The Confidence Factor: Wells Fargo Championship

This is the last chance to qualify for next week and THE PLAYERS Championship.

Time to get your ALL CAPS GAME in form next week as Quail Hollow Club chews ’em up and spits ’em out this week in Charlotte.

Cool snap:

Wells Fargo Championship

Quail Hollow Club

Charlotte

 

Quail Hollow Club Cheat Sheet

Yards 7,554
Par 71 (35-36) — First year as Par-71
Greens Champion Bermuda
Stimpmeter 12′
Rough Bermuda with Rye overseed, 2 inches
Bunkers 60
Water Hazard 2
Architects George Cobb (1961); Tom Fazio (1996-present)
Purse $7.7 million/$1.386 winner/500 FEC Points
Defending Champion (Event) Brian Harman (Eagle Point)
Defending Champion (Course) James Hahn (-9), 2016

 

Notes:

  • 156 players; stroke play; top 70 and ties play the weekend.
  • The 2017 edition was NOT PLAYED ON THIS COURSE.
  • This is the final chance to qualify for THE PLAYERS next week.

 

2017-18 Winners

*First-time winner

**First-time winner AND rookie winner

Event Winner
Safeway Open Brendan Steele
CIMB Classic Pat Perez
WGC-HSBC Champions Justin Rose
Sanderson Farms Ryan Armour*
Shriners Hospitals for Children Patrick Cantlay*
OHL Mayakoba Patton Kizzire*
The RSM Classic Austin Cook**
Sentry TOC Dustin Johnson
Sony Open Patton Kizzire (2)
CB Challenge Jon Rahm
Farmers Insurance Open Jason Day
WMPO Gary Woodland
AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am Ted Potter, Jr.
Genesis Open Bubba Watson
Honda Classic Justin Thomas
WGC-Mexico Championship Phil Mickelson
Valspar Championship Paul Casey
Arnold Palmer Invitational Rory McIlroy
WGC-Match Play Bubba Watson (2)
Corales Puntacana Resorts Brice Garnett*
Houston Open Ian Poulter
Masters Patrick Reed
RBC Heritage Satoshi Kodaira*
Valero Texas Open Andrew Landry*
Zurich Classic of New Orleans Billy Horschel & Scott Piercy

 

The Confidence Factor is the weekly column I write for PGATOUR.COM and contains plenty of angles on the track and those who have aced this exam.

Please read this!

Previous Champions

*- playoff

Year Winner Total (Par-72)
2016 James Hahn 279*
2015 Rory McIlroy 267
2014 J.B. Holmes 274
2013 Derek Ernst 280*
2012 Rickie Fowler 274*
2011 Lucas Glover 273
2010 Rory McIlroy 273
2009 Sean O’Hair 277
2008 Anthony Kim 272
2007 Tiger Woods 275

 

There is ONE exception to the rule on the winners above. Uno.

 

Facts and Figures:

Tournament Record: 267
Course Record: 61, (McIlroy, 2015 Round 3)
Defending Champion(s): None
Multiple Winners: McIlroy (2010, 2015)
First TOUR Win: Kim, Fowler, Ernst,
First Win in First Appearance: McIlroy, Ernst
Low Round Last Year (PGA): 64 (PGA Championship)
Rookies of Note Last Year (PGA): Grayson Murray, T-22
International Winners: McIlroy and Vijay Singh
Odd Fact: Glover is the ONLY player to post all four rounds in the 60’s to win.

 

The Field

 

Favorites

In order of preference for this week and this tournament

Rory McIlroy: Two-time champ has six top-10 finishes in seven starts and is 69-under-par. Nice. The most unbelievable part of his 2015 romp was that he played two weeks prior at Harding Park in San Francisco. After winning the WGC-Match Play he cruised back across country to THE PLAYERS (schedule was different, look it up) and cashed T8. The next week he blew the doors off Quail Hollow. That’s a pretty impressive three-week run of events and fields. He’ll take his frustrations out this week after a disappointing Sunday at Augusta.

Phil Mickelson: Quick, who trails McIlroy on the all-time earnings list at QHC? Yep. Check The Confidence Factor above if you need more stats like that. Course historians don’t always translate to wins and Mickelson proves that this week. He’s never won and even lost in a playoff to Derek Ernst but he shows up annually and contends. He has finished twice outside the top 12 in 12 previous starts. It’s incomprehensible he hasn’t won this event or the U.S. Open.

Rickie Fowler: QHC will always hold a special place as this is where he picked up his first TOUR win. Doing so required beating McIlroy and D.A. Points in a playoff. Gamers will point out that he was also in the final pairing in 2016 before firing 74 to finish T4. This is a perfect landing spot after his 65-67 weekend at Augusta (2nd) to carry on his new-found momentum.

