Coop’s Quail Hollow Preview

After a week off from DFS golf we are now headed to Charlotte, North Carolina for the Wells Fargo Championship which makes its return to the Quail Hollow Club (QHC) after a one year hiatus due to holding the PGA Championship last year. This week we have a very solid field as we have 15 of the top 25 players in the world rankings playing in a full field of 156 players. The last player to win this tournament at QHC was James Hahn while the previous two years we saw Rory McIlroy and JB Holmes win. Winning score over those three years has ranged from -21 to -9 while we usually see the best score land in the -13 to -15 range.

Quail Hollow Club
This weeks players will be faced with one of the longest courses on tour as QHC plays as a par 71 at around 7,575 yards. The greens this week are mini verde bermuda which have been overseeded with poa that will roll slightly above average speed while the size of the greens are right around average for the PGA Tour. Due to the length of the course you will need to take driver off the tee and QHC is known as being one of the toughest if not the toughest course on tour for hitting fairways. QHC has four par 3’s of which three play over 200 yards and on these holes you want to take your par and move on as none of them played under par over the last several years. Over the last two tournaments played at QHC the par 3’s have accounted for either four of the top seven or eight holes that bogey is scored on. There are eleven par 4’s at QHC and nine of them play at 449 yards or longer while four of those nine play over 490 yards. Out of the nine that play over 449 yards holes 1 and 5 are the best birdie opportunities and hole 5 is a must birdie as it is the second most birdied hole on the course. The final two par 4’s both play under 350 yards and provide solid birdie opportunities but don’t expect to see many eagles on those two holes as over the last two tournaments they have provided around 4-7 eagles between the two. The hardest par 4 on the course is the 18th as it usually plays at 4.3 strokes or higher and is followed by the 3rd, 9th and 16th holes but there level of difficulty varies over the last few years while all playing over par. The three par 5’s all play under par and are must birdie holes that will provide occasional eagles but not a huge amount as they average around 2-4 eagles per round. Overall this is a course were you want to play smart and take advantage of the birdie holes while not blowing up on the more difficult holes.

Stats For The Week
Fifty percent of the holes played this week will be on holes that are a Par 4 450+ yards. I am not necessarily looking for players within this stat that are above and beyond but ones that are not at the bottom. You are not going to win the tournament with these holes but you could very easily lose it. When I look at the two players who have the best course history they only have one stat in common were they rank in the T10 and that is SGT2G. In fact when you look at many of the top finishers they all have great tee to green numbers but when you dissect there other numbers they have got the job done in different ways. For this reason I will put more weight in the tee to green stat while I will have less weight on the other stats that vary from player to player. There are four other stats that stand out with top finishers and they are Proximity 200 yards or more, Proximity 175 yards or more, Scrambling, and SGOTT. I will look for players who are excelling in the last four categories I listed while posting very good to solid SGT2G numbers.

This Weeks Studs
Some would say this tournament should be called the Rory McIlroy (11.8k) Invintational as he has amassed six T10 finishes in seven appearances including two wins, a second, and a fourth. McIlroy was major chalk last year when QHC hosted the PGA Championship and he finished 22nd. McIlroy heads into this week in solid form as he has finished first and fifth in his last two stroke play tournaments. The question now is do I go in on McIlroy at what could be as high as 30% ownership or do I fade him. My thought is McIlroy will have his work cut out for him this week winning the tournament but a T7 or better finish this week is highly likely. While the competition that McIlroy faced last year at the PGA Championship won’t be matched this week he will be going up against the deepest competition he has seen at QHC for this particular tournament. Due to the depth at the top there is an outside chance that McIlroy comes in at a much lower ownership than many expected, sub 15-20%.

There is no doubt in my mind that Rickie Fowler (11.1k) will be the most popular or second most popular player this week behind McIlroy. This will be Fowler’s first tourney since his second place finish at the Masters and he has a solid history at QHC. Fowler has three T10 finishes at this tournament including a win plus he has a fifth place finish at the PGA Championship last year. Despite his recent history at QHC I am not feeling Fowler this week as minus his Masters performance he has not been playing good golf for his standards.

