Our expert has two alternatives to the hot favorite Rory McIlroy and is looking to maintain his hot run in match-up wins.
Marc Leishman each way in the outright at +4000 with Caesars Sportsbook
Russell Henley to win at +3300 and top 10 at +350 with bet365
Sergio Garcia over Troy Merritt at -120 with DraftKings
At first glance this week looks all set for Rory McIlroy to add win number 21 to his PGA Tour account.
The last time we saw him on the golf course? He was holing out from a bunker on the 18th green at Augusta National to complete a stunning 8-under-par 64 that set the clubhouse target in the Masters.
He was ecstatic at the moment of brilliance and floated to the scorer’s hut on cloud nine.
It’s nearly a month since that last action, but McIlroy is famous for riding waves and ordinarily, he would be delighted to be getting himself ready for this month’s PGA Championship with a return to the Wells Fargo Championship.
Why so? Well, he’s got a frankly brilliant record at the tournament’s usual home, the Quail Hollow Club in North Carolina.
The Northern Irishman has played the course 10 times in this event, missed just the one cut and finished in the top 20 every other time with three wins and a playoff defeat
But here’s the bad news: The tournament isn’t being played at Quail Hollow this week because it hosts the Presidents Cup later this season. Instead, it heads to TPC Potomac in Maryland.
It is not a course that is unknown to the PGA Tour, hosting the old Booz Allen Classic until 2006 and then two editions of the Quicken Loans National in 2017 and 2018.
Quality strikers of the ball tended to flourish here, but they did also tend to be of the tidy variety rather than those who overpower a course like McIlroy.
His success is also often determined by how often he can get driver in his hands and this week it might not happen as often as he ideally likes.
The popular Aussie Marc Leishman has good memories of playing at TPC Potomac.
Back in 2017 he finished tied fifth when he opened his account with a 66 and then closed it with the same score.
A year later he returned and spent all week in the top 10 before finishing tied 13th.
He’s had a rock-solid 2021/22 season so far, missing just one strokeplay cut, but the win has proved elusive.
However, a tight par-70 with bent grass greens, as this course is, is right up his street.
He has been a winner in sich circumstances, at TPC River Highlands, and he was also tied third there last year.
“It’s great, I love it,” he said of the course five years ago. “It’s just a really good golf course.”
Take him each way in the outright at +4000 with Caesars Sportsbook, a good price and paying out eight places.
We mentioned earlier that winners at TPC Potomac were good ball-strikers and the stats prove it.
The winner in 2017, Kyle Stanley, ranked fourth in Strokes Gained Approach and seventh for Tee to Green. The man who succeeded him, Francesco Molinari, ranked first in both categories.
That all bodes well for Russell Henley who tops the Approach stats this season and ranks sixth for Tee to Green (he’s third in this week’s field).
He’s played the course once before and, while he only finished tied 46th, he did start and begin his week with rounds of 67.
Since the end of 2020, he has shared one 54-hole lead and had three solo advantages but he is yet to record a fourth PGA Tour win.
In the most recent example, he lost a playoff in this year’s Sony Open.
“It stings,” he said of the latest near-miss. “I played some great golf and I was in it the entire time mentally. I didn’t have too many mental lapses like I have in other tournaments when I’ve been close.
“I feel like I was there. Just got to keep chugging.”
He can chug again this week.
Take him to win at +3300 with a backup to make the top 10 at +350, both with bet365.
Sergio Garcia always likes a course that favors ball-strikers and, while he is a fine driver of the ball, he is also not hindered if he has to scale down to 3-wood or long irons from the tee.
That makes him a strong prospect this week and the best play is in his unlikely match-up at DraftKings with Troy Merrit.
Pretty much whichever way you look at this one you wonder why they’ve been paired.
Throughout their careers Garcia leads the head-to-head count by 51 to 17.
Since the start of 2020, he leads 18-6.
And in the last 10 events they have both played he is 9-1 clear.
That alone would be worth careful consideration, but there’s more.
On course such as this one (par-70s on bent grass) Garcia leads 8-2.
And even if you look at their form this year it favors the Spaniard: Garcia has made seven top 40s in eight starts (the only failure was in the Zurich Classic pairs event) and Merritt has four top 40s in 10 starts.
Take Garcia to maintain the dominance at -120 with DraftKings as we chase an eighth consecutive match-bet win.
|Tournament||Wells Fargo Championship|
|Location||TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, Maryland|
|Time||Thursday May 5 – Sunday May 8|
|How to watch||Thursday & Friday 2pm-6pm ET (Golf Channel), Saturday & Sunday 1pm-3pm ET (Golf Channel) then 3pm-6pm ET (CBS). And all four days on Sky Sports.|
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Matt Cooper has been a sports journalist since 2009 with his work appearing at ESPN, Sky Sports, NBC, Sporting Life and the Planet Sport Network among many others, in addition to guest appearances on the BBC and CNN. Although a specialist in golf, who has traveled the world to cover the sport, Matt has also covered rugby, cricket, football and the Olympics. Email: [email protected]More info on Matt Cooper
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