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Fantasy Preview: 2018 Wells Fargo Championship

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Having moved to Eagle Point GC for the 2017 edition, the Wells Fargo Championship returns once more to the familiar Quail Hollow Club. The switch was due to Quail Hollow hosting the 2017 PGA Championship, and its ability to host a Major Championship tells you all you need to know about the difficulty of the course.

At over 7,500 yards, the course is very challenging. As you can imagine, those who possess great length off the tee will have a significant advantage over the shorter hitters this week. Along with distance off the tee, accuracy with long irons will be vital this week. At the PGA Championship last year, Justin Thomas claimed his maiden major, while James Hahn emerged victorious in 2016 at the Wells Fargo. In both of these events, single-digits under par was enough to prevail.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Rory Mcilroy 8/1
  • Justin Thomas 10/1
  • Rickie Fowler 10/1
  • Jason Day 20/1
  • Patrick Reed 20/1
  • Hideki Mastuyama 22/1
  • Phil Mickelson 25/1

Despite a loaded field this week, Rory McIlroy (8/1, DK Price $11,800) jumps out from the card. His affinity with Quail Hollow is not quite at the level of Tiger Woods and his favorite courses, but it’s still mightily impressive. McIlroy has two wins and four other top-10 finishes at this championship in his seven appearances here.

It will be McIlroy’s first appearance since he struggled on Sunday at the Masters and let slip another opportunity to complete the Grand Slam… but already the signs are there that this year his game is in far better shape than it has been over the last two years. His win at Bay Hill and his week in contention at Augusta should serve him well this week at a course he can dominate.

With performance off the tee this week being so important on a long golf course such as this, McIlroy will be more confident than anyone in the field at producing his best in this department. At four of the last five Wells Fargo Championships he’s played, McIlroy has led the field in Strokes Gained-Off the Tee — sometimes by inordinate numbers, too. His Strokes Gained-Total on the course in this event is spectacular. McIlroy leads the field in Strokes Gained-Total here, and he has gained more than double the amount of Strokes Gained-Total than that of third-place Robert Streb despite only playing in four of the last five tournaments.

One item in the bag that has stifled McIlroy repeatedly in the past is also behaving itself recently, too. The Irishman’s putting has been rock solid lately. In his last 12 rounds, he ranks 10th in Strokes Gained-Putting. On a course that fits his eye more than any other on Tour, there is nothing to suggest McIlroy won’t be right in the thick of it come Sunday afternoon.

Another man who has performed well at Quail Hollow in the past is Webb Simpson (40/1, DK Price $8,400). It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise either, since Simpson is a member of the course. The U.S. Open Champion has finished in the top-5 at this event twice in his last five visits. Simpson has also been enjoying a great stretch of form. In his eight stroke-play tournaments, he has managed to finish in the top-10 on four occasions.

Performance on the greens has never been a strong point of Simpson’s game, but this season has been a revelation in that regard. Simpson has only failed to post a positive Strokes Gained-Putting statistic in one event so far this season. He ranks fourth in Strokes Gained-Putting and 2nd in Strokes Gained-Short Game over his last 24 rounds in this field.

Simpson ranks 14th in Strokes Gained-Total at Quail Hollow over the past five years and 12th for Strokes Gained-Total in this field over his previous 12 rounds. With his game in excellent shape, good course form and local knowledge to lean on — and now armed with a hot putter — Simpson looks good to have another good week at his home course.

It often surprises people when they hear it, but Bryson DeChambeau (50/1, DK Price $8,000) is one of the best players in the world off the tee. DeChambeau is ranked 13th in Total Driving for the season, and recently his iron play has been superb. Over the past 12 rounds, DeChambeau leads the field this week in Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green.

Over his last six events, DeChambeau has three top-5 finishes to his name. He will be looking to re-enter the winner’s circle again soon while his game is in such good shape. Over his last 24 rounds, DeChambeau ranks fifth in Ball Striking, third in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green and sixth in Strokes Gained Total. All of this has brought a lot of joy to DraftKings players who have been using him in this stretch, as DeChambeau sits third in DraftKings points earned in the same period.

DeChambeau finished T-33 on this course at the PGA Championship last year, and he has the ideal combination of power and strategic nous to improve on that this week. He looks slightly undervalued, and there’s no reason for DraftKings players to desert the Californian at this juncture.

Recommended Plays

  • Rory Mcilroy 8/1, DK Price $11,800
  • Webb Simpson 40/1, DK Price $8,400
  • Bryson DeChambeau 50/1, DK Price  $8,000
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Gianni is a freelance writer. He holds a Bachelor of Arts as well as a Diploma in Sports Journalism. He can be contacted at gmagliocco@outlook.com. Follow him on Twitter @giancarlomag

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Opinion & Analysis

Fantasy Preview: 2018 Wyndham Championship

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After one of the most exciting Sunday’s of the golfing year, attention now turns towards the race for the FedEx Cup playoffs, and the quest to attain a captain’s pick for the Ryder Cup. For the former, this week’s Wyndham Championship is the final opportunity for players to work their way into the top-125 in the FedEx Cup standings and earn a spot in the opening event of the playoffs. Despite many of the world’s elite understandably taking this week off, there are some big names in action here in Greensboro, with Hideki Matsuyama, Henrik Stenson, Sergio Garcia and Webb Simpson all setting their sights on winning at Sedgefield Country Club this week.

