After some fun in the sun in Mexico, it’s back stateside for the PGA Tour. This week, the Wells Fargo Championship takes place at TPC Potomac, where last year’s winner Rory McIlroy will look to defend his title.
Wells Fargo Championship General Information:
- Date: May 05 – May 08, 2022
- TV-Time: Golf Channel, 2:00 p.m. ET
- Venue: TPC Potomac
- Location: Potomac, Maryland
- Prize Money: $9,000,000 ($1,458,000 1st Place)
- Winner last year: Rory McIlroy
Tournament, Conditions & Course Info
Thanks to the Presidents Cup being held at Quail Hollow, the Wells Fargo Championship has a new home for 2022. TPC Potomac has been given the nod to host its 21st PGA Tour event, and its first since 2018.
After there were numerous gaps in the field in terms of high-end players in Mexico, this week there are a few more big names in the field, though there are still several notable omissions. After claiming his first win in nearly a year, world number two Jon Rahm misses out, as do each of the current top six. World number seven and defending champion Rory McIlroy is the highest ranked player in the field, and it is the defending champion, after securing his 20th PGA Tour victory at this tournament a year ago, who arrives in Maryland as the bookies’ favourite, and at odds of +700, he’s a hot favourite at that.
Re-designed in 2008, TPC Potomac is a tough course to navigate. The Par 70 is tight and though it’s not overly long at 7,139 yards, it requires precise play, especially off the tee. Strokes gained: off-the-tee will be key this week, as Kyle Stanley proved when winning the Quicken Loans National here in 2017, finishing the week ranked 1st for strokes gained: off-the-tee. In 2018, Francesco Molinari also proved the importance of a strong driving game en route to victory, ending the week in 7th for strokes gained: off-the-tee. Approach play will also be paramount in Maryland, with the average strokes gained: approach finishing position of the last two winners at this venue coming in at 2nd.
Expert Pick #1 – Corey Conners Top 10 Finish @+275
Corey Conners is a player who seems due a win, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if he got over the line here, and it’s hard to put people off showing outright support, though for me, the odds available on a top-ten finish are too good to pass up.
It’s been another strong campaign for the Canadian, who has recorded yet more top-20/top-10 finishes, and he’ll arrive in Maryland off the back of excellent recent form, finishing T6 and T12 in his last two events. The world number 31 has also made the cut in each of his last six, finishing T12 or better in four of those. Such form is hard to ignore, especially with lots of top players missing this week.
His approach game is ideal for this assignment, while the fact that he’s one of the best on tour off the tee makes the 30-year-old look even more appealing. Only three players in this field have gained more strokes off the tee on the PGA Tour than Corey Conners this season, while there are very few in this line-up who’ve gained more strokes in total. Another big week is expected, and even if he can’t quite get over the line, everything points towards a top-ten finish at the very least for the man who somewhat incredibly only has one PGA Tour victory to his name.
Fedex Cup Rank: 31 | Fedex Cup Points: 663 | OWGR: 31
Expert Pick #2 – Keegan Bradley Top 20 Finish @+200
Keegan Bradley is another player who has ticked along nicely this season. In fact, for well over a year now, the one-time major winner has been playing solid golf on a regular basis. Looked in the form of his life when finishing fifth at THE PLAYERS back in March, and it looks as though that effort in such a big tournament has paved the way for further strong performances, with the Woodstock native arriving here off the back of T8 and T4 finishes at the Valero Texas Open and the Zurich Classic.
Across the last eight events played by players in this event, Bradley ranks seventh for strokes gained: tee-to-green, 14th for strokes gained: around-the-green, 20th for strokes gained: approach and 15th for strokes gained: total, while if we look at those players who were involved in at least one of the two PGA Tour events played at TPC Potomac in 2017 and 2018, Bradley ranks fifth for strokes gained: approach, seventh for strokes gained: off-the-tee and seventh for strokes gained: total. Such information is more than enough for me to get him down as a must-have in the top-20 market.
Fedex Cup Rank: 42 | Fedex Cup Points: 543 | OWGR: 64
Expert Pick #3 – Paul Casey Top 20 Finish @+225
We last saw Paul Casey withdraw at The Masters, but if we’re to believe that he is fit and ready to go again, then there’s no reason why the Englishman can’t thrive this week. It’s been anything but a vintage year for Casey, though his game sprung into life at The Players, where he finished third, while he was quietly playing some pleasing golf a month earlier at the Genesis, where on a tight course, he finished T15. Such form bodes well ahead of this week’s assignment at TPC Potomac, where accuracy will be key, especially on approach. It’s just as well then that Casey ranks first in this field for strokes gained: approach over the last eight events. He also ranks first for strokes gained: tee-to-green and seventh for strokes gained: total. On this basis, the world number 26 is hard to ignore.
Fedex Cup Rank: 93 | Fedex Cup Points: 304 | OWGR: 26
2022 Wells Fargo Championship Odds
*Odds as of Monday at 5:00 p.m. ET
2022 Wells Fargo Championship Additional Picks
One player to finish top-five.
Matthew Fitzpatrick (+400)
In this field, Matthew Fitzpatrick rates as one of the elites, so it would be little surprise if he went very close. The Englishman should be suited by the tighter, shorter test, while he has some excellent form to his name on similar tree-lined courses, most recently finishing fifth at Riviera earlier this season. That form bodes well.
One player to finish top-10.
Marc Leishman (+400)
Leishman has been steady this season, and in an event lacking strength in depth, he should do well. The Aussie comes here off a more than reasonable T21 last time out, while he’s twice played well at this venue, finishing T5 and T13 in 2017 and 2018 respectively.
One player to finish top-20.
Sung Kang (+400)
Something of a course specialist, Sung Kang is yet to struggle at this venue. The Japanese player finished sixth here in 2013, fifth in 2017 and third in 2018, while he rates among the best in this field for strokes gained: total at TPC Potomac, so do not be surprised if he does better than rather large odds suggest he will.
The Big Hero
Underdog with chances to win.
Rory Sabbatini (+22500) Into the twilight of his career, Rory Sabbatini probably won’t be everyone’s idea of the winner this week, but of the big outsiders, he’s the one who could seriously outplay his hefty price-tag. The 46-year-old doesn’t have much recent form to speak of, but he knows this venue well, winning here back in 2003, finishing third in 2004.
With the Wells Fargo now being held at TPC Potomac, accuracy, both off the tee and on approach will be the order of the day. Players need to be in prime position ahead of going for the green, so look to those who gain plenty of strokes off the tee, while strokes gained: approach has a big part to play too. With lots of top-end players missing, the likes of Corey Conners, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Marc Leishman and Paul Casey should all be in the mix come crunch time on Sunday evening.