It’s slightly hard to believe that the PGA Tour’s regular stop at the Quail Hollow Club for this week’s Wells Fargo Championship only stretches back to 2003, so easily has the tournament stamped its class on schedule. Not just the event, either – it’s also very much down to the quality of the venue. The Quail Hollow Club’s layout has always been admired, and hosted the circuit for the best part of 30 years from 1969, but the creation of this event has taken that appreciation up more than a few notches, prompting a one year hiatus when it welcomed the 2017 PGA Championship. The list of winners, however, is an odd one. Nine of the 16 winners of this event are major winners, so the test suits the elite, but beware – a handful of those champions were also nothing more or less than rank outsiders.
The Quail Hollow Club
Originally established in 1959, from a design by George Cobb, Quail Hollow has been witness to plenty of upgrades and renovations. In the 1980s Arnold Palmer had a hand in changes, while Tom Fazio was responsible for further alterations in 1997, 2003 and then again in the three years ahead of the 2017 PGA Championship.
There was a time when the course was appreciated for the tee-to-green test, but views about the greens ranged from the polite to the downright furious. Fazio’s pre-PGA Championship changes addressed this issue and the greens are now Bermuda grass overseeded with Poa Annua. He also thinned the surrounding trees, not only to improve the examination, but also in order to allow the grass to see more sun and aid growth. It’s now agreed that the putting surfaces are much improved.
The course plays upto 7,600-yards and a par of 71, a change from the early years when it was a par-72. That length is often quoted as being important and maybe crucial: eight of the par-4s are longer than 450-yards in length. Angel Cabrera played well here and claimed it was due to the fact he had driver in hand more often than was typical. Peter Malnati, a much shorter hitter, explained: “This is a long course, I have to show off my hybird prowess.” Long-hitting is important, but so, too, as we’ll learn, is putting.
The forecast for Charlotte, North Carolina is mostly excellent with the first three days sunny, but a little cloudiness is expected on Sunday. The good news is that rain is not at all likely and there could also be some interesting wind angles. It’s not so much that it will ever be particularly breezy (Thursday’s 14mph the top), but it is expected to change direction for all four rounds.
Past Champions at the Quail Hollow Club
The early years of this tournament established a pattern that has never, despite all the changes, ever really been bucked. David Toms, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods were among the first five winners, major winners all of them, but the fifth man? Joey Sindelar, who had made just one top 20 in the previous 18 months.
With three exceptions, the tournament has always been won by Americans, with Anthony Kim, Sean O’Hair, Lucas Glover, Rickie Fowler and J.B. Holmes winning over the next decade. Brian Harman won in 2017, when the event moved briefly to Eagle Point, whilst there were three remarkable wins: Derek Ernst in 2013, James Hahn in 2016 and Max Homa in 2019 were golfers with no form and no hint that the couse would suit them.
Other than Singh, the sole successful foreign raiders have been Aussie Jason Day, in 2018, and, on two occassions, Rory McIlroy. The Northern Irishman claimed his first PGA Tour success in 2010, clinching the title with a final round of 62, and then a third round 61 helped him to a second success in 2015. Note that the last two winners topped the Putting Averages and Thomas was second in that category when winning the PGA title.
Here’s an entirely FREE lineup for you this week with MORE for subscribers (DraftKings Prices)
|Player #1||W. Simpson||$10,200|
|Player #2||V. Hovland||$9,800|
|Player #3||S. Cink||$7,900|
|Player #4||L. Glover||$7,800|
|Player #5||I. Poulter||$7,300|
|Player #6||P. Mickelson||$6,900|
Remaining cash $100
Webb Simpson ($10,200) I suspect that his lack of length from the tee box has been, and will continue to be, the difference between him being a frequent contender and a winner on his home course (he’s a member), but the local knowledge, consistently neat skills and putting can aid yet another good week. He’s missed just two cuts in his last 20 starts and just one cut in his last nine course appearances – and all of those weekends reap top 40s.
Viktor Hovland ($9,800) The Norwegian is a course debutant, but even though it is a tough test he’s more than up to the task as one of the rising stars of the world game. He ranked 11th for Putting Average in this field over the last 12 months and while his seasonal Driving Distance ranking is not high, he picks and chooses where to pound it. When he wants to, he can. He’s also a four round machine, playing the weekend in 26 of his last 27 starts. Admittedly some of those had no cut, but he earned that privilege by being very good when there was a Friday cull.
Stewart Cink ($7,900) Last time he was available to pick I suggested doing so and it proved something of a coup as he walked away with the title at the Heritage. He’s a man reborn this year, loving his golf, adoring walking the fairways with his son on the bag, unafraid to say that he’s genuinely playing well, not just having the odd good week, and now he returns to a course where he is 9-for-12 at playing all four circuits. A bigger salary than he was for the win, but still value.
Lucas Glover ($7,800) The big man enjoys this test. He’s teed it up 16 times at Quail Hollow, 12 times he’s made the cut, 11 times he’s made the top 40 and in 2011 he lifted the trophy. He’s also played the weekend in nine of his last 10 appearances. A solid option.
