Wells Fargo Championship

Wells Fargo Championship

Wells Fargo Championship

Well I must confess the Zurich Classic somewhat passed me by. Despite all making the cut our teams were never able to get in to serious contention and in the end the final round petered out in a deserved but unexciting victory for Billy Horschel & Scott Piercy.

If there was a lesson to be learned from their victory it was that may be trying to delve too deeply in to pairings and their suitability is not necessarily the way forward here and perhaps simply looking at the individual players form and past course history is the way to go. After all that would certainly have lead us to Horschel.

Swiftly moving on and the tour makes the 700 mile trip North East from New Orleans to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Wells Fargo Championship.

Quail Hollow has been the host course for the event since the inception of the tournament in 2003. The only exception to this was last year when the event was held at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, whilst Quail Hollow prepared to host the 2017 PGA Championship later in the year.

From a betting perspective the field is headed up by Rory McIlroy and he is closely followed by Justin Thomas who of course won last years PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.

Other leading lights teeing it up this week include Rickie Fowler, Hideki Matsuyama and Tiger Woods.



The course is a George Cobb design, which has undergone subsequent redesigns under the supervision of Tom Fazio both in 2013 and 2016.

The course is a Par 71 and measures 7600 yards.

The greens are Bermudagrass.

One important point to note is that from 2003 until 2016 the course played as a par 72 playing at just under 7600 yards but following the Fazio redesign prior to last years PGA Championship the course was changed to a Par 71.

This change was effected by reducing the 570 yard Par 5 5th to a 450 yard Par 4.

Following on from this the Par 4 1st hole was lengthened by approximately 100 yards to measure just over 520 yards. The par 3 2nd hole disappeared completely and a new Par 3 4th hole was built to replace this. 



As mentioned above the event has been held at Quail Hollow every year since it’s inception with the exception of last year. We can therefore dismiss last years event at Eagle Point from our thoughts and focus on previous editions.

In addition, allowing for the course changes, the event that perhaps we should focus on most for clues is last year’s PGA Championship.

If we look back at the ten additions of the Wells Fargo Championship played between 2007 and 2016, eight of the event winners over this time give us a very clear picture of the type of players, which historically have thrived at Quail Hollow.

These winners are McIlroy [x2], Woods, A Kim [remember him!], Glover, O’Hair, Fowler & JB Holmes, giving us a clear indication that length of the tee and ball striking has been important. In addition of course JT won the PGA Championship held at Quail Hollow and he again fits this mould.

There have though been a couple of ‘curve ball’ winners over those ten years in the form of James Hahn and, arguably the biggest shock winner on the PGA Tour this decade, Derek Ernst.

One interesting point to note though is the year’s Hahn and Ernst won the scoring conditions were by far the toughest over that ten year period as they won with scores of -9 and -8 respectively.

The next highest score to win over that period was -11 from Sean O’Hair, whilst the lowest score was delivered by Rory at -21.

The average winning score though has tended to sit around the -14, -15 mark.

This will of course reduce now considerably as the course has been changed to a par 71.

Historically, and similarly to Bay Hill where Rory won recently, taking care of the par 5s has been key to getting the job done at Quail Hollow and it is no surprise therefore to see that in addition to Rory and Tiger two other past winners of the Wells Fargo, Glover and O’Hair, also have solid records at Bay Hill.

However with the course now only containing three par 5s par 4 scoring will potentially be as or even more paramount.

In a further nod to Bay Hill form the runner up at the 2017 PGA Championship was Francesco Molinari who has a cracking record at Bay Hill.

On the subject of Molinari looking at the length of Quail Hollow and the fact that it has been reduced to a par 71 you may be forgiven for thinking that this event will purely be the territory of bombers now. However, whilst of course length of the tee is always an advantage, the Italian’s presence high up on the leaderboard last August shows this won’t necessarily be the case.

In addition with the course set to play firm and fast for the first two rounds at least I would expect length to be negated to a certain extent.

Finally if we look at JT’s win in the PGA Championship the club that actually got him over the line that week was the putter.

He didn’t have one single three putt over the week, lead the field in putts made over 10ft and ranked 4th in SGP for the event.



