PGA Tour Odds and Predictions: Wells Fargo Championship
by Alan Matthews - 5/4/2011
The PGA Tour stops in Charlotte this week for the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club and it usually draws a nice field because it’s a top-rated course (will host the 2017 PGA Championship) and the purse is one of the highest on Tour among non-majors/WGC events/or FedEx Cup tournaments.
With that said, the first thing bettors usually want to know is whether Tiger Woods is playing. Tiger was originally in the field, but he suffered a strained knee ligament at the Masters. He announced he was pulling out last week. You may remember Tiger at this tournament last year as he had arguably the worst event of his career, shooting a 36-hole score of 9-over par to miss the cut by a whopping eight shots. His back-nine score of 43 on Friday last year matched his career-worst for half of a round.
Also missing this week is someone who also would have been among the betting favorites: Geoff Ogilvy. The Aussie withdrew earlier this week complaining of shoulder soreness.
By the way, it’s probably no coincidence that both Tiger and Ogilvy opted to rest up this week with the ultra-rich Players Championship (i.e. the fifth major) on tap next week. In fact, perhaps that’s why only 11 of the world’s Top 25 are playing this week, headlined by former world No. 1 Martin Kaymer, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Bubba Watson, Dustin Johnson, Jim Furyk and Nick Watney.
There’s no question all eyes will be on McIlroy this week as he plays in the U.S. for the first time since his epic back-nine collapse at the Masters – he says he was over that shortly afterward thanks to a call from Greg Norman, who knows something about collapses at Augusta. And McIlroy so happened to put on one of the best performances on the PGA Tour here last year.
Then just 20, McIlroy only made the cut on the number before shooting the lowest round each of the last two days at Quail Hollow. On Sunday he played the final five holes in 5-under on the way to a course-record 10-under 62 for a four-shot win over Mickelson. It made him the youngest player since Tiger in 1996 to win on the PGA Tour and remains McIlroy’s lone win in the States. McIlroy is the co-second favorite with Kaymer at 20/1 at Bodog this week.
Lefty is the favorite at 16/1, and he usually does play well at Quail Hollow. He has yet to win, but has five Top-10 finishes in seven appearances, including that runner-up last year. Still, it’s hard to know what to make of Mickelson right now. He started the year strong, then was iffy for a while before winning in Houston the week before the Masters. Then he was never in contention at Augusta with a 27th and hasn’t played since.
This is only Kaymer’s fifth tournament in the U.S. this year and he last played in the Masters as well, missing the cut (which is nothing new for him there). He does enter off a T10 on the Euro Tour but his game looks off.
It’s almost too bad that Bubba Watson (25/1) won last week because it’s just so hard to win on back-to-back weeks or otherwise he’d be my top prediction. Rather quietly he has won three tournaments in the past 10 months and could have won the PGA Championship. And he finished ninth here two years ago.
Jim Furyk (25/1) seems a lock to finish in Top 10. He was second here in 2005, won the next year and has been T-11 or better in each of the past three years.
I don’t love any huge long shots this week, but would say the best value is Hunter Mahan at 33/1 for PGA Tour odds. He has finished in the Top 25 each of the last three years at Quail Hollow (T17 last year). Mahan also has five Top 10s this season and hasn't gone back-to-back events without a Top 10 in 2011 (he missed the cut last time out at the Masters).
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