Wells Fargo Championship 2024 Tips: Jamie Worsley expertly marks our card

 | 6th May | 

19 mins read

jamie worsley pga tour

Before the not-so-small matter of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Kentucky next week – our second major of the year – the PGA Tour will first stage a double-header in the Carolinas.

While a larger but lower-quality field tees it up in South Carolina at The Dunes Golf and Beach Club in the Myrtle Beach Classic, a smaller but high-class field will head to Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina for the Wells Fargo Championship – the sixth Signature Event of the season and a championship test that should be the ideal warm-up for those competing in Kentucky.

Wells Fargo Championship Tips

  • Wyndham Clark 20/1 ... 1/5 odds 6 places, 2.5 pts ew
  • Max Homa 22/1 ... 1/5 odds 6 places, 2.5 pts ew
  • Stephan Jaeger 55/1 ... 1/5 odds 6 places, 1 pt ew
  • Taylor Moore 80/1 ... 1/5 odds 8 places, 1 pt ew

TOURNAMENT HISTORY

The Wells Fargo Championship started off life as the Wachovia Championship in 2003 and excluding 2020 - when the tournament was cancelled due to the pandemic - it has taken place every year since.

Quail Hollow Club is the regular host course, although the event has had to be staged elsewhere on two occasions. It took place at Eagle Point Golf Club in 2017 as Quail Hollow was busy preparing to host its first PGA Championship and in 2022 TPC Potomac stepped in, with the usual host course readying itself for the Presidents Cup.

Many big names have won the event, including Tiger Wood (2007) and Vijay Singh (2005). Though no player has enjoyed as much success in this tournament and indeed at Quail Hollow as Rory McIlroy, who was won here three times.

The first of those victories for the Northern Irishman came in 2010, when he beat Phil Mickelson by four strokes to record a first ever win on the PGA Tour. He reclaimed the trophy with a record-setting performance in 2015, shooting -21 to win by seven strokes and he then grabbed a third title in 2021.

Max Homa is the only other player to have won this event more than once but only one of those came at Quail Hollow, as following his first win here in 2019 he won the TPC Potomac edition in 2022.

Last five winners:

  • 2023 – Winner: Wyndham Clark (-19); runner-up: Xander Schauffele (-15)
  • 2022 – Winner: Max Homa (-8); runners-up: Keegan Bradley, Matt Fitzpatrick, Cameron Young (-6)
  • 2021 – Winner: Rory McIlroy (-10); runner-up: Abraham Ancer (-9)
  • 2019 – Winner: Max Homa (-15); runner-up: Joel Dahmen (-12)
  • 2018 – Winner: Jason Day (-12); runners-up: Nick Watney, Aaron Wise (-10)

Wyndham Clark recorded an impressive first PGA Tour victory in the event last year, getting the better of Xander Schauffele by four strokes. It was a win that set up a memorable year for Clark, later going on to win his first major championship in the U.S Open. He returns to defend this week against this star-studded Signature Event field.

THE COURSE

The course at Quail Hollow Club was designed by George Cobb in 1961. It has been renovated several times since, first by Arnold Palmer in the 80s and more recently by Tom Fazio, who has performed several renovations since 1997, including prior to the 2017 PGA Championship.

2023 again saw maintenance carried out at the golf club. Chief among the changes/upgrades was the softening of some slopes on the greens to enable pin placements to be used with higher green speeds; the lengthening of the par 4 16th, which can now play as long as 529 yards; and trees added to holes 1, 2, 5, 10, 11, 13, 14 and 16.

One of the longest courses on tour, this par 71 now measures 7558 yards; with 11x par 4s (344-529 yards), 4x par 3s (184-249 yards) and 3x par 5s (546-592 yards).

Averaging a winning score of -13.7 over the last ten renewals at the course, Quail Hollow is as strong a major-like test you’re likely to find on the PGA Tour. It closely examines every area of a player’s game and should give us plenty of clues as to who looks set to be among the leading contenders at Valhalla next week.

The largely tree-lined fairways are predominantly doglegging and narrow, possessing the seventh-lowest driving accuracy percentages on the PGA Tour over recent years. Strategic and large bunkers tighten the landing areas, however the rough isn’t too demanding and shouldn’t pose much of a problem so long as the players don’t stray far from the short grass.

There are frequent elevation changes, both off-the-tee and into the relatively large, speedy and undulating bermudagrass-based greens, which like many courses in this part of the U.S are over seeded with poa trivialis at this time of year.

