Wells Fargo Championship Power Rankings
It had been over three thousand rounds on the PGA Tour since Ryan Palmer had found the winner’s circle. Just another example as to why golf is such a great game. The fact that someone can play at such a high level for so long and still not win, but still stay relevant, is a tribute to the game’s diversity. Palmer and his partner Jon Rahm won the team format Zurich Classic last weekend in convincing fashion.
We move back to stroke play this week and land at Quail Hollow Golf Course, the site of the Wells Fargo Championship. This event has been on the schedule for 17 years and is widely considered to be one the Tour’s more difficult tracks. Jason Day will defend last year’s win, and two-time champ Rory McIlroy will tee up for the first time since disappointing at Augusta. Sixteen of the top-30 players in the FedExCup will compete as we keep an eye towards the impending PGA Championship.
10. Sergio Garcia
Fresh off a second place finish alongside Tommy Fleetwood last week in New Orleans, Garcia will look to keep things rolling in Charlotte. He hasn’t teed it up at Quail Hollow (outside of last year’s PGA) since 2011 but has two top 28s to his name. More importantly, he has hit his stride recently with four top-10 showings in his last seven events. He disappointed at Augusta but played well last week, calming any fears from investors. Look for the Spaniard to continue his hot form this week in the Queen City.
9. Henrik Stenson
The arrow is pointing up for Stenson, who has quietly re-emerged as a threat on the PGA Tour following a nice run at the WGC: Matchplay. The major champion has missed four of five cuts at Quail Hollow, but his current stretch of golf should be considered more closely, as he comes in having made nine of his last 10 cuts on tour. He checks in at third in SG (Shots Gained): Approach-the-Green and 13th in Driving Accuracy, two statistics that will be important this week in Charlotte. Look for Stenson to greatly improve on his poor record here this week.
8. Tony Finau
Another young, immensely talented pro who is bound to break through again any week now. Finau scared veterans in his second appearance at Augusta finishing T5 for the second year in a row. He missed the cut in New Orleans last week alongside Kyle Stanley but played better than the results may indicate. With three top 28s in three appearances here, Finau will look to continue to improve on his performances and find that elusive winner’s circle. He comes in ranked seventh on tour in driving distance and 17th on both birdie average and scoring average. Look for his steady form to take him to the top one of these weeks.
7. Phil Mickelson
Mickelson has played in this event 16 of 17 times it has taken place. If you played as well as he does here, you wouldn’t miss it either. He has six top 18s at the Wells Fargo Championship since 2012, which includes a T5 last year. Coming off another top-20 finish at the Masters, expect Mickelson to keep things rolling at another one of his favorite venues. Quite frankly, a win is the only thing that has eluded Mickelson at Quail Hollow.
6. Hideki Matsuyama
One of the most consistent players on Tour in recent years will bring his talents to Charlotte this week. Matsuyama has yet to miss a cut this season and arrives looking for his first win of the campaign. He is 4-for-4 at Quail Hollow with an 11th in 2016 being his best start of the bunch. Matsuyama is second on Tour in SG: Tee-to-Green, which will help him navigate his way around a course notoriously penal for missed fairways. He is also second in SG: Tee-to-Green and eighth in SG: Total, which shows a player trending toward figuring it all out at once. Don’t be surprised to see the Japanese native on the leaderboard this weekend.
5. Justin Rose
The former number one player in the world appears to have slipped people’s minds after an uncharacteristic missed cut at The Masters. Rose is one of the most consistent veterans on the PGA Tour and has given us no reason not to expect a bounce back. This is the same player who ranked first in the world fresh off a win at the Farmers Insurance Open in January. He has two top-five outcomes here in three tries and enters the tournament well rested. Don’t sleep on Rose.
4. Webb Simpson
The North Carolina native is a member at Quail Hollow and plays this event almost every year. He finished second in 2015 and fourth in 2012 and would be someone to keep an eye on regardless of form. Fortunately for us, he has been playing phenomenally steady golf since about this time last season with only one missed cut since last June. Fresh off his T5 at The Masters to go along with two other top-10s this season, he should be ready to go at home this week.
3. Rickie Fowler
Fowler returns to the site of his first victory this week at Quail Hollow, where he prevailed in 2012 as a young, long-haired phenomenon. Here we stand seven years later to reflect on what has largely been a disappointing career given the lofty expectations. With only five PGA Tour victories and zero majors, many thought he would be ahead of where he currently sits given his incredible talent. Fowler has found the winner’s circle this season, though, and continues to perform at a high level with four top-1o and three top-four finishes on the young season. Having placed 16th or higher three times here, he should be widely owned across all formats.
2. Jason Day
The defending champ checks in at number two on this list. This season has been another roller-coaster ride for Day owners with your standard fare of health issues and withdrawals mixed in with his usual, at times dominant, form. With five top-10 placements in 11 events so far this year, Day is definitely someone to keep an eye on as he looks to go back-to-back this week in Charlotte. The stats support what we have come to expect from Day, who checks in at fifth in SG: Off-the-Tee, fourth in SG: Putting, and seventh in SG: Total. Balance throughout the bag helped him here last year, as he came back from a poor start and won by two shots. With top 10s in both appearances here, he will look to get off to a better start and put himself in position to win once again.
1. Rory McIlroy
No need to overthink this one. Despite not breaking through and claiming the Grand Slam at The Masters, McIlroy remains the hottest player in the world. With seven top-10 finishes, including a win at The PLAYERS, he comes into the week third in the FedExCup. He will look to keep the pedal down at a course where he’s already won twice with five top-10 placings. First in SG: Off-the-Tee, first in SG: Total, and, you guessed it, first in SG: Tee-to-Green, McIlroy is a complete player all the way through.