Wells Fargo Championship Guide: McIlroy, Thomas Headline Loaded Field
- Quail Hollow played as the toughest course on tour last year. While distance off the tee is important given the 7,554-yard length, a golfer’s all-around game will be tested here.
- The field is loaded, headlined by three former winners in Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas (who won the PGA Championship here last year) and Rickie Fowler. Phil Mickelson has great history at Quail Hollow, and we can’t forget to mention that the Big Cat is back in action after a topsy-turvy Masters.
- Because of the loaded field, guys in the mid-tier are more talented than most weeks. Brooks Koepka, who just returned from injury last week, and Tony Finau have numbers posted you may not find again in 2018.
Intro and Course
After a year away from Charlotte, North Carolina, the Wells Fargo Championship returns to Quail Hollow. The tournament moved to Wilmington, a couple of hours east at the beach, in 2017 while the course hosted the PGA Championship.
But the tour is back to its normal stop for Quail Hollow, which has been one of the more difficult stops throughout the years.
It checks in at 7,554 yards for a par-71. This place is just a brute. The bombers have had their way here in the past. Justin Thomas took down the PGA Championship last year, and Rory McIlroy has a pair of victories here among the elite guys. J.B. Holmes is another bomber who’s come out on top, and even longshots like Derek Ernst, who won at 500-1 in 2013, relied primarily on the driver for success.
Par-5 scoring also comes into play. Last year, only four holes played under par at the PGA Championship; three of them were the par-5s. If players aren’t able to take advantage there, they’ll have a tough time finding birdies anywhere else on the course. It will play a little easier this time around without the major setup. The greens will be slower and the course will be a little shorter, but those facts don’t diminish the importance of attacking on the few holes that actually give up birdies.
The closing three holes are especially difficult. The “Green Mile” represented three of the 50 hardest holes on tour last season. This is one of those courses where a guy can post a number and wait it out because it’s an easy spot for the leaders to falter and give away a tournament. — Joshua Perry
The distance at Quail Hollow speaks for itself, and it’s clear that longer players will have an edge since they’ll have more birdie opportunities. However, the metrics that have historically back-tested well here are … interesting. Driving distance and birdie-making still proved valuable, but recent play and course history really stood out.
Using the FantasyLabs Trends tool, we can back-test a variety of metrics to see what types of players do well at Quail Hollow. The baseline golfer has historically produced a miserable -7.70 DraftKings Plus/Minus. From there, I looked at how golfers in the top-20 percentile of each metric have historically fared at this course. Here’s the data …
Recent GIR back-tested the best of any metric, and I believe that metric is perhaps the best indicator of current form and ball-striking. Historically, feeling confident in the approach game and getting in excellent birdie spots are paramount to success at Quail Hollow. Sure, this course is long, but perhaps more importantly, it’s just really damn hard. You need distance to hang, but then the all-around game shows its importance. — Bryan Mears