Often elevated and littered with run-offs and false-fronts, they rank in the ten-toughest greens to find on tour. Combined with being the fifth-trickiest to putt on and the eighth-hardest to scramble around, it’s on and around these surfaces that is the most challenging aspect of Quail Hollow.

Water is in-play on seven holes, including the final five, which closes out with the famously-difficult three-hole stretch on holes 16-18 – dubbed “The Green Mile”.

The first of these holes is that recently extended and now mammoth 529-yard par 4 16th. The fairway is one of the more generous on the course, but with a bunker sitting right of the landing area and water far left, it is not without danger. Players will want to find the short grass to give themselves a more comfortable approach into the green, which is protected by a bunker to the right and water long and left.

They will then move on to the 190-yard par 3 17th. This large, sloping green is very exposed, meaning wind coming off the lake – which protects the green left, short and long – can cause havoc. If bailing out to the right, players could be faced with an unenviable chip back towards the water from thick rough or a tightly-mown chipping area.

Another lengthy par 4 closes out the course, in the shape of the 494-yard 18th. A creek that runs up the entire left-hand side of the hole is very much in-play here and a bail out right of the narrow fairway or sloping green will likely find a tricky spot in a large bunker. Slightly uphill, the hole plays even longer than the already sizeable yardage and is a true test of nerve for anybody still in with a shout of winning come Sunday evening.

THE WEATHER

Warm, humid conditions once again mean that thunderstorms could be on the way this week. It is currently forecast to hit the course on Monday/Tuesday and returns for the opening two rounds, bringing with it some heavy rain.

There may be plenty of stopping and starting over those first two days but with rain likely to soften the course up and little more than a stiff breeze, conditions over the weekend could be as kind as you’re likely to find here.

KEY STATS

  • SG: Off-the-Tee
  • Driving Distance

There are few players to record a win here without showing quality right across their game, such are the championship demands of the course. However, when trying to break down this field it’s obvious to me where to start and that’s by looking at driving, with high-class and lengthy players off-the-tee understandably enjoying most success at this venue over the years.

The 2023 Wells Fargo champion, Wyndham Clark joined a long list of such players last year. We of course have Rory McIlroy – one of the best and longest drivers in the game for many years – winning his third title in the previous edition here in 2021; Max Homa has always looked good with driver and is not short on length; with similar being said of 2018 winner, Jason Day.

Before the big-hitting Justin Thomas won the PGA Championship here in 2017, James Hahn took the 2016 edition of the event and is somewhat of an outlier, though by no means was he a poor driver at that point, nor was he especially short.

Going back even further to the likes of J.B Holmes (2014), Lucas Glover (2011) and Sean O’Hair (2008), the list of winners is littered with players who excelled with driver and possessed reasonable at the time..

  • SG: Approach
  • Greens-in-Regulation
  • Proximity from 175-200 yards

As always, iron play will also be key and we should focus closely on those who are at their best from 175-200 yards, with that range accounting for around 25% of approaches at the course.

It was with his irons that Wyndham Clark shone most last year, ranking 1st in approach and 1st in greens-in-regulation. Rory McIlroy dominated the field with his ball-striking in 2015, including ranking 2nd in approach and GIR; also looking similarly strong in these areas in 2021, ranking 10th in approach and 3rd in GIR.

Max Homa led home a group of strong iron players when winning in 2019, with seven of the top 10 that year ranking inside the top 10 in approach.

  • SG: Putting (poa trivialis)

These sloping putting surfaces can cause some serious headaches and mastering them has been a key component to those recent winners getting the victory over the line.

Wyndham Clark ranked 3rd on the greens last year, as did Rory McIlroy in 2021. Max Homa led the field in putting during his 2019 win; Jason Day was 2nd on the greens on his way to taking the title in 2018 and 2016 Quail Hollow champion, James Hahn, ranked 9th with his putter.

  • Par 4 Scoring

Finally, it’s the strong collection of par 4s that holds the key to conquering Quail Hollow. Each of the last six winners of this event at the course have ranked inside the top 4 for par 4 scoring that week, with Wyndham Clark last year, Max Homa in 2019, James Hahn in 2016 and Rory McIlroy in 2015 all leading the field in scoring on these holes.

CORRELATING EVENTS (COURSES)

Arnold Palmer Invitational (Bay Hill)

There are several courses on tour that can often guide us towards potential major performers and with that, also mean that they tend to tie in with one another.