It will be interesting to see how much and or if Justin Thomas (11.3k) is talked up this week in the DFS community. Thomas won the PGA Championship last year at QHC while in his two tournament appearances at QHC he has a MC and 7th. No player enters this weeks tournament with a better track record over his last five tournaments than Thomas as he has finished 17th, 4th, 2nd, 1st and 9th. I am hoping that people decide to play Rory and Rickie over JT this week as I want to play him but not at a high ownership.

For me it really boils down to team depth this week as typically we see the better players make the cut and finish well at QHC. When you choose one of the above three players you are limiting the amount of quality players that are 8.4k or above on your roster to one unless you go dumpster diving below 7k which may allow you to roster two. Right now I am preferring depth which will provide me with more win equity. When you select one of the three above you are really counting on them winning because the win equity you have in players 7.5k and below is lower than what you have 8.4k and above.

One of my favorite GPP plays will be Jason Day (10.2k) as I feel he will also have suppressed ownership due to the first three players I discussed. It will be interesting to see how much ownership Day and Hideki Matsuyama pull off each other as I expect one of them to go very low owned, perhaps in the 5% range. Day has played at QHC three times finishing 9th, 22nd and 9th while he enters this week with finishes of 20th and 22nd in his last two stroke play events. My concern this week with Day is his lack of play in general and his iron game has not been sharp this year.

Right now Hideki Matsuyama (9.4k) is my favorite player this week and I feel he could end up as great GPP play since his ownership will be suppressed by the three players above. Mats has a solid record at QHC as he has finished 38th, 20th, 11th and 5th in his four appearances while he has improved his finishes in every tournament. Mats has only played three tournaments since his return from injury and I feel this will help keep people off him as his finishes of 19th, 49th and being eliminated after the first round of the WGC match play will scare people off. In addition Mats will not have strong statistical data to support playing him which I believe will bring Mats in at under 10% ownership this week making him one of my favorite GPP plays this week. If you follow Josh Culp he correlates courses and two of his correlated courses for QHC are TPC Scottsdale a course Hideki has owned and Firestone CC a course Hideki has won on and plays very good in general.

Tiger Woods (9.1k) had quite a bit of momentum heading into the Masters both with his game and in the DFS community so it will be interesting to see how much he is talked up this week. Personally I feel the momentum within the DFS community will stall as this isn’t a course that many will consider one of his better. Over the last 12 years Woods has played at QHC four times finishing 1st, 4th and missing his last two cuts. As for Wood’s golf game I expect him to be solid this week as he is very determined to continue improving his game and get a win or he would not have chosen to play this tournament, a tournament that he doesn’t play often. As the week moves on I like Tiger more and more because I feel strongly that he has regained his stellar putting and scrambling skills and is starting to put distance between himself and the rest of the tour in those two areas. If Wood’s comes in at sub 15% ownership I will have interest in him but I don’t wish to play a chalky Tiger this week.

Second Tier Contenders
I have played very little Tony Finau (8.7k) this year as he is often chalky since he is a DFS starling. In my opinion Finau just isn’t worth playing due to his ownership because there have been other players who have faired better in his price range. Finau continues to play solid golf making four of his last five cuts but he only has one great finish within that run, a 2nd. What worries me this week for Finau is he has not been hitting his long irons well which means he will need to be good around the green and on the green which can be suspect for him.

For the first time in several weeks perhaps even months there is a chance that we may not have a chalky Paul Casey (8.9k) this week. Casey is coming off a MC at the Heritage while he doesn’t have the greatest course history at QHC with two MC and a 41st and 13th. When you look at the career stats for Casey at QHC he has not played good golf in any aspect of his game minus SGOTT. I am hoping that Casey will build off his solid PGA Championship finish from last year at a lower ownership.

