Pat Mayo and Geoff Fienberg preview the course and run through the odds while making their 2023 Wells Fargo Championship Picks.
WELLS FARGO FINAL BETS, DRAFTKINGS OWNERSHIP, WEATHER
2023 Wells Fargo — Picks & Preview | Info & Research | Stats/Tools
Get the Link to the RAKE FREE PME DraftKings Contest Here
2023 Wells Fargo — DraftKings Picks | Own Projections
2023 Wells Fargo Championship: Field
156 Players | Top 65 & Ties Make the Cut
First Tee Time: Thursday, May 4
Defending Champion: Max Homa
Are the elevated events starting to lose their luster not even halfway into the first year of existence? I understand the need to increase the purse size to ensure more money gets into the hands of the top players, but there needs to be a less-is-more approach to these things. There’s a Major in two weeks with the PGA Championship at Oak Hill, followed by the Charles Schwab Classic at historic Colonial, then an elevated event at The Memorial, followed by the world’s oldest Open championship in Canada, then the U.S. Open and then another elevated event at The Travelers Championship.
What makes this a particularly strange stretch of events for the players is many will want to play in Fort Worth with so many Texas natives on TOUR, and many top players feel obligated to play in Canada as it’s the week before a Major and RBC is one of golf’s most important sponsors.
Each player gets to bow out of one elevated event at no cost, but miss a second and it starts to eat into your bank account. Rory McIlroy is the only one who has skipped a second so far and it was worth a reported $3 million taken away from him in the PIP pool.
This week, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler are skipping out on the festivities (along with Billy Horschel, Tom Hoge, Russell Henley, Justin Rose and Lucas Herbert). Will Zalatoris, Aaron Wise and Hideki Matsuyama will also be out with injuries.
Rahm decided to defend his title in Mexico against playing in this event and, I imagine, Texas guy Scheffler is planning on playing next week in Dallas for significantly less money at the Byron Nelson. Forcing so many elevated events into such a small window to going to slowly deteriorate these fields. They make far more sense in the first 12 weeks of the year when there are no Major championships on the docket.
This field is still amazing, there’s no question about that. It’s just having a super field once every two weeks really takes away from the prestige they’re aiming for and really creates a gap between these events and the Majors, when we get to see the PGA TOUR’s best along with the Top LIV players.
2023 Wells Fargo Championship: Key Stats
- Strokes Gained: Approach
- Strokes Gained: Off the Tee
- Proximity Gained 200+ Yards
- Par 4s Gained: 450-500 Yards
Mayo’s Key Stats powered by FantasyNational.com
2023 Wells Fargo Championship: Course
- Course: Quail Hollow
- Yardage: 7,538
- Par: 71
- Greens: Champion G12 bermudagrass overseeded with Poa
Par 3 (4): Average distance - 196 yards. As a whole, the Par 3s played over par a season ago.
- Hole 17 could create some issues down the stretch on Sunday: 26.3% bogey-or-worse rate (8.6% double or worse, highest on the course).
Par 4 (11): Eight measure over 450 yards. Four of the five most difficult holes are Par 4s. No. 14 is 344 yards and has the third-highest eagle rate (1.1%) and birdie rate (34%).
Par 5 (3): No. 7 is reachable in two and holds the highest eagle rate on the course at 3%. No. 15 has the lowest scoring average to par (-0.46) with a 45% birdie rate.
2023 Wells Fargo Championship: Past Winners
- 2022: Max Homa (-8) (TPC Potomac)
- 2021: Rory McIlroy (-10)
- 2019: Max Homa (-15)
- 2018: Jason Day (-12)
- 2017: Brian Harman (-10) (Eagle Point Golf Club)
- 2016: James Hahn (-9)
- 2015: Rory McIlory (-21)
2022: Different Course
2021: Rory McIlroy (-10, one clear of Abe Ancer)
- Had no form entering play (consecutive missed cuts)
- No stand out round, but 66-68 in three of four days (was eight back after shooting a 72 on Thursday)
- Each of the Top 8 finishers picked up at least 1.7 strokes with their putter (five of them gained at least 3.5 strokes)
2019: Max Homa (-15, three clear of Joel Dahmen)
- Had no form entering play (three straight finishes outside the Top 40)
- His Friday 63 was not only the round of the day, it ended up being the difference on the final leaderboard (Dahmen shot a 66)
- Jason Day was the only Top 30 finisher to lose strokes on approach
- Homa won on the back of +9.9 strokes putting (best in the field)
2018: Jason Day (-12, two clear of Nick Watney and Aaron Wise)
- Was Top 20 in seven of eight events prior
- Day was the only golfer to card four rounds in the 60s
- Four of the top six in driving distance cashed Top 10 paychecks (six of the Top 12 finishers lost fairways to the field)
2017: Different Course
2016: James Hahn (-9, playoff win over Roberto Castro)
- Had no form entering play (hadn’t made a cut in over three months)
- His 68 on moving day was the best on the course and proved critical (three strokes better than Castro)
- Hahn and Castro were two of the Top 6 players in the field in Proximity in the 75-100 yard bucket
2015: Rory McIlory (-21, seven clear of Patrick Rodgers and Webb Simpson)
- Elite lead in form (Top-11 in each of his four events prior)
- McIlroy’s 61 on Saturday was 7+ strokes better than any of the next five on the final leaderboard
- Six of the Top 10 in SG: OTT cashed Top 10 pay checks
2023 Wells Fargo Championship: NOTES
Quail Hollow has been the host of the Wells Fargo Championship since 2003 outside of seasons where the venue has attracted even larger events (2017 PGA Championship; 2022 Presidents Cup).
