Wells Fargo Championship preview with Skeeter McGillicuddy
North Carolina and Quail Hollow this week for the 14th running of the Wells Fargo making this a relative newcomer to the Tour. The good news is that Rory’s back because lets face it even with Day in the field last week it all felt a bit of a damp squib – and so it turned out.
We’d have been pleased for Lovemark if he’d got over the line but equally slightly peeved. Under pressure Lovemark hit a stinker into 18 the 2nd time round in the play-off, especially given his standard left to right shot. Stuard though had a telling week around the greens scrambling, and on them, with a 100% record inside 10 feet from 40+ attempts, including a great effort to get into the playoff. Miles behind Lovemark off the tee he’s proof that a killer short game is the great equaliser.
To Quail Hollow then. Respected enough to be awarded the USPGA next year – Rory will love that – it’s a beast at 7,500+ with the obligatory signature stretch, this one known as the Green Mile. Encompassing 16,17 and 18 a 4-3-4 combination it hardly featured last year as Rory sauntered to a 7 shot win, his 2nd at the event. Along with the wins Rory’s had a 2nd and 2 other top 10’s along with a MC in 2011. So he kind of likes the place. Recent form? As mentioned the mood around Rory is one of disappointment with 5 top 10’s from his last 8 starts and chances to win twice. As also previously mentioned if this was almost anyone else they would be hailed as on the up, a winner waiting to happen. Of course Rory is the best and is always a winner waiting to happen. Will it be this week? Probably, but even with some stupidly low rounds here, including a 61 and 62, there’s a nagging doubt at the 5/1 – so it chokes me the say this – we will death ride him this week.
Not least because this is a stronger field than recent weeks (it can’t hurt that the PGA is coming next year) with Rickie, Patrick, Scott and Milky Phil teeing it up.
The aforementioned, while all credible candidates for the title, will not be carrying any of the McGillicuddy Clan fortune though. All of them seem too short when you consider the slight flaws in their recent form. Yes Milky’s form around here is long and sweet but he’s coming off two cuts and the suspicion is the long game changes have impacted on his putting – just saying – we love the man.
What would appear to be a bombers paradise – Rory was top in driving distance last year, and JB as winner in 2014 the same – is hardly surprising more than it seems. Look at Jimmy The F..k’s record around here? Arguably one of the shortest hitters on Tour, he’s back here first up from a spell with an injury, his record includes a win, 2 runners up and 2 other top 10’s from 10 starts. Like Milky I’m (sadly) inclined to think that time is catching up with Jim and wins will prove harder than ever to come by so we’ll leave him out.
Where then? To the stable? Yes…
No not Patrick. And why? He’s openly expressed his loss of confidence on the greens and with a game built on confidence, no thanks.
The other Patrick!
Patrick Rodgers. Long (over 300), straight (59.60% places him 126th….6 more drives per hundred and he’s top 40 so accuracy is perhaps over-rated, its where you miss and the consequences and Rodgers hits over 70% of greens for a top 10) and in form. Ok so in form is not Rory form. Rodgers is streaky, he misses cuts but he’s got 7 top 25’s from the 9 cuts he’s made this season. We picked him for his potential at the Valero and he missed the cut. But all the reasons we thought he might be a winner were in evidence at the Zurich until that event petered out. Two early rounds in the 60’s there combined with coming back to his best ever Tour finish, 2nd behind Rory last year, augur well for a showing.
Patton Kizzire. 8TH last week for a 5th top 10 this season from 15 starts, Patton is +65% for greens in regulation, 11th for scoring average and 5th strokes gained putting. He won twice to head the Web.com tour in 2015 and after last weeks solid, if abbreviated showing, we are not letting him play without our money on.
Geoff Ogilvy. Yes his 2016 form is nothing to write home about so why? 8 times a winner on the USPGA Tour for one. 200/1+ another. 7th in this event last year Ogilvy, as hard as it is to fathom, showed some significant improvement with solid recent form expressed as a 64th last week in New Orleans. Opening with a 67 he hit over 70% of the greens and nearly 65% of the fairways. He did fade somewhat but all that waiting around sucked the energy out of the Zurich. Solid enough tee to green but the real improvement came on the greens where he “only” lost .148 strokes gained putting (work that one out). This oddly represents a significant improvement for Ogilvy who has been seriously undermined with very average putting for over a year. Improved putting allied to his good memories from last year and a long term consistent record here, could see a return to the top of the leader board this week.