I am hoping that the love that was seen earlier this year for Tommy Fleetwood (9.0k) has ended and just perhaps he will be overlooked this week in a stronger field. Fleetwood has only played QHC once with a 61st place finish at the PGA Championship last year and this will help lower his ownership. What might not help lower that ownership is that Fleetwood continues to play solid golf as he has made his last five cuts with finishes of 17th, 26th, 14th, 4th and 37th. What will lower Fleetwood’s ownership is he is surrounded by several big name players along with players who have solid course history at QHC. The big key for Fleetwood this week is bringing his putter as he has been carrying a very cold putter recently which is inhibiting the other parts of his game which are very good.

This week you will be hearing the home course narrative for Webb Simpson (8.4k) as he is a member ay QHC. Personally I don’t feel this narrative works often in the game of golf but there have been a few instances were it pays off. This doesn’t mean I don’t like Simpson this week because he has been playing good golf entering this week with three T10 finishes in his last five stroke play events. For a home course narrative Simpson has had his share of up and downs at QHC as he has missed three cuts in nine attempts and only has two T10 finishes. How much I play Simpson if any will come down to his ownership as I don’t want to play a chalky Simpson but currently I feel he will be a chalky play.

I am very interested to see were the projected ownership for Kevin Kisner (8.3k) falls this week. Kisner has been playing some very good golf recently finishing in the T10 in two of his last three stroke play tournaments. Kisner is coming off a 7th place finish at the PGA Championship last year to go along with a 6th, 38th and three missed cuts over his career at QHC. Unless Kisner is low owned I will be off him this week as I still have memories of his struggle in the fourth round of the PGA Championship last year. Kisner’s performance last year should show and tell you how difficult it is to win here as a short hitter. Kisner played great golf for three rounds but when you are a short knocker on a long course you have to play perfect golf for four rounds which is asking a lot out of anyone.

Another player that I am hoping goes overlooked this week is Louis Oosthuizen (8.8k) as he is playing solid golf. Oosthuizen has quietly put together a string of solid results over his last five stroke play tournaments finishing anywhere from 12th to 30th with one missed cut. Louie finished runner up last year in the PGA Championship which certainly could help drive his ownership up. I feel confident that Oosthuizen will be low owned as he is the priced around several players who will draw more attention. I like playing Oosthuizen this week but I feel he needs to be paired with at least one, and it would be better if it were two players who have higher win equity. Oosthuizen no doubt could win but I like him better in lineups as a third wheel of top tier players who can finish T5-15.

It would appear that Daniel Berger (8.0k) has started to become a ho hum middle of the road make a cut and try to backdoor a T10 version of Matt Kuchar. You have to go back 18 tournaments to find the last T10 for Berger at the John Deere Classic last year. Over those 18 tournaments Berger has only missed two cuts, only finished outside the T50 twice and in the other 14 he has finished between 11th and 33rd. So why am I interested in Berger this week? First, he does has the ability to win this tournament although he will most likely finish 11th-33rd. Second, he will come at a lower ownership than Simpson and Kisner with a $300-$400 savings while he has the ability to easily place higher than the two of them. Finally, I consider Berger less volitale than Simpson and Kisner making him safer to make the cut.

Young Studs
What a debut it was for Joaquin Niemann (6.8k) in his first tournament as a professional at the Valero Texas Open as he finished 5th. Niemann showed that he has the game to compete with the pro’s but keep in mind he played from behind most of the tournament and didn’t have the pressure of competing for the win. In addition Niemann didn’t have to face the brutal TPC of San Antonio as the winds were down plus he was going up against a field that wasn’t as strong as what he will be competing against this week. No doubt that the game for Niemann will be challenged this week and if he can come away with a solid finish on a tough course his confidence will be even higher. If Niemann stays around 5% in ownership I will have interest in him this week but I will stay away from him if he goes over 10%.

