Wells Fargo Championship Odds: 3 Picks Include Justin Thomas, Viktor Hovland

Wells Fargo Championship Odds: 3 Picks Include Justin Thomas, Viktor Hovland article feature image

David Cannon/Getty Images. Pictured: Justin Thomas.

The PGA Tour season ramps back up this week for another "designated event," as we make our Wells Fargo Championship Picks

After two weaker-field events in the Zurich Classic and the Mexico Open, most of the best players in the world will head to historic Quail Hollow, which was the site of last year's Presidents Cup.

Quail Hollow is a par-71 measuring 7,521 yards that features Bermudagrass greens. The tree-lined, parkland style course can play quite difficult and features one of the most difficult three-hole stretches in golf known as "The Green Mile," which makes up holes 16-18: two mammoth par 4s and a 221-yard par 3. All three holes have an average score over par, and water is in play in each of the last five holes on the course.

The field is excellent this week with 156 golfers teeing it up. Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler are not in the field, but the rest of the Tour's elite will be in North Carolina for this designated event.

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Past Winners at Quail Hollow

  • 2021: Rory McIlroy (-10)
  • 2019: Max Homa (-15)
  • 2018: Jason Day (-12)
  • 2017: Justin Thomas (-8) (PGA Championship)
  • 2016: James Hahn (-9)
  • 2015: Rory McIlroy (-21)

5 Key Stats For Quail Hollow

1. Strokes Gained: Approach

Strokes gained: Approach will be extremely important this week as second shots at Quail Hollow can be very difficult. In 2021, winner Rory McIlroy gained 5.3 strokes on approach.

Total SG: Approach Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Xander Schauffele (+28.4)
  2. Tony Finau (+28.0)
  3. Collin Morikawa (+25.9)
  4. Jordan Spieth (+25.1)
  5. Rickie Fowler (+23.9)

2. Strokes Gained: Off the Tee

Quail Hollow is a long course on which it is important to play from the fairway. Both distance and accuracy are important, as shorter tee shots will result in approach shots from 200 or more yards. With most of the holes heavily tree lined, errant drives will create some real trouble for the players.

Strokes Gained: Off the Tee Past 24 Rounds:

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+22.4)
  2. Viktor Hovland (+21.9)
  3. Hayden Buckley (+20.9)
  4. Keith Mitchell (+20.7)
  5. Rory McIlroy (+20.6)

3. Proximity: 200+

The length of Quail Hollow is a major factor this week and will result in some very long approach shots. Additionally, three of the four par 3s are over 200 yards.

Proximity: 200+ over past 24 rounds:

  1. Patrick Cantlay (+30.3)
  2. Gary Woodland (+30.1)
  3. Adam Svensson (+23.0)
  4. Kurt Kitayama (+21.4)
  5. Cameron Young (+17.8)

4. Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass)

Strokes Gained: Putting has historically graded out as the most important statistic at Quail Hollow. While it isn’t always predictable, I do want to have it in the model to bump up golfers who prefer to putt on Bermudagrass.

Strokes Gained: Putting (Bermudagrass) Over Past 24 Rounds

  1. Sam Ryder (+26.3)
  2. Ben Taylor (+23.5)
  3. Sam Burns (+23.0)
  4. Taylor Moore (+21.7)
  5. Taylor Montgomery (+21.3)

5. Par 4: 450-500

Quail Hollow features five par 4s measuring between 450-500 yards. The holes are among the most difficult on the course and will go a long way in separating contenders from the pack this week.

Par 4: 450-500 over past 24 rounds

  1. Jordan Spieth (+19.3)
  2. Jason Day (+15.5)
  3. Taylor Montgomery (+14.1)
  4. Collin Morikawa (+13.0)
  5. Cameron Young (+12.1)
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Wells Fargo Championship Model Rankings

Below, I've compiled overall model rankings using a combination of the five key statistical categories previously discussed — SG: Approach (28%), SG: Off the Tee (25%), Proximity: 200+(15%), SG: Putting Bermuda grass (15%), and Par 4: 450-500 (15%).

  1. Rory McIlroy (+750)
  2. Patrick Cantlay (+1200)
  3. Viktor Hovland (+2200)
  4. Jordan Spieth (+2200)
  5. Tony Finau (+1400)
  6. Taylor Moore (+7500)
  7. Tyrrell Hatton (+4000)
  8. Cameron Young (+2500)
  9. Tommy Fleetwood (+4500)
  10. Collin Morikawa (+2000)

2023 Wells Fargo Championship Picks

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 towards the top of the world's best players. Quail Hollow is a perfect spot for him to accomplish that.

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Justin Thomas (+2200) (BetMGM)

In a betting board that seems stripped of value, Justin Thomas' odds seem like one of the few fair numbers on the board. The two-time PGA champion captured the first of his two major championships at Quail Hollow back in 2017, and some good vibes from the course may be enough to get JT out of his relative slump.

Thomas hasn't won an event in almost a year, which is unusual for him considering the fact that he's been one of the most prolific winners throughout his PGA Tour career. Since 2015, he has 15 PGA Tour wins.

I don't anticipate Thomas going too much longer without breaking through, though. I also don't believe he's playing as poorly as his lack of victories would lead one to believe. JT has gained strokes from tee to green in all but one of his starts this year and is averaging 5.1 Strokes Gained: Tee to Green in his last 10 starts.

Course history is pretty sticky at Quail Hollow, with players who like the course playing well there on a regular basis. In addition to JT's PGA Championship win in 2017, he went 4-1 at last year's Presidents Cup. Thomas has become the forgotten elite player on Tour, but that'll change with a win at a designated event this week.

Emiliano Grillo (FanDuel: Outright +12000 | Top 5 +2200)

It isn't exactly easy to picture Emiliano Grillo winning a designated event, so I've supplemented the outright bet with a top-five bet.

While it's tempting to overlook Grillo due to his apparent inability to live up to his magnificent ball-striking talent, there are a multitude of reasons to take a shot at triple-digit odds this week.

For starters, course history tends to be a major factor at Quail Hollow, and Grillo has been excellent there. He's finished ninth and 14th in his past two trips to the course. It's no surprise as to why it's a good layout for the Argentinian, who is straight off the tee and one of the better long iron players on Tour when he's in form.

Grillo tends to stay hot for weeks at a time once he gets into a groove, and it appears he's found his form. In his past two starts, Grillo has finished fifth (RBC Heritage) and seventh (Mexico Open). At Vidanta last week, Grillo led the field in Strokes Gained: Approach, gaining 9.6, which was his best performance of his career. In his last five starts, Grillo is gaining an average of 4.1 strokes tee to green per event.

Although they weren't designated events, we've seen mid-tier PGA Tour players win at Quail Hollow in the past. Maybe this is the week Grillo finally lives up to his enormous talent.

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