The Wells Fargo Championship set to highlight this week may not be presented as a major golf championship, but it'll certainly have the feel of one of the biggest events of the year . Stars the likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm will be in action at an individual event (Rahm played in the team event at the Zurich Classic) for the first time since the Masters, and Quail Hollow almost always produces great leaderboards. Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, McIlroy and somebody named Tiger Woods have all won this tournament over the last decade, and with the strength of field this tournament is getting this time around, I expect another star or superstar will emerge before the weekend is over.
Let's take a closer look at this week's contest with odds provided via William Hill Sportsbook.
Event: Wells Fargo Championship | Date: May 6-9
Location: Quail Hollow Club -- Charlotte, North Carolina
Three things to know
1. Homa defense: I wrote about Homa at-length on Monday as he comes back to a tournament as the defending champion for the first time in his career. He comes back a different player, too. Gone are the days when Homa was just a middle-of-the-road guy on the PGA Tour. He's now inside the top 40 in the Official World Golf Rankings and a plus in every strokes-gained category over the last four months. If he can somehow repeat what he did in 2019 at Quail Hollow, he'll suddenly be smack dab in the middle of conversations for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.
2. Rory's test: Since Jan. 1, there are 19 golfers who have better strokes-gained numbers than McIlroy. Since Feb. 1, that number increases to 31. Since March 1, it's 51. This is not a good trend for somebody who is going to go back to Kiawah later this month as the champion of the last PGA that was played there. The good news for him is that nobody in history has been better at Quail Hollow than McIlroy. He's the all-time strokes-gained leader here, and with several weeks off after his missed cut at the Masters, there's a pretty good chance we see a different version of McIlroy than the one who dropped to No. 15 in the world for the first time in over a decade.
3. J.T.: Justin Thomas is terrifying this week. Here's why: Since March 1, he's gaining nearly 3.5 strokes on the field per round from tee to green and losing at least a half per round with his putter. Last week, he could have putted with his sand wedge and still finished exactly where he did (in the top 20) at the Valspar Championship. He has a history at this course, and he is absolutely flushing the ball as well as he has in any stretch of his career.
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Grading the field
This is the first great post-Masters field and really the only one between the first two majors of 2021. Jon Rahm, Bryson DeChambeau, Tony Finau and Webb Simpson join McIlroy and Thomas in an absolutely loaded group ready to take on a major championship-type golf course with Kiawah and the PGA Championship just a few weeks away. Following a bit of a lull in the PGA Tour's schedule, this represents a return to the big-time fields we'd all gotten used to leading into the Masters at Augusta National. Grade: A
Wells Fargo Championship picks
|Winner (20-1): Quail Hollow rewards length, and Hovland is among the longest players in the field. After a bit of a dip around the Masters, he returned to his early-in-the-year form with a T3 last week at the Valspar Championship. If you're worried about his recent downturn in approach play, don't be. He was a plus every round last week in a solid field. The short game has improved a lot, and it's time for him to win a big-boy event on the PGA Tour.|
|Top 10 (+110): Maybe this one is too straightforward, but for all the reasons I laid out above, J.T. is a very obvious choice to thrive at the only track where he's won a major championship. If he putts at all, he should win for the second time in as many months.|
|Sleeper (50-1): Day has won here before and has low-key been hitting it really well. He's fifth in this field from tee to green since March 1 and has been especially good off the tee (which is vital here). William Hill is offering a nice little odds boost. to get him to 50-1, which is a great number considering his form, his history at Quail Hollow and his win equity among the top players.|