DRAWS AND FADES
Draws and Fades: Wells Fargo Championship
May 03, 2022
By Rob Bolton , Golfbet for PGATOUR.COM
First time winners at the Wells Fargo Championship
Maybe I missed it or maybe you’re spoiled, but I didn’t experience any chatter, much less surprise, that ShotLink technology was used at the Mexico Open at Vidanta.
If you’re new to the PGA TOUR and how performance is measured on a stroke-by-stroke basis, ShotLink typically isn’t deployed in remote locations. Exceptions are the Sentry Tournament of Champions and Sony Open in Hawaii, but there’s always time to ship the equipment, keep it in Hawaii and rally enough volunteers for the cause. The same can’t be said of stops in Asia, Bermuda, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico or even at Mayakoba on the other coast of Mexico.
Now, PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf no longer uses ShotLink for fantasy scoring, but it’s all but a standard component for live betting and fans who pore over stats. Since it’s not often that we’re treated to a significant enhancement without advance notice, it’s fair to say that its use flew under the radar last week.
POWER RANKINGS WILD CARD
Tony Finau (+100 for a Top 20) … Despite his relative scuffling, he was No. 13 in my Power Rankings for the Mexico Open at Vidanta and answered the bell with a T2 (see RECAP below). He led the field in averaging 15 greens in regulation per round, as well as in Strokes Gained: Tee-to-Green and par-4 scoring. He also slotted second in proximity, so his feels were as strong as they have been since perhaps the 2021 FedExCup Playoffs. Despite last week’s success, he angles as a contrarian in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf because he’d fallen short of expectations for way too long, but he still makes most cuts, so his floor is higher than most.
Max Homa (+190 for a Top 20) … Alerted his followers on Twitter on April 25 that his wife is pregnant with their first child and that it’s a boy. (All that’s missing from that tweet is, “#NappyFactor”.) As that life experience is concerned, he’s known for much longer, and his results have been consistently strong. He connected four top 20s before the varied challenges of the Match Play, Masters and Zurich Classic. Go ahead and give him a go and watch what happens.
Keith Mitchell (+225 for a Top 20) … The 30-year-old is a great fit for the track, but it’s been eight weeks since he hung up a T13 in his last individual, stroke-play competition at THE PLAYERS. With starts at the Match Play at Zurich, the customary test has been shelved. Thing is, that he’s opted not to play only his own ball for total strokes measured is a sign of confidence. Lean into him in DFS and this prop.
Aaron Rai (+225 for a Top 20) … At 75th in the FedExCup, he’s virtually safe to qualify for the Playoffs, so the objective has simplified to win. Yes, other secondary targets are in play – they always are – but in the construct of what every rookie cares to do first, he’s achieved it. Not unlike last week (T24), his ball-striking will increase his chances of tacking on another top-30 finish, so default to that on boards where available.
David Lingmerth (+1200 for a Top 20) … It was in 2017 when he appeared at No. 12 in my Power Rankings for the Quicken Loans National at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. The narrative then was that he was returning to the site of his only Korn Ferry Tour victory (in 2012). Lo and behold, he went out and held outright possession of the lead after each of the first three rounds before settling for a solo third. He answered with a T48 in the final edition of the QLN on the same track. Now the 34-year-old is back for his latest attempt to make noise, this time as an open qualifier where he emerged from a playoff among four in pursuit of the last spot in the field of 156. He recently finished T16 in Puerto Rico but he’s 218th in the FedExCup and limited severely from playing opportunities due to Past Champion status. However, give him a look in DFS and for a top-X finish perhaps worse than a Top 20.
Si Woo Kim
Odds sourced on Tuesday, May 3rd at 6 p.m. ET. For live odds visit betmgm.
Francesco Molinari … His surge in July of 2018 was something to behold. It’s not hyperbole to state it as “Tiger-esque.” It included a ridiculous performance at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. Unfortunately, as much as it was unsustainable, he’s a long way from that now. A T6 at PGA WEST in January teased, but he was expected to resonate again at Riviera a month later, but he settled for a T55. He’s also just 1-for-3 since with a T42 at THE PLAYERS. Frankly, if he wasn’t the most recent winner on this week’s host course, he wouldn’t have deserved any attention for our considerations.
Rickie Fowler … Like Molinari, Fowler wouldn’t garner analysis without his T3-12th in two swings through TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. He’s 133rd in the FedExCup with just one top-35 finish on the season.
Webb Simpson … Even if the tournament was contested at Quail Hollow (where he’s a member), he’d land here. In short, until he puts four rounds together post-neck injury, he’s going to be a trap. His last top 30 in official competition was a T8 at The RSM Classic almost six months ago.
Patrick Reed … He was defying the logic that was summed up in my “pass” in last week’s Draws and Fades; that is, until a closing 75 pushed him into a nine-way share of 42nd place. It extended his drought without a top 25 in a full field worldwide to 13 consecutive starts. This is basically what PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf gamers have come to expect, so there’s that nothing-to-see-here perspective, but he’s bleeding value of his once-reliable cornerstone status in the second tier in the long-term.