I had high hopes for Beau Hossler (7.4k) at the Valero Texas Open but ultimately faded him as he was on the wrong side of the wind draw which eventually didn’t have an impact for round one and two. Hossler ended up around 19% owned and fell apart in the fourth round finishing 51st. With this being the first appearance at QHC for Hossler along with him leaving a bad taste in people mouth will probably result in lower ownership this week. I am hoping that the one bad round Hossler had keeps him around 10% owned this week. I feel Hossler has the right mindset to tame QHC as he appears to be a player who understands when to take chances and when to take what the course will give you which is necessary to succeed at QHC.

It has been a few weeks since we have seen Sam Burns (7.5k) on the PGA tour and I am hoping that people have forgotten how good he has performed. This is a big tournament for Burns as it is his last sponsor invite and unless he finishes T10 he will be headed back to the web.com tour and playing Monday qualifier tournaments to gain entrance to PGA tournaments. Over the last seven tournaments Burns has competed in, both tours combined, he has three T10 finishes including a win on the web.com while he has missed no cuts. Burns has seen success in strong field PGA tournaments so that doesn’t concern me this week and I hope the higher price tag keeps people away.

GPP Plays
When we last saw Luke List (7.4k) he was the chalk player at the Valero Texas Open were he missed the cut at around 30% ownership. This week we have a fairly deep field and it will be interesting to see were the ownership falls this week on List as there were several people who played him while he left a bad taste in there mouth. When you couple this with his history at QHC, two MC and a 16th, we have a fairly good chance that people will stay away from him this week. This week List could be a great GPP play if he comes in at under 10% ownership.

I must say that I was shocked to see the price tag on Tyrell Hatton (7.4k) this week and instantly felt he would be chalk. After seeing all the other quality players in his price range a smile appeared back on my face as there are so many options within this range that the ownership will be suppressed. I still feel Hatton is another player this week that should go overlooked as he missed the cut at the Heritage plus he missed the cut last year at the PGA Championship in his only appearance at QHC. While the numbers don’t look great let’s not forget that Hatton is the 20th ranked player in the world.

This will be the first tournament appearance for Xander Schauffele (7.4k) at QHC after he MC last year at the PGA Championship and like Luke List he is coming off a less than desirable performance at the Valero Texas Open were he was a MDF casualty. I can honestly say I have played very little X man this year as he just hasn’t played a lot of golf this year plus he really didn’t start taking off last year until around this time of the year. This should be a solid course fit for X man as he is long off the tee and QHC should set up well for him but I have heard that the last few weeks for him. If X man can come in at under 10% ownership I will have no problem playing him this week.

I feel Kyle Stanley (7.0k) is a player this week that nobody will be talking about thus he will have ownership at 5% or less. Stanley has missed three of six cuts at QHC but does have a 6th place finish so I know he is capable of playing well here. Stanley is not playing bad golf making his last four cuts with finishes of 52nd, 8th, 14th and 25th. Stanley has the distance to compete this week and prefers putting on faster greens. As you will see below Stanley is hitting his long irons well, he just needs a good putting week. Stanley is the 48th ranked played in the world and is being offered at a very low price.

There are many people who will feel at home this week as they have ties to North Carolina and one of those is none other than Grayson Murray (6.9k). Murray is from Raleigh which is only a few hours away from Charlotte and in his only appearance at QHC he finished 22nd. Murray has been a boom or bust player lately with finishes of 16th, MC,14th,14th, MC, MC and 8th. I am hoping that Niemann pulls ownership off Murray this week as he has the distance and long iron play needed to compete at QHC but I don’t want to play a chalky Murray who is volitale.

Has the bottom falled out for Adam Scott (7.3k) as he has odds of 80-1 to win this week and he is priced very low this week. Scott is playing good golf off the tee and on his approach shot but his putting has been horrendous. Scott has a up and down career at QHC with several good finishes in his earlier years but recently he has finished 61st and 17th. Before missing the cut at the Valero Texas Open Scott had made five consecutive cuts with finishes ranging from 13th to 53rd. If Scott comes in at low ownership, under 7% I will be interested but anything higher I will pass.

