The 2019 Wells Fargo Championship takes place this week at Quail Hollow Golf Club without Masters champion Tiger Woods. Six of the previous eight tournament winners will be present, while nine others from the top 15 in the Official World Golf Ranking will join Tiger in sitting this one out in preparation of the PGA Championship in just two weeks from the conclusion of this event.
We’re back to a regular PGA Tour format for the Wells Fargo Championship following the conclusion of last week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans won by Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer at +1600.
Quail Hollow Golf Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, was originally designed by architect George Cobb. Arnold Palmer oversaw the modification of several holes in the mid-’80s, and Tom Fazio led a redesign in 1997. The par-71 course now measures 7,600 yards.
Quail Hollow has been the host of the Wells Fargo — previously known as the Quail Hollow Championship and the Wachovia Championship — since 2003, with the exception of 2017 when it was being prepared to host the PGA Championship and this event was held at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Four par 3s average 216 yards in length with the longest being the 249-yard sixth hole. Two of three par 5s exceed 575 yards, while two par 4s come in below 350 and three top 500.
Several of the greens reportedly underwent an emergency fix last week.
Key stats to consider for the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship
Using historical data from Fantasy National, the key stats of Strokes Gained: Total, SG: Tee-to-Green, SG: Short Game, SG: Putting, Scoring Opportunities Gained, and Scrambling have been best associated with a finish near the top of the leaderboard.
While Jason Day (2018) and Rory McIlroy (2015 and 2010) entered their championship weeks ranked 14th, and 1st and 12th, respectively, in the world, Quail Hollow has brought out many longshot champions. James Hahn ranked 134th in the world ahead of his 2016 victory, J.B. Holmes was 242nd in 2014, Derek Ernst was a miraculous 1,207th in 2013, and Lucas Glover entered the week at 107th in 2011.
There’s plenty of talent in this week’s field as players take advantage of their second-to-last opportunity to prepare for 2019’s second Major, but history has shown we shouldn’t be afraid to shoot for higher odds.
2019 Wells Fargo Championship: Sleepers and value bets
Kokrak ranks seventh in my model built off this week’s key stats at Fantasy National. He missed the cut in three of his last four trips to the Wells Fargo Championship, but he finished 33rd in a much tougher field at the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.
He’s strung together three consecutive top 20 finishes, including a T7 at the Valero Texas Open and a T2 at the Valspar Championship. He leads this week’s field in Scoring Opportunities Gained at 1.2 per round.
He’s yet to win on the PGA circuit but has two victories on each of the Web.com and Nationwide Tours.
Charles Howell III +5500 (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Howell’s fourth in this week’s model while ranking sixth in the field in SG: Putting, Total, and Scrambling. He finished T18 in 2014 and T21 last year.
He missed the cut at the recent RBC Heritage following a T32 at the Masters. It was just his second missed cut in 15 events this year with four top 10s and a victory at last November’s RSM Classic. He ranks in the top 10 of the field in all key stats except for Opportunities Gained and SG: Tee-to-Green.
Jones is our dart throw of the week based on the historical miracle winners at Quail Hollow. The Australian enters the week ranked 221st in the world but had a top finish of T28 here in 2015.
He’s rung off three straight top 30s and has top finishes of 13th at the Farmers Insurance Open and the Valspar Championship this year. His statistical strengths are in SG: Short Game and SG: Putting.
2019 Wells Fargo Championship: The winner
Simpson, 20th in the OWGR, leads the statistical model with best-of-field ranks in SG: Short Game and Scrambling. The 33-year-old has won four times on the PGA Tour and has twice finished inside the top five at the Wells Fargo Championship, including a distant second to McIlroy in 2015.
He finished T5 at the Masters and followed it up with a T16 at the RBC Heritage the week after.