Wells Fargo Championship Preview8 min read
The PGA Tour moves on to Quail Hollow this week for the Wells Fargo Championship with the players stepping up their preparation for the PGA Championship which starts in a fortnight.
Quail Hollow is always a strong test and the 7,554 yard par 71 has been toughened up in recent years after the changes made to the course ahead of the 2017 PGA Championship. Power is a big advantage on this long track, but the last few winners, including defending champion Jason Day, have excelled on the greens placing an emphasis on strong putters.
Rory McIlroy is the 6/1 favourite and the two-time course winner has an obvious chance. The reasons for swerving the Northern Irishman are limited but still suggest his odds are short enough. McIlroy has not properly contended since the course alterations and he made far too many mistakes on his last start at the Masters.
Phil Mickelson has a stellar record at Quail Hollow and the only surprise is his failure to get his hands on the trophy during his career. Mickelson has finished inside the top five of the tournament no fewer than eight times since 2004. The closest he came was runner-up in 2010 and he has consistently performed at the track with fifth spot 12 months ago.
Lefty won his 44th PGA Tour title back in February at Pebble Beach and his game is still as competitive as ever at the age of 48. His form predictably dipped during the Florida swing but there were encouraging signs at Augusta National. Mickelson opened with a round of 67 and finished inside the top 20 at the Masters which hinted at a return to his early season form. With a long overdue victory at Quail Hollow strong motivation, Mickelson is backed to contend again here at 25/1 each way.
Aaron Wise will be relishing his second appearance at the Wells Fargo Championship after a superb debut last year. The 2018 PGA Tour rookie of the year broke par in all four rounds on his way to a tie for second. His length of the tee and sharp short game is well suited to Quail Hollow and he instantly took to the course on his first visit.
Wise went on to win his maiden PGA Tour title on his next start at the AT&T Byron Nelson and the 22-year-old is considered one of the most talented young players in the world. A top-six finish at the WGC Bridgestone Invitational last season was another high class effort and his debut at the Masters was very impressive. A nine-under-par total over the final two rounds at Augusta pushed him up to 17th and Wise is fancied to take this momentum into Quail Hollow and threaten a second victory at 40/1 each way.
Lucas Glover has already won this tournament and could challenge for another victory at Quail Hollow this weekend. Glover’s last PGA Tour title came at the course back in 2011 but it was not his only success here. He was also runner-up in 2009, fourth in 2006 and eighth in 2016 confirming his suitability for the tee-to-green test.
The 2009 US Open champion has performed consistently this season, finishing inside the top ten four times. A tie for fourth at the Honda Classic in March is his best result but he will have high hopes of surpassing this at a course where he has excelled over the years. Glover, who is ranked second this year for scrambling, merits support at 33/1 each way.
Kevin Streelman has found form over the last month and the experienced American could upset the odds at a big price. A final round 64 helped Streelman finish sixth at the Texas Open in April. He took this momentum into the RBC Heritage on his next start and four rounds in the sixties resulted in a tie for sixth place.
Streelman has previous form at Quail Hollow finishing sixth in 2013 and ninth in 2015. His ball striking is the key to his recent form and his reliability from tee to green should prove an asset on this demanding layout. He has two wins on the PGA Tour although the last came five years ago, so it is probably worth siding with him at 8/1 in the top ten market as well as 100/1 outright.
Roberto Castro is still looking for his first PGA Tour victory but he came close to winning a title at Quail Hollow when finishing second in 2016. His previous visit to the course came in 2014 and, off the back of three consecutive missed cuts, posted a tie for eighth so Castro is clearly very comfortable at the North Carolina course.
After dropping down to the Web.Com Tour last year, Castro posted five top tens to earn promotion back to the PGA Tour. The 33-year-old’s form this season has been solid with a tie for fifth at the Sanderson Farms Championship. A strong showing at the Zurich Classic last week saw Castro and Cameron Tringale tie for fifth. Castro can follow this up with another big performance at Quail Hollow although it also makes sense to back the 100/1 outsider at 8/1 for a top ten.
Phil Mickelson each way
Aaron Wise each way
Lucas Glover each way
Kevin Streelman and for top ten
Roberto Castro and for top ten