2015 Wells Fargo Championship: Preview, Strategy, Picks
The Wells Fargo Championship is next on the PGA Tour, which has provided ridiculous drama in recent history.
In each of the last four years, the tournament has been settled by one stroke or gone to a playoff. This includes Rickie Fowler’s first PGA Tour win in 2012 in that dramatic playoff over Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points. J.B. Holmes is the defending champion.
Quail Hollow is the home of the Wells Fargo, which is located in Charlotte. There are some trends that are favorable for this track, and you should follow them.
It’s a tough thing to follow though given the nature of this field and the odds per dollar with making a good lineup.
Let’s take a more in depth look.
Length is important, but don’t make it a priority for every player
Eagles are plentiful at Quail Hollow. Granted this was a bit on the high side, but there were 41 eagles converted at last year’s tournament.
There are four par 5s.
No. 5, 570 yards – A dogleg left that plays shorter than the 570 yards indicates. As long as you get to the flat part of the fairway around 230 yards out, you’re golden. Length helps, but is not required here.
No. 7, 532 yards – Shortest par 5 on the course and is reachable for anyone. However, the fairway is tight, the green is small, and there is water running down the entire right side of the hole. More on accuracy later.
No. 10, 598 yards – Believe it or not, this hole is more reachable in two than you think. The ground does need to be firm and the wind can’t be in your face, but eagles do happen here as six were given up last year. Obviously length helps here.
No. 15, 577 yards – Conditions and pin placements will particularly determine eagles here. It’s a dogleg left, so it plays shorter than the length. However, it’s uphill on the tee shot, and the green is protected by a nasty bunker in front with a very complex green. Length is necessary to have the opportunity to go for it, but the second shot of having higher-lofted clubs in will help as well.
There’s one key element I left out though – Charlotte just received three inches of rain. Obviously it’s only Tuesday, but the Charlotte Observer on the Wells Fargo Championship website has given us some insight to how the conditions of the course will play out.
Here are the notes to take from it:
1. The course will play longer with the wet conditions.
2. They plan on trimming the rough a bit in comparison to previous years, which gives players more opportunities to go for the green.
3. Given that the weather looks good for Charlotte the rest of the week, the greens should dry out, and they should make the greens firmer and faster than in previous years. This means higher-lofted clubs are better, which means longer hitters are better.
As a side note, I should be emphasizing accuracy a little bit more with certain tournaments, and the Wells Fargo is one where it’s important from an eagles and scoring perspective, historically speaking. However, given that they plan on trimming the rough a bit, and missing the fairway off the tee isn’t too troublesome (there is some water on the final few holes), I’m not too concerned about it.
So, length is clearly good, but why not prioritize it for everyone?
Because the most important thing is having everyone make the cut. You are much better off having everyone make the cut rather than picking the winner. This will always be true as long as the scoring system on DraftKings stays the same.
Spend as much of the money as you can while making a good lineup that uses odds per dollar, who is playing well as of late and eliminating as much risk of bad play as you can. Length is usually a good tiebreaker to use when deciding between a couple players.
Rory seems good, but is he worth the price?
If you’ve been following my articles, you’ll know I haven’t used him in any of my sample lineups. The truth is, I haven’t used him in any of my lineups that I haven’t shared (maybe like 1% at the Masters just for variety).
This has worked out so far, but it’s not just because he hasn’t won a tournament (besides the WGC Match Play where there was no DFS), it’s more that his price is so high in comparison to everyone else that the scoring ceiling in golf never allows him to be a viable option. The only exception to that is if you picked two golfers at the $7k level and three between $5k and $6k and got lucky.
Remember, Russell Westbrook can go off for 80 FPTS with an astronomical triple-double against the 76ers, or Bryce Harper can tee off for three HRs against the Marins, and you must have them in your lineup to win a GPP. That’s not the case in golf because it’s very, very unlikely the winner will shoot 30-under with six eagles while everyone else is at 15-under or worse (exaggerated a bit, but you get the point).
On this note, I understand it’s very tempting to use Rory this week, and he has had a remarkable history at Quail Hollow. After winning the event in his first appearance in 2010, he’s finished no worse than T10, and he is the definition of length and hitting high-ball flights into the green on par 5s. If you look at our odds per dollar tab, you’ll see Rory is an absurd favorite.
But realistically, the salary simply isn’t worth it. Otherwise, you’re just gambling.
I’m going to switch up how I do this picks for the foreseeable future. I’ll do this by my favorite plays at each salary level. This will allow readers to see a little more variety of who to consider.
