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Wells Fargo Championship betting preview: Zalatoris can emulate McIlroy

May 4, 2021January 6th, 2022

THE Quail Hollow challenge at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship is a high quality one. Indeed, the layout is good enough for the club to have played host to the PGA Championship in 2017. Justin Rose said of the test: “This is a championship standard course, you have to move the ball both ways off the tee.” You also have to move it a long way because the yardage is 7,554 and big hitters repeatedly thrive here.

Rory McIlroy is a two-time champion on the track and has never been under any illusions about why he holds an advantage, saying: “It’s because of my length.” There was a time when the greens were little short of diabolical, but that changed in the run-up to 2017 and now the winner needs to have his eye in – the last two winners, Max Homa and Jason Day, ranked top two for both Strokes Gained Putting and Putting Average.

 

Each Way – Will Zalatoris 28/1

The 24-year-old Will Zalatoris is one of those golfers for whom the inability to make a quick breakthrough at the game has become a source of strength rather than weakness in his game because his inability to qualify for a full card on the second tier Korn Ferry Tour, when he turned pro, didn’t prompt a sulk. Instead, it made him scrap for every start. That resilience has born fruit and he’s now flying high. A winner on the KFT last summer, he finished tied sixth in the US Open in September and was an outrageous solo second in his Masters debut last month.

In-between those efforts he logged no less than nine top 25 finishes on the PGA Tour, four of them top 10s. He was on target to land another at the halfway stage in his last start in The Heritage, but, a week after the Masters excitement, nervous energy seemed to get the better of him. He has an exceptionally slight frame, but he hits the ball a long way and has shown he can ride a hot streak on the greens. There’s an excellent chance that he could emulate McIlroy in completing his breakthrough PGA Tour win at this venue.

 

 

Top 10 – Rickie Fowler 6/1

News that Rickie Fowler had been handed a spot in the PGA Championship later this month did not go down too well within the game. It’s not that the American is unpopular – far from it – just that the decision smacked of handing an invitation to a golfer for marketing reasons rather than competitive ones. Moreover, it seemed grossly unfair that players higher up the world rankings than him will miss out. The crux of this tip is that Fowler himself will be only too well aware of the awkward spot he’s in and he’s an honourable enough character to want to make amends.

Of course, some might suggest the best way he do that is by passing on the invite and only travelling to Kiawah Island if he qualifies by right. As far as we’re aware, that’s not going to happen so his best opportunity is to knuckle down and find some form – and where better than a course he has not only won on (in 2012), but where he has landed five top 10s in nine starts? It’s also the case that, when last seen, he finished T17th at the Texas Open despite ending the first round outside the top 100. A proud Fowler can make the top 10 again.

 

Leader after round one – Stewart Cink 70/1

In one of the great betting coups of recent times @DaveTindallGolf identified ahead of The Heritage at Harbour Town that five of Stewart Cink’s career wins had come off the back of a decent performance in a major championship. Moreover, he learned that Cink himself was well aware of the trend. Given that he’d landed a top 20 in the Masters, Tindall suggested the 2009 Open champion and two-time winner at Harbour Town was a good bet and he duly triumphed at big odds.

It’s also true that following his wins Cink has more often than not ridden the wave, very soon afterwards posted a low score and that has to make him worthy of interest again this week because his most recent starts at Quail Hollow have reaped good Thursday rewards. In 2012 he carded a 65 to share the early lead, then in 2014 and 2015 he was tied fourth after 18 holes following scores of 68 and 67. Long term he might struggle to contend this week, but he’s well capable of having more fun on Thursday.