The first part of the week up to the weekend is forecast to be dry, hot and sunny. There is however the possibility of a bit of rain or a storm over the weekend, however this is marked as I type as less than a 50% chance, so it may well not materialize.

In addition there has been no rain in Charlotte for the past week plus so I would expect the course to be playing firm and fast for at least the first couple of days.

The wind doesn’t look like being too much of an issue with 5-10mph being about the mark for the week.



When considering the options this week I was torn between the old dilemma of whether to row in big on the one or two I fancied most from the top of the market or whether to look for the e/w value.

In the end, whilst of course JT and Rory are the most likely winners of the event it is a hard job to split them so I have chosen to seek out some value from further down the market.

As such I have gone with five players this week as follows;


RYAN MOORE –  50-1 - 1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8  FINISHED MC

At the beginning of 2017 allowing for the great end he had to 2016 and his positive form over the years at Quail Hollow Ryan Moore was my long range pick for the USPGA Championship.

Unfortunately his summer got derailed by injury and in the end his 13th place finish was a fine effort under the circumstances.

What this performance showed us again is that Quail Hollow is most definitely a course to the UNLV grad’s liking.

To back this up we’ll see that Ryan has delivered three further top 20s, including two top 10s, in his five previous visits to Charlotte.

It’s been widely reported over recent weeks that Moore has put some serious work in both on the course [with a new coach] and in the fitness department, with a view to taking his game to the next level and the results have been immediate.

As such Moore arrives this year at Quail Hollow with some good momentum, with three top 10s on the calendar year, including two in his last four starts, one of which came at Bay Hill, which as mentioned earlier I see as an event with a solid link historically to this one.

Ryan is a five time winner on the PGA Tour with his most recent win coming at the John Deere Classic in 2016 and by and large these wins have been well and truly telegraphed in advance with a series of solid/high finishes.

In other words Moore is not a James Hahn type player who pops up with a win out of nowhere after a bunch of missed cuts, he is a player who gradually finds his form over a couple of months before finally putting it altogether.

Last time out he was in the hunt last time out in Texas before a disappointing final round and I can see this being the week where everything clicks.


EMILLIANO GRILLO – 80-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1stFINISHED 9th

Another player who has been building up a good head of steam of late is the Argentine Emiliano Grillo.

Since the start of the 2017/18 PGA Season Emiliano is yet to miss a cut in an individual stroke play event.

During this time he has racked up 5 top 20 finishes including two in his last two starts.

Whilst Grillo is yet to produce the goods at Quail Hollow I do feel this is a course that should suit him as I always like him to go well on long, classical tests.

I have already mentioned a link between Bay Hill and Quail Hollow and Grillo was right in the hunt last year at the API.

Indeed he was a strong fancy of mine for the API this however he inexplicably chose to go and play in India the week before that event and therefore not unsurprisingly his performance at Bay Hill was fairly lack lustre.

Now that Quail Hollow has been reduced to a Par 71 it may also pay to look at form from the Farmers Insurance Open which is predominantly played on a tough, long Par 71 at Torrey Pines and this is an event that Grillo finished 12th in this year.

Finally I mentioned at the outset that putts holed over 10ft was a key stat in JT’s win in the PGA Championship last year so it is nice to see that Grillo currently sits 5th in this stat for the season. {our 1st pick for the week R Moore is also 6th in this stat at present.]

All in all Grillo’s all round game is in really solid shape at present and I can see him putting in a big performance this week. 


GRAYSON MURRAY – 100-1 - 1pt E/W – 1/5 odds 1stFINISHED 59th

Until his victory in the Barbasol Championship last July Murray’s debut season on the PGA Tour had been more notable for the hot water he kept getting in to via his twitter account rather than for anything he had produced on the golf course.

What that win confirmed to us though was something we actually already knew..the guy can play.

Grayson had shown this the previous year with a great season on the Web.com tour, which culminated in him winning the Web.com tour championship.

Long of the tee and with an aggressive game he fits the proto type of past winners here such as Anthony Kim and he rubber stamped my thought that this course suits his game with a very solid 22nd place finish in last year’s PGA Championship.

Grayson is quietly piecing together a very solid sophomore season and he is currently sitting 65th in the Fedex Cup Standings.