Bay Hill has become one of the most stringent  tests on the PGA Tour in recent years and often sees those big-hitting ball-striking types go well. Also ranking closely to Quail Hollow in short-game difficulty on and around the large and speedy bermudagrass-based greens, it should help in finding the winner to this week’s event.

Notable correlating form:

Jason Day:

Quail Hollow (1st) / API (1st)

Wyndham Clark:

Quail Hollow (1st) / API (2nd)

Sean O’Hair:

Quail Hollow (1st) / API (2nd, 3rd)

Rickie Fowler:

Quail Hollow (1st) / API (3rd)

Ben Curtis:

Quail Hollow (2nd, 5th) / API (4th, 6th)

Nick Watney:

Quail Hollow (2nd) / API (4th)

Joel Dahmen:

Quail Hollow (2nd) / API (5th)

Keith Mitchell:

Quail Hollow (3rd, 8th) / API (5th, 6th)

Memorial Tournament (Muirfield Village)

Much like Quail Hollow, Muirfield Village and the Memorial Tournament serves up a demanding all-round challenge, one which often sees major contenders go well. With approaches from 175-200 yards common and coming in at a similar length to this week’s course, there are many reasons why players could transfer form between these two events.

Notable correlating form:

Rickie Fowler:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Memorial (2nd, 2nd)

J.B Holmes:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Memorial (4th)

Max Homa:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Memorial (5th, 6th)

James Hahn:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Memorial (6th)

Aaron Wise:

Quail Hollow (2nd) / Memorial (2nd)

Jonathan Byrd:

Quail Hollow (2nd, 5th) / Memorial (3rd, 6th)

Ben Curtis:

Quail Hollow (2nd, 5th) / Memorial (6th, 8th)

Jason Dufner:

Quail Hollow (4th, 5th) / Memorial (1st)

Gary Woodland:

Quail Hollow (4th, 5th) / Memorial (4th, 5th)

Kyle Stanley:

Quail Hollow (6th, 8th) / Memorial (2nd, 3rd)

Kevin Streelman:

Quail Hollow (6th, 9th) / Memorial (4th, 7th, 7th)

Genesis Invitational (Riviera Country Club)

Though on the opposite side of the U.S and using different grasses, Riviera Country Club provides players with a similarly demanding ball-striking test; requiring a high standard of driving into the narrow fairways and a large amount of approaches from 175-200 yards.

This level of strain it puts on the long game has enabled it to form strong form-ties with Quail Hollow.

Notable correlating form:

Max Homa:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Genesis (1st, 2nd)

James Hahn:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Genesis (1st)

J.B Holmes:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Genesis (1st)

Joel Dahmen:

Quail Hollow (2nd) / Genesis (5th)

Keith Mitchell:

Quail Hollow (3rd, 8th) / Genesis (5th)

Paul Casey:

Quail Hollow (4th, 5th) / Genesis (2nd)

Luke List:

Quail Hollow (6th, 9th) / Genesis (2nd)

Farmers Insurance Open (Torrey Pines)

Whilst Torrey Pines is more exposed than Quail Hollow, its length, narrow fairways, similar approach distance make-up and general all-round challenge means players often go well across these two events.

Notable correlating form:

Jason Day:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Farmers (1st, 1st)

Max Homa:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Farmers (1st)

J.B Holmes:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Farmers (2nd)

Lucas Glover:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Farmers (3rd, 4th)

Nick Watney:

Quail Hollow (2nd) / Farmers (1st)

Patrick Rodgers:

Quail Hollow (2nd) / Farmers (4th)

D.A Points:

Quail Hollow (2nd) / Farmers (5th, 8th)

Luke List:

Quail Hollow (6th, 9th) / Farmers (1st)

Pat Perez:

Quail Hollow (6th, 8th) / Farmers (2nd)

Kyle Stanley:

Quail Hollow (6th, 8th) / Farmers (2nd)

Kevin Streelman:

Quail Hollow (6th, 9th) / Farmers (3rd)

Valspar Championship (Innisbrook Resort – Copperhead Course)

The Valspar Championship is an event where strong drivers have thrived in the past. Sharing similar driving accuracy and greens-in-regulation percentages, along with being another course where approaches from 175-200 are commonplace, it is a comparable ball-striking test to Quail Hollow.

Add in the almost identically speedy and sloping poa trivialis over seeded greens, and the Valspar starts to look a strong comp for this week’s test.

