Our golf expert brings you his preview and predictions for this week's PGA Tour event, Wells Fargo Championship.
Wells Fargo Championship - Winner
Quail Hollow is always welcome to return as host for this event as many players make this a necessity whilst major season kicks in. Since it's inauguration in 2003 we have seen a host of major winners lift this title including Toms, Singh, Furyk, Woods, McIlroy, Glover and Day. The 2017 USPGA Championship was indeed one by an elite player in Justin Thomas also. That being said we've had major surprises here also with James Hahn and Derek Ernst taking their places on the winners rota in the past decade. Quail remains a proper test of golf where your long game is all important. The majority of approaches come in from 200+ yards and it is a major type venue where you have the potential to bomb and gauge the ball to glory. There are more ways to skin a cat here though and if your short game isn't on point during the week you'll find it tough to compete here.
Bryson Dechambeau at 14/1 (8 Places)
I find it very difficult to get away from the chances of Bryson Dechambeau this week. We haven't seen him since the Masters and we somewhat take the risk that he is match fit. His performance in the Masters was not a surprise to me finishing well down the field. I now freely admit I was wrong in November 2020 selecting him and his course fit for Augusta is not all it is cracked up to be. Previous to that though he showed he is up there with the best in the world winning the Arnold Palmer and going close finishing 3rd at Sawgrass. He has been hovering around 16/1 on the exchange all week and with 14/1 the bookmakers I fail to see how you don't make a profit these days backing him around these prices in any fields, at any courses. Bryson will win tonnes more when he's in this mode and barring injury will continue on his merry way winning more than one in sixteen. He finished 4th here back in 2018 with his milkybar kid game with only a first round 75 scuppering his chances of winning on that Sunday. I believe his game is even more suited to this layout now and the quality of irons from 200+ should put him in the box seat compared to a few others. Should his short game turn up like it did in March then he will be very tough to beat.
3.5pts each-way B Dechambeau 14/1 (1/5 8)
Matt Jones at 90/1 (8 places)
Matt Jones ran out a 5 shot victor of the Honda just a few starts ago and looks overpriced to go in again at a top price of 100/1. He isn't one you'd automatically think would take to Quail Hollow and his results back that up to be fair. However, he is playing the golf of his career right now and 26th at the Masters was a very respectable effort after the win in Florida. Jones is as reliable as they come with the putter this year only losing strokes on the greens in two out of nine events. His work around the green has improved dramatically in the last few months and should he continue in that form he must have more of a chance than the market suggests having risen to 54th in the world rankings. He smoked a solid field only two starts ago so I'm an auto backer at these prices.
1pt each-way M.Jones 90/1 (1/5 8)
Aaron Wise at 125/1 (8 places)
Lanto Griffin is an interesting price should he bounce back to form this week but slightly too much risk attached for me to bet. Instead I'll take someone proves around this track in the shape of Aaron Wise. Wise hasn't been on top of his game lately but he is capable of bouncing back quite easily. In late 2019 he finished 3rd in Bermuda having missed the cut at the Shriners last time out. Similarly at the back end of last year he finished 2nd in Mexico having missed the cut at the RSM previous. Harbour Town probably doesn't suit Wise either so we can expect some sort of bounce here. Having finished 2nd and 18th here in two appearances I think the bookmakers are taking a risk laying any triple figure prices here.
1pt each-way A.Wise 125/1 (1/5 8)
Maverick McNealy 125/1 (8 places)
Maverick McNealy is a tasty enough price having bounced back to form in fine style with a top 5 at the Heritage. He was 7th Around the Green and 5th in putting that week and it was a welcome return to form for the flat stick after a few barren weeks at Sawgrass and at the Honda. The Californian should find these greens to his greens to his liking and looking back at previous results we know all too well the importance of the short game around here. The more classical setups should suit McNealy in the long term and interestingly he also ranks inside the top 20 in proximity from 200+ in his last 12 rounds.
0.75pt each-way M.McNealy 125/1 (1/5 8)
Peter Malnati at 400/1 (8 places)
I'll finish with two speculative plays at massive prices. Outsiders have filled the placers and won here a couple of times so it's worth having a couple in. First of all I'll have Peter Malnati. He finished 2nd at the Sanderson towards the end of last year and started off 2021 in fine fashion with a top 15 at the Sony and top 10 at the Farmers. Since then it has gone the way of the pear and he has missed 8 cuts on the trot. It's worth noting though that he can bounce back. The top 20 at the Sony was after a MC. The top 10 at the Farmers was after a MC. He finished 11at at Pebble in 2020 off the back of three missed cuts. In 2019 he finished 17th in Houston after two previous missed cuts. This is a longer streak I understand but he looked a potential winner earlier on in the season. I'm happy to take the 400/1 8 places that this is one fo the events where he can come back to form.
0.5pt each-way P.Malnati 400/1 (1/5 8)
Rafa Cabrera-Bello at 300/1 (8 places)
I can't let the 300/1 about Cabrera-Bello go by without a small bet. The Spaniard has endured a tough time of it on the PGA tour over the last couple of years but given the performances he is capable of the 300/1 on offer looks slightly out of whack to me. He was woeful last week at the Valspar but in Bello we have someone who was inside the top 40 in the world just over a year ago. His 4th place in Abu Dhabi tucked in behind Hatton and McIlroy is a reminder of the levels he can reach, even though he is much more likely to reach those levels in the likes of Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The place side of this bet looks a chunk of value and although I don't hold high hopes of it going right this week I think it's worthy of a speculative bet.
0.5pt each-way R.Cabrera-Bello 300/1 (1/5 8)