2022 Wells Fargo Championship: Fantasy Golf Picks, Power Rankings Include Gary Woodland, Rory McIlroy, Corey Conners
The Wells Fargo Championship heads to Maryland this week as the folks back in North Carolina prepare Quail Hollow Club for the Presidents Cup this fall.
TPC-Potomac at Avenel Farm is the substitute host. Fifteen of the top 50 players in the world are on hand as professional golf builds toward the PGA Championship in two weeks.
The golf course measures 7,160 yards over rolling terrain and plays to a par 70. The two par-5s are long (591 and 640 yards) and there are eight par-4s of at least 440 yards. It’s a challenging test from tee-to-green, one that cannot be overpowered and requires patience along with precision to avoid the water hazards in play on nine holes and 3.5” Kentucky bluegrass rough.
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The weather forecast is unpleasant. Rain gear, ski caps and possibly hand warmers will be essential equipment on Friday and Saturday when there’s a 80-90 percent chance of precipitation, wind gusts near 30 mph and high temperatures in the mid-50s.
Fairway finders and mediocre putters managed to fare well here when the course played host to the Quicken Loans National in 2017 and 2018. In making fantasy golf picks, we targeted golfers who are in strong Tee-to-Green form with an emphasis on approach shots from 175-200 yards, driving the ball in play and the ability to handle those long par-4s.
Fantasy Golf Picks: Longer Shots
25. Lanto Griffin. Enjoyed his best ballstriking week of the season in a T-15 in Mexico. Grew up nearby in Virginia and putts his best on bentgrass.
24. Luke List. In the past, TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm has been a course where below average putters can cash a big check. After missing four of the last five cuts, List’s price is right. He leads the field in SG: Tee-to-Green and SG: Ballstriking over the last 36 rounds.
23. Joel Dahmen. Finished 23rd here in 2018 and has made six consecutive cuts. Ranks 8th in the field in SG: Off-the-Tee, finds fairways at a high rate and is 27th in SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds.
22. Paul Casey. Love the course fit and ordinarily he’d thrive in the cool, wet, windy conditions expected on Friday and Saturday. His health is the question mark. Hasn’t played since late March due to a back injury. Earns a spot however, because he’s top 10 in driving, iron play and avoiding bogeys.
21. Martin Laird. Gained shots Tee-to-Green in his last 12 measured starts. Finished third in the 2017 Quicken Loans at TPC-Potomac. Leads the field in Good Drives Gained and is ninth in SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds.
20. C.T. Pan. In a nice ballstriking groove as he returns to a course where he has a top-20 finish. Gained shots Off-the-Tee in his last three starts and on Approach in his last six. Looking for a hot week on the greens and 1.6 shots gained putting in Mexico provides optimism.
19. Si Woo Kim. The talented enigma has a strong track record on difficult golf courses. An excellent bunker player who ranks third in the field in SG: Tee-to-Green on courses shorter than 7,200 yards over the last 36 rounds. Has made 12 cuts in a row.
18. Sergio Garcia. Has five finishes of 39th or better in the last six tournaments despite uncharacteristic poor approach shots (-1.8 SG: Approach last five tournaments). But his impeccable driving and world class bunker game (second in field) should help him avoid bogeys this week.
17. Lucas Glover. The veteran remains a workhorse and has made nine of 11 cuts in 2022, gaining 5.5 shots Tee-to-Green in his most recent start at Hilton Head. Top 25 in the field in SG: Off-The-Tee and SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds.
16. Marc Leishman. Big fan of the Big Aussie who has six top-25s this season and finished 13th and fifth in the Quicken Loans in 2017 and 2018 at TPC-Potomac. Top 20 in the field in SG: Tee-to-Green on courses less than 7,200 yards, bogey avoidance and SG: Approach.
15. Seamus Power. Another positional player who thrives on shorter layouts and had solid ballstriking statistics on this course in 2017 and 2018. Scores well on the 450-500 yard par-4s (seventh in the field) while also slotting eighth in bogey avoidance.
