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PGA TOUR: Mike Glasscott's Wells Fargo Championship preview

Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC, returns to host the Wells Fargo Championship after a one-year hiatus.

Three-time and defending (course) champion Rory McIlroy (7/1) will look to stop the rot at the top of the bet365 board. The pre-tournament favourites the last two weeks have not closed the deal. Jon Rahm was the big favourite in Mexico and ran second. The team of Patrick Cantlay/Xander Schauffele, favoured in The Big Easy, shared fourth at the Zurich Classic the week prior.

The course horse extraordinaire owns the course record (61) and tournament record (21-under, 267), both set during his second win in 2015. The emotional pull is here as well. The first time he established the scoring record (62) came in the final round of his first TOUR victory in 2010 at age 20. The last time Quail Hollow hosted, he came from off the pace on Sunday to shoot 68 and complete the trifecta. His form has been all over the map with MC at THE PLAYERS and Masters. But he's cashed T4 at Bay Hill, another big boy track, and went close (solo third) at WGC-Match Play. 

Top of the board

Patrick Cantlay (12/1) has been showing off his full bag throughout the spring. His run of top-10 paydays has reached five from his last seven events. The worst finish of the bunch is T19 at THE PLAYERS back on St. Patrick's Day weekend. The Californian's history at QHC is thin. He played the 2017 PGA Championship and cashed T33 before MC in 2021 as a presumed tune-up for the 2022 Presidents Cup.

Tony Finau (16/1) opened 65-64-65 in Mexico and beat OWGR No. 1 Jon Rahm by three shots to win for the fourth time in his last 19 starts. Led the field in SG: Tee to Green last week and was excellent around and on the Paspalum greens. The bigger the ballpark, the bigger his talent should shine – but that hasn't been the case here. Looking for his first top 15 on the property in his sixth start. Not many hotter in this field.

Xander Schauffele (16/1), like Finau, prefers the setup to be as difficult as possible. It's not a coincidence he's in the mix at most of the majors each season. The run of form he's on currently suggests the breaking point is right around the corner. It's three straight in the top 10, which includes a WGC event (T5), Masters (T10), and elevated event at RBC Heritage (4th). 

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Stretching to 7,538 yards, the par-71 is annually one of the toughest tests on TOUR, major or otherwise. Toss in a field of 16 of the top 20 OWGR and the winner will be well-deserved.

Viktor Hovland (18/1) debuted in 2021, stuck three rounds in the 60s, and picked up T3. 

Unable to knock out Matt Fitzpatrick (25/1) in a playoff at Harbour Town, Jordan Spieth (20/1) should be ready to rumble in his return to QHC. Attention was grabbed with T4 at the Masters the week before. Now he's rested and ready to go. What better way to prepare for tackling the career grand slam than to pick up a win this week? The Texan racked-out a perfect 5-0-0 in the 2022 Presidents Cup in September. The Englishman looks to make it two wins from two but will be playing QHC for the first time in competition. Remember, the 2022 edition of the WFC was in the Maryland suburbs at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm.

It would be impossible to ignore Jason Day (25/1) after his red-hot first four months of 2023. The Australian is healthy and has flown up the leaderboards in events where he's excelled in previous years. QHC qualifies as he won the 2018 and has three other finishes inside the top 25.

With two wins on the season already, Max Homa (25/1) will look to defend his event title on a course where he's already won the event. Confused? Don't be! Homa picked up his first win on TOUR here posting 15-under in 2019 and then won the event last year at TPC Potomac at Avenel. The winner at Torrey Pines earlier this year embraces tough layouts.

Stats Matter

SG: Tee to Green

2Rory McIlroy
4Tony Finau
5Collin Morikawa
6Patrick Cantlay
8Justin Thomas
9Xander Schauffele
10Sungjae Im
11Jason Day
12  Tyrrell Hatton
12Max Homa

The course won't be set up like a major championship. But it wouldn't take much to make that happen! This isn't the week to work out the kinks as trouble lingers off most tee boxes and green complexes. Strong ball striking has been a quality of most winners over the previous 19 editions.

SG: Putting

2Sam Ryder
3Taylor Montgomery
4Harry Hall
5Sam Burns
6Ben Taylor
10Max Homa
11Taylor Moore
12Andrew Putnam
13Jason Day
14Eric Cole

Top 10 annually in scoring average, Quail Hollow winners must control the flat stick on the large, overseeded Bermuda greens. The three-putt percentage numbers here stand out (top 5 in 2021). The greens are difficult to hit. Completing the "down" portion of up and down will save strokes. Birdie chances must be converted.

Par-4 Scoring

1Patrick Cantlay
2Akshay Bhatia
5Jason Day
5Taylor Montgomery
7Tony Finau
7Denny McCarthy
10 Brian Harman
10Chris Kirk
13Hayden Buckley, Ben Griffin
13Max Homa, Tom Kim
13JJ Spaun, Viktor Hovland

The top five players on the leaderboard in 2021 ranked in the top six in this category. Five par-4 holes measure 483 yards or better, including two of three to open the front nine and two of the three to close on "The Green Mile."

Next Tier

Rickie Fowler (35/1): Simmering nicely and a former champion here. 

Tyrell Hatton (40/1): The tougher, the better. Always eats at a difficult Bay Hill in Orlando.

Keith Mitchell (66/1): T3 and T8 in his last two visits included a two-shot lead after 54 holes in 2021.

Sleepers (100/1 or deeper)

Patrick Rodgers (100/1): Top 10 last week included closing round 64. Runner up to McIlroy here in 2015, but by seven shots!

Emiliano Grillo (125/1): Riding back-to-back top-10 finishes.

Kurt Kitayama (125/1): Held off McIlroy, Cantlay and others to win at Bay Hill.

Luke List (175/1): Course horse with a pair of top-10s plus T16 from five starts. No problem getting it around this place.

Justin Suh (300/1): Full bag. Proper grinder.

Good luck!

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