7,600 yards, Par 71
Quail Hollow is the host course of the Wells Fargo Championship since 2003 and is a tough test measuring a lengthy 7,600 yards. Previous winners here include Brian Harman (2017), James Hahn (2016), Rory McIlroy (2015 and 2010) J.B. Holmes (2014), Derek Ernst (2013), Rickie Fowler (2012) and Lucas Glover (2011).
The course was originally designed by golf course architect George Cobb in 1961 to capture the beauty as well as challenging terrain of the Piedmont region. In the intervening years, the course underwent a series of improvements, including modifications of several holes by Arnold Palmer in 1986, and a redesign by Tom Fazio in 1997 and 2003.
The course has undergone some fairly big changes in preparation for this event and promises to a little more challenging than in previous years. They greens have had some major surgery changing from bentgrass to Bermuda. A lot of trees have also been removed to allow for more sunlight to hit the greens and re-shape the golf course. Some of the opening holes have had some renovations done with the old first and second being brought together and posing as a testing 540 yard par 4. The fifth has been changed from a par 5 to a par 4, the eighth hole is now a driveable 340 yard par 4 and the second hole is now a new par 3. The 11th hole has been lengthened and had some extra bunkers added to it.
Length looks to be a huge advantage along with hitting plenty of greens. The main stats that stand out here are driving distance, par 4 and par 5 scoring, GIR and good previous/current form.
Matsuyama was outstanding last Sunday in the final round in Firestone shooting a flawless 61 to win his second WGC title and his third PGA Tour win this season. Its hard to find any fault in any part of his game from driving it bullet straight to stitching his approach shots and holing everything on the greens.
His form has been pretty good this season and he seems to be really heating up lately with a win, a top five and a top 15 in his last three starts. He had a great week in Erin Hills finishing T2 at the US Open after an impressive final round 65. He followed that with a T14 at The Open Championship in Royal Birkdale and seemed to be striking the ball very well but missed a few putts. Matsuyama won in Phoenix earlier this year which also has Bermuda greens so that looks to be a big positive for this weeks venue.
His record around Quail Hollow is decent finishing T38 in 2014, T20 in 2015 and 11th last year. Statswise he ranks 22nd in driving distance averaging just over 304 off the tee. He also ranks sixth in GIR, first in par 5 scoring and second in par 4 scoring. He is the man in form coming to the PGA this week and it could be his time to win his first major.
Rickie Fowler is another player in fine form coming into this week and has to be respected here. He has four top 10’s in his last six starts three of which were top fives. He had a good week at the Memorial finishing T2 and followed that with a T5 at The US Open and a T3 at the Quicken Loans National which included a 68,65 over the weekend. He then travelled to Birkdale and didn’t shoot worse than a 71 to finish a respectable T22. Last week at the WGC Bridgestone, Fowler was steady as a rock throughout the week shooting 70,71,67,66 on his way to a solo ninth.
He has a good record here in Quail Hollow getting his first PGA Tour win here in 2012. He also finished T6 in 2010 and T4 last year. Fowler is averaging just over 300 yards off the tee ranking 32nd in driving distance, 36th in GIR, first in SG putting and fifth in par 5 scoring. With great current form and a good history on this course, Fowler looks another big contender here.
I am sticking to my guns and backing Berger for the second week running here. He has been in great form lately with a win and two top 5’s in his last six starts. He had a great week at the FedEx St Jude Classic shooting two 66’s to win by one. He followed that with a solo second at the Travelers where he lost in a dramatic playoff to Jordan Speith. He then traveled to TPC Deere Run where he finished T5 at the John Deere Classic which included an impressive third round 63.
Berger has played well here in the past finishing T17 last year and T28 in 2015. He has played well in the Majors over the last couple of years finishing T10 in Augusta last year, T27 at the Masters this year and a T27 at The Open in Birkdale. Statswise he ranks 44th in GIR, 26th in SG putting, 24th in SGTTG, 18th in par 4 scoring and 21st in par 5 scoring.
When it comes to bombers, Tony Finau is up there with the longest on tour off the tee and this could be a course that suits his powerful game. He looks to be in great shape coming to Quail Hollow with two top 10’s and two top 30’s in his last four starts. He played well at the Travelers Championship and didn’t shoot worse than a 70 all week to finish a respectable T17. He followed that with a T29 at The Quicken Loans and a T7 at The Greenbrier where he didn’t shoot worse than a 69 throughout the week. Finau then travelled to Royal Birkdale and finished in a respectable T27 at The Open and had a great performance in Canada a week later finishing T5 at the Canadian Open.
He has played well here in the past finishing T16 in 2015 and T28 last year. Finau is averaging just over 306 yards off the tee ranking sixth in driving distance, fifth in GIR, sixth in SGTTG, 10th in par 4 scoring and 10th in par 5 scoring. With great current form, a long golf course and an average drive of over 300 yards, this course could set up well for big hitting Finau.
The young American has made quite an impression this season and looks to be playing some great golf lately. He had a good week at the US Open shooting rounds of 66,73,70,69 to finish T5 at Erin Hills in his first major appearance. He followed that with a T14 at the Travelers, a win at the Greenbrier Classic where he didnt shoot worse than a 69, a T20 at the Open Championship and a T13 in Firestone last week at the WGC Bridgestone.
Statswise Shauffele ticks alot of boxes here for Quail Hollow ranking 17th in driving distance averaging just over 305 off the tee. He also ranks 20th in GIR, 23rd in SG Putting and 10th in par 4 scoring. He has put together some huge performances in big events this season and with his length he looks a great bet for a top 20 this week.
Final Selections –
Hideki Matsuyama 11/1 1pt EW
Rickie Fowler 16/1 1pt EW
Daniel Berger 60/1 0.5pts EW
Tony Finau 80/1 0.5pts EW
Xander Shauffele Top 20 – 4/1 2pt win
Total staked = 8pts
*Most bookies paying 8 places*
Good luck and enjoy the golf,
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