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Opinion & Analysis

2022 Wells Fargo Championship: Outright Betting Picks

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The PGA Tour heads to Potomac, Maryland to play the 2022 Wells Fargo Championship. Typically, the Wells Fargo Championship is played at Quail Hollow Golf and Country Club but due to the course hosting this year’s President Cup, TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm will be hosting the event temporarily.

TPC Potomac at Avenel Farms is a par 70 golf course measuring in at 7,139 yards and features bentgrass greens. The course has been used professionally since 1987 starting with the Kemper Open from 1987 to 2002 After that, the course hosted the Booz Allen Classic until 2006. Most recently, TPC Potomac hosted the 2017 and 2018 Quicken Loans National.

The field this week will consist of 156 players, including plenty of superstars who are preparing for the PGA Championship in a few weeks. Some of the notable golfers in the field include Rory McIlroy, Abraham Ancer, Paul Casey, Corey Conners, Tony Finau, Matt Fitzpatrick, Sergio Garcia, Tyrrell Hatton, Marc Leishman, Louis Oosthuizen, Webb Simpson, and Gary Woodland.

2022 Wells Fargo Championship Best Bets

Corey Conners (+2000)

Corey Conners has been knocking at the door all year long and now finds himself at a course where the fit feels almost too good to be true.

TPC Potomac favors golfers who can put the ball in the fairway. There are plenty of courses on Tour in 2022 where players can get away with spraying it off the tee. This is not one of those tracks. Errant tee shots will be penalized with big numbers on the scorecard, and few can put the ball in the fairway while also maintaining field average distance as well as the Canadian does. Conners ranks 5th in the field in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee and 4th in the field in Good Drives Gained.

In addition to being a great driver of the golf ball, Conners is also a phenomenal iron player. With tricky green complexes at TPC Potomac, sharp iron play will be a major advantage when trying to get the ball on the right level of the putting surface.

Additionally, in his past 24 rounds, the 30-year-old ranks 15th in the field in Strokes Gained on short par 70 courses.

Simply put, Corey Conners checks all the boxes this week. The price tag is a bit steep, but this is the right course at the right time for a potential second PGA Tour victory.

Matt Fitzpatrick (+2200)

In 2018, there was a certain narrative regarding a supremely talented European golfer who “couldn’t win” on the PGA Tour. Leading into the 2018 Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac, Fransesco Molinari had never won a PGA Tour event. Prior to the victory, he had contended at numerous events throughout his career but couldn’t get over the hump. After Moli got his win at TPC Potomac he went on to win the Open Championship in 2018 and the Arnold Palmer invitational in 2019.

Another golfer who carries a reputation thus far in his career of not being able to get it done on the PGA Tour is Matt Fitzpatrick. Like Molinari, Fitz has gotten into contention plenty of times including at the Players and the Arnold Palmer Invitational. The Englishman also has a very similar skillset to an in-form Molinari and feels like a perfect fit for TPC Potomac.

The Englishman ranks in the top 25 in the field in Fairways Gained, Strokes Gained: Off the Tee, and Good Drives Gained. He is excellent with the driver and will keep the ball in play at a course where that is an absolute requirement.

The main concern I have when betting Fitzpatrick is whether or not he can make enough birdies to keep pace on the scoring fests we usually see on the PGA Tour. Considering TPC Potomac has played quite difficult in the past, I don’t expect the winning score to get out of hand this week, making it an ideal fit for Fitzpatrick’s style of play.

Paul Casey (+4000)

There is a definite injury concern with Paul Casey considering he was forced to withdraw from his past two starts with a back injury. However, the risk is baked into the price this week. If he was healthy, his betting odds are most likely cut in half in this field. Additionally, I don’t think he would attempt to play this week if he wasn’t healthy with the PGA Championship right around the corner.

When Casey is at his best, TPC Potomac should be an ideal fit for the Englishman. He ranks 2nd in the field in Strokes Gained: Approach in his past 24 rounds and is a great all-around driver of the ball. He has excelled throughout his career on difficult courses and all three of his PGA Tour victories have had winning scores of worse than -11. I expect conditions to be fairly difficult this week so the event should be right in Casey’s wheelhouse.

Betting on Casey this week is by no means safe, but with outright bets I like to play the “ceiling” on players. If he is indeed healthy this is a great number on a world class player.

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Opinion & Analysis

What does it really take to play college golf?

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Much has been written and speculated about this question, both in popular media and by junior golfers and their parents and coaches. However, I wanted to get a more definitive answer.

In collaboration with Dr. Laura Upenieks of Baylor University, and with the generous support of Junior Tour of Northern California and Aaron R. Hartesveldt, PGA, we surveyed 51 players who were committed to play college golf for the 2021 year.

Our sample was comprised of 27 junior boys and 24 junior girls. Most of our respondents were either white or Asian. As for some other notable statistics, 67% of boys reported working with a coach once a week, while 100% of girls reported working with a coach at least once a week. In addition, 67% of boys were members at a private club, while 100% of girls were members of a private club. Here are some other interesting findings from the data:

-The average scoring differential for a boy who committed to college golf was -1.48
-The average scoring differential for a girl who committed to college golf was 3.72
-The majority of the sample reported having played over 100 tournaments
-The average boy was introduced to the game at 7 years old
-The average girl was introduced to golf at 12 years old
-The average boy first broke par at 12
-The average girl first broke par at 17
-67% of boys and girls who responded reported having won at least 10 tournaments

One of the most interesting findings of the survey was the amount of competitive golf being played. The data shows that 67% of players report playing over 100 tournaments, meaning they have close to 1,000 hours of tournament experience. This is an extremely impressive amount given all respondents were teenagers, showing the level of dedication needed to compete at the top level.

Another interesting showing was that 75% of boys surveyed reported receiving “full scholarship”. At first glance, this number seems to be extremely high. In 2016, in a GolfWRX that I did with Steph Acosta, the data we collected estimated this number was between 5-10%. This number is seven times greater, which could be due to a low sample size. However, I would also speculate that the data speaks to the extrinsic motivation of players in the data set, as they feel the need to get a scholarship to measure their athletic success.

Finally, boys in the survey report playing with a mixture of elite players (those with plus handicaps) as well as 5-9 handicaps. On the other hand, no female in the study reported playing with any plus handicaps. It also stood out that 100% of junior girls report that their fathers play golf. In ongoing research, we are examining the reasons why young women choose golf and the impact their environments have on their relationships with golf. The early data is very interesting and we hope that it can be published by the end of this year. Altogether, we suspect that girls hold lower status at golf courses and are less able to establish competitive groups to regularly play with. This could impact how long they stay in the sport of golf as well as their competitive development.

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Podcasts

TG2: Tursky vs. Knudson WITB battle! Which bag would you game?

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It is time to see who has the better WITB! Tursky and Knudson face off in a battle of golf clubs, seeing who has made the better setup. Take a listen and then let us know who’s bag you like better on our Instagram account, @tg2wrx

 

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Club Junkie

Club Junkie: Callaway Jaws Raw wedge review and Strackaline’s yardage and green reading books

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Review of the new Callaway Jaws Raw wedge and the new Z Grind sole on the lob wedge. Great spin and improved shape make it my choice over the Jaws MD5. Strackaline’s yardage and green reading books are highly detailed and catch all the slopes on the green.

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