The PGA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each week’s slate, using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable golfers.
Next on tap for the PGA Tour is Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, for the Wells Fargo Championship. Last year, this course hosted the PGA Championship in which the course allowed an average -13.02 DraftKings Plus/Minus to golfers — a mark that made it the most challenging tournament last year in terms of Plus/Minus:
Quail Hollow underwent some changes when it hosted the PGA Championship, which is partly why it played harder than the Wells Fargo Championship in years past. For example, the first hole went from a 495-yard par-4 to a 524-yard par-4 (it’s now back to 495 yards), and they restructured the No. 4 par-3, putting the tee box on different ground. The rough was longer, and the greens were also quicker (13 to 14 on the stimpmeter), but now they’ll be running around 11 or 12. This week, Quail Hollow Club will play as a par-71, 7,554-yard course.
As always, I backtested various metrics within our PGA Models to find out which have been the most valuable at Quail Hollow Club (Wells Fargo). Per the Trends tool, here is how the top 20% of golfers in various metrics have done (in Plus/Minus valuation) at this course. Historically, the tournament has yielded averages of 45.39 DraftKings points and a -4.28 Plus/Minus with a 45% Consistency Rating to the field.
I’m listing only the metrics that tested positively above the baseline:
- Course GIR: +7.28 Plus/Minus
- Recent Adjusted Birdie Average: +6.75 Plus/Minus
- Course Birdies: +5.73 Plus/Minus
- Recent Par 5 Scoring: +4.2 Plus/Minus
- Long-Term Driving Distance: +4.18 Plus/Minus
- Course DD: +4.14 Plus/Minus
- Recent Par 3 Scoring: +3.54 Plus/Minus
- Course Adjusted Round Score: +3.3 Plus/Minus
- Recent Driving Accuracy: +3.2 Plus/Minus
- Recent Adj Rd Score: +3.14 Plus/Minus
- Long-Term Par 4 Scoring: +3.03 Plus/Minus
- Course Missed Cuts: +2.9 Plus/Minus
- Long-Term Adjusted Round Score: +2.53 Plus/Minus
- Course Count: +2.49 Plus/Minus
- Long-Term Adjusted Eagles Per Tournament: +2.22 Plus/Minus
- Recent DD: +2.17 Plus/Minus
- Recent Missed Cuts: +1.95 Plus/Minus
- Long-Term Driving Accuracy: +1.66 Plus/Minus
- Recent Adj Bogey Avg: +1.44 Plus/Minus
- Long-Term Greens In Regulation: +1.38 Plus/Minus
- Recent Scrambling: +1.24 Plus/Minus
- Long-Term Par 5 Scoring: +0.94 Plus/Minus
- Recent Par 4 Scoring: +0.79 Plus/Minus
- Recent GIR: +0.62 Plus/Minus
- Recent Adj Eagle Avg: +0.41 Plus/Minus
- Long-Term Adjusted Birdies Per Tournament: +0.07 Plus/Minus
There is an abundance of course-related metrics that backtested well here, including Course Adj Rd Score, which makes me inclined to pay more attention than I usually do to course history. Like most weeks, targeting ball-strikers and driving distance will also be something I’ll be keying in on. Further, I backtested metrics at this course for both the PGA Championship and Wells Fargo Championship: Recent Birdie Avg was one of the metrics that backtested the strongest between both tournaments at Quail Hollow. You’ll likely set yourself up for success by starting with golfers who can hit GIR, drive well, and capitalize on their birdie opportunities.
Rory McIlroy ($11,800) checks in with the highest odds to win (11.1%), and he comes with the highest salary for the week. McIlroy has historically performed well at Quail Hollow, placing 22nd at the PGA Championship last year, along with three top-four finishes over his past five Wells Fargo Championship appearances — giving him an excellent 67.3 Course Adj Rd Score. Aside from his course history, Rory is an obvious fit for the course with his 312.4-yard Long-Term Driving Distance (LT DD) and 66% Long-Term GIR (LT GIR). The only knock on Rory could be his 59.7% GIR over his past three tournaments. However, he has still played well with a 66.2 Recent Adj Rd Score. Further, he’s averaging an excellent -1.0 average adjusted strokes on par-3s and -9.0 average adjusted strokes on par-5s in that same time frame.
Justin Thomas ($11,300) has crushed this PGA season, sporting a +13.33 DraftKings Plus/Minus over his past 10 tournaments. Last year, Thomas won the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow under the harsher conditions. Overall, Thomas’ and Rory’s long-term forms are almost identical:
Where Thomas has the advantage against the field is his field-best -2.4 average adjusted strokes on par-4s, which is 1.2 strokes better than the next best golfer.
