2014 Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow preview, picks + predictions, plus the Driver-Off-The-Deck BOLD Play of the Week #TheGreenMile

Following the windswept bayou birdie-fest that was last week’s Zurich Classic, the PGA Tour heads to the Tarheel state for a tourney truly on the upper echelon of the non-majors—The Wells Fargo Championship.  In fact it’s major-like for a reason, as the tourney’s host course- Quail Hollow Golf Club—will be hosting the 2017 PGA Championship. 

The club hasn’t been shy on renovations in prep for its upcoming major, as immediately following last year’s tourney, the bentgrass putting surfaces were replaced with ultradwarf Bermuda grass (recall the horrendous issues the club was having with its greens during last year’s event).  This new turf is more weather-tolerant and ideal for this region of the country that experiences heavy doses of both hot and cold throughout the seasons each year.

Other changes include stretching “The Green Mile” (holes 15-18) an aggregate 70 yards and shifting the 16th fairway some 80 yards left to accommodate those big daddy hospitality tents that come with hosting big events, meaning new sight-lines and strategy off of that tee.

This year’s tourney again boasts a star-studded field, including the likes of Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose, Zach Johnson, Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk, Jimmy Walker, Rickie Fowler, Hunter Mahan, Webb Simpson, and many more.

A somewhat disappointing week for my picks last week at the Zurich Classic, as even though I spot on nailed defending champ Billy Horschel missing the cut as my Hosel-Rocket BUST pick of the week, Graham DeLaet and John Senden were just so-so (both t-29th) and George McNeil and John Peterson were both big letdowns (MCs).  It was probably the strangest day 1 of Yahoo Fantasy scoring that I can ever remember, with Ben Martin and Andrew Svoboda taking home the lion’s share of the points, leaving just a trickle left for everyone else.

Anyway, I’m rolling with some super positive vibes this week as last year here out of nowhere I picked Robert Karlsson as my Driver-off-the-Deck BOLD play of the week, and he finished t-4th.  So, let’s hop into some picks for this week.

LOCKZILLAS (Last Week: DeLaet t-29th, McNeil MC)

Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler
– I tweeted last week prior to the start of the Zurich Classic that even though Rickie was the pick of many for the week (including #1 in the PGA Tour Power Rankings), that I was in total fade mode on him for the week…and it worked beautifully as he missed the cut.  As for this week?  I’m all-on bullish on his orange-ness this week.  In addition to his maiden (and only) Tour victory here back in ’12, he also finished t-16th here in ’11 and solo 6th in ’10 (was t-73rd here last year).  So, his victory was no fluke, as he clearly loves this track.  Recall that prior to his MC at the Zurich that he was solo 6th in Houston and t-5th at the Masters, so his current form is still there.  Best yet is that I think that many people will be off on him after just one MC (which is so Rickie-like).  I love me some Rickie this week.

Jimmy Walker
Jimmy Walker
– Has there ever been a quieter FedEx Cup Points leader halfway through the season than Jimmy Walker?  No, there definitely hasn’t been.  By quiet, I don’t mean his game has been quiet, but rather that he’s been somehow consistently flying under the radar during his enormously successful season.  Heck, the guy could go eat at Waffle House right now and go almost totally unrecognized.  He’s now had a couple weeks off to catch his breath after his solid t-8th in his Masters debut, which followed up a t-24th in Houston and t-16th at the Valero Texas Open.  Jimmy finished t-22nd here last year and has made his last 3 cuts here…but simply put, he’s never played this solidly in his career.  If he drives it well this week (which he’s been doing well all year), he’ll be in contention this weekend.

Also, even though he’s my least favorite player on Tour, I’m going to list Lee Westwood as a LOCKZILLA this week.  With his solid form of late and as well as he stripes it off the tee, he’ll be in the mix this week.

SEMI-FLIER (Last Week: Senden t-29th)

Kyle Stanley
Kyle Stanley
– This is a wee bit more of a BOLD pick than just a SEMI-FLIER, but nevertheless, I’m rolling the dice on Kyle this week.  He finally made some noise last week in NOLA, before fading to a 76 on Sunday and a t-52nd finish overall. That finishing number will keep most people off of him last week, but recall his t-6th finish here last year and two made cuts at Quail Hollow the prior years, and this may very well be the oh yeah, remember him?…type week that we seem to get from Kyle about once or twice every calendar year.  Pick him this week, have others laugh first in jest, then in jealousy.

HOSEL-ROCKET BUST (Last Week: Horschel MC)

JB Holmes
J.B. Holmes
– J.B. has been in mighty solid form of late, finishing t-12th, t-18th and t-11th in his past three events.  That t-11th last week allowed him to meet the terms of his major medical exemption, giving him full status for the rest of the PGA Tour season.  I’m a definitely J.B. fan, and it’s great what he’s overcome with his medical issues, but this week just screams letdown.  Expect a weekend off for J.B.

DRIVER-OFF-THE-DECK BOLD PLAY OF THE WEEK (Last Week: Peterson MC)

Brendon de Jonge
Brendon de Jonge
– This Zimbabwean is my definition of insanity- I’m going to keep picking him until he finally breaks through.  You don’t lead the PGA Tour in birdies and perform the way he did in the Presidents Cup and not eventually burst through into the winner’s circle.  Brendon doesn’t have any stellar finishes here since his solo 4th in ’10 (between t-45th and t-48th each of the three years since), but seriously folks—this is his home course and he lives for this event.  Just too damn talented to not break through sooner or later, period.

#isitThursdayyet

Joel Harrington
@joel4deepgolf

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