No Tiger, But A Strong Field At The Wells Fargo Championship
It’s something of a shame that with such a strong field of golfers in attendance at this weekend’s Wells Fargo Championship the biggest story focuses on who *isn’t* here. That would be Tiger Woods, who was originally set to play in this event which he won in 2007 (when it was still known as the Wachovia Championship) but eventually opted out. The official explanation was that he wanted more time to rest after his Masters victory and before the PGA Championship begins on May 16. This is understandable, but with Tiger being who he is it has already started to fuel speculation that he might be suffering from an injury. Tiger’s agent, Mark Steinberg, made clear that it wasn’t an injury saying that his client was ‘being smart about it’ and made a distinction between being ‘sore’ after a tournament and being ‘hurt’.
That means no Tiger, so let’s focus on who will be in the field at Charlotte’s Quail Hollow Club. The course itself hosted the inaugural Wachovia Championship in 2003 which thanks to consolidation and acquisitions in the banking injury is now the Wells Fargo Championship (with a two year run as simply the ‘Quail Hollow Championship’). The course was designed by George Cobb but Tom Fazio has done some redesign work on it first in 1997 and again in 2016. The 7,554 yard course is lined with trees and has plenty of length. Making the course particularly difficult are eight par 45 holes in excess of 450 yards and water on six holes. The weather is expected to be typical of the Southeast this time of year–sunny and warm with little in the way of win on Thursday and Friday with a chance of storms and cooler temps during the weekend.
Looking at the golf betting odds for the Wells Fargo Championship it’s no surprise to see Rory McIlroy at the top of the board. He’s considered all but a ‘lock’ to finish in the top five and expected to have a good shot at winning the tournament. This is one of his favorite courses–he’s won this tournament twice and held the course record to two occasions. He’s in very good form and has expressed a fondness for ‘tree lined courses’. That makes him a great choice this week though you can expect him to be priced extremely low.
There are a number of interesting ‘second tier’ contenders that could provide a good value opportunity for bettors. Rickie Fowler won this tournament in 2012 and has three top ten finishes. Phil Mickelson has eight top five finishes in fifteen tries with ties for 4th, 4th and 5th in his last three starts. Justin Rose has top five finishes in each of his Wells Fargo appearances though he did miss the cut in his last visit to this course (2017 PGA Championship). Jason Day will be near the top of the betting board along with McIlroy but he is the defending champion in the event.
Some interesting choices that are a bit more speculative: Lucas Glover is an extremely consistent player who attended nearby Clemson University. He’s got 10 top twenty finishes in 12 starts this season and has five top tens in 15 starts at Quail Hollow. He won this tournament in 2011 and finished second in 2009. He’s not exactly one of the marquee names on the tour but he’s a solid golfer with success at this track. Chesson Hadley is a North Carolina native who has finished in the top twenty in his past three appearances. Webb Simpson is a member at Quail Hollow and knows the course like the back of his hand. He’s got a pair of top five finishes and the knowledge of a ‘local’ but worth noting that the course’s distance might put him at a disadvantage against some of the ‘heavy hitters’ in the field.