Following the US Masters, it has been a subdued few weeks stateside but the PGA Tour is the only place to be this week with a big tournament and the strongest field since Augusta.
The Wells Fargo Championship is one of the newer events on Tour, first appearing in 2003 as the Wachovia Championship but with a big purse and FedEx points up for grabs, it attracts most of the world’s best to North Carolina.
Among that field is the most successful golfer in this event and he is a natural favorite going into Thursday’s first tee time.
Rory McIlroy is the only player to have won this event twice and he also has a runners up spot amongst six Top 10 finishes overall. He also holds the course and tournament scoring records so while that last victory came back in 2015, the Northern Irishman deservedly heads the top of the Wells Fargo Championship outright betting by several points at +700 with Bovada and +800 with Intertops.
Rory has the perfect game for a three-peat but there are plenty of challengers to come including our current PGA Champion Justin Thomas (+1000) and another former Wells Fargo Champion in Rickie Fowler (+1100) who lifted this trophy in 2012.
Thomas lies second in the Power Rankings, largely due to the fact that his first Major win came on the Quail Hollow course that traditionally hosts this event. Fowler also finished strongly at last year’s PGA Championship so both should have the key stats needed to compete this week.
The top three lead by some distance from a chasing pack of golfers that is headed up by Jason Day (+2200) and Patrick Reed (+2000) who are locked on the same win price with most of the top United States’ bookies. Reed returns to action for the first time since winning at Augusta and he tied for second on this course at the PGA last year. Meanwhile, Day has a solid if unspectacular record in this event but leads the Tour in strokes gained which could be significant this week.
Hideki Matsuyama (+2200), Paul Casey (+2500) and Phil Mickelson (+2800) are all within a few points of each other in this market along with Tiger Woods (+2800) as he manages a full return to competitive golf. This is one event where Tiger doesn’t have a great record, although he is a previous winner way back in 2007 and will attract interest in the betting odds’ markets as he always does.
Also in mid-range is Tommy Fleetwood (+3000): The Englishman is making his Wells Fargo debut but he has competed in a number of PGA events for the first time in 2018 with some success so his lack of experience shouldn’t put us off.
The field finally starts to thin out into some longer prices with Louis Oosthuizen (+3500) attracting some interest after a fine performance at last year’s PGA. Webb Simpson (+4000) is a former runner up in this event and he has been a regular profit-maker for us in Top 10 markets.
Other longshots to consider include Chesson Hadley (+5000), Brian Harman (+6600) and Bryson Dechambeau (+5000) who can all fight their way to the top in a strong field.
Our Preview’s Wells Fargo Predictions, Course & Betting Trends with Picks
As this 2018 Wells Fargo Championship golf preview has mentioned, Rory McIlroy is our only multiple winner of this event and, along with Vijay Singh in 2005, he is one of only two golfers to have broken a US stranglehold since this tournament began in 2003.
In terms of the venue, we are back at Quail Hollow which took a break last year as it prepared to host its first Major – the PGA Championship. This is a par 71 course at a lengthy 7,442 yards and is known for its punishing finish at 16, 17 and 18; holes that are widely referred to as the ‘Green Mile’.
The course has been altered by Tom Fazio in recent years so, while GIR has been a desired stat in the past, we could be looking for the best combination of Driving Distance and Accuracy.
As for finding the winner, a lot of context is being placed by tipsters on results at last year’s PGA Championship at this Quail Hollow venue. They are valuable indicators but we prefer consistent returns over several years at this event and we are looking for 2012 Champion Rickie Fowler to deliver.
He started 2018 quietly after a brilliant end to last season but is just hinting at his best form and we feel he is peaking for a win this week. Fowler in the outrights is the Wels Fargo prediction, while two other picks, Webb Simpson and Tommy Fleetwood, will hopefully boost our profits with single digit finishes.