We’re finally back at the Well Fargo Championship. We missed it last year due to COVID-19, which was disappointing given that this venue is one of my favorites all year long.
Both our guys are in the field, as Rory will be making his first start since missing the cut at the Masters, and Max Homa, fresh off a Top 10 will return this week as the defending champion.
Let’s take a look at the rest of the field.
New FedEx Cup leader Justin Thomas returns to a course where he’s had some success, and by some, I mean winning the 2017 PGA Championship. He is, and should be, the betting favorite this week, sitting at +900.
Bryson is here. So that sucks.
New father Jon Rahm is here, as well as other big names: Xander Schauffele, Webb Simpson, Viktor Hovland, Patrick Reed, Jason Day, and Willy Z.
Quail Hollow Club
Tom Fazio upgrade in 2017 before the PGA
This course is a beast. Distance will always help here. In 2019, however, there were some names at the top not known for their distance (Dufner, Dahmen, etc). But, I’ll be taking driving distance into account. Data Golf ranked all the players in the field, matched their attributes to the golf course, and ranked them to how well they fit this course. 1. Bryson, 2. Rory.
Long iron play will be another thing to look at this week. Long Par 4s, ability to attack Par 5s on a longer course is important.
Data Golf Information
Course Fit: 1. Club de Golf Chapultapec (old home of WGC Mexico), 2. Winged Foot GC (2020 US Open venue), 3. Trump National Doral (home of the WGC Mexico before Chapultapec)
Trending (of the players in the field): 1. Brian Harmon (Last 3 starts: T5, T12, T13), 2. Jon Rahm (T9, T5, T5), 3. Bryson DeChambeau (T3, T17, T46)
% Chance to Win: 1. Jon Rahm (9.2%), 2. Justin Thomas (7.3%), 3. Bryson DeChambeau (6.5%)
Twilight 9 Card – Best Bets
Let’s start with the favorite.
Group A Winner – Justin Thomas (+195) – Over Rahm, DeChambeau, and Xander
Everything is kinda aligning for Justin Thomas to win again this week. Won here before (2017), won at the best course comparison course, and is in really good form – last 3 start: Win (PLAYERS), T21 (Masters), and T13 (Valspar).
Last week in Tampa, JT led the field in SG: OTT, SG: APP, SG: T2G. But, on the greens, he was 67th in SG: Putting. That’s what can kill JT. He does everything else so fucking well, but if his putter doesn’t come to the party, he can’t get it done – but that’s pretty much everyone on Tour, if you can’t putt you can’t win.
I just think everything is pointing towards JT winning this week, we’ll just have to wait and see if his Scotty cooperates.
Alright, warning you now, both my guys are going to be on the card, so let’s start with the defending champion.
Top 20 – Max Homa (+160)
You guys read my Max Homa spiel every week. So I’m not going to say everything. But on top of his incredibly consistent play all season long, he added yet another Top 10 at the Valspar, that could have easily been a Top 5 or even a win if Sunday goes a little better.
He was inside the Top 20 in both SG: APP (11th), and SG: OTT (17th) in Tampa.
He won the last playing of this event back in 2019, and has only gotten better, and more use to that winning feeling. Max is in for anything big week.
No-one has won this tournament 2 years in a row.
Top 10 – Rory McIlroy (+210)
Ah, I missed this feeling. The feeling of talking myself into my guy making a run this week. That only means one thing. Rory McIlroy is back.
Rory is incredible at this golf course:
Win in 2010 (his first on Tour) by 4, win in 2015 by 7 (!!) setting the new 18 hole scoring record (61) and 72 hole scoring record (-21). Runner-up in 2012, and most recently a T8 in 2019. Overall, he has 7 Top 10s in 9 starts here.
But, he’s struggling. He’s fallen to 15th in the OWGR, his lowest ranking since 2009. MC at the Genesis, MC at the PLAYERS, and a MC at the Masters.
This recent fall can be contributed to a few things: 1. Making the mistake to chase Bryson in the distance race. He’s already one of the longest hitters on Tour, there was no need for him to go out there and try to replicate what Bryson is doing. Bryson doesn’t have a life. He just swings clubs as fast as he can in his basement while his weird friend group yells at him. Rory has a wife, a beautiful new daughter, and not the extra time to perfect the long drive.
And 2., he has a new coach. Cowen is trying to simplify the game for Rory, and help him understand what’s really going on in his swing so we can feel the changes on the golf course. And, hopefully, dialing in his wedge play, because that is what Cowen is known for – and God knows Rors needs that.
I’ll never give up on my boy, so of course he’s going on the card this week.
Top 20 – Will Zalatoris (+115)
Will Zalatoris is going back on the card this week, too.
Like I said earlier, long irons are going to be pretty important this week, and what comes with that is ball-striking. This kid is one of the best on the planet, and is searching for his first PGA Tour win. He was runner-up at the Masters, and has 5 other Top 10s since the start of the new season.
He’s 4th on Tour in SG: APP, and 8th T2G.
He’s up to 28th in the World, and still doesn’t have full-time exemption on Tour.
Top 40 – Harold Varner III (+155)
He’s had several great starts in 2021: Top 20 in Phoenix, T21 at the Arnold Palmer, Top 20 at the Honda, and in his last single’s start, he finished T2 at the RBC Heritage.
His record at this event isn’t anything special, although he did finish inside the Top 25 back in 2016.
SG wise he looks solid. On the year he’s inside the Top 40 when it comes to APP, TOT, and T2G.
This is great value for a guy that has shown recent flashes of really good golf.
Top 20 – Abraham Ancer (+185)
We finally won some money on Ab Ancer a few weeks back, and this week we go right back to him. Since a MC at the Genesis, he hasn’t finished outside the Top 26. He’s also coming off his second best finish of the season, solo 5th at the Valspar.
I bring it up every time we talk about him, but his SG numbers won’t blow your mind, but he’s so consistent when it comes to greens and fairways. 17th in GIR, and 2nd in FIR.
He missed the cut in his only appearance at this golf course.
Top 30 – Emiliano Grillo (+175)
Emiliano Grillo is another guy that’s been playing great golf. 3 Top 20s in his last 6 starts, with two of those being Top 10s (runner-up at the RBC Heritage).
He missed the cut at the Valspar, but he’ shown he can bounce back quickly this year on Tour.
His history at this course is decent, highlighted by a T9 in 2018. His ability to bounce back from a missed cut should make him a solid choice for a Top 30 finish.
Cover via PGATour.com