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Monday, April 28, 2014

Wells Fargo Championship - Power Rankings

With most people suffering fantasy disasters at last week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, let’s work on our bounce back and try and get it right with this week’s Wells Fargo Championship Power Ranking. Feel free to refer to yesterday’s preview for a glimpse at our thoughts on Quail Hollow and the Wells Fargo.

One thing to point out that was still a bit of a question mark yesterday was the condition of the greens at Quail Hollow. By all early accounts I can find via Twitter and otherwise, the players are absolutely raving at the condition of Quail Hollow (including the greens). Rain could be a factor leading up to the start of the tournament, so fingers crossed it doesn't play a big role.

Here we go:
  1. Rory McIlroy – This one is a no-brainer. His record at Quail includes a win, a T2, a T10 and a missed cut and he enters off back-to-back PGA TOUR top 10s including a T8 at the Masters. There’s no point in digging any deeper into the stats than this.
  2. Jimmy Walker – Could have gone in a number of directions here, but Walker was very impressive in his T8 at Augusta National and has improved of late at Quail Hollow. His last three starts in Charlotte saw him progress from T68 to T48 to T22. I like those trends.
  3. Jim Furyk – After a week of turmoil for most gamers in NOLA, Furyk is a consistent choice. He’s seven for nine at Quail Hollow, with four top 10s including a win and a runner-up. Last three starts are T6, T14 and T7. It’s hard to imagine him not finishing inside the top 20 this week.
  4. Justin Rose – His record here isn’t all that good, but his last trip here (T28 in 2011) was his best. If you refer back to the trend of U.S. Open winners performing well here, he fits the bill. It’s also easy to get on board with his T8-MC-T14 trend considering his T14 was in last week’s bloodbath for the elite at Zurich. While I wish his driving splits were a little better, he ranks inside the top 25 in Par Breakers and Par 5 Scoring Average.
  5. Lee Westwood – He’ll likely be here or higher on most lists when considering his trends. His last two starts were his best of 2013-14 and went for a T17, then a seventh at the Masters. His last two trips to Charlotte resulted in a T5 and a T4. He’ll be a tempting one-and-done, but could almost be trending too well like Rickie Fowler in NOLA last week.
  6. Phil Mickelson – He did the unthinkable when he missed the cut at Augusta National, but his T9 in Houston the week prior shows the form isn't far off. He’s a solid play at Quail Hollow, going 10/10 with seven top 10s.
  7. Rickie Fowler – Last week’s missed cut could have him on the cheap this week. Toss out his T73 on terrible greens last year and he’s gone sixth, T16 and winner in his other three. I like his chances for a bounce back at Quail Hollow.
  8. J. B. Holmes – I can’t ignore him anymore. A T12-T18-T11 run in his last three starts has him primed for even bigger things. Decent record at Quail includes 4/6, with a T9 in 2011. Perhaps the biggest surprise, given his length, is that he’s 155th in Par 5 Scoring Average.  Imagine if he corrects that this week.
  9. Seung-yul Noh – Of course he isn’t going to go back-to-back, but don’t ignore that many first-time winners who play the very next week still ride that momentum to a top 10/20 finish. His swing looked so powerful and perfect last week, and if he continues to putt that well he’s earned this spot. This isn't a complete shot in the dark, as he tied for ninth here in 2012.
  10. Webb Simpson – His current form is a red flag. There’s no way around that. He’s gone MC-T61-MC in his last three starts. He’s a Charlotte guy that plays out of Quail Hollow frequently, nearly winning in 2012 before settling for a T4. Of all the players in this power ranking, his stats are the best for this course. That said, it’s obvious the heavy lifting for that came earlier in the season.
  11. Hunter Mahan – He’s made his last six cuts here with three going for top 20s. That’s sort of where I see him this week. Maybe not contending, but sneaking around for a back-door top 10 or an easy top 20. A T31-T26-MC run in his last three TOUR starts keep the optimism somewhat limited to a low top 10.
  12. Bill Haas – His W/D from Hilton Head with a wrist injury prevents him from being a play in most leagues, as does his five missed cuts in 10 tries at Quail Hollow. Like Simpson, he frequently makes the drive up Interstate 85 from Greenville to Charlotte to play Quail Hollow and has twice finished fourth here in what has been a feast-or-famine history.

Next 5: Zach Johnson, Ben Martin, Ryan Moore, Bo Van Pelt and Nick Watney

I’m frequently asked about players I might “like” that aren’t on my list. Here is a list of players that garnered attention but didn’t crack the list above: Charles Howell III, Matt Jones, Kevin Na, George McNeill, Pat Perez, Danny Lee, Jonathan Byrd, Jonas Blixt, Stewart Cink, Rory Sabbatini and Retief Goosen. I could easily make a case for any of these to be included in my “next 5”.

We will turn our attention towards the games tomorrow. Until then, best of luck to all!

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