Sedgefield CC is a relatively short par-70 golf course. It measures just over 7,100 yards, and it’s a golf course that doesn’t particularly favour the longer hitters. The rough is playable in Greensboro this week, and like most years at the Wyndham Championship, expect players who have their wedge game dialled in to thrive here at this event.

Last year, Henrik Stenson put on a ball striking clinic, posting 22-under par to win the title by one stroke over Ollie Schniederjans.

Selected Tournament Odds (via Bet365)

  • Webb Simpson 12/1
  • Hideki Matsuyama 16/1
  • Henrik Stenson 18/1
  • Rafa Cabrera Bello 22/1
  • Brandt Snedeker 22/1
  • Shane Lowry 25/1
  • Billy Horschel 28/1

It’s been a bit of a disappointing year for Daniel Berger (35/1, DK Price $9,300), but the Floridian showed some very promising signs at last week’s PGA Championship. After opening his PGA Championship with a very poor round of 73, Berger then shined over the next three days. The American posted three consecutive rounds under par, two of which were 66 or better. It was enough to give Berger a T12 finish and plenty of momentum heading to Greensboro this week.

In St. Louis last week, Berger lead the field for Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, gaining an impressive 8.5 strokes over the field. It was the second best performance with his irons in his career, and at Sedgefield, Berger is going to have hole after hole where he can attack pins with his precise iron game. The two-time winner on the PGA Tour has had a quiet year, but in a weakened field, with plenty of question marks surrounding those at the top of the market, he has a superb opportunity for win number three here in Greensboro.

A T31 finish at the PGA Championship last week means that Chris Kirk (80/1, DK Price $7,500) has now made the cut in his last ten events. From these ten events, four have resulted in top-25 finishes, and Kirk has been hitting the ball particularly well as of late. Over his previous 12 rounds, Kirk ranks fifth in the field this week for Strokes Gained-Approaching the Green, 10th in ball striking and eight in Strokes Gained-Total.

Kirk will cost you just $7,500 on DraftKings, and looking at some of the players that are more expensive this week, he appears to be a bargain. Kirk is three for three in cuts made at the Wyndham Championship in his last three visits, and the four-time PGA Tour champion looks in excellent shape to mount his best challenge yet in Greensboro. Over his last 12 rounds, Kirk leads this week’s field for proximity to the hole, and on a golf course where flushing short irons to close range is going to be key, the American looks to offer some of the best value around this week.

With 17 out of 19 made cuts this year, and arriving off the back of a T12 finish in his last outing, Rory Sabbatini (75/1, DK Price $7,100) looks undervalued once again on DraftKings this week. Over his previous 12 rounds, Sabbatini ranks 24th in Strokes Gained-Tee to Green and 10th in Strokes Gained-Total. What’s more, is that Sabbatini is coming to a golf course that he has played very well in the past. In his last two visits to Sedgefield CC, the American has finished in the top-10 twice, with his best result coming last year when he finished T4. Coming off a strong showing in Canada, and with his proficiency in making cuts and excellent course history, Sabbatini looks a great DraftKings option here this week.

Recommended Plays

  • Daniel Berger 35/1, DK Price $9,300
  • Chris Kirk 80/1, DK Price $7,500
  • Rory Sabbatini 75/1, DK Price $7,100
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The 19th Hole: Katie Kearney’s Insights from Inside the Ropes with Tiger Woods on Sunday

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“Tiger made the other players disappear!” Golf correspondent, Instagram star and St. Louis native Katie Kearney describes what it was like to be inside the ropes at Bellerive on this week’s edition of the 19th Hole with Michael Williams. Also featured are Golf Channel Contributor Ron Sirak, and Chris McGinley of V1 Golf.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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The Gear Dive: A roundtable with Mike Taylor and the Artisan Golf team

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Artisan Golf’s Mike Taylor, Dave Richey and John Hatfield speak on what it’s like being at the forefront of the “craftsman” movement, Tommy Fleetwood’s Irons, Tiger’s Nike wedges, and working with Patrick Reed. Get all the latest Gear Dive info @thegeardive_golfwrx on Instagram.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

  • 3:30 — How it all started
  • 12:15 — Checks and Balances
  • 15:20 — The Importance of a proper wedge shaft
  • 20:15 — Taylor on the high-toe trend in wedges
  • 24:00 — Patrick Reed
  • 27:00 — Artisan Putters and what makes the different
  • 34:30 — Dave Richey advice to young club makers
  • 38:00 — Tommy Fleetwood’s last set
  • 39:30 — Tigers TaylorMade Gear, “no comment”
  • 44:15 — Getting used to IG and Social Media
  • 52:00 — Mike Taylor on the power of knowledge
  • 53:30 — Mike Taylor on bounce
  • 57:40 — Tiger’s new wedge grind to cure his yips
  • 63:55 — Roundtable Favorite track
  • 64:20 — Roundtable Dream foursome
  • 66:10 — Roundtable If you had to buy a wedge/putter/irons
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19th Hole

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