Mackenzie Hughes … In his last six stroke-play starts, he’s cashed just twice, neither time for a top 45. Still among the best putters, but not unlike Harbour Town where he missed the cut, the priority is on ball-striking at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm. Reconsider once he starts firing on more cylinders.
RETURNING TO COMPETITION
Paul Casey (+180 for a Top 20) … Ya gotta think that by now the 44-year-old’s back is ready to cooperate. It was at the Match Play where it flared up, and then residual discomfort thwarted his appearance at the Masters. When healthy, he’s performed exceptionally well, so continue to feel good that you’ve remained patient in long-term situations.
Zach Johnson … An illness forced him out during his opening round of the RBC Heritage three weeks ago. It was the fourth time in five starts in which he failed to cash and he’s just 6-for-15 on the season and 148th in the FedExCup. He’s not yet fully exempt for 2022-23 (although he’s 15th in all-time earnings and poised for as many as two career earnings exemptions, when necessary) and his focus will begin to shift into leading the United States at the 2023 Ryder Cup, so it stands to reason that what he contributes for our purposes will remain far and few between.
Rory Sabbatini … We haven’t seen him since he was raking a bunker at Bay Hill after withdrawing during his third round with a sore right knee. He’s 149th in the FedExCup essentially on the strength of a T3 at the Shriners in October.
Vaughn Taylor … Opened with 4-over 75 at Vidanta Vallarta, and then withdrew before his second round with an injured shoulder. (It was not specified which one.) Saddled with conditional status and limited to just 11 starts this year, he can’t afford to miss much time when he climbs into any field on merit, as he did this week. At 176th in the FedExCup, the 46-year-old could end up grinding through another summer well short of 100 percent. It was just last year when he played through a rib injury, ultimately failing to overcome it with results.
Davis Riley … Not that he was in danger of falling far enough so quickly but the solo fifth at Vidanta Vallarta locked up exemptions into the Charles Schwab Challenge and Memorial Tournament presented by Workday. Both are upcoming invitationals with fields of 120, so the rookie unofficially can set his schedule for the foreseeable future.
Mito Pereira … This would have marked his return since withdrawing after one round of the Zurich Classic of New Orleans with an injured back. At 45th in the FedExCup, there is no urgency to play through discomfort.
Erik van Rooyen … This is his third consecutive week off since a season-best T10 at the RBC Heritage. As a PGA TOUR winner and TOUR Championship qualifier last season, he’s been free to play in the invitationals, and he’s responded well to the elevation with five top 25s in 12 starts.
Pat Perez … The 46-year-old is 127th in the FedExCup and not yet exempt for next season. Understanding how much it means to him to have gone two decades without needing a lifeline to retain status, he might be feeling pressure at a level greater than zero at the moment. Furthermore, he’s 51st in all-time earnings, so he’s not currently eligible for a career earnings exemption. Naturally, a rise into the top 50 likely would yield a spot in the Playoffs, so that would supersede the backup plan. Whatever happens, he continues to make the most sense situated deep in full-season rosters that can absorb the decline, because he’ll also continue to contribute enough to warrant our faith.
Nick Hardy … Second consecutive early WD since a T21 (with Curtis Thompson) at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Currently 192nd in the FedExCup with just that one top 25.
Seung-Yul Noh … With only one start remaining on his Major Medical Extension, he wants to burn it wisely. To fulfill its terms, he needs 217.355 FedExCup points. In an event like the Wells Fargo Championship with the typical distribution of FedExCup points (e.g., 500 to the winner, 300 to the runner-up), he’d need no worse than a two-way T2 worth 245. For conditional status, he’d need to earn 106.033 points for which a solo fifth (worth 110) would cover. Short of that and he’d tumble into the Past Champions category. He’s only 5.315 outside the top 200 in the FedExCup, so that’s the longer-range target to qualify for the Korn Ferry Tour Finals. Naturally, that will rise over time.
RECAP – MEXICO OPEN AT VIDANTA
Power Ranking Golfer Result
1 Jon Rahm Win
2 Gary Woodland T24
3 Kevin Na T42
4 Cameron Tringale T33
5 Abraham Ancer A42
6 Matt Jones T59
7 Chris Kirk MC
8 Brendon Todd T64
9 Aaron Rai T24
10 Mark Hubbard T51
11 Charles Howell III T33
12 Russell Knox MC
13 Tony Finau T2
14 Cameron Champ T6
15 Carlos Ortiz T51
Wild Card Patrick Reed
Golfer (Bet) Result
Tyler Duncan (+333 for a Top 20) MC
Emiliano Grillo (+400 for a Top 20) T33
Patrick Flavin (+700 for a Top 20) MC
Chase Seiffert (+400 for a Top 20) MC
Aaron Wise (+100 for a Top 20) T6
Bet: Brian Stuard (+290 for a Top 30)
BIRTHDAYS AMONG ACTIVE MEMBERS OF THE PGA TOUR
May 3 … Brooks Koepka (32); Max McGreevy (27)
May 4 … Rory McIlroy (33)
May 5 … Cameron Percy (48)
May 6 … none
May 7 … Cameron Young (25)
May 8 … Andres Romero (41); Chris Kirk (37)
May 9 … none