2019 Wells Fargo Championship DFS Preview

The Tour was in action last week as Jon Rahm and Ryan Palmer won the Zurich team event in New Orleans. However, unless you played in the Euro contests, it was a week off for DFS golfers that offered us a short break before we get rolling into another busy portion of the schedule that kicks off this week with the Wells Fargo Championship held at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Quail Hollow Club: Par 71, 7,554 yards. Quail Hollow is one of the longest layouts on the PGA Tour, especially for a par 71, coming in at 7,554 yards. The course did undergo a recent redesign in preparation for the 2017 PGA Championship that did add some distance and teeth to the layout. Fairways are more difficult than average to hit, however, tree cover is not overly dense and the rough is typically left at an average or shorter length so there is some room to off the tee if your misses are slight. The greens at Quail Hollow are Bermuda and are about 5% more difficult to hit than the PGA Tour average. Scoring wise this is one or the more difficult tests on the Tour with an average winning score of around 12 under par. Most of the holes will play to an over par average with the exception of the three par fives and two very short par fours. Players will need to position themselves well off the tee to take advantage of these limited scoring opportunities. Also, players must swing their long irons with confidence as average approach shot distributions skews heavily to the over 200 yard range but any shortfall in precision from that distance can be made up for with a strong around the green game. Quail Hollow’s most famous stretch of holes is it’s finishing three, known as the “Green Mile”, and comprised of the 508 yard par four 16th, 221 yard par three 17th, and the 493 yard 18th hole. Water is prominently in play on the final three so players must also stay dry if they wish to avoid any big numbers coming down the stretch.    

In terms of stats, strokes gained off the tee will be my most heavily weighted stat for several reasons. The distance and difficulty of the course cause scoring opportunities to cluster into the three par fives and two par fours that are borderline drivable at 325-350 yards. Those who can get it out there off the tee are at a huge advantage on the only holes that present true birdie/eagle opportunities. In addition, pars are easier to come by on long par fours when you are hitting shorter irons into the greens. One other factor will be important this week is strokes gained around the green. Typically, this is not a huge part of the winning formula on the PGA Tour, but this week this stat will likely highly correlate with birdie conversions on the par fives and short par fours as those who position themselves well off the tee (as well as on approach to the par fives) will need to get up and down to secure their birdie.   

Here are our top stats to consider this week:

  • Strokes Gained Off the Tee
  • Par Five Efficiency
  • Strokes Gained Approach
  • Scrambling
  • Par Four Efficiency (450-500 yards)

The major championship style layout typically draws one of the stronger fields of the year but we are seeing fewer of the big names than we’ve seen in recent years, likely due to the new condensed schedule leaving only four weeks between the Masters and the PGA Championship at Bethpage. Most notable is Tiger Woods, who typically tees it up at Quail Hollow when healthy, opting for an additional week rest as he prepares for the season’s second major. However, there will still be plenty of star power this week as Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Hideki Matsuyama, and Phil Mickelson headline the event along with local favorite and Quail Hollow member, Webb Simpson. Here are three targets for your cash game / single entry tournament (GPP) lineups on DraftKings:

Upper Mid-Range – Tony Finau – $9,300

Tony Finau was a mainstay in most of my lineups throughout 2018 and early this year but due to his rising price across the industry and a very slight dip in form I’ve been off him over the past few tournaments. Both those concerns have been alleviated in my mind as a 5th place finish at the Masters and a four figure price tag will put him back into my core lineup this week. It also helps that Quail Hollow is one of the longest tracks on the PGA that will allow Tony to take full advantage of his distance off the tee and he has come away with top 30 finishes in each of his three trips to Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo Championship.  

Upper Mid-Range – Gary Woodland – $9,000

If using the balanced approach to lineup construction, Gary Woodland is a great option to add alongside Tony Finau and still leave yourself enough salary for an additional spend in this range. Woodland gains most of his strokes off the tee and has an iron game, while subject to the occasional blip, can be elite at times that puts himself in position to provide the upside we are looking to capture in DFS. His course history at Quail Hollow has been outstanding save last year when the timing of the Wells Fargo coincided with an extended period of poor form coming off his victory at the Waste Management. He finished 24th in 2016, 4th in 2015, 18th in 2014, and 22nd at the PGA Championship in 2017. He gained 17.2 strokes on approaches combined of the above-mentioned events proving that, when in form, the course suits his eye and there will be plenty of scoring opportunities.    

Mid-Range – Byeong Hun An – $8,300

Ben An missed the cut last out at the RBC Heritage losing an uncharacteristic 8 strokes off the tee. However, four of those strokes came on one hole Friday afternoon as he hit two balls OB while trying to battle back and make the cut. The tight layout at Harbour Tour was not the best fit for him so I’m willing to overlook the missed cut in favor of long term stats and his course history at Quail Hollow. He is ranked 5th in the field over the last 24 rounds in stokes gained off the tee, 11th in strokes gained approach, and 1st in strokes gained around the green. He finished 28th at the 2017 PGA Championship to show that he can maneuver his way around this course. My only concern with An is the putter but Bermuda is his preferred surface so any sort of regression here would go a long way in ensuring a strong finish this week.

How we did last week:

Cash/Single Entry Article Plays:

Jim Furyk – MC

Ryan Moore – T41

Ian Poulter – T10

Optimal Sports Subscribers Core Plays:

Ian Poulter – T10

Jim Furyk – MC

Brandt Snedeker – T48

Graeme McDowell – T48

Webb Simpson – T16

Russell Knox – MC

Last Week’s DraftKings Double Up Contest Result: Loss

2018-2019 Season Double Up Record: 15-9

Record in Double Ups Since 1/1/18: 40-19

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