I've always been a fan of Rickie Fowler's game on the course, but that dude is now my idol for his game off it. I'm sure if you watched the end of Sunday's Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass you saw the kiss that Fowler laid on his incredibly gorgeous bikini model girlfriend Alexis Randock. Fowler got $1.8 million for the biggest win of his young career and then got to go home with that. Well done sir!
Some around golf thought Fowler was a bit overrated because he had just one career win entering last week, which is pretty hard to believe considering his talent. Fowler was amazing on the back nine Sunday. He was five shots out of the lead before saving par out of a bunker on No. 12, draining 12-foot birdie putt at No. 13 and then a par on 14. Then Fowler finished birdie, eagle, birdie, birdie. Since the PGA Tour began tracking hole-by-hole scores in 1983, no winner had ever played the final four holes of an event in 5-under. That seems hard to believe as well.
That stretch only got him into a three-hole playoff with Sergio Garcia and Kevin Kisner. Garcia, who had 20-foot birdie putt to win in regulation that missed badly, was eliminated after the three holes, and Fowler would beat Kisner, who missed a 10-footer on 18 (in the playoff) for the win, back on the island 17th. Fowler birdied that hole three times on Sunday and five times in six trips last week. It was Kisner's first trip to the Players; he had been runner-up at the RBC Heritage in a playoff to Jim Furyk a few weeks back. Garcia, meanwhile, won the Players in 2008 back when it was a sudden-death playoff. Fowler's previous win was the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship.
I mentioned I thought Sergio was great value to win at 33/1, so I'm still a bit peeved that payday didn't come through. I also liked Lee Westwood, who usually plays well there, at 40/1, but he missed the cut. So did Jordan Spieth in a big surprise and Phil Mickelson in perhaps not one at all (a few other big names also missed). Tiger barely made the cut and finished T69. I didn't have a great tournament. I did get Tiger "over" a finishing position of 19.5, Rory McIlroy over 6.5, Sergio under 23.5 and Henrik Stenson for a Top 20. Not much else. I thought a European would take this home at +200 but did grab the field at -275 against McIlroy, Spieth, Justin Rose and Stenson.
Despite coming right after the WGC-Match Play and the Players, there's a pretty decent field this week at the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club in Charlotte. Fowler isn't in the field (I'd still be celebrating too). Also not playing are Tiger, Spieth or Bubba Watson. But eight of the world's Top 20 are set to tee it off, including McIlroy and Mickelson. The Wells Fargo returns to its early May spot in 2016 (and back to the week before the Players). It was moved back this year for the new date for the Match Play.
Last year, J.B. Holmes held off Jim Furyk by a shot for the win -- his first victory since brain surgery in September 2011 temporarily halted his career. Holmes led the field in driving distance for the week at an average of 334 yards and finished at 14 under. He led by three with three holes to play but had two bogeys in the final three to blow his shot at the tournament scoring record. Furyk shot a final-round 65 to just miss catching Holmes. Mickelson, who started the day two shots out of the lead after a 63 in the third round, shot 76 to finish in a tie for 11th. No player has ever repeated here.
PGA Tour Golf Odds: Wells Fargo Championship Favorites
McIlroy is the heavy 10/3 favorite at Bovada. He followed his Match Play victory with a T8 last year. He seems to love this course as McIlroy got his first PGA Tour win here in 2010, shooting a course-record 62 on Sunday, and has three straight Top-10 results here in addition to that.
Stenson and Furyk are 18/1 . Stenson has three Top 5s this season but missed cuts here from 2011-13. He didn't play last year. Furyk won here in 2006 and has runner-ups in '14 and 2005. He's the all-time earnings leader in the event.
Mickelson (20/1) and Hideki Matsuyama (22/1) round out the Top 5. Lefty hasn't finished worse than T-26 at this event since 2007, with three top-three finishes in that stretch. He has nine Top-12 results in 11 visits overall but no wins. Matsuyama had his fifth straight Top-25 finish on Tour this year last week. He played here for the first time in 2014 and was T38. Holmes, incidentally, is 28/1 to repeat.
PGA Tour Picks: Wells Fargo Championship Expert Betting Predictions
On finishing positions, go "under" 7.5 for McIlroy, "over" 15.5 for Stenson, under 18.5 for Furyk, over 20 for Matsuyama and under 19.5 for Mickelson. On the Top-10 props, I will take Rory at -300, Furyk at +165 and Bill Haas, a Charlotte native, at +250. Go Top 20 for Mickelson (even money) and Adam Scott (+135).
On the highest-placed finisher, I lean Furyk (+275) over Stenson (+250), Matsuyama (+330), Haas (+450) and Patrick Reed (+550). I'll also take Mickelson at +250 over Scott (+350), Holmes (+350), Kisner (+350) and Justin Thomas (+500). Head-to-head, go McIlroy (-300) over Stenson (+200), Mickelson (-130) over Scott (even), Furyk (-130) over Matsuyama, Haas (-155) over Thomas, and Holmes (-130) over Reed (even).
Love the prop of McIlroy at +350 to win against the field at -500. I'm certainly taking the field. I may throw some long shot money on Webb Simpson at 66/1 as he lives on the course and had the 54-hole lead three years ago. But I'm going with Mickelson to finally win somewhere he's overdue. Mickelson had last weekend off, never a bad thing. And this course suits him unlike TPC Sawgrass.
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