The Wells Fargo Championship returns to its traditional May date and features a full 156-player field. The event will have a slightly stronger field than last week, with 16 of the top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking on the entry list (as of writing). Mito Pereira and Davis Riley withdrew late Sunday and have been replaced by Kevin Chappell and Ben Martin.
Headlining, as he often does at this event, is world No. 7 Rory McIlroy, who is coming off a three-week rest after finishing runner-up at the Masters in April. Rory is a three-time winner of this event and grabbed his first ever PGA TOUR win at Quail Hollow in 2010. This year’s event will be held at TPC Potomac though (a one year-hiatus from Quail Hollow). Joining McIlroy in the event this year will be Matt Fitzpatrick, Tony Finau and Abraham Ancer — who finished runner-up to McIlroy last year at Quail.
The cut will feature the top 65 players and ties, and it takes place after Friday’s round.
Location: Potomac, MD
TPC Potomac: Par 70, 7160 yards; Greens: Bentgrass
The Wells Fargo is taking a one-year hiatus from Quail Hollow, which is hosting the President’s Cup later in September. TPC Potomac will return to the PGA TOUR schedule this year as it’s one-year replacement The course was last seen on the PGA TOUR in 2018, when it hosted the now-defunct Quicken Loans event. TPC Potomac went through a massive renovation in 2006 and is a completely different venue from when it hosted the Kemper Open back in the early 2000s. Greens and fairways have were replaced with new bentgrass, and the revitalized venue was greeted warmly by many players in 2017 at the Quicken Loan — despite the course playing very tough (Kyle Stanley won in 2017 at just seven-under par). Bunkers were also redone, and fescue grass lines the course in some areas, as well, making the venue a little more inviting to the eye.
As a par 70, TPC Potomac actually plays decently long at over 7,100 yards. It has six par 4s that reach over 450 yards in length and also a par 5 that should play well over 600 yards most days. In addition, two of the par 3s this week come in at over 200 yards, with the par-3 third hole likely playing over 220 yards most days. As such, mid-to-long iron play should be key. In 2018, the last time Potomac was seen on the PGA TOUR, Francesco Molinari blitzed the course with one of the most impressive ball-striking displays we’ve seen in the past decade, gaining +9.9 strokes on Approach alone, and won the event by eight strokes.
The leaderboard that year featured a ton of shorter hitters, as well (Molinari, Ryan Armour, Brian Gay, Abraham Ancer and Andrew Landry all finished in the top 10), so driving distance may not be a stat to get overly concerned with this week. However, of the top 11 finishers that year, only two failed to gain more than +2.0 strokes on Approach for the week.
The venue has also hosted two Web.com events since the redesign (2012-Neediest Kids, 2013 Mid-Atlantic Championships) and a Senior Players Championship in 2010. Given that the winning score in these recent events was not better than eight under par, a tough week of scoring is likely in store for the players.
2022 Outlook: The forecast this week is going to be a big change over last week. Whereas last week we had highs in the 90s and sunny skies, this week’s temperatures may not creep above 60 degrees Fahrenheit for the final two days of the event. Thursday looks like the best day, with sunny skies and highs around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, but then clouds and some potential rain checks in for the last three days. Saturday and Sunday both have highs of just 55-60 degrees Fahrenheit, with Saturday potentially seeing some rain in the forecast. Friday afternoon could see some rain roll in, which may benefit early starters that day and is worth watching in case a more pronounced weather split develops. Wind doesn’t seem likely to be a huge factor, as gusts aren’t expected to get over 10 mph, but expect tougher scoring this year with the cooler weather on tap.
Last 5 winners
2021—Rory McIlroy -16 (over Abraham Ancer -15)
2019—Max Homa -15 (over Joel Dahmen -12)
2018—Jason Day -12 (over Nick Watney and Aaron Wise -10)
2017—Brian Harman* -10 (over Dustin Johnson and Pat Perez -9)
2016—James Hahn -9 (over Roberto Castro-playoff)
*played at Eagle Point
**the rest of the year’s were played at Quail Hollow, this year’s event will be played at a new venue in TPC Potomac
Winners Stats and Course Overview
*Last event winner: Rory McIlroy—2021 (15-under-par)
- 2021 lead-in form (T42-T52-MC-T20-T37)
*Last winner at TPC Potomac: Francesco Molinari—2018 (21-under par)
- Molinari put on an impressive display at this week’s venue back in 2018. He led the field in Approach stats and tee-to-green stats by a wide margin.
- It’s also worth noting that while he was tied for the lead in birdie or better percentage for the week back in 2018, he also led the field in bogey avoidance by a wide margin.
- The top-10 in 2018 was also littered with players who didn’t rank out highly from a driving distance perspective but were great at hitting greens (nine of the top 11 gained +2.0 strokes or more on approach for the week).
- Ultimately, great ball-striking is what prevailed at TPC Potomac in 2018, and regardless of whether a player is hitting it well off the tee or on approach, those are stats you’ll want to emphasize even more than usual this week.
