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The field this week is set at 156 players. The full-field event is the second-to-last start the players will get before competing at Kiawah Island in two and a half weeks at the PGA Championship. The Wells Fargo was one of a handful of events that got left off the schedule last year due to the COVID-19 stoppage, so the 2019 champion, Max Homa, is still defending here. Homa won his first career title in dominant fashion here in 2019 and will be joined by other past champions this week like Rickie Fowler, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and James Hahn.
In terms of strength of field, McIlroy has fallen to 15th in the OWGR but we do have six players from the OWGR top-10 here. Justin Thomas (No. 2) and Jon Rahm (No. 3) headline that elite group, and we’ll also get our first look at Xander Schauffele in stroke-play competition since his unfortunate late-stage meltdown at the Masters. This is an all-encompassing field with a lot of high-end talent and several interesting grinders, so making DFS lineups this week on DraftKings should be fun.
This event returns to Quail Hollow again in 2021. Outside of one year off in 2017 for some renovations, Quail has remained the host course for this event since its inception in 2003. The overall yardage here now spans up to 7,600 yards, and the par has changed from a 72 to 71, making it one of the longer venues in play on the PGA TOUR.
The course now has only three par-5s but does have eight par-4s that measure in at over 450 yards, including the new par-4 first that plays as a dogleg and played as long as 524 yards for the PGA Championship. The greens have been replaced, again, to Champion Bermuda, and like most new greens have tended to play on the firmer side since being put in. While this venue still plays somewhat similar to past years, keep in mind that golfers’ past records at previous Wells Fargo events, prior to 2017, aren’t as good an indicator as they once were.
Quail is essentially a classic tree-lined course that challenges golfers with tough driving holes throughout but still adds in the odd scoring hole here and there to make things fair. In 2018, it played as the fifth-toughest venue on the PGA TOUR, playing to a 72.132 scoring average, and in 2019 it played as the eighth-toughest venue at a 71.762 average score. In terms of profile it’s very similar to what we saw last week at the Valspar—another tough long par-71—and it also profiles well with Riviera, where there is also a big emphasis on great tee to green play. 2019 Wells Fargo winner Max Homa (who was also top-10 at Valspar last week) provides a good link to all three courses.
From a profile perspective, this venue has tended to favor good drivers of the ball (and longer hitters), and that theme has extended since the renovations. Of the past seven winners at Quail Hollow, all six have averaged at least 290 yards off the tee for the season in the year of their win and ranked no worse than 36th in Driving Distance for the week in the year of their win—Thomas ranked first in Driving Distance at the 2017 PGA Championship, while Jason Day ranked 14th in this stat in 2018 when he won here.
2021 Outlook: There is some rain in the forecast early in the week, but the tournament itself should see plenty of sunny skies. Thursday is slightly cooler with highs in the low 70s but it should be sunny with little to no wind. The winds do pick up on Friday with afternoon gusts above 10 mph. The weekend is also devoid of much activity, although Sunday does have the winds approaching 13-15 mph in the afternoon, which could make for an exciting final round. The wind here is the only thing to watch as early showdown starters could have advantages on Friday and Sunday.
Last 5 winners
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)
2015—Rory McIlroy -21 (over Patrick Rodgers -14)
*played at Eagle Point
- The past seven winners have all ranked 63rd or better in driving distance in the year of their respective win—and ranked 36th or better in this same stat in the week they won.
- Six of the last eight winners of the Wells Fargo came into this week without having recorded a top-five finish on the year.
- Six of the last eight winners here all had recorded a top 10 at this event/venue in a previous year prior to winning.
Winners Stats and Course Overview
Max Homa—2019 (15-under-par)
2019 lead-in form (T42-T52-MC-T20-T37)
SG: OTT — +2.8
SG: APP — +4.6
SG: TTG — +7.5
SG: ATG — +0.1
SG: PUTT — +9.9
- The last eight winners at Quail have finished inside the top-12 in Stroke Gained: Tee-to-Green for the week of their win.
- Further, the last four winners of this event when played at Quail Hollow all gained +2.4 strokes or more Off the Tee for the week. The past seven winners have all averaged well over 290 yards off the tee and ranked at least 36th for the week in Driving Distance — Thomas ranked first in 2017 at the PGA Championship, while Day ranked 14th in 2018.
- Each of the top seven finishers from 2018 averaged over 300 yards off the tee in 2018.
- Like last week’s event, which was played on another longer par 71, avoiding the big numbers here is crucial. Homa led the field in Bogey avoidance here in 2019, while 2018 winner Jason Day was fourth in that same stat.
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.
HORSES FOR COURSES
1. Rory McIlroy ($10,000; best finishes: win-2009, 2015): McIlroy loves Quail Hollow. On top of winning this event twice already (2015 and 2010), he set the scoring record in 2015 and holds the overall course record at 61 as well. He hasn’t been as prolific here since the course changes in 2017 but did finish T8 in 2019, gaining +11.3 strokes TTG.
2. Jason Day ($8,600; best finishes: win-2018): Day has really taken to this venue since the remodel and the changes seem to be positive for his bomb and gouge sort of approach. He finished T9 at the PGA Championship in 2017 and finished with a win and a T24 the last two years. He’s gained over +4.0 strokes ATG here in each of the last two seasons and clearly likes the longer, tougher setup.
3. Rickie Fowler ($7,800; best finishes: win-2012, T4-2019): Rickie grabbed his first PGA TOUR win at this venue back in 2012 and has been a force here most seasons ever since. He finished T4 back in 2016, put up a T5 in 2017 at Quail during the PGA Championship and grabbed another T4 here in 2019. Rickie’s recent slump is worrisome but this venue always brings out the best in his game.