A championship-level course located in Charlotte, North Carolina, Quail Hollow is widely regarded as one of the premier golf destinations in the Southeastern United States. The course was originally designed by renowned golf course architect George Cobb in 1961 but has undergone several redesigns since then, including a major renovation by Tom Fazio in 1997 and again prior to the 2017 PGA Championship.
The course is known for its challenging layout, featuring tree-lined fairways, numerous water hazards and strategically placed bunkers that require precision shot-making from players. The signature hole at Quail Hollow is the Par 3 17th, which requires a tee shot over a large pond to a green protected by bunkers on either side.
Strokes Gained will always show approach as the biggest driver of success of the T2G metrics, the gap between approach and off the tee is smaller than at any other course on TOUR. Of the Top 10 finishers per year, they average +0.72 SG: OTT and +0.87 SG: APP per round. There are courses where approach is over three times as important as driving, for reference.
Golfers need to be precise off the tee in order to avoid the thick rough and strategically placed bunkers that line Quail Hollow’s narrow fairways. Distance has proven to be more important than accuracy, but some combination of the two trumps all. You’ll see a generic bomber pop up each year, or even win from nowhere in the case of Derek Ernst. That alone should prove the value of driving distance.
It’s not the only path, however. You’ll see a scattershot of shorter-to-average-length players that still gain a bounty of strokes off the tee: Francesco Molinari, Abraham Ancer, Joel Dahmen all spring to mind. Over the past 36 rounds, there are eight players who rank inside the Top 25 of SG: OTT but outside the Top 50 driving distance in this field: Collin Morikawa, Corey Conners, Tyler Duncan, Sungjae Im, Brian Harman, Aaron Rai, Keegan Bradley, and Jason Day. Joel Dahmen (32nd) and Si Woo Kim (38th) aren’t far behind either. Shorten the time frame to 24 rounds and all of a sudden Ben Martin and James HAHHHHHNNNNNNN enter the Top 25 OTT picture.
The common trait among the shorter smackers who’ve experienced the most success is an ability to control long irons. Over 50% of approaches this week will come from beyond 175 yards (31% from 200+).
There’s also a weird crossover between Quail Hollow with Rivera and Torrey Pines despite being on opposite coasts. Each features fast, unique green complexes, and each requires a ton of distance to cut down the course. From the past decade, Max Homa, James Hahn and JB Holmes all have wins at Quail and RIV; Jason Day and Homa have both won at Torrey.
Quail Hollow stuffs its hardest holes at the very end. The Green Mile — Holes 16/17/18 — are three of the four toughest on the course; each possessing a birdie rate under 9%. For DraftKings Showdown, the edge will go to the players teeing off on Hole No. 1. Holes 7/8/10 are three of the easiest five. All have birdie or better rates over 27%. If you can be one of the 11% of players to walk away with a birdie on No. 9, a streak isn’t likely, but certainly possible, unlike the closing stretch.
2022: Different Course
2021: Rory ($10,000) as the fifth most expensive golfer on the board … three of the top four DraftKings scorers cost you at least $8,900. That said, three of the top-seven scorers run you no more than $7,000. All three of those players are bombers (Keith Mitchell, Gary Woodland, Luke List).
2019: The top two scorers cost an average of $7,100, but don’t take that to mean that it was chaos at the top of the DraftKings board … the next four on the DK leaderboard cost an average of nearly $9,500.
- 14 of the 16 most expensive golfers made the cut.
2018: Day ($10,200) required you to pay up, but the average price of the next six finishers in DraftKings scoring was under $8,000.
- Finau finished T-21 for the week on the final leaderboard, but he was the sixth-highest scorer on DraftKings (tied on the leaderboard with Justin Thomas … he out-scored JT 88-63 in terms of DKFP).
2023 Wells Fargo Championship Picks
When VIK finally picks up his maiden victory in the United States, it’s going to be at a course that deemphasizes chipping. Quail Hollow is that course. Obviously, having a good week around the greens is always better than a bad week (DUH) but ATG rarely plays a large factor in determining the winner. Yes, Hovland can chip himself out of any event, we’ve seen that enough, but between his current ball-striking form and success at the main crossover course, and a T3 in his lone Quail Hollow appearance, it’s setting up quite nicely for him.
Get the Link to the RAKE FREE PME DraftKings Contest Here
Stevens flashed upside in weaker fields with Top 3 finishes at Corales and Valero a month ago, and his skill set lines up perfectly for Quail Hollow. The putting can always sink him, but he proved himself on the greens at Torrey Pines earlier this year, gaining +5.3 SG:PUTT in three rounds on the south course en route to a T13 finish. In fact, there’s been a dramatic spilt in his performance on long and short courses in 2023. On course under 7,400 yards, Stevens missed four of six cuts with T34 as his top result (air Pebble Beach). In four starts on courses over 7,400 yards: T13/T15/T3/T2.
Put your knowledge to the test. Sign up for DraftKings and experience the game inside the game.
Pat Mayo is an award-winning video host and producer of long and short-form content, and the host of The Pat Mayo Experience daily talk show. (Subscribe for video or audio). Mayo (@ThePME) won the 2023 Fantasy Sports Writing Association Podcast of the Year and was a finalist for three FSWA Awards in 2023 (Best Podcast, Daily Fantasy Writer of the Year, Golf Writer of the Year). His 27 FSWA nominations lead all writers this decade and are second-most all-time.
Mayo has been recognized across multiple sports (Football, Baseball & Golf), mediums (Video, Writing & Podcasting), genre (Humor), and game formats (Sports Betting, Daily Fantasy, and Traditional Season Long Fantasy).
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is ThePME) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.