Welcome to Three Shots at the Green, where each week I’ll use my experience as a PGA Tour caddie and golf writer to identify the three best bets on the board.
After a one-year detour north, the Wells Fargo Championship returns to Charlotte as a designated event, featuring a strong field but missing several heavyweights, including Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler.
Nice of them to give someone else a chance to earn the top share of the $20 million purse.
The host course is the familiar Quail Hollow Club, site of last year’s Presidents Cup, the 2017 PGA Championship and this tournament in all but two years since its inception in 2003.
The course is a beefy 7,571-yard, par-71 layout designed originally by George Cobb in the 1960s but renovated (lengthened) several times by Tom Fazio over the last decade or so. Quail Hollow ranks among the 10 most difficult courses on the PGA Tour, putting a premium on driving distance and excellent mid-to-long iron play. More than 52 percent of approach shots are struck from outside 175 yards, which is well above the Tour average.
— Wells Fargo Golf (@WellsFargoGolf) May 2, 2023
Rory McIlroy has dominated here during his career, winning three times and is the clear favorite to win a fourth. The greens are firm, fast Bermuda with tricky undulations and birdies are scarce. Pros must capitalize on the three par-5s and the driveable par-4 14th. There aren’t many other opportunities on the long par-3s and demanding par-4s.
Let’s take three shots at the green
Cameron Young Top 10 +250
The putter has been the problem for Young so far this season, yet he still recorded top-10 finishes on comparable courses Bay Hill and Augusta National in the last two months. He’s making his Quail Hollow debut but has veteran Paul Tesori on the bag.
Young is sixth in the field in SG: Off the Tee on longer courses and 12th in proximity from 200 yards plus. He’s also 13th in scoring on courses longer than 7,400 yards. He’s had two weeks off and should be refreshed and ready to attack a course that’s made for his skill set.
Patrick Cantlay Win +1400
We rarely delve into the outright market in this space but it’s time for Cantlay to get on the board in 2023. He’s been ridiculously consistent over the last 11 months, finishing in the top 20 in 15 of the last 18 starts with eight top-5s.
Winning at Quail Hollow requires a well-rounded game and Cantlay’s combination of power and accuracy off the tee, precision from 200 yards out and ballstriking prowess at Bay Hill earlier this year are promising signs this should be the week. He also gained five shots on the greens in his last individual start at the RBC Heritage, followed by another strong putting effort at the Zurich. His ninth PGA Tour win is imminent.
Sahith Theegala Top 20 +220
Theegala has thrived on the Tour’s most exacting ballstriking examinations this season, finishing fourth at Riviera, fourth at Torrey Pines, ninth at Augusta and 14th at Bay Hill. What I really like about Theegala is his ability to make a Sunday money run when he’s on the fringe of contention.
He’s 21st on Tour in final round scoring average (68.87), closing with a 64 in Houston, 66 at Riviera, 67 at Augusta and 65 at Harbour Town three weeks ago. The ballstriking stats are solid and he’s 10th in 3-putt avoidance on fast greens. Don’t be surprised if Theegala is in the hunt for his first victory late Sunday.
YTD: -12.1 units