Patrick Reed: New gamers might be surprised on how often Reed plays but this is hardly a surprise to the pros. Reed has teed it up 29 times or more worldwide each calendar year stretching back to 2013. He played the most in that stretch in calendar 2017 with 33 starts. This will be No. 12 of 2018 and we’re in the first week of May. He’s never MC here in four tries and was T2 at the PGA Championship last summer.

Justin Thomas: Speaking of the 2017 PGA Championship, the winner’s worse paycheck on his own ball in 2018 is T22. He’s second in scoring average and has two top-10 finishes in three total visits. He knocked the rust off last week as well in New Orleans.

Webb Simpson: Charlotte resident and club member doesn’t have a child named for this event but he might if he wins this week. The club affiliation is the lazy angle this week but it will benefit the lazy as he enters the week on fire. Since MC in Phoenix he’s pasted his name on the top 10 in three of the last five events where he’s counted all of his strokes.

Hideki Matsuyama: On paper this should be the track where he annually renews his two-year membership. He’s trending in the right direction (T38, T20, T11 and T5) in Charlotte and hopefully his wrist injury is fully behind him now. His 64 last year at the PGA Championship was T-low round of the week and he played from the final group on Sunday with Kevin Kisner. Knock, knock, knock…

Brian Harman: The stats say he’s not long off the tee. I’ll lean on results instead. He was second at Erin Hills that played almost 7,800 yards and he won this event last year on a course that played 7,400 yards. He collected T9 at Torrey Pines in 2017 as well. He leads the TOUR in top-10 finishes with seven and will be found in this column almost weekly as he’s in the top 12 in fairways, greens and SG: putting.

Jason Day: He’s struggled to regain the form that saw him win at the monster that is Torrey Pines and finish T2 at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am in his next start. If you’re in the camp of bombing-gouging-putting this week, he should be near the top of your list as well. On his last visit to the event in 2012, he was T9. On his last visit to this track at the PGA Championship last year he was T9. #NOYNE.

Tony Finau: He had to carry his partner and a gimpy ankle last week and still almost won the Zurich Classic! He’s a monster from tee-to-green and that’s the formula this week. As with some of the bombers listed above he’ll be more than happy to be hitting lofted clubs into most of the greens this week. If the ankle, Augusta National or Summerhays didn’t slow him down, I’m jumping in with both feet.

Next Tier

Just missed; no particular order of preference

Kevin Kisner: He was tough to leave out of the top 10 above but based on his finish here last year, I can make that case. Is he going to press it for “revenge”? Is it going to be a mind-f#ck having to relive that final round daily? He’s had recent tough finishes as well. He was run over by Bubba Watson in the WGC-Match Play final. He closed with 72 (+1) at Harbour Town to limp home T7. Last week he and partner Scott Brown led after 54-holes before finishing T15. Iron sharpens iron. He’s tough.

Bryson DeChambeau: I’m going to squeeze him in here this week based on his current form: BOILING. In his last three starts, he was one behind the 54-hole lead at Bay Hill before finishing second to McIlroy. He made the cut for the second time in two tries at the Masters. He’s 24. He played three of the best four rounds at RBC Heritage LTO but a third round 75 pinned him to T3. I’m not taking him in any putting contests but this course looks to be perfect for his ball-striking talents.

Chesson Hadley: Good news/bad news here as he’ll be seeing the “new” QHC for the first time as he didn’t qualify for the PGA Championship last year. He’ll be happy this event returns to Charlotte as he has improved each time he’s played here (MC, T20 and T11). He’s rattled off five paydays in a row with the last four going for T20 (two top-10 finishes) or better. The Raleigh native is 14th in SG: total. #TwoSnaps.

Louis Oosthuizen: Gave it a run at the PGA Championship last year and almost chased down Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy last week. He’s a joy to watch swing the club and is finally healthy. The results are flowing in as well with T9 at WGC-Match Play, T12 at the Masters and the last spot on the podium at the Zurich Classic last week. He’s awfully good off the tee and that’s the angle this week.

Lucas Glover: The 2011 champ and 2009 runner-up collected another top-10 finish (8th) in 2016. He didn’t seem to mind the PGA set-up either has he was T33. He’s on form as he’s played six weekends in a row and 13 of 14 this season. This fits for the breakout week!

Kevin Streelman: He should stick out like a pink ball on the first tee this week so I’m hiding him down here. The only MC he has this season in 14 events was at Innisbrook where he was a past champion. After missing out on the Masters he claimed T7 at the RBC Heritage and T8 the following week at the Valero Texas Open. When he makes the cut here it goes for T14 or better

Tommy Fleetwood: He’s more valuable on courses where he won’t be behind the eight ball on the greens. He chops enough wood tee-to-green to give himself plenty of chances to stay away from bogeys. I think he’ll be pleasantly surprised at the non-major set-up this week.

