The Wells Fargo Championship
Dates: May 5th8th, 2011
Course: Quail Hollow Charlotte, NC
TV: The Golf Channel/CBS
by Evergreen, PGA Handicapper, Predictem.com
Another calendar flip has the PGA Tour into month five and the players travel to North Carolina this week to take on Quail Hollow at The Wells Fargo Championship. Rory McIlroy stormed the field with rounds of 65 and 62 on the weekend to take the 2010 championship and returns to defend his title against a very strong field. Tiger Woods was scheduled to play this week but backed out due an injured MCL and Achilles suffered during round three at the Masters. The injuries appear minor by all accounts and his return is expected soon, possibly even next week. Phil Mickelson highlights the contender list with Martin Kaymer and Jim Furyk also among the notable participants. The Golf Channel has the early rounds with CBS picking up the weekend coverage.
Quail Hollow is developing a reputation on Tour as one of the toughest tests in the regular rotation. The 7,442 yard, par-72 course boasts the toughest greens to hole putts from any distance and the three finishing holes are the hardest of any three finishers on Tour. Good scores can be had but players must put a premium on finding fairways and a good short game will be important in getting those key up and down par saves.
Each week, we take a look at the golf sportsbooks and highlight a few players that we think can win it all. We give you a short, middle and long odds pick to win and breakdown a couple of head to head matches that you can find at just about any online betting site. Here are our picks for the 2011 Wells Fargo Championships with odds and matches courtesy of the board at Bodog.
Short Favorite: Dustin Johnson (20 to 1 odds to win)
Dustin will be making his first start since the Masters and one might think that his 2011 season has been below average due to a lack of wins but Johnson has missed only two cuts and has a third and second place finish in just nine starts. D.J. leads the Tour in birdie average at 4.68 per round and his 3rd ranked driving distance is a good match with the 14th best GIR%. Johnson does miss his share of fairways but he still hits 61% of the greens from the rough, mostly due to length off the tee. There is no question that he can overpower any course and the wins will come when he finds a way to save a par here and there instead taking that bogey.
Middle of the Road: Bubba Watson (25 to 1 odds to win)
Three cheers for Bubbas win at the Zurich, especially since we tabbed him in this very spot last week. We will go again with Bubba, not just as a thank you, but he is a player to keep your eye on over the summer, especially if he is going to be getting 25 to 1 value. Watson is ranked number 1 in ballstriking, which is unreal for the second longest player on Tour, and is also ranked first in both greens hit and eagles. That distance helps him to the 3rd best total driving mark and his 11th best birdie average and 8th ranked all around game cap a Tiger-like stat sheet. Hes already won twice this year and has a T2 on his Quail Hollow resume, so theres no reason to believe he wont at least contend into the weekend.
Longshot: Bill Haas (50 to 1 odds to win)
Haas is having a nice year so far with only two trunk slams in eleven starts and three top tens, including a runner-up at the Hope. Bill has some moderate success with T29 and T22 finishes in the 2009 and 2010 events at Quail Hollow and looks to have the game to win here. He ranks 17th in total driving and 11th in greens hit which should be enough to get some quality birdie looks. His 29th ranked birdie average is more than respectable given how little that category separates 1st from 50th, and his 8th best ballstriking mark is a good indicator of a strong and consistent tee to green game. If the putter is working, expect to see him on the first page all week.
Head to Head Matches (our pick to win) *matches are for entire event, check with your online bookie for single round matches and prop bets.
Paul Casey (-120) v. Rickie Fowler (-110) (Fowler)
Tee to green, these players are mirror images of each other but even though Casey hits way more greens, Fowler still makes more birdies. Everyone is going to make mistakes at Quail Hollow and the only way out is to get some back on the scoring holes. This should be a close match but Fowler is getting better each week and is the better value.
Phil Mickelson (-120) v. Rory McIlroy (-110) (McIlroy)
There arent too many reasons to put the defending champion as an underdog and none apply in this match. McIlroy is closing in on fully eclipsing Mickelson as a player overall and his blowups at Majors are the only thing that has kept him from being the best player in the world. Take Rory in any underdog situation now, it wont be that way for long.