4. Phil Mickelson ($6,900; best finishes: T3-2013, T4-2015, 2016): Phil has literally done everything but win on this venue. Since 2005 he’s played this event every year (14 in a row now) and only has two MC to his credit here. Since 2015 he’s finished T5 or better here three times and comes in off a decent start at the Masters last month where he finished T21.
5. Pat Perez ($7,000; best finishes: T8-2019; T2-2017): Despite being one of the shorter hitters on the PGA TOUR, Perez has managed his way around Quail Hollow extremely well. He’s made the cut here in each of his last five appearances and has gained +11.7 and +9.2 strokes Tee to Green in his last two visits. The veteran is coming off a decent start at Copperhead and makes for an interesting value target this week.
1. Viktor Hovland ($9,800; T3-T21): Hovland had a strong debut at the Masters last month and then fired a Sunday 65 last week to move up into T3. He’s now finished top-5 in four of his last seven starts on the PGA TOUR and is playing as good as any of the top-end players at the moment.
2. Keegan Bradley ($8,500; 2nd -T23): Bradley was the unlucky loser last week at the Valspar where he finished solo 2nd. He ranks 3rd in the field in SG: TTG stats and hasn’t missed a cut in seven straight starts.
3. Cameron Tringale ($8,400; T3-T9): Tringale continues to be a beast for daily fantasy purposes as the American landed a T3 at the Valspar last week, his second straight top-10 in solo stroke play. He’s 16th in SG: TTG stats over the last 50 rounds and is playing incredibly consistent golf.
4. Abraham Ancer ($8,900; 5th-T18): Ancer tore up the leaderboard last weekend, ending the week in solo 5th. He gained +9.4 strokes putting last week but hasn’t finished worse than T26 now in six straight events.
5. Shane Lowry ($8,200; T9-T21): Lowry followed up a terrific Masters, where he finished a career-best T21, with a T9 at the RBC Heritage. He’ll be making his fourth appearance at the Wells Fargo this week.
DRAFTKINGS DFS STRATEGY
Cash Games: Zalatoris and Niemann a strong starting core
Much like last week, the goal here should be to look at stacking a couple of strong tee to green players with affordable salaries in the higher-end ranges. Both Will Zalatoris ($9,400) and Joaquin Niemann ($9,100) rank out well in the Strokes Gained Tee to Green and Off the Tee categories, with Niemann also coming off a great week at Copperhead—a similarly built par 71. Dating back to last year’s US Open, Zalatoris has still missed just one cut in 15 PGA TOUR starts. After these two we can also consider the likes of Cameron Tringale ($8,400), Harold Varner III ($7,600) and Jhonattan Vegas ($7,000), who are all playing well and bring in solid course history as well.
Tournaments: Pay up for Bryson on a driver heavy course
We haven’t seen Bryson DeChambeau ($11,000) play since the Masters last month but he certainly fits this course well and was playing great leading into that event. Bryson finished T4 here in 2018 and leads the field in SG: OTT stats here over the last 50 rounds. Bubba Watson ($8,300) is another big hitter who deserves some consideration this week as well. If we count his team effort at the Zurich, he’s now finished T26 or better in three straight starts and looked good on the greens last week. Some other potential GPP targets here include the likes of Russell Henley (7,900), Rickie Fowler ($7,800-see below), Doc Redman ($6,900) and Danny Lee ($6,600).
MY PICK: Rickie Fowler ($7,800)
Fowler has been off for four weeks but showed some positive signs in his last outing at the Valero. A T17 finish there was marked by him gaining strokes in every major statistical category—the first time he’s done that on the PGA TOUR since the WGC-St. Jude last August. Despite struggling with swing issues for over a year now, Rickie gained strokes both Off the Tee and on Approach at the Valero and has also now gained strokes against the field Around the Green in nine straight starts. While that may seem like a small detail, green in regulation percentages tend to be lower than average at Quail Hollow and two of the last three winners here gained +2.4 or more strokes ATG.
Rickie has always found success around and on these greens too, gaining +2.6 strokes putting at Quail in four of his last six starts. While he’ll certainly need the putter to heat up again, it’s worth noting that the +0.9 strokes he gained putting at Valero represented his first positive putting outing in three starts. With some momentum on his side and a venue where he’s finished T4 or better in three of his previous six starts (including a win in 2012), I like buying in on Fowler here at under $8K as there’s strong signs that a breakout is coming.
MY SLEEPER: Jhonattan Vegas ($7,000)
In terms of players down lower in the DraftKings salary construct who look like a good fit for this course, Vegas really stands out. The 36-year-old remains one of the longest players in the game and comes in ranked 11th in SG: Off the Tee stats over the last 50 rounds. While he can struggle on the greens with the best of the worst putters, his short game was markedly positive last week at Copperhead, where he gained +4.3 strokes ATG on his way to a T48 finish. Vegas also gained +2.3 OTT at Copperhead, so any kind of uptick in his putting would have seen him challenge for a top-20 spot.
Overall, he’s played this event four times since 2015 and made the cut here on each occasion. He has also gained +1.4 strokes or more OTT in each of his visits here. Further, Vegas hasn’t struggled on these greens as he’s gained strokes putting at Quail the last three times he’s played here. A T8 here in 2019 represented his best finish ever at this tough venue and with him coming off a solid week, I would look for him to potentially even challenge here if the putter gets hot. He’s a great upside play for me at a venue that fits his profile to perfection.
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