Paul Krishnamurty previews the annual PGA Tour fixture from Quail Hollow, occasionally billed as the 'Sixth Major', in search of betting value at odds of 99-1 plus. Check out his three selections here...
"North Carolina is Grayson Murray's home state and he enjoyed a fine majors debut when Quail Hollow hosted last year's PGA Championship."
Back Grayson Murray 1u each-way @ 100/1 (1/5 odds, 7 places)
The Wells Fargo Championship may not be a major, or even a World Golf Championship, but the course and annual line-up certainly gives it that feel - indeed there was some attempts about a decade ago to bill it as the 'sixth major'. However one factor to rather distinguish it from the majors in recent years has been the nature of winners and contenders.
Whereas trading a profit from backing outsiders in majors has become very hard work, as the cream seems to rise to the top more or less every time, this event has produced some of the biggest upsets in history. There can't be many less likely play-off pairings in golfing history than Derek Ernst and David Lynn in 2013, although James Hahn and Roberto Castro gave them a run for their money in 2016, when this was last played at Quail Hollow.
Murray fancied to thrive again in his home state
First among this week's picks is a player I've long had in mind for this. North Carolina is Murray's home state and he enjoyed a fine majors debut when Quail Hollow hosted last year's PGA Championship - reaching contention through 54 holes before a understandably poor Sunday sent him down to 22nd.
Murray gave us a decent run when a fast-finishing 14th at the Houston Open - which Steve Rawlings notes a useful correlation with Quail Hollow in his tournament preview. In this second season on tour, (he won during his rookie campaign), he's also registered four further top-20s including last time at San Antonio. Long off the tee with excellent Bermuda numbers, he ticks the right statistical boxes and won't need much improvement on recent efforts to contend.
Bombers paradise should be ideal for Rodgers
Without doubt the most important stat to follow at Quail Hollow is driving distance. Short-hitters have won or contended, for sure, but the leaderboard here is always packed with bombers. Perhaps, therefore, this is a good opportunity for one of golf's forgotten prospects to step up.
Four years ago, Patrick Rodgers was ranked the world's number one amateur golfer and widely tipped for stardom. The fact he hasn't won on the PGA Tour yet has allowed other profiles to rise above him but there has been plenty of promise, if not consistency. The 25 year-old was runner-up on his Quail Hollow debut and has shown snippets this term, including top-eights at Pebble Beach and Bay Hill.
Resurgent Sabbatini has good memories of this course
There have been plenty of changes at Quail Hollow down the years but the fundamental character remains the same and I do think past course form is significant. In this case, Sabbatini was third way back in 2007, third again in 2011 and eighth as recently in 2014, when generally struggling. Given that he's showing signs of resurgence, he's well worth a trade at huge odds to feature again.
The South African has done this column a couple of favours over the past year, most recently with a flying start at the Heritage (another course where he had previous). In solo events, Rory has made his last ten cuts - his most consistent run in a decade - registering three top-20s along the way including fifth at the Valspar.
Finally a few words about some alternatives. Just inside our triple-figure price range, both Gary Woodland [100.0] and Kevin Streelman [110.0] have bags of course form. What deters me from backing them is that it won't be easy to get positions laid back at short odds this week, due to the strength of the leaders, and we'd need to set an ambitious lay target from an initial trade around [100.0].
Sean O'Hair [150.0] is another with good course numbers. Ollie Schneiderjans [170.0] came in for very strong consideration. He's long off the tee, has a good record on Bermuda and has won in North Carolina. Last but not least, Joaquin Niemann is a big prospect and fancied to go well, although [180.0] seemed a bit skinny about a teenager from Chile who's only just turned pro.