Brooks Koepka (8.6k) made his return from injury last week at the Zurich Classic team event. Koepka has been quite vocal saying he feels great and his injury should have no impact on his game. Koepka has only played QHC once and that was last year at the PGA Championship were he finished 13th. Koepka’s game should be a solid fit as he hits the ball long and does a good job hitting long irons into greens. Based off the price for Koepka and him just coming back from injury I feel the ownership will be low this week.

I was disappointed to see the low price tag on Chesson Hadley (7.5k) this week as I feel he should be closer to 8k but at least he has several players in his price range that are viable options. Hadley has played QHC three times finishing MC, 20th and 11th. I have two concerns with Hadley and the first is he has not played the redesigned QHC which could effect his result while the second is he has not faired well this year on difficult courses missing the cut at the Valspar and Honda tournaments. What I do like about Hadley is his iron play has been superb recently which has helped him finish 20th, 7th and 18th over his last three tournaments. I am sure that the majority of the ownership that falls on Hadley will be in lineups with Rory, JT and Rickie. If I do end up going that route I will make sure Hadley is not paired with those players to help differentiate his ownership.

Bud Cauley (7.7k) has played solid golf over his last three tournaments finishing 14th, 18th and 23rd and I feel he will be overlooked and go no higher than 5% owned this week. Cauley has made three of four cuts at QHC with a 33rd and two 38th’s. Cauley is nothing more than a ownership play for me this week as I am hoping he finishes better than the players priced around him that will be slightly higher owned.

I played Martin Kaymer (7.4k) the last two weeks were he has a missed cut and a finish of 73rd. I know Kaymer is to good of a player to continue struggling and will eventually play his way out of his slump. Kaymer has been under 5% owned the last two times I played him and I expect him to be even lower owned this week with all the plays available in the price range he is in plus he carries 200-1 odds this week which is much higher than any priced player around him. Kaymer has made four of five cuts at QHC with two T20’s and I feel this course fits his game well. I major concern I have for Kaymer is his chipping has not been good and from what I understand the greens are hard this week and long irons will be hard to hold on the greens. I saw this tweet which makes me want to have more interest in players who are solid around the greens and putting. “Been crazy walking #QuailHollow today @WellsFargoGolf & seeing guys hit 5-irons into Par 4’s like they’re landing on concrete and lob wedges taking BIG 1st hop before check’n…given forecast course should be firm all week which I’m looking forward to seeing.”

Players Ranked T30 Within Field In Both 175-200 Yards and Over 200 Yards
I used twelve weeks back worth of data for the stats below since there are not many shots over 200 yard, this will help the data be more accurate.
Rory McIlroy- T 20 in both
Rickie Fowler- T20 in both
Justin Thomas
Ross Fisher- T 20 in both
Adam Hadwin
Tom Hoge
Emiliano Grillo
Taylor Gooch
Kyle Stanley- T20 in both and best overall
Phil Mickelson- T20 in both and second best overall
Sam Burns
There were a couple players who fell within the T30 in one stat and was within the T40 on the other. They would be Brandon Harkins, Nick Watney, X-Man, Gary Woodland and Louis Oosthuizen.

Players I Will Fade
Alex Noren, Pat Reed, Keegan Bradley, Benny An, Francesco Molinari and Adam Hadwin

Potential Darts
Denny McCarthy, Kevin Tway, Retief Goosen, Nick Watney

Undecided
Phil Mickelson is someone who I have put quite a bit of thoughts into this week as I am on the fence as to what to do with him. There is no doubt Phil has impeccable course history but this will be one of the deepest fields he has competed against at QHC. In addition I feel Phil has already peaked this year and is on the downside based on his last couple results. His form leading into the PGA last year was a little worse than his current form and I think he has already used all of his 15-25’ par saving putts this year as he has made a large amount. It will probably all come down to ownership for Phil as I don’t want to be 20% plus on him.

Good luck to all this week as we should see a fun tournament as there are many different ways to construct teams this week. Thanks
Coop

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