Paul Casey: Gamers are still scarred from his first MC in 100 years at the RBC Heritage but I’ve always advised not to game ANGRY. Casey is free-rollin’ after his win at a difficult Valspar Championship and he should be back to normal this week. His T13 at the PGA Championship should alleviate some fears. His ball-striking numbers are more impressive.

Ryan Moore: Here’s another guy who doesn’t classify as “long” but I find it interesting that he plays here annually. His two best finishes in his last four events have come at a long Bay Hill (T5) and a longer Valero Texas Open (7th). He smashed in a T28 and T16 between those two so I’m over any doubts.

Sean O’Hair: Interest should have cooled a bit after not firing with Jimmy Walker on the weekend last week. The 2009 champ just goes about his business and that’s just fine with me. He posted T7 at Bay Hill (correlation?) and T2 at Valero recently. Easy to stick in the lineup regardless of format.

Brooks Koepka: Bombs away! After playing a couple of rounds last week in New Orleans he should have the rust knocked off and the bit between his teeth. This week will start the road to his U.S. Open title defense as he plays his own ball for the first time since January. His skill set suggests this course sets up perfectly for him. Top 25 should be in order after T13 at the PGA Championship.

Daniel Berger: He’s posted five of his eight rounds here in the red and has a pair of top-30 finishes. Solid lineup guy weekly but he has the tools to handle this big track.

Emiliano Grillo: He hasn’t MC on his own ball this year. This is a recording. He’ll enjoy the greens not rolling at “tournament speed” as they did for last year’s final major.

Off the Beaten Path

Course horses, long shots, cheeky picks, DFS last call, red herrings, general mish-mash.

Russell Henley: I’d sign here just for his ball-striking numbers. He probably doesn’t have enough top-10 finishes to interest the proletariat.

Jamie Lovemark: His MC at FIO kicked off a run of eight consecutive paychecks.

Luke List: After MC for the first time in 10 starts I’m interested to see how he bounces back. I didn’t think Valero would be the one to sting him but his reaction to his first setback will make or break a few teams.

Adam Hadwin: He’s made 12 weekends in a row and the last five are T24 or better. His best round here is 71 from three trips. Something is going to give.

Xander Schauffele: I don’t know where to put him.

Ollie Schniederjans: Stick him on your roster and hope THIS is the week. He’s collected in his last five outings so there’s something brewing.

Nick Watney: This is a recording. #10Straight.

Adam Schenk: He claimed T7 with Tyler Duncan last week and has now collected in seven straight events.

Grayson Murray: He tried to steal the PGA Championship in his own backyard before he faded on the weekend to T22.

Ross Fisher: He fits the bomber profile and has never MC in three tries at QHC. He painted the top 10 in his last visit in 2013.

Robert Streb: #NappyFactor and course form. Surely he wins! He’s posted 9 of 14 career rounds plus three out of four at the PGA Championship (T22) last summer. He needs to be in every DFS lineup.

Beau Hossler: Not giving up but that 79 on Sunday at Valero was a tough one to take. He keeps getting into position to get into position and I like that!

Kyle Stanley: It’s no secret that I lean on him when the courses are the biggest and toughest. This week he fits easily. He’s made three of five cuts here and T6 is his best check.

Danny Lee: Absolutely no form on TOUR to speak of but he loves this track in May.

Ben Martin: He’s racked up eight cuts from nine events but nothing inside the top 25. Don’t be late.

Denny McCarthy: He went to school up the road at UVA and has played four weekends in a row. I’m going to ride a guy who is hot before I break a guy out of a slump.

 

Fades:

Tiger Woods: There is no gray area for me. Either he’s contending or he’s not. The answer this week is: NOT. There’s no value in any format after his Masters performance. He hasn’t played QHC since 2012 and eating up 7,554 yards with a wonky driver doesn’t inspire. He’s also never played these greens so we’ll get a week of excuses on speed. No thanks.

James Hahn: The 2016 champ had too many MC to count before his win and no prior course form. He finished T13 in the PGA Championship, is the event defending champion plus he’s made 12 of 13 cuts this year so he’ll be a popular pick.

Alex Noren: Tough one this. He had no problems with Torrey Pines but his record on Tom Fazio courses isn’t getting me excited. When I’m on the fence, I jump off and wait for another day.

J.B. Holmes: Nothing to point at in the form department but gamers love former champs. Four years ago I’m not sure he had the same wife or life.

Joaquin Niemann: OK, top 10 at VTO, now do it AGAIN!

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out through Twitter or email me mikeglasscott@gmail.com.

 

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