Sobel: Driving Stats Signify Nice Matchup Bets for List, Kokrak, Berger at Wells Fargo Championship

Sobel: Driving Stats Signify Nice Matchup Bets for List, Kokrak, Berger at Wells Fargo Championship article feature image
  • The 2019 Wells Fargo Championship tees off on Thursday May 2, with Rory McIlroy as the clear favorite.
  • Driving the ball long and accurate has been a crucial skill at Quail Hallow in the past, and Jason Sobel uses that info to find betting value on three matchup bets.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As I wrote in my Wells Fargo Championship preview, the Quail Hollow Club is a first-shot golf course. In other words, the players who have enjoyed the most success here are those who can hit the ball a combination of long and straight off the tee.

Because of this, I think the strokes gained off the tee statistic is the greatest metric we can employ to find an edge this week.

The PGA Tour leader in this category? None other than two-time Wells Fargo champion Rory McIlroy, which sort of proves the point right there.

For my three favorite tournament matchup bets, I’ve looked for the greatest disparity between players on this list and wagered accordingly.

Luke List over Zach Johnson (-125)

Even though it hasn’t been the greatest season for List, he still ranks 10th in driving numbers, gaining .655 strokes on the field per round off the tee; Johnson is mired at 146th, losing .183 strokes per round.

Over four rounds, on a course where driving is paramount, this means Kokrak is expected to pick up nearly three-and-a-half shots over Johnson with the big stick alone. Then there’s this: In a dozen trips to Quail Hollow for this event, Johnson just one top-10 finish, while List finished T-9 just a year ago. This one makes too much sense on a few different levels.

Jason Kokrak over Henrik Stenson (-130)

There’s sure to be some public money flying to the other side of this matchup, with a proven winner and Ryder Cupper getting plus-money against a guy who’s never had a PGA Tour victory. But the splits are actually widely in favor of Kokrak here.

In addition to owning eight top-20s in 10 starts this season, Kokrak ranks 30th in driving. Stenson, meanwhile, has struggled this season – especially off the tee, where he’s 187th on the same list.

Daniel Berger over J.B. Holmes (-135)

Here’s the public rep for Holmes: Hits it a mile off the tee and can control his ball better than some other bombers, but struggles with other areas of his game. And here’s the actual truth: This season, he’s gained .127 strokes per round off the tee, which is still a positive number, but ranks a mere 87th on the list.

Berger doesn’t have the same rep as a great driver, but his numbers are very solid, as he picks up more than a half-stroke per round and ranking 19th this season. Throw in the fact that since his win at Riviera, Holmes hasn’t finished in the top-60 in four individual stroke-play events and Berger is the smart play.