2017 PGA Championship Preview: Quail Hollow Best Bets - Long Shots (8/7/17)
The last major of the year, the PGA Championship, heads to Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina this week. PGA Tour players will not be strangers to Quail Hollow and its demands as they play an annual event there, the Wells Fargo Championship.
Quail Hollow is long, tight, and will require a great week of driving the golf ball. There are a number of longer par 4s that play over 450 yards, including a few that could be set up to play over 500 yards. Thus, approach shots, especially with longer irons, will be an important factor this week. You'll want the bombers off the tee who can knock it in tight. One would not expect the greens to play particularly difficult considering the length of the course and the flatter putting surfaces.
I'll be doing a three-part series, instead of one longer article, on who to play and avoid this week at Quail Hollow. There will be a simple approach to finding the best options: the demand of the course, the correlating aspect to each player's game, and recent success, or lack thereof. Today, we'll focus on long shots that match up with the course who have a chance to win.
Long shots, for the sake of this study, will be those who have current odds above 50 to 1. Odds will be courtesy of Bovada.
Gary Woodland comes into the PGA Championship at 100 to 1. The aspect of Woodland's game that matches up with Quail Hollow is his length off the tee, averaging just under 307 yards from the tee box, and his longer iron approach shots. Woodland averages just 25'4” from the hole on shots between 150 and 175 yards, a frequent distance he'll face this week. His proximity on shots 150-175 and 175-200 yards ranks 21st and 28th on tour this season, respectively. The downside to Woodland is his lack of ability on and around the greens. He ranks 124th in scrambling, despite being a solid bunker player, and 182nd in strokes gained putting. Luckily, Quail Hollow's greens won't play overly difficult; thus, if Woodland can keep it together around the hole this week, he has better than 100 to 1 odds to win. Woodland has finished around the middle of the pack over his last few months outside of a solo-fourth finish two weeks ago at the RBC Canadian Open. At 100 to 1 odds, Woodland's longer club play is worth the chance he makes a few putts this week.
Speaking of guys who can't roll the ball, Luke List is the prime example. He gains 0.625 shots off the tee (ranking 14th overall), 0.429 on approach shots (37th), and 1.155 tee-to-green (15th). What about putting? List loses 0.369 shots to the field each round, ranking 173rd on tour. Again, Quail Hollow won't be too punishing on the greens, so if he can hold it together, he has a chance with his 15th ranked tee-to-green play. Not to mention, List can bomb it off the tee. He averages 311.6 yards with his driver which ranks 3rd on the PGA Tour. Another reason Luke List is 350 to 1, outside of lack of putting ability, is he doesn't hit many fairways at 55.0%. List will certainly need a fortunate run of fairways and knocking down some putts, but the odds are too high not to take a small shot when considering his longer club/iron play. List ranks first on the PGA Tour when going for par-5s in two by hitting 35.8% of his attempts. List likely isn't winning this week, but he's too long off the tee to pass up completely.
Finau is my favorite long shot at Quail Hollow at 80 to 1. Finau ranks 4th in strokes gained from the tee box, 30th in approach shots, and 6th overall in tee-to-green. The downfall with Finau, like many longer hitters, is putting. At -0.160 strokes gained per round, he ranks 143rd overall. Nonetheless, that's certainly a large upgrade from Woodland and List on the greens. With longer shots, comes more scrambling and Finau ranks 46th on tour at 61.2% scrambling rate. In fact, Finau ranks 12th on the PGA Tour this season in strokes gained total. He's a much better player than he's gotten credit for or respect for in the betting market this week. Also, Finau has played great as of late, finishing better than 30th in eight of his last nine events including three top-10s. Take a shot on Finau to win and in your DFS lineups. There's better than 80 to 1 odds he competes towards the top on the weekend.
Previously, we looked at the Favorites.