Ian Poulter ($7,300) The English struggled in his first two visits to the course, missing the weekend both times, but he’s 4-for-4 since with three top 30s and a best of T–5 in 2009. Form-wise he’s played all week in 15 of his last 20 starts, but the real thread behind this pick starts with Cink. Poulter’s son Luke asked if he, too, could carry his dad’s bag on Tour and this is the week. Poulter loves nothing more than family or a bit of peacock-style flashing of feathers – he’ll play proud and determined this week.
Phil Mickelson ($6,900) With the exception of Hovland this week’s first line-up might well be christened ‘The Veterans’ but there are good reasons to back them and so it is with Phil. True, he missed the cut last week at Innisbrook, but he was T–25 before that at Augusta and the latter test both more suited him and more closely replicates this week in forcing driver into his hands. The clincher is his course record. Less than $7,000 for a man who is 14-for-16 at making the cut with a dozen top 12 finishes is worth taking.
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- A couple of good alternative picks to help you build out GPP options based around not one but two CORE lineups.
Here’s Another Alternate Lineup For The Wells Fargo Championship
|Player #1||J. Thomas||$11,300|
|Player #2||M. Homa||$9,000|
|Player #3||S. Im||$8,800|
|Player #4||T. Gooch||$7,600|
|Player #5||K. Mitchell||$7,000|
|Player #6||W. Gordon||$6,200|
$100 leftover salary
Justin Thomas ($11,300) Top price for the week? Really? Yes. He’s a winner at Quail Hollow, in the 2017 PGA Championship, but has also finished T–7 on debut in 2015 and T–21 in 2018 while a missed cut in 2016 came when he was in something of a funk with his game. He has the length from the tee, the high quality approach play and a putter that suits the test. He’s played all four rounds in 18 of his last 20 starts and his ball-striking at Innisbrook was the best he’s ever produced there – if he repeats when also opening his shoulders from the tee he can contend again.
Max Homa ($9,000) Winners at Quail Hollow don’t only tend to have proved themselves in major championships, even those that haven’t won a big one have often won at a major host in a regular PGA Tour event – and Homa, the “defending” champion joined those ranks with his win earlier this season at Riviera in the Genesis Invitational. It was one of 10 straight cuts he made, a run that ended in March and April, but a strong T–6 last week showed he’s ready to rumble again.
Sungjae Im ($8,800) When he needs to, Im has no difficulty hitting tee shots well over 300-yards so that’s no problem, and he is also capable of putting well, recently proving it when ranking top 10 for Putting Average at Harbour Town. He’s also just relentless, not only playing as much as he ossibly can, but also landing 21 weekends of golf in his last 23 starts.
Talor Gooch ($7,600) Quail Hollow is a tricky course to hit a lot of greens in regulation and so having good Strokes Gained Approach stats on this, and similar courses, is a handy trait. Gooch ranks top 20 for doing so. On debut in 2019 he finished T–13. A solid enough 12-for-18 at making the cut and he tends to play better at courses when he can take driver from the tee a lot.
Keith Mitchell ($7,000) A big-hitter who seems to have gained confidence in the last few weeks, not only with results, but also with his flat stick (not unrelated you suspect): He’s made four of his last five cuts and also finished T–3 in the Zurich Classic pairs event with Brandt Snedeker. Two courses visits have earned him T–34 and T–8.
Will Gordon ($6,200) Something of a risk with a course debutant, but truffling for a low salary bargain sometimes has to be done. Gordon can really thrash a ball and ranks second for Driving Distance in the field over the last 12 months. He’s also a handy 38th for Putting Average. He’s made eight of his last 10 cuts and is another, unsurprisingly given how hard he hits it, who prefers playing when the big stick is in his hands.
Other Player Options For The Wells Fargo Championship
• Rickie Fowler knows how to get the job done at Quail Hollow. He was the winner in 2012, is 8-for-9 at making the cut and has five top 10 finishes. Incredibly, however, he hasn’t had a top 10 since January 2020.
• How will Rory McIlroy react to working with new swing coach Pete Cowen? He averages 76.00 for his last five strokeplay rounds, but has been dynamite at Quail Hollow: two wins and another five top 10s in just 10 starts.
• Seamus Power got his spot through Monday Qualifying and he has form at the track: He was T–27 in 2018 and T–13 in 2019. He was also T–9 in his last start, albeit on the Korn Ferry Tour, last month.
COVID-19 and Injury Warning:
Pro DFS players know it makes sense to stay up-to-date on Twitter, DraftKings, FanDuel and-or subscribe to any number of email feeds and whatever to remain up to speed with injuries or COVID-19 withdraws. Players that don’t make the cut are tough enough. Players that don’t play all four rounds (even when pulling out at the last minute) make for a pretty weak lineup.
Go win your lineups and then tell us how you did. Twitter (@FantasyDFSX) is a good place for that.
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