2023 Wells Fargo Championship Odds: Our Favorite Picks for Viktor Hovland, Sam Burns, More
Getty Images. Pictured: Viktor Hovland (left) and Sam Burns.
Our last major tuneup for the second major championship of 2023 has us making Wells Fargo Championship picks this week.
Our experts are aligned on who they’re buying at the top of the leaderboard, and two are avoiding the same top talent at Quail Hollow, where Rory McIlroy is the betting favorite.
Check out our Wells Fargo Championship picks and preview below.
Favorites We’re Backing
- Jason Sobel: Viktor Hovland
- Chris Murphy: Sungjae Im
- Matt Vincenzi: Viktor Hovland
- Spencer Aguiar: Sungjae Im
Best Long Shot
- Sobel: Cam Davis
- Murphy: Kurt Kitayama
- Vincenzi: Emiliano Grillo
- Aguiar: Patrick Rodgers
- Sobel: Tom Kim
- Murphy: Cameron Young
- Vincenzi: Cameron Young
- Aguiar: Byeong Hun An
Contrarian Player To Target
- Sobel: Rickie Fowler
- Murphy: Keith Mitchell
- Vincenzi: Rickie Fowler
- Aguiar: Sam Burns
Trend That Guides Your Betting Strategy
Sobel: This week’s tournament is the ninth designated event on the PGA Tour schedule. Of the previous eight, five were won by either Jon Rahm or Scottie Scheffler at an opening price of 12-1 or shorter, according to the archives at golfodds.com. Matt Fitzpatrick took the RBC Heritage at 30-1 and Sam Burns won the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at 40-1, while Kurt Kitayama brought the average way up, winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational from 200-1.
Even with that last one, the average winner’s odds at the designated events so far has been +3969. If we take out Kitayama as an outlier, those odds are +1679.
Moral of the story? If you’re looking to cash a massive long shot from a field filled with most of the biggest stars, recent history would suggest there’s a 1-in-8 chance, but realistically this week’s winner is coming from somewhere near the top of the board.
I’ve already seen plenty of long-shot outrights for this one and while I love a good lottery ticket, it doesn’t seem like we’re trending toward another one.
Aguiar: We get another elevated event that has complex pricing in most markets. That isn’t ideal for finding value on most of these boards, but Quail Hollow yields a very prototypical expectation in what it is asking of the players.
The track is a lengthy par-71 that expands to over 7,500 yards on the scorecard. That notion starts to yield a driver-heavy outlook that can be the ultimate decider for most quality off-the-tee players in the field. However, like all problematic tracks, the second shot distribution will take the cake for importance.
Just under 73% of second shots will occur from over 150 yards, a total that grades 12.2% over baseline expectation at a random course, and the ability to be a plus-driver off-the-tee only will add to that answer.
2023 Wells Fargo Championship Picks
Jason Sobel: Viktor Hovland (+2100, FanDuel)
There’s an all-too-simplistic formula here: Quail Hollow offers one of the stoutest tee-to-green tests that we’ll see all year, and Hovland has passed all previous tee-to-green tests with flying colors. He’s gained strokes off the tee in every start of 2023 and gained strokes with his irons in all but one. (And that one was the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, which doesn’t measure every round, so he very well might’ve done it there, too.)
If there’s been a recurring, “Yeah, but…” to Hovland’s game, it’s his wedge play around the greens – and with full disclosure, I’ve been as critical about this part of his performance as anyone. (OK, it’s not so much critical as bewildered. I can’t remember a time when a top-10 player had such a glaring weakness in his game.)
Last season, Hovland ranked 191st out of 193 players in strokes gained around the greens. This season, he’s climbed to 168th, which might not sound like such a momentous move, but he’s losing 0.414 strokes per round less than he did a season ago – or in layman’s terms, he’s been about a half-stroke better each day.
For a guy who’s already world-class in every other aspect of the game, just inching closer to field average is a massive improvement that’s paying off to the tune of three top-10s in his last five starts.
Even so, it feels like bigger things are on the impending horizon for the Norwegian and it would stand to reason they could take place this week, on a course where he finished T3 two years ago.
Pick: Viktor Hovland +2100
What is QuickSlip?
QuickSlip is an Action Network feature that allows users to automatically pre-load their bet slip at FanDuel Sportsbook.
Matt Vincenzi: Viktor Hovland (+2100, FanDuel)
Although he’s yet to win in 2023, Viktor Hovland is putting together a fantastic season. The Norwegian has performed well at the biggest events this PGA Tour season, including a 10th-place finish at Arnold Palmer, a third at The Players and a seventh at The Masters.
The last time we saw Hovland, he was struggling at the RBC Heritage. The poor performance (59th) wasn’t all that surprising considering the 25-year-old found himself deep into contention at the Masters the week prior. When looking deeper, Hovland’s lackluster start was entirely due to a cold putter, and he actually gained 5.9 strokes ball striking for the week.
I’ve long thought that Hovland’s big breakout win would come at Quail Hollow. The course is a perfect fit for Viktor’s skill set and that was evident in his only start at the course in 2021, when he finished third. In his past 24 rounds, Hovland ranks 2nd in the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, ninth in Strokes Gained: Approach and seventh in Proximity from 200 or more yards.
Viktor Hovland is a supreme talent who needs a victory at a premier PGA Tour event to continue his ascension toward the top of the world’s best players. Quail Hollow is a perfect spot for him to accomplish that.
Chris Murphy: Sam Burns (+3300, FanDuel)
My favorite combination of odds, form, and winning upside comes with Sam Burns this week at +3300. He has really turned up his game dating back to the Valspar where he finished sixth, then went on to win the Dell Match Play. Burns turned things around with his ball striking during that stretch and we know he loves the Bermudagrass greens he will see around Quail Hollow this week.
Burns is a player who has shown to be a proven winner with four wins last season and his biggest coming just about six months ago in Texas. If he can continue his solid play, he should see this course as a great fit for his game and to me he presents the best value for a player who has already established himself as someone that can win at this level in elite fields.
Pick: Sam Burns +3300
Spencer Aguiar: Stephan Jaeger (-120) Over Andrew Putnam (DraftKings)
At what point does someone’s current form outweigh all the course-specific returns we get from their statistical portfolio? I always believe it happens earlier in the game than most bettors since the long-term totals make up a relatively large percentage of my build, and it doesn’t help Putnam’s chances that he also has plummeted here at Quail Hollow in the past.
The American has yet to generate a top-40 finish in three attempts, which adds to a statistical makeup that takes another turn for the worse when we start looking past the recent run that has seen him make five of his last six cuts on tour in 2023.
The lack of distance and long iron proximity helped generate two qualifiers that landed him outside the top 100 of this field, and he also ranked a paltry 133rd in expected tee-to-green output. None of those answers generate much intrigue, and I tend to believe Stephan Jaeger has legitimate top-30 potential this week at his overlooked going rate in most markets.
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