Expert picks: Wells Fargo Championship


This week the PGA Tour heads to Charlotte for the Wells Fargo Championship, where an elite field will tackle one of the toughest courses on Tour - Quail Hollow Club. Each week a panel of experts will offer up their picks from four groups of players based on Golf Channel's new fantasy game, Fantasy Challenge. We will also keep track of their scores and standings. The panel consists of: senior writers Rex Hoggard, Randall Mell and Jason Sobel; contributors John Hawkins and Win McMurry; editorial director Jay Coffin;'s Rob Bolton; 'Morning Drive' hosts Gary Williams and Erik Kuselias; and Golf Talk Central contributor Ryan Ballengee.

Gary Williams

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: I think his T-40 at Augusta was an aberration, not the start of a trend. Prior to that the 2010 Wells Fargo champion had 12 straight top-11 finishes in starts that counted toward the OWGR and he has a chance this week to regain the top ranking with a strong finish.

Group 2: Johnson Wagner: Not only does Wagner call Charlotte home these days, he also calls Quail Hollow his home course. He's had an unbelievable 2012 so far and although he hasn't played that well at this event in the past, his four top-10 finishes in 12 starts this year suggest he has a lot of good golf in him at his home course this week.

Group 3: Henrik Stenson: After a period where his game seemingly went into the abyss, Stenson has shown signs of life. He has four top-21 finishes in six starts on Tour this year and he would have been better than T-40 in the Masters if not for a final round 81. This former Players champion has shown he can succeed on tough courses.

Group 4: David Duval: Just like the Journey song, don't stop believing in David Duval because I haven't. He has played well at Quail Hollow and his two made cuts in 2012 came in his last two starts. Duval is a major champion and a Players champion so he has shown he can compete on demanding courses.

Erik Kuselias

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: It doesn't matter what the OWGR says, McIlroy is the best player in the world right now and I am not holding his T-40 finish at Augusta against him. Before that aberration, McIlroy had 12 consecutive top-11 finishes in events that count toward the OWGR, and I think he is motivated by losing his No. 1 ranking to Luke Donald.

Group 2: Retief Goosen: Goosen got off to a strong start in 2012 with a pair of top-3 finishes in his native South Africa and although he has cooled off a bit recently, he has shown he can play well at Quail Hollow. Goosen finished T-10 here in 2006 and T-11 in his last appearance here in 2009. Don't bet against this guy.

Group 3: Pat Perez: Perez started 67-65 in this event last year before weekend rounds of 70-75 dropped him to a T-6 finish. That, along with a T-12 finish here in 2008, shows he can play well on this Charlotte course. He has five top-25 finishes in 10 starts on Tour this year, including a T-12 showing in Houston.

Group 4: Billy Mayfair: Mayfair has quietly put together a couple strong finishes in 2012 with a T-12 finish at the Mayakoba Golf Classic and a T-4 finish at the RBC Heritage. He has a pair of tenth place finishes here in 2005 and 2007 while in 2010, he held a two-stroke lead after 54 holes before a Sunday 76 dropped him to T-14. I think he is a sneaky strong Group Four pick.

Win McMurry

Group 1: Phil Mickelson: When you look at the illustrious list of names this tournament boasts as champions, Mickelson is one key name that is missing. He's been close, though, with six top-10s in eight starts. Lefty loves this place.

Group 2: Cameron Tringale: You're probably sick of me touting Tringale for three weeks in a row now, but why wouldn't I? He keeps delivering top-10 finishes. Last week's T-7 was his third in a row and fourth overall this year. He survived the cut on this difficult course in 2011, and I think he's going to break through soon.

Group 3: Bobby Gates: While this event sees names you typically know well rise to the top, Gates managed to tie for sixth last year. Add to that a finish just inside the top 25 last week and you have a solid selection for Group Three.

Group 4: J.J. Henry: For a pick in Group Four, Henry should have no issue making money this week. He finished T-33 in Charlotte last year and T-52 last week. One of the best past performance/current success combos in the final category of players.

Ryan Ballengee

Group 1: Phil Mickelson: He has already won this year. in eight Quail Hollow starts, he has six top-10 finishes.

Group 2: Kevin Na: Had been on fire before withdrawing in San Antonio. He was fifth here a year ago.

Group 3: Pat Perez: Perez was excellent through 54 holes here a year ago before a Sunday 75. He has been very consistent to start the year.

Group 4: David Mathis: Riding a hot hand here, as Mathis has gone T-18 and T-10 in his last two starts.

Randall Mell

Group 1: Phil Mickelson: Lefty shows he's still the hottest lefty in the game by winning Wells Fargo. He has finished in the top 10 the last three times he has played Quail Hollow.

Group 2: Jonathan Byrd: This is his part of the country, and he looks comfortable at Quail Hollow. Finished 2nd there last year and T-5 three years ago.

Group 3: Ken Duke: The man keeps dancing into contention...

Group 4: Jason Bohn: That third-place finish at Quail Hollow four years ago is still in the memory bank.

Rex Hoggard

Group 1: Phil Mickelson: In eight starts at Quail Hollow, Lefty has a place (runner-up in 2010), a show (T-3 in 2007) and six top 10s. The only thing missing is a 'W' and after the way he performed at Augusta, it's difficult to imagine that breakthrough is far off.

Group 2: Jonathan Byrd: Last year's runner-up was solid from the first tee in 2011, opening with a 66 and holding the third-round lead before Lucas Glover forced extra holes. The Carolina native plays his best golf in the south.

Group 3: Pat Perez: Tour's preeminent bad boy was nearly perfect through three rounds at Quail Hollow last year before unraveling with a closing 75. He's off to the most consistent start of his career (just two missed cuts in ten starts).

Group 4: Vaughn Taylor: Veteran has pieced together a solid spring and he has played well in Charlotte in the past (top-10 finishes in 2005 and '06).

Rob Bolton

Group 1: Rory McIlroy: Despite a tie for 40th in his last start (Masters), he's been the most consistently strong golfer over the last six months. Plus, he's won at Quail Hollow and owns the course record.

Group 2: Kevin Na: Not worried about his withdrawal in San Antonio, where he's more of a punch line than a fighter. He had posted three consecutive top-15 finishes entering that week and he finished fifth at last year's Wells Fargo.

Group 3: Chris Stroud: Rolls into Charlotte having cashed in his last six starts, a stretch that includes five top-25s. Also love how he matches up with Quail Hollow. His short game is sublime, and that will matter considerably this week.

Group 4: Mark Anderson: Leaning on his eight consecutive cuts made, which is a valuable resource in this group. The PGA Tour rookie plays an aggressive game that he backs up with above-average putting.

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