Golf Expert Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship

Golf Expert Picks: Our Staff’s Favorite Bets for the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship article feature image

Rob Schumacher, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Hideki Matsuyama

  • Rory McIlroy (+600) is the favorite to win the 2019 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina.
  • Quail Hollow is a long course that is a good fit for players who are good off the tee.
  • Our experts detail their favorite bets for this weekend's tournament:

The PGA Tour heads to Quail Hollow in Charlotte, NC for this weekend’s Wells Fargo Championship.

Quail Hollow — a 7,600-yard, par-72 track — has hosted this event every year except for 2017 when it held the PGA Championship won by Justin Thomas.

The course is known for it’s closing three-hole stretch called “The Green Mile.” It plays nearly a shot over par on average and each of the holes were among the 50 most difficult on tour in 2018.

This year’s tournament features a solid field led by Rory McIlroy, who is the favorite at +600. Defending champ Jason Day and Rickie Fowler are tied for second favorite at +1000 with Justin Rose right behind at +1200.

Our golf experts share their favorite plays for this weekend’s tournament:

Jason Sobel

The Bet: Rory McIlroy: Top-10 Finish (-140)

With my favorite weekly bet, I usually want to give you a little something for the effort, as the Lama would say. Instead of a sure thing, I try to offer a bet that I really like with some longer odds and better potential payout.

Last week, for instance, I listed Joel Dahmen and Brandon Harkins for a top-20 finish at +280 – a sweat which cashed when they limped into a share of 18th-place on Sunday afternoon.

This week, I’m giving you the sure thing.

The world’s best player right now, playing a course which suits his game, where he’s easily the field favorite.

Obviously, the payout isn’t great with such a chalky pick, but I like Rory to win this week – and I’d be really surprised if he’s not at least inside the top-10.

Dr. Lou Riccio, P.H.D

The Bet: Keith Mitchell to Win 100-1

My model gives Luke List and Keith Mitchell the 10th and 11th best odds of winning this week, with elite power and iron accuracy being what it takes to play well at Quail Hollow.

Luke List had a T-9 finish last year, but out of these two studs, I’d side with Mitchell, since he has already gotten over the hurdle of winning on tour. These are great odds—my model says his price should be around 45-1 given his stats, so you’re getting a discount because he’s not a marquee name. That could change this week.

Dr. Lou Riccio, a PhD senior lecturer, teaches rational decision making at Columbia’s Graduate School of Business and has served on the USGA’s handicap research team for three decades. More of his predictive analysis can be found over at Golf Digest.

Josh Perry

The Bet: Hideki Matsuyama Top 20 -115

Hideki usually shows up and plays well at Quail Hollow. He missed the cut a year ago while battling an injury, but prior to that, he was in the top-20 for three straight years with the highlight being a fifth-place finish at the 2017 PGA Championship.

On long courses that put the added emphasis on ball striking, Hideki is in his element.

Peter Jennings

The Bet: Gary Woodland in DraftKings Cash Games($9,000)

Woodland has the perfect game and course fit this week at the Wells Fargo Championship. His current form is incredible and he is one of the best players off the tee.

He is a -140 favorite over Paul Casey and a clear top value on Draftkings this week. The only downside to Woodland will be his ownership. Lock him in for cash games but be selective using him in tournaments.

Bryan Mears

Bet: Jason Kokrak (-130) over Henrik Stenson

Stenson, a former major champion, is the bigger household name, but Kokrak should certainly be favored in this matchup. Stenson is arguably the most overvalued golfer in this week’s field; he rates very poorly in my FantasyLabs model for Quail Hollow.

He’s been absolutely terrible in 2019, beginning the year with three straight missed cuts — on the Euro Tour no less. These weren’t loaded PGA fields. Since then, he’s been still below average back in the U.S., missing the cut at the Players and getting inside the top 20 in just one event.

But most importantly, even that play was all predicated on merely hitting fairways with his woods and scrambling well. That’s just not a viable strategy at this long course, where driver is the most important club in the bag.

Kokrak, meanwhile, is one of the hottest golfers on Tour right now and is an ideal fit for this course. I will happily pay the -130, as it should be significantly higher than that.

Matthew Freedman

The Bet: Rickie Fowler (+135) over Rory McIlroy

Hey, everybody! It’s Rory genuflection week! Rory at Quail Hollow!


As of writing, McIlroy is favored at +650 in The Action Network app to win this weekend, which makes sense. He has won this event twice, and as Jason Sobel highlights in his 2019 Wells Fargo betting preview, this course suits him well.

Contenders at the Wells Fargo Championship are often long and straight with their drives, putting themselves in position to score rather than play defense. … The importance of driving over iron play should explain why Rory McIlroy, who leads the PGA Tour by a mile this year in strokes gained off the tee, has enjoyed so much success here.

Even if Rory doesn’t win, he seem highly likely to finish in the top 10.

But so does Fowler, who is tied for third with +1100 odds to win. Rory won his first PGA Tour event at Quail Hollow — but so did Rickie.

Rory has won the Wells Fargo Championship twice, but he also missed the cut in 2011. Rickie has never missed the Quail Hollow cut.

Rory has been better than Rickie at this course throughout their careers, but he hasn’t been that much better.

  • 2018: McIlroy – T16 (-3), Fowler – T21 (-2)
  • 2017: McIlroy – T22 (+1), Fowler – T5 (-5)
  • 2016: McIlroy – T4 (-7), Fowler – T4 (-7)
  • 2015: McIlroy – 1 (-21), Fowler – DNP
  • 2014: McIlroy – T8 (-8), Fowler – T38 (-2)
  • 2013: McIlroy – T10 (-4), Fowler – T73 (+5)
  • 2012: McIlroy – T2 (-14), Fowler – 1 (-14)
  • 2011: McIlroy – MC, Fowler – T16 (-9)
  • 2010: McIlroy – 1 (-15), Fowler – 6 (-7)

Over the past three years, Fowler has had the better course performance. When Fowler won in 2012, he beat McIlroy (and D.A. Points) in a one-hole playoff. In the eight Quail Hollow events they’ve both played, McIlroy’s head-to-head record against Fowler is 4-3-1. That’s hardly dominant.

Since 2010, Rory has a median score of -7 strokes at Quail Hollow; Rickie, -6.

McIlroy has the superior course history, but it’s hard to say that he’s been significantly better than Fowler.

And they are in similar form right now (per the FantasyLabs PGA Models).

Long-term adjusted round score: McIlroy – 67.9, Fowler – 68.1
Recent adjusted round score: McIlroy – 68.0, Fowler – 67.6
At +145 odds, Fowler has a 40.8% implied probability of finishing ahead of McIlroy in the standings. I believe his true odds are closer to 45%.

I’d bet on Fowler over McIlroy down to +125.

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