GOLF GURU Louis Ross (@LouisRoss67) shares his verdict on this week’s Stateside action.
Wells Fargo Championship | Thursday-Sunday | Sky Sports
The Zurich Classic of New Orleans was a complete let down last week – shortened to 54 holes with all three rounds heavily disrupted
Our picks all had nice positions at various points over the five days but none were close enough at the end. Eventual winner Brian Stuard was available at 500/1 before the off – not quite Leicester but not a name too many will have heard of before.
A bit of a favourite of mine and many this week as the PGA Tour rumbles on into Charlotte, North Carolina and the wonderful Quail Hollow. This course has been worked on extensively since 2013 in preparation for hosting the 2017 USPGA Championship.
A little bit of a monster now at 7,575 yards, this par-72 has had a little bit of the sting taken out of it. Rory McIlroy won his second Wells Fargo Championship last year scoring -21 – that was an awful lot to do with the course changes, meaning missing fairways was no longer the penalty it once was.
Removing so many trees, from both alongside the short stuff and those around the greens, has handed this course over to the bombers in a big way. Golf can make fools of any of us but I wouldn’t be looking at anyone in this field that can’t smoke the thing miles.
The eighth is now a driveable par-4 and the par-5s can all be reached by the big hitters. Birdie all the par-5s and play the rest of the course -1 each day and you will probably win. If I have made this place sound easy, it does have a few nasty surprises on the way in.
Holes 16, 17 and 18 are collectively known as ‘The Green Mile’ and rank amongst the most difficult on Tour. The average score in the last two years for these three holes is +1. One of the best finishing stretches anywhere, and unless Rory runs away with it, this is where everything will be decided on Sunday night.
Kevin Chappell (45/1 Paddy Power) may not be my strongest selection this week but I think he may well be the best value, and value is always number one priority with any pick made here.
My Twitter pal @Vince_RFC is always worth listening to on all things PGA – his recent record is pretty outstanding and his confidence in the 29-year-old Tour maiden inspired a bit of research on my part and there is a lot to like.
Course form and current form points in Chappell’s direction. Eleventh and 16th on his last two starts here, Chappell has had three top-5 finishes in his last four starts.
There is a lot of good form on very similar courses such as San Antonio, Harbour Town, Bay Hill and you can even link in Pebble Beach and Congressional. I’m happy taking the 45/1 with Paddy Power, who are also paying seven each-way places this week.
Paul Casey (50/1 Paddy Power) has probably appeared here more than anyone else and he has rarely let us down. Three top-10s in his last five starts show he’s in good touch.
Fourth at Augusta was a fantastic return for a player who spent three years in the wilderness after injury. I get the feeling that Casey is ready to step up a level and a second Tour win looks more than likely.
The Englishman is deceptively long off the tee and really consistent with his irons. A decent scrambler as well, I don’t quite understand 50/1 prices and will gladly get involved.
Hideki Matsuyama (25/1 Paddy Power), like Paul Casey, has been a player I have written about many times. I love the guy and I think he has all he tools to contend this week.
Thirty-eighth on debut and 20th last year show a suitability for the course and I like his form from Muirfield Village.
This is a stellar field but with 4/1 favourite McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose all being a bit out of form right now, this represents a great chance for Hideki. At 25/1, I’m in.
And finally, a little left-field one for you now and clearly, at the price, one for small stakes. We bagged a 66/1 winner on the First Round Leader market in April and it’s a great one to play for added interest on Day 1.
Brendan de Jong (200/1 Coral) looks more like a darts player than a golfer. The big Zimbabwean has a habit of going ridiculously low early on and he’s been foruth and sixth here.
De Jong could finish last but along with Roberto Castro and Scott Stallings at similar prices, I will have a little go.
Wells Fargo Championship – Kevin Chappell to win (45/1 each-way Paddy Power)
Wells Fargo Championship – Paul Casey to win (50/1 each-way Paddy Power)
Wells Fargo Championship – Hideki Matsuyama to win (25/1 each-way Paddy Power)
Wells Fargo Championship – Brendan de Jong to be First Round Leader (200/1 Coral)