His last four starts have seen him deliver three top 20s and a MC.

The MC came at Hilton Head and I am therefore happy to overlook this and focus instead on the three top 20s, which all came on courses which would be much more to Grayson’s liking.

Murray is a hugely talented player and I wouldn’t be surprised if one day he even won a major championship.

When things click he is fearless and on his day I would see him more than capable of winning an event with JT, Rory etc in the field.

As a native of North Carolina he should be very familiar with the challenges that Quail  Hollow offers and I can see him continuing his recent good form this week.


RORY SABBATINI –  150-1 - 1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8  FINISHED 27th

For my next pick I am returning to a player I’ve already backed three times this season including when he produced the goods for us as a trader at the Valspar Championship and that’s Rory Sabbatini.

My most recent dabble on the South African was only two weeks ago at the RBC Heritage and until a disappointing final round he  was right in the hunt having initially held the first round lead.

What is undeniable though is that Rory has been in very consistent form this season and week after week we are seeing his name on or around the leaderboard.

Rory is yet to miss a cut this calendar year and I feel he is certainly a player at the moment to have on side whenever he tees it up at a venue he has had past success at.

This is certainly the case this week as his record at Quail Hollow shows three top 10s in his last nine starts.

What’s particularly interesting is all of those high finishes have come in years when Rory was already on a roll so it’s clear that when his game is in good working order Quail Hollow is a venue that he is comfortable at.

Like our headline tip Ryan Moore, and Billy Horschel who won the team event last week, Sabbatini is another of those streak players who delivers a win after a run of high finishes and I can see another big week ahead for him in Charlotte. 


JT POSTON –  250-1 - 1pt E/W - 1/5 odds 1st 8  FINISHED MC

For my final selection this week I am going to roll the dice on another North Carolinian native in the form of ‘The Postman’, JT Poston.

Poston was brought up an hour away from Charlotte in the town of Lake Hickory in North Carolina, so this is basically a home game for him and he is sure to have plenty of local support.

Like Grayson Murray, Poston is currently on his sophomore season on the PGA Tour and whilst his time on the PGA Tour to date hasn’t been quite as successful [or as controversial] as Murray’s, he is quietly finding a place for himself.

In his first season on tour JT finished 132nd in the Fedex Cup standings meaning he finds himself in that category between 125-150 where you are not guaranteed a start every week.

JT though has by and large taken advantage of the starts he has had this season and he notched his first top 5 finish on the tour last November at the Shriners Hospital for Children Open [another Par 71 track].

Of late JT has made his last four cuts on tour and his 30th place last time out in Texas could have been a lot better without a final round of 76.

I would guess that Poston knows Quail Hollow as well as anyone in the field and I am confident….[yes I’m sure you all saw this finishing line coming]…that ‘The Postman’ can deliver for us a big week.




As most readers probably know six or seven years ago Watney was big news in the world of golf and at one point after his victory in the 2011 AT & T National he was ranked in the top 10 in the OFWGR.

That win was the second win of the year for Nick as earlier that year he had won the WGC-Cadillac Championship.

The following year Watney won the first Fedex Cup Play Off event, The Barclays for his fifth PGA Tour victory in just over five years.

This victory however remains Watney's last win on the PGA Tour and after a couple more steady but winless seasons things started to go badly wrong for Nick results wise in the second half of 2015.

2016 was even worse for Nick after he was forced to miss the whole of the season from the end of January with a herniated disc in his lower back that wouldn't heal.

Nick returned in Oct 2016 and had an unspectacular season in 16/17 in which he ended up finishing 120th in the Fedex Cup Standings.

This season and inparticular this year though has seen definite signs of a corner being turned by Watney and to date he has not missed a cut this calendar year.

Other than his recent solid form my reason for picking Watney as a trader this week is I feel a firm, fast Quail Hollow should be right up his street. 

In his heyday Nick was always a man to watch on a classical golf course, which was playing firm and this was highlighted with his victory in the AT & T National at Aronomink.

Prior to his slump Nick had always played well at Quail Hollow and he recorded back to back top 10s there in 2012 and 2013.

My hope this week therefore is that Nick can build on his recent solid form and perform well for at least two or three rounds on a course and in conditions, which clearly suit his game.