Bubba Watson (+2500) won in New Orleans last week and it can be tough for a player to compete, let alone win, for two straight weeks. He does have the temperament however to keep riding the momentum and confidence he gained at TPC Louisiana. He finished T22 at Quail Hollow last year after finishing T2 two years ago. He leads the tour in greens hit so his accuracy is a big asset here.

Phil Mickelson (+1000) is back in action for the first time since the Masters and the time off could help him here. He finished T27 at Augusta, the week after winning the Shell Houston Open, and this is one of his favorite stops. He would have won here last year if not for McIlroy as he finished solo second. He has never missed a cut at Quail Hollow and of his seven starts, six have resulted in 12th or better.

Hunter Mahan (+2500) is making his first start since the Masters as well. He did not play well at Augusta as he missed his first cut of the year after going into the tournament as a sleeper pick to win the green jacket. He has not won yet this season but he has five top ten finishes and he has finished in the top 25 in each of the last three years at Quail Hollow including a T17 last year.

Rickie Fowler (+3000) is an interesting choice this week because of his age. The last three winners here have been 20, 26 and 22 years old so he fits the mold of another young gun looking to tame Quail Hollow. He played here last year and finished sixth, eight shots behind McIlroy, and four shots behind Mickelson. He was in the running last week before a Sunday 73 knocked him down to T26.

Angel Cabrera (+6000) is our choice in the longshot category and it presents incredible value. He has a couple top tens to his credit this year including a solo seventh at the Masters. He missed the cut at the Valero Texas Open in his last start but he has a good shot at a rebound here. After missing the cut at Quail Hollow in 2009, he finished third here last year as a Saturday 73 was his only bad round.

Well Fargo Championship Win Bets (1 Unit) From Sportsbook.com

Bubba Watson (+2500)

Phil Mickelson (+1000)

Hunter Mahan (+2500)

Rickie Fowler (+3000)

Angel Cabrera (+6000)

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