Another thing to consider before you see the picks – after reading some other people’s articles on DFS PGA, it appears many like to favor players who do well at the same tournament in a previous season. Or, they like to fade players when they haven’t performed well.
While there can be some truth to that, such as if a course is set up a way that favors a certain type of player, it’s misguided. Most of the time, it’s just variance, or it’s not put into context appropriately.
An example of a player historically doing well at a tournament is Bubba Watson at the Masters. It favors a fade for lefties, which he likes, and accuracy isn’t that important off the tee since the rough is minimal, and the only time you’ll get a penalty stroke off the tee is on No. 13. Length also helps tremendously.
An example of a player historically doing poorly at a tournament is Zach Johnson at the U.S. Open. While the event is at a different course each year, the U.S. Open is often the longest track of the year, and Zach is a shorter hitter. Zach’s biggest strength is his wedge game, and he often only gets to utilize that on his third shot on par 5s. That’s why in 11 U.S. Open’s, he’s made the cut only six times and finished no better than T30.
But, for example, if a golfer finished T8 and T21 the last two years at at he tournament and he’s $7,000, that does not mean anything. That can happen for anyone at any time. But if you see a purpose that his game really fits the course, he has played the course a ton as a kid growing up and knows the greens, the odds are good, etc – then of course the reasoning is there.
Okay, to the picks.
Henrik Stenson $11,200 – This one is simple. The length and consistency of Stenson is tough to pass up on each week. It also helps that his game is built for pretty much any kind of golf course. Furthermore, going off my previous point before the picks, Stenson didn’t play in the Wells Fargo last year, but he missed the cut in the three years prior. Guess what? Stenson was missing several cuts a few years ago. He won’t be highly used, and he should be a great pick.
Hideki Matsuyama $10,600 – No eagles from Hidkei last week, which was certainly disappointing, but he obviously is capable at any point in making them. He’s been absolutely on fire this year with six top 10s and has made 13 of 14 cuts. His last five events are finishes of T17, 5, T21, T23, T4. There’s no reason to abandon him now.
Adam Scott $8,600 – This is kind of a funny pick for me. I’ve mostly stayed away from Scott this season for two reasons. One, he’s been too pricey. Second, I don’t like how he’s been switching back-and-forth on the putters (190th in putts per round). However, that doesn’t mean a new opportunity presents itself. Scott’s price has decreased significantly, and the odds support using him. On top of that, the depth of this tournament is weak, and Scott’s mediocre results so far this year have been in elite competition. He’s still only missed one cut this year, and Scott is fifth in driving distance.
Justin Thomas $8,600 – One of my favorite rising young guns on the PGA Tour. He’s already logged 18 events with 13 made cuts and four top 10s. Furthermore, he’s made six of his last seven cuts with three of those finishes coming at T12 or better. Thomas is 18th in driving distance and with Quail Hollow not being a particularly challenging course for rookies, he should have another solid outing.
Kevin Kisner $8,100 – The best play from an odds perspective since Kisner couldn’t quite edge Fowler at The Players Championship. Kisner will be used an insane amount, but you’re crazy to not consider him with the run he’s on. He only has one missed cut in his last eight tournaments, and he’s finished second in two of his last three. Despite average driving distance, his aggressive play always puts him in eagle consideration.
Ryan Moore $8,000 – Even with a missed cut by one shot last week (had two unlucky breaks with the water hazards), Moore is still fantastic from an odds perspective. With a T12 at the Masters, fifth at the Valspar Championship, T9 at the WGC Cadillac and several other finishes around T20, Moore typically finishes near the top of the leaderboard anywhere.
Brendon de Jonge $7,200 – If you look closely at the odds per dollar list, players less than $8k are spread out all over the place. I think it’s critical for the cheaper you guys you want the least risky guys who are as high up on the odds list as possible. De Jonge fits that category as he’s the best odds play at his price. He has only two missed cuts this year. One was at the Texas Open, and he was part of that Thursday morning wave where the wind was insane, and players were lucky to break 80 (shot 83). The other was at the Northern Trust Open, where he shot 80 on the opening day. If you take out one bad round and one unlucky weather draw, de Jonge has made every cut since January.
Jason Kokrak $7,100 – Outside of becoming victim to the island hole at Sawgrass and barely missing the cut at the Players as a result, Kokrak has been nearly flawless for someone at his price the last two months. Kokrak has four top 20s and two top 10s since March. He’s 11th in driving distance and is great on the odds per dollar list.View all posts by Nick Juskewycz