Notable correlating form:

Sean O’Hair:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Valspar (1st)

Lucas Glover:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Valspar (4th)

Wyndham Clark:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Valspar (5th)

Webb Simpson:

Quail Hollow (2nd) / Valspar (2nd)

Jonathan Byrd:

Quail Hollow (2nd, 5th) / Valspar (8th, 8th)

Nick Watney:

Quail Hollow (2nd) / Valspar (4th)

Abraham Ancer:

Quail Hollow (2nd) / Valspar (5th)

Paul Casey:

Quail Hollow (4th, 5th) / Valspar (1st, 1st)

Gary Woodland:

Quail Hollow (4th, 5th) / Valspar (1st)

Kevin Streelman:

Quail Hollow (6th, 9th) / Valspar (1st)

Phoenix Open (TPC Scottsdale)

I’m going to finish with the Phoenix Open as my final comp this week. TPC Scottsdale uses the same grass types as Quail Hollow, both aside the fairways and on the large, fast putting surfaces. Which rank as the third-toughest to putt on tour, just two spots higher than this week’s venue.

Prompting players to frequently hit driver and consistently calling on approaches from 175-200 yards, the similarities between these two courses are plentiful.

Notable correlating form:

J.B Holmes:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Phoenix (1st, 1st)

Rickie Fowler:

Quail Hollow (1st) / Phoenix (1st, 2nd, 2nd)

Webb Simpson:

Quail Hollow (2nd) / Phoenix (1st, 2nd)

Nick Watney:

Quail Hollow (2nd) / Phoenix (5th)

Gary Woodland:

Quail Hollow (4th, 5th) / Phoenix (1st)

Jason Dufner:

Quail Hollow (4th, 5th) / Phoenix (2nd)

Kyle Stanley:

Quail Hollow (6th, 8th) / Phoenix (1st)

THE FIELD

Scottie Scheffler is the only eligible player missing from this week’s limited 70-man field, which is headed by three-time winner and world #2, Rory McIlroy; one of 22 players from inside the world’s top 25.

The Northern Irishman is also one of seven former winners in attendance, joined by last year’s winner and now world #3, Wyndham Clark; along with Max Homa (2022, 2019), Jason Day (2018), Brian Harman (2017), Rickie Fowler (2012) and Lucas Glover (2011).

At the other end of the experience spectrum, Ludvig Aberg will be making his debut this week, as will 2024 PGA Tour first-time winners, Matthieu Pavon, Nick Dunlap and Jake Knapp.

A week on from winning his first PGA Tour title in the CJ CUP Byron Nelson, Canada’s Taylor Pendrith is rewarded with a spot in this elite field, whilst there will be some small consolation for last week’s runner-up Ben Kohles, who earns a spot after his bogey at the final hole at TPC Craig Ranch handed the trophy to Pendrith.

SELECTIONS

Market leaders: Rory McIlroy 15/2 Xander Schauffele 10/1, Ludvig Aberg 12/1, Wyndham Clark 18/1, Max Homa 22/1, Tommy Fleetwood 22/1, Patrick Cantlay 22/1

In a year with plenty of surprise winners, the Signature Events have generally gone the way of proven, elite players, with the last two – the Arnold Palmer Invitational and RBC Heritage - won by Scottie Scheffler.

Close behind him in each of those, as well as THE PLAYERS Championship, was last year’s US Open winner, Wyndham Clark, and with the world #1 absent it is our defending champion who looks the clear choice from the top of the betting this week.

Wyndham Clark

Clark has enjoyed a strong season so far, with his stunning 60 at Pebble Beach taking him to a somewhat fortuitous victory there, and he may well have added more trophies to his cabinet had it not been for Scheffler.

Three starts after his win in California, he finished a distant runner-up to a sensational Scheffler in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the following week again occupied 2nd place behind him in THE PLAYERS Championship, this time by just the one stroke.

Clark has since narrowly missed the cut on his Augusta debut but bounced back immediately in the RBC Heritage, finishing 3rd as Scottie continued his dominance. Ultimately, losing to just four opponents across those three starts, three of which were Scheffler, is an excellent sequence of performances and with the adopted-Texan not teeing it up, he has to rate as an outstanding chance this week.

His quality this year is further represented by him ranking 2nd on tour in total strokes-gained to Scheffler. All areas of his game are contributing to that ranking, as he ranks 9th in putting and is hitting the ball well, ranking 12th in GIR, 14th OTT and 39th in approach. This combined skillset enables him to be one of the best par 4 scorers around, ranking 3rd and showcases a player who is the ideal fit for Quail Hollow.