Finding Values (DraftKings Sportsbook)
Odds to win are one factor to think about when picking players (but not the only thing, so be careful putting too much weight on them). This section is going to detail a few of the players who have the best fantasy value compared to their DraftKings Sportsbook odds of winning this week.
All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.
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1. Corey Conners ($10,100; T12-T6): Conners definitely looks like the class of the field after Rory McIlroy (who would be on this list, but he hasn’t played in over three weeks). He’s gaining big time off the tee and on approach every week and looks like a solid pay-up option again for daily fantasy golf purposes.
2. Matt Kuchar ($7,900; T3-T2): Kuchar looks like a steal of a value just based on his last two starts alone. The veteran has been hot with the putter though (+7.0 strokes or more putting in his last two starts), and if that club cools off, so will he.
3. Tony Finau ($10,600; T2-T35): Finau saved those daily fantasy golf lineups who had him rostered last Sunday with a great final round. He’s priced up but is certainly playing better, landing three made cuts in a row after a slow start to 2022.
4. Brandon Wu ($7,500; T2-T28): Wu is starting to look like a player who might break through soon. He’s made five cuts in a row, with top-five finishes at Puerto Rico and Mexico, and gained over +10.0 strokes ball-striking last week. Don’t forget about him in these weaker fields from here on out.
5. Troy Merritt ($7,500; T12-T4): You’re probably wondering why Troy Merritt is +3500 on DraftKings Sportsbook this week? He’s made five cuts in a row now but has gained +14.0 strokes putting in his last two starts. Regression is likely.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Woodland and Bradley a nice starting duo
For cash games, we have another thin field on tap, so drifting under $7K should likely be avoided. Starting with two players in Keegan Bradley ($9,600) and Gary Woodland ($9,100), who have great approach games and should be able to handle a tougher test like TPC Potomac, seems like a solid idea. Both rank well in long- and short-term strokes gained on approach stats, with Bradley also coming off a T4 finish at the team event in his last start. Starting with these two gives you the flexibility of targeting solid players like Webb Simpson ($8,000) and Si Woo Kim ($8,400) in the $8K range, too.
Tournaments: Pay up for the Ancer
Obviously, we have another big favorite in the field this week, but Rory McIlroy ($11,500) is also priced up well above $11K now. For a pivot in larger fields I like Abraham Ancer ($10,400), who is coming off a mediocre week in Mexico (T42) but struck the ball well there, regardless. Ancer was terrible around the greens last week (lost -7.0 strokes ATG), but his accuracy off the tee and solid approach game will benefit him on this week's track, where he landed a T4 in 2018. David Lipsky ($7,500) is another player who sets up well for this event. He led the field in Approach play last week and any step up with his putter or around the green stats could lead him to another big finish. Other potential GPP targets include Doc Redman ($7,000 - see below), Branden Grace ($7,000 - see below) and Kevin Chappell ($6,700).
MY PICK: Gary Woodland ($9,100)
Woodland is a player who has seemed on the verge of grabbing another win for a few months now. He blew a great chance to break his winless streak at the Arnold Palmer (when he took multiple shots to get out of a bunker on the 71st hole) but has continued to put up some solid stats and finishes, nonetheless. Despite missed cuts at the Masters and PLAYERS, Woodland has now racked up five top-25 finishes in his last seven starts and gained over +3.0 strokes on his approaches for the third time in four starts last week in Mexico.
TPC Potomac certainly rewarded those who came in striking the ball well the last two times we saw it on the PGA TOUR, and it’s worth noting 2017 Quickens Loan winner (played at TPC Potomac) Kyle Stanley also shares with Woodland the distinction of having won at TPC Scottsdale (Phoenix Open). For a player who has gained over 80 DKFP in five of his last seven starts, Woodland looks like good value this week and sets up as the perfect type of elite ball-striker who can grind out a win at this tougher venue, if his putter gets semi-hot.
MY SLEEPER: Doc Redman ($7,000)
It feels like it’s finally time to take a shot with another one of my favorite longshot plays in Redman. He has come close to grabbing outright wins at longer odds numerous times on the PGA TOUR since he arrived back in 2018 and has four finishes of T4 or better on his resume since the starts of the 2020 season. Redman’s strength is undoubtedly his Approach game, and it’s been working well for him over his last few starts. He gained +3.2 strokes on approach at the RBC Heritage a couple of weeks back, then struck the ball well again at the team event, where he gained a top-five finish with Sam Ryder ($6,800).
The setup this week really favored players who rely on accurate, pinpoint ball-striking over power in 2018 — with names like Ancer, Molinari and Landry in the top 10 — and it’s certainly worth pointing out Redman shot a final round 64 back in 2018 on TPC Potomac, as well (as a rookie fresh out on the PGA TOUR). With his game trending, he sets up as a solid sleeper and nice top-10 bet at big +1100 odds on DraftKings Sportsbook.
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