PGA Tour Picks: Wells Fargo Championship Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/1/2013
We had yet another first-time PGA Tour winner last week in Billy Horschel, and you could almost see it coming -- I mentioned he was "interesting" at 28/1 to win the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Horschel had three straight Top-10 finishes entering that tournament and a Tour-high 22 straight cuts made.
Horschel, who is off this week, tied a course record at TPC Louisiana with a final-round 8-under 64 and drained a 27-foot putt on 18 to avoid a playoff and win by one stroke over D.A. Points. It was fitting payback considering Points won in Houston in April by a shot over Horschel. I went with Justin Rose as my top pick to win in New Orleans, and he finished T15. I hit on Horschel at +250 with a Top-10 finish, but otherwise it wasn't a great tournament.
Unfortunately, this week's Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte lost a little luster with Tiger Woods' decision not to play. He generally likes to take three weeks off following the Masters. It was unusual this year that the first Sunday in April fell so late in the month, so this year there was only two tournaments separating the Masters and this event, so Tiger is resting up for next week's Players Championship. However, history shows that when Tiger skips a tournament for non-injury reasons he usually doesn't return.
Another potential winner this week, Dustin Johnson, withdrew with a sore wrist. Vijay Singh, 50, also withdrew, a day after he avoided suspension for using deer antler spray. He's a former winner here. Only one Top-10 player is in the field, which is very unusual for this tournament: Rory McIlroy. Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson round out the biggest names.
Defending champion Rickie Fowler is back. He beat McIlroy and Points on the first playoff hole last year for his first Tour win -- and still only -- in his 67th start. I definitely expected the talented Fowler to have another win by now. This tournament has only been around since 2003, and no one has repeated. McIlroy, incidentally, reclaimed the No. 1 ranking with his second-place finish in 2012.
Quail Hollow Golf Club, which hosts the 2017 PGA Championship, will play at an all-time high 7,492 yards after some tweaking since last year's event. The par 72 played under par in 2012 for the second straight year, with a scoring average of 71.844. Hitting your greens in regulation is vital -- although reports are the greens are/were in bad condition. USA Today reported that "patches of troubled grass could lead tournament officials to shorten some of the holes to allow players to use wedges and 9-irons for shots into the greens instead of 4-irons and 3-irons." Two greens, No. 8 and 10, were flat-out dead last week and had to be resodded.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Wells Fargo Championship Favorites
McIlroy is the clear 8/1 favorite at Bovada. After a terrible start to the year, he appears to be getting close. McIlroy had a runner-up the week before the Masters and then a T25 at Augusta that would have been way higher if not for a third-round hiccup of 79. McIlroy won this tournament three years ago, missed the cut in 2011 and had last year's runner-up. He holds the 18-hole course record with a 62 during his 2010 title run.
Westwood and Webb Simpson are 14/1. Westwood has had back-to-back Top-10 finishes on the PGA Tour and finished a career-high T5 here a year ago. Simpson lives near the course, so he definitely has home-field advantage. He was the 54-hole leader last year before a final-round 73 left him a shot out of the playoff. Simpson missed the cut at the Masters but then was runner-up at the RBC Heritage the following week.
Mickelson is 16/1 and Watson 20/1 to round out the favorites. It's Lefty's first tournament since a vastly disappointing Masters where he never broke 70. He has six Top-10 finishes in nine trips to Quail Hollow but was T26 a year ago. Watson has more missed cuts here (two) than Top 10s (one) in six trips.
PGA Tour Picks: Wells Fargo Championship Betting Predictions
Here's why I don't like Fowler to win this week: The past three defending champions missed the cut a year later. And don't assume the 54-hole leader will win. It's only happened three times in this event's 10-year history and not since 2008.
On the yes-only Top-10 props, I do like McIlroy (-125), Simpson (+175) and Sergio Garcia (+225). Head-to-head, take Westwood (-140) over Mickelson (+110), Garcia (-115) over Nick Watney (-115) and Lucas Glover (-115) over Hunter Mahan; Glover won here in 2011 and has four Top-10s at Quail Hollow. Mahan has none.
Which Bill Haas (28/1 to win) will show up? The former FedEx Cup champion has four Top-10 finishes this year and has been fourth twice at this event. He's also missed the cut four times, including last year. Points (40/1) also is interesting with a win and runner-up in his past four starts this year -- he missed seven cuts earlier in the season -- and that runner-up here a year ago. But I'm going with Simpson on his home course for his first victory since last year's U.S. Open.
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