Clark indeed proved this last year, ranking 1st in ball-striking and 3rd on the greens – a combination that will get it done just about anywhere – to run out an impressive four-stroke winner for his first PGA Tour title. His suitability for these big-time courses is backed up by that runner-up finish at Bay Hill this year and as the best player in this field statistically, I think he looks a nice price for a follow-up victory this week.

Max Homa

The other player to appeal strongly from near the top of the betting is another former winner, Max Homa. He should be bouncing back to this venue after producing his best ever major finish when 3rd at Augusta two starts ago, and can tune-up for his quest for that major breakthrough in the best possible way, by matching Rory McIlroy’s haul of three Wells Fargo Championship titles.

Homa’s game has looked in fine shape for most of the year, recording just one missed cut in 10 starts, coming at the Phoenix Open. He’s hit the top 25 in six of them and twice finished inside the top 10, with his best effort coming courtesy of that excellent 3rd in The Masters.

He has developed into a strong all-rounder in the last few years and ranks 11th on tour in total strokes-gained over the last six months. As a big-hitting and high-quality ball-striker on his day, and possessing an excellent touch on the greens, he can perform well just about anywhere. Ranking top 25 from 175-200 yards this year, he also has the weapons to take this course on with his irons.

Homa took down a brilliant field to make his PGA Tour breakthrough at this course in 2019, where he looked strong throughout the bag but excelled on these greens, ranking 1st in putting. He again putted well here to finish 8th last year and with further wins at some of the toughest venues on tour, namely the Genesis Invitational and Farmers Insurance Open, his C.V for Quail Hollow is one of the most striking around.

Stephan Jaeger

Stephan Jaeger has been hugely improved in recent years, where his added length off-the-tee has turned him into one of the best drivers around. This helped him to a first PGA Tour win in the Houston Open three starts ago and also convinced me that he is capable of improving on his 27th-place finish here last year.

Jaeger started the season with intent, recording two 3rd-place finishes across his first five starts, at the Farmers Insurance Open and Mexico Open. He went off the boil during his next three starts in Florida but bounced back with that fine win in Houston, firing four rounds in the 60s to narrowly deny a quintet of runners-up that included Scottie Scheffler. Making Jaeger the only man to beat Scheffler over his last five starts.

The German’s form has remained solid since, finishing 18th and 20th on his last two starts, where he has continued to look formidable off-the-tee.

That latest top 20 came at last week’s CJ CUP Byron Nelson, where Jaeger ranked 4th OTT and 4th in driving distance; a prime example of his season-long stats in the area, ranking 16th OTT and 20th in driving distance. He’s been rock-solid in approach, including in that important 175-200 range and ranking 20th in par 4 scoring, he has an attractive statistical profile for this event.

Jaeger missed his first two cuts at Quail Hollow in 2018 and 2019, though he is a considerably different prospect now, as shown by his 27th-place finish last year; a performance in which he struggled on the greens for much of the week but ranked top 10 tee-to-green. Having said that, he putted excellently to win on similar surfaces to these in Houston, ranking 3rd.

Despite not making my above list, that lengthy course may well prove another good comp for Quail Hollow and with his 3rd at Torrey Pines earlier in the year franking his potential on these tougher championship setups, he looks well worth a look this week.

Taylor Moore

I’m going to finalise this week’s Wells Fargo selections with Taylor Moore. He’s been playing better than ever in 2024 and can improve on his eye-catching 27th-place finish here on debut last year.

Moore has made 11 straight cuts this year in solo starts, not counting his missed cut in the Zurich Classic team event last time out. His best performances have all come over the last six weeks, first finishing 12th in defence of his Valspar Championship title; following with an excellent runner-up finish in the Houston Open and a 20th-place finish in The Masters.

Over that period, he ranks 27th on tour in total strokes-gained and 31st OTT, where he is a lengthy top 35 in driving distance. His irons have been solid all year and whilst the putter has been somewhat inconsistent, we can take confidence from his best putting performance of the season coming on those poa trivialis over seeded surfaces in Houston, ranking 7th.

Moore’s 27th in 2023 was the result of strong ball-striking and putting, ranking 18th and 22nd in those respective areas; an opening 66 there rating among the top-10 rounds of the week. His win against some quality operators in last year’s Valspar showed what he can do on a similar course and made him the standout of the longer-priced players this week.

Golf Betting Tips from Betfred Insights.

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