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Wells Fargo Championship preview

Adam Scott. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Roar Guru
1st May, 2018
4

The PGA Tour returns to Charlotte, North Carolina this week for the Wells Fargo Championship. The players will tee it up at the storied Quail Hollow Club.

The par 71 course is the second longest on tour after Torrey Pines South at 7,554 yards. The host of the PGA Championship last year, Quail Hollow Club played as the hardest course on the PGA Tour, more than half a stroke more than the second (Augusta National).

The famed ‘Green Mile’ is made up of the 16, 17 and 18 at Quail Hollow and is one of the toughest stretches in all of golf.

Quail Hollow has historically been one of the most testing courses tee-to-green in the world of golf. Driving accuracy percentage at Quail Hollow falls under 50%, way below the tour average of 61%.

The greens are also almost 5% harder to hit in regulation than the average tour event. Despite the reduced amount of greens in regulation hit at Quail Hollow, the scrambling percentage is lower than the tour average.

The greens are Bermuda, and many players use this week as a competitive hit out for the Players Championship next week.

The emphasis on proficiency this week has highlighted the list of past champions. Rory Milroy (two-time winner), J.B Holmes, Rickie Fowler, Tiger Woods, Lucas Glover, Anthony Kim, Vijay Singh and Sean O’Hair. All these players are elite players from tee-to-green.

The field this week is the strongest since the Masters, with Justin Thomas, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Paul Casey, Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, all making the journey to Charlotte.

Key statistics
Tee-to-green proficiency is fundamental to success at Quail Hollow. The emphasis on accuracy of the tee and approaching the green cannot be understated. Due to the length of Quail Hollow Club, the ability to control iron shots from outside 200 yards is crucial.

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Quail Hollow tends to favour longer hitters here in Charlotte.

The statistics for this week and the top-10 in each are:

Strokes gained off the tee
1. Rory McIlroy
2. Luke List
3. Ross Fisher
4. Tony Finau
5. Adam Scott
6. Hideki Matsuyama
7. J.B Holmes
8. Keegan Bradley
9. Lucas Glover
10. Byeong Hun An

Driving distance
1. Luke List
2. Trey Mullinax
3. Rory McIlroy
4. Keith Mitchell
5. Ryan Ruffels
6. Nick Watney
7. Tony Finau
8. Jason Kokrak
9. Justin Thomas
10. Brooks Keopka

Strokes gained approach
1. Adam Scott
2. Scott Stallings
3. Lucas Glover
4. Gary Woodland
5. Paul Casey
6. Phil Mickelson
7. Francesco Molinari
8. Rory McIlroy
9. Harold Varner III
10. Tyrell Hatton

Proximity 200+ yards
1. Rory McIlroy
2. Davis Love III
3. Luke List
4. Adam Scott
5. Jason Day
6. Justin Thomas
7. Grayson Murray
8. Hideki Matsuyama
9. Ted Potter Jr
10. Tiger Woods

The culmination of critical statistics
1. Rory McIlroy
2. Adam Scott
3. Jason Day
4. Lucas Glover
5. Luke List
6. Gary Woodland
7. Justin Thomas
8. Ross Fisher
9. Hideki Matsuyama
10. Keegan Bradley

Prediction
I will provide my predictions as to who will do well this week from four categories:

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Top 20 in the world rankings
Going past Rory McIlroy at Quail Hollow is impossible. The Northern Irishman has a phenomenal record including two wins and a course record 61 in 2015. McIlroy rates out phenomenally in both a statistical and historical analysis and is rightly a short-priced favourite.

21-100
Lucas Glover has been one of the premier ball strikers on the PGA tour for a decade. The often streaky American came eighth in 2016 and has been dialled in with his irons and off the tee this year. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 2009 US Open Champion were in contention come Sunday.

100+
Grayson Murray comes out 15th in the calmative stat model. Although ever unpopular, Murray has been red hot so far this year with three top-20s in his last four tournament starts. An excellent long iron player, Grayson can follow up his maiden win last year with another this time.

Australian
2013 Masters Champion Adam Scott has been one of the premier tee-to-green players throughout his whole career and this year is no different, ranking first in strokes gained approach in this field. Unsurprisingly, his putter has let him down.

Scott has lost strokes to the field putting in every tournament since the WGC at Firestone in early August 2017. Making the cut in his last two visits to this tournament, the Queenslander can flip his putting form around this week.