14. Keegan Bradley. The Northeast U.S. native felt comfortable on the bentgrass and bluegrass at TPC-Potomac in the past, finishing fifth in 2017 when he gained 11.8 shots Off-the-Tee. Wish his bunker game was better (138th in Sand Saves).
13. Abraham Ancer. Miserable short game and tough course fit crippled Ancer’s chances at home in Mexico last week. This test should better suit his skill set. Leads the field in bogeys avoided on difficult courses over the last 50 rounds, thrives on bentgrass greens and shorter layouts.
12. Anirban Lahiri. Staple in my fantasy rosters last week delivered a solid showing (T-15) although he was slightly worse than the field average on approach shots. Banking on his budding confidence and acumen on 450-500 yard par-4s (38th in field) to propel Lahiri into contention once again.
11. Brian Harman. Won the Wells Fargo last time it was played outside of Charlotte, in 2017 at Eagle Point GC in Wilmington, N.C. Won’t mind nasty weather. Lives in the fairway. Just needs his iron game and deft short game to match up on the same week.
10. Russell Henley. From tee-to-green, not many are better on the PGA Tour. Excels on shorter courses and leads the field in SG: Approach over the last 36 rounds. Poor bunker play and suspect putting on bentgrass must be factored but hard to ignore his combination of accurate driving and pinpoint iron shots.
9. Matt Fitzpatrick. Been saying this for two years now but needs a win on U.S. soil. He’s never been more consistent, landing in the top 15 in five of the last seven tournaments and gaining significant shots Tee-to-Green in the last seven. Leads the field in scoring over the last 24 rounds.
8. Tony Finau. He won in the Northeast last August and had the best ballstriking tournament of his career in Mexico, closing with a 63 to finish runner-up, gaining 14.8 shots Tee-to-Green and 8.2 on Approach over the four rounds. Seems like he’s back to elite form.
7. Cameron Young. He’s played well on Bermuda in Mississippi, poa annua in L.A. and the lightly overseeded greens on a tight course in Hilton Head. Now he tees it up closer to home. Irons have been inconsistent but he leads the field in scoring on 450-500 yard par-4s.
6. Gary Woodland. Has gained at least 4.9 shots Tee-to-Green in five of the last six measured starts. Most importantly, his driver is starting to cooperate. Ranks 10th in SG: Approach over the last 36, second in scoring on 450-500 yard par-4s and third in bogey avoidance on difficult courses.
5. Webb Simpson. Been a quiet 12 months for Simpson and it’s worth taking a shot on him after putrid putting ruined a solid ballstriking week at Hilton Head. Can grind out a score in difficult conditions. Ranks sixth in the field in SG: Tee-to-Green on courses shorter than 7,200 yards.
4. Sepp Straka. Market refuses to catch up to Straka, who has a win, a third and a ninth in his last five starts. Excellent short game and reliable ballstriking combined with good bentgrass putting and bogey avoidance should produce yet another high finish.
3. Rory McIlroy. The Vegas favorite makes his first appearance since his scintillating Sunday at Augusta. He’s second in the field in scoring over the last 24 rounds, leads in SG: Off-the-Tee and has excellent marks on shorter courses.
2. Keith Mitchell. Been a good year for the Georgia Bulldogs and Mitchell has been steady. Handles the 450-500 yard par-4s (ninth in field) and it should play to his advantage if the rain makes the course play long (sixth in SG: OTT on courses less than 7,200 yards).
1. Corey Conners. He’ll be a popular pick this week for good reason. The young Canadian won’t mind the chilly air or ballstriking examination presented in Maryland. Leads the field in SG: Tee-to-Green on courses less than 7,200 yards, hits good drives in the fairway on the regular and is also fourth on the 450-500 yard par-4s. Gained at least 4.3 shots Tee-to-Green in his last five tournaments. His second PGA Tour victory arrives this week.
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