Each week, including this week’s 2018 Wells Fargo Championship, Golf News Net offers daily fantasy (DFS) golf advice, picks, lineups and tips for DraftKings PGA Tour games, scrutinizing the pricing model and looking for players who will perform best in both guaranteed prize pool (GPP) events and cash games.[s2If !is_user_logged_in()]
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2018 Wells Fargo Championship preview
We have a very strong field for the Wells Fargo Championship’s retun to the Queen City and Quail Hollow Club. Quail Hollow is different than when it last hosted this event back in 2016, as it was beefed up and changed substantially to host the 2017 PGA Championship, won by Justin Thomas.
The bones remain the same, but the early portion of the course is now a tougher challenge out the gate. The par-3 lineup is even more stout, meaning there will be plenty of defensive golf there. The par 5s are where this course can be had, and the rest is hanging on for dear life in some sense.
Before we get into the picks, I also want to update you on the rollout of GNN Plus Edge. As mentioned, we’re dramatically improving our research tools and data analysis. That started yesterday by included strokes gained in our search results. Strokes gained, in our view, is the best and most important way to understand how golfers do their best and how tournaments are won.
We’ll continue rolling out more tools and analysis this week and in the coming weeks, all of which will be included in your GNN Plus membership through the end of the PGA Tour season. With the start of the new season, we’ll maintain the access to the traditional GNN Plus tools for the $10 (or less) per year of membership, and we’ll offer GNN Plus to existing members who sign up by May 31 for $50 per year or $150 for a lifetime membership.
2018 Wells Fargo Championship DraftKings picks
Each week, we’ll offer players in 3-5 buckets of pricing so as to offer some mix-and-matching with your lineups based on our recommendations.
Recent PGA Tour Trends
We start by looking at the recent past, back at players who have finished inside the top 15 in the last five individual, stroke-play PGA Tour events.
- Byeong-hun An – 2 – T-14 Arnold Palmer Invitational, T-7 RBC Heritage
- Bryson DeChambeau – 2 – 2nd Arnold Palmer Invitational, T-3 RBC Heritage
- Rickie Fowler – 2 – T-14 Arnold Palmer Invitational, 2nd Masters
- Russell Henley – 2 – T-8 Houston Open, T-15 Masters
- Luke List – 2 – T-7 Arnold Palmer Invitational, T-3 RBC Heritage
- Rory McIlroy – 2 – WIN Arnold Palmer Invitational, T-5 Masters
- Ryan Moore – 2 – 5th Arnold Palmer Invitational, T-7 Valero Texas Open
- Grayson Murray – 2 – T-14 Arnold Palmer Invitational, T-14 Valero Texas Open
- Patrick Reed – 2 – T-7 Arnold Palmer Invitational, WIN Masters
- Kevin Streelman – 2 – T-7 RBC Heritage, T-8 Valero Texas Open
Event Finish History
Here are the players who finished in the top 15 in this event in the last five years:
- Brian Harman – 2 (2017 was alternate venue)
- Danny Lee – 2
- Rory McIlroy – 4
- Phil Mickelson – 4
- Geoff Ogilvy – 2
- Kevin Streelman – 3
- Vaughn Taylor – 2 – (2017)
Strokes Gained Trends
In this new section, I want to look at the common makeup of winners and top-15 finishers in this event dating back the last five years. In this case, we’ll go back to 2012 and throw out 2017 because of the change of venue.
If we look at the winners from the last five times at Quail Hollow, we see the winner generally wins by beating the adjusted field average in the 13-14 strokes range (that’s what strokes gained total is). Rory McIlroy blew everyone away in 2015 to gain 20 strokes total on the field, in part because he absolutely crushed the weekend rounds to win from the cut line.
Lucas Glover was an outlier champion in 2011, gaining nearly 11 strokes putting on the field and not making much hay on the field from tee to green. Since then, though, we really find the winners make the most of up on the field off the tee. SG Off the Tee makes up 39 percent of the average strokes gained of winners from 2012-2016.
After that, SG Putting is about 31 percent, which is a little below average for the Tour. We also have to consider the 2013 debacle where the greens were in horrible shape and Derek Ernst won losing 2 strokes to the field around the greens.
However, if we broaden our query to look at the top 15 here from 2012-2016, we see a more balanced point of view, where SG Approach is actually slightly more important than SG Off the Tee. The SG Tee to Green figure makes up 67 percent of total strokes gained for top-15 finisher compared to 69 percent for winners only.
What we’re looking for here is a player who can hit the ball pretty long off the tee and get it in play, particularly at the new Quail Hollow. Gain 1-1.5 strokes per round putting, and that’ll take care of most of the work, in large part because the second-shot demands on this course are high from longer range. That’s why SG Approach means less this week. Everyone is struggling from 200-plus to gain on the field unless you’re a bomber with shorter irons in hand.
2018 Wells Fargo Championship DraftKings recommendations
$10,000 and up
We have four players in this group, and I feel like you’ve got a good case to make for Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas or Rickie Fowler. I think McIlroy is the play if you’re going in the five-figure range.
We have 16 players in this group. Phil Mickelson, Tiger Woods and Tommy Fleetwood standout, though we haven’t seen Phil or Tiger since the Masters. Mickelson wasn’t good at the Masters, but his record at Quail Hollow is impeccable.
Tony Finau, Ryan Moore, Webb Simpson, Bryson DeChambeau and Alex Noren are all great in this price range as well, given current form.
DraftKings basically breaks the rest of the field in half at the $7,000 mark. This is very much hit-or-miss territory.
Ben An is playing under-the-radar well right now and is a steal at $7,600. Bill Haas has showed some signs of coming back to form, and he’s undervalued. Chesson Hadley continues to be underappreciated at $7,500.
Luke List, Gary Woodland and Jason Kokrak are worth a look, too, in the bottom half of the $7,000s.
Below or at $7,000
We’re looking for bargains in this range with a threat to top-10. Please try to avoid this range this week.
Kyle Stanley isn’t a good putter, yes, but his ball-striking is fantastic. He should be able to do OK here at $7,000.
Danny Lee would be a logical play at $6,900 given his record here. He’s making enough cuts to be worth a prayer.
Grayson Murray has posted some top-15s of late, and he’s only $6,900, too.
My primary DraftKings lineup
- Rory McIlroy – $11,800
- Tony Finau – $8,700
- Bryson DeChambeau – $8,000
- Kevin Streelman – $7,200
- Kyle Stanley – $7,000
- Grayson Murray – $6,900