Let’s not forget about Rickie Fowler ($11,100), who’s a former winner here (2012). He’s not as long off the tee as the other top-tier options (297.8 LT DD), but Fowler can nail GIR (67.7% over the past 75 weeks). He also checks other boxes I am paying attention to, such as course history (three top-five finishes over his past six appearances) and excellent recent form (67.2 Recent Adj Rd Score). Over his past three tournaments, Fowler is averaging 19 birdies per tournament, along with -0.5 average adjusted strokes on par-3s, -4.0 average adjusted strokes on par-4s, and -6.5 average adjusted strokes on par-5s. If you want to find a reason to dislike Fowler, he has historically struggled as a sizable favorite (8% implied odds to win or higher):
The Value Plays
One way to use FantasyLabs to find potential value golfers in our Models is to leverage our LT Adj Rd Score metric. If you sort the field by LT Adj Rd Score, you are looking at a list of players who have been the best golfers over the past 75 weeks. Among these golfers, those who have low salaries make great value plays.
Francesco Molinari ($7,400) seems to always fit into the value plays because he’s always underpriced relative to his LT Adj Rd Score. Molinari is incredibly consistent with a +7.17 DraftKings Plus/Minus and a 65.6% Consistency Rating. Further, he’s historically outperformed his baseline Plus/Minus by +3.62 points when he’s had comparable odds to win (1.4%), per the PGA Trends tool:
Because of the strong field, Chesson Hadley‘s ($7,500) price has dropped $1,000 since his last tournament. Normally, DraftKings pricing correlates strongly with Vegas odds, but sometimes there a few golfers that get overlooked. Hadley is sporting the 15th-highest odds (2.2%), but he’s priced as the No. 29 golfer. Hadley has historically performed well with comparable odds:
Further, he’s an excellent fit for this course with his LT GIR of 69.5% and LT DD of 303.4 yards. Not to mention his Recent Adj Rd Score of 68.2 along with his -3.3 average adjusted strokes on par-4s and -6.0 average adjusted strokes on par-5s.
If you’re looking for a low-owned option, Sam Burns ($7,500) is projected for just 2-4% ownership. The 21-year-old won a Web.com event at the beginning of April, and he’s been obliterating his salary-based expectations on the PGA Tour this season:
Burns’ long-term form is a solid fit for Quail Hollow with his 71.5% LT GIR and 306.7-yard LT DD. Further, his recent form is even better than his long-term form (79.2% GIR and 308.4-yard LT DD), as he’s averaging -1.0 average adjusted strokes on par-3s, -3.3 average adjusted strokes on par-4s, and -6.0 average adjusted strokes on par-5s.
Keith Mitchell ($7,100) has been shattering salary-based expectations over his past 10 tournaments, making all cuts during that time. He’s currently projected for 0-1% ownership and hasn’t garnered any more than 8.5% ownership this year:
If you look at Mitchell’s player card, he has been crushing par-4s and par-5s recently, but where he’s been giving strokes back is on the par-3s. That’s a lesser concern on this long course.
Kevin Streelman ($7,200) isn’t amazing at a lot of the metrics I am looking at, but he’s well-rounded with a 293.8-yard LT DD and 66.8% LT GIR. Further, Streelman is entering this tournament with an excellent 68.2 Recent Adj Rd Score, and his recent -4.0 average adjusted strokes is among the best in the field.
Andrew Landry ($7,500) is similar to Streelman: He boasts a solid 299.7-yard LT DD and 68.4% LT GIR along with exceptional recent form. In addition to that, his long-term average adjusted strokes on par-4s (-1.2) is the second-best mark in the field, trailing only the mark of JT.
There are a plethora of viable value plays this week. So many that I need to force myself to stop writing. That said, Trey Mullinax and Abraham Ancer are both $6,800 and have well-rounded metrics for Quail Hollow. Mullinax’s 19.5 recent birdies per tournament mark ranks third-best in the field.
The Bump and Run
Tommy Fleetwood ($9,000) is an excellent golfer to target in the mid-tier range. His 73.3% LT GIR is a field-best, and he has been driving the ball farther lately, as evidenced by his 310.6-yard Recent DD. Overall, Fleetwood has struggled on par-4s over his past four tournaments, but he’s still sporting a 67.7 Recent Adj Rd Score.
Hideki Matsuyama ($9,400) has had some time to get healthy and is sporting the fourth-best LT Adj Rd Score (68.5) in the field. He’s got the ball-striking ability and distance to contend here, along with the course history (68.1 Course Adj Rd Score).
Tony Finau ($8,700) had a 10th-place finish at The Masters after his gruesome ankle injury, and now he’s had a few weeks to nurse himself back to health. Finau can crush the golf ball, as evidenced by his 310.7-yard LT DD, and can hit greens (LT GIR of 68.7%). Further, Finau is in excellent recent form with a 67.9 Recent Adj Rd Score, and he hasn’t missed a cut at Quail Hollow in his past three appearances, resulting in a 68.6 Course Adj Rd Score.
Recent birdies and recent par-5 scoring were two metrics that backtested within the top three for this tournament. There is one golfer who leads the field in recent birdies (22) and recent par-5 scoring (-13.0): Patrick Reed ($9,700).
Don’t forget to visit our suite of Tools to research all of the golfers. Good luck this week!
Pictured above: Rory McIlroy
Photo credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports