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BlogWho will win at Charlotte on Sunday?

Wells Fargo Championship

May 1 – 4, 2014

Quail Hollow Club

Charlotte,, N.C.

Par: 72 / Yardage: 7,562

Purse: $6.9 million

with $1,242,000 to the winner

Defending Champion:
Derek Ernst

by Sal Johnson

Founder, Chief Data Officer, GOLFstats

E-mail me at:
sal@golfstats.com

Things you need to know before Sunday’s final round:

Finally could we have a great Sunday?

After a dog of an event last week in which we had our umpteen “faceless” champion we could have a great Sunday in store.  J.B. Holmes leads, now many will say “Sal, come on J.B. Holmes and Martin Flores are one-two with Kevin Kisner third and Jason Bohn T4th.  But also in the mix is Phil Mickelson, who shot 63 on Saturday, Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer.  Also in the mix somewhat is Rory McIlroy, who shot 65 on Saturday and goes into the final round seven back but if we put on our history cap we can remember back to the 2010 Wells Fargo, McIlroy went into the final round 4 back, shot a final round 62 and walked away with a four shot win so we can see that anything is possible on Sunday.

What makes J.B. Holmes such an compiling story on Sunday?

First of all Holmes doesn’t have history on his side as in the previous 11 years of this championship only three third round leaders have won, in 2003 with David Toms, 2006 with Jim Furyk and way back in 2008 with Anthony Kim.  Now their are many reasons for this, but the main one is the greatest of Quail Hollow which is one of these really tough courses that can produce low scores.  When we think that Saturday’s scoring average was 71.137 the cumulative scoring average is 72.540 and we had low scores of 63 by Mickelson, 65 by McIlroy and 66s by leader J.B. Holmes along with Mark Wilson and Pat Perez.  What really makes Sunday compiling is the J.B. Holmes story in which he has had his fair share of injuries over the course of the last three years.  Last year on the Saturday of the Wells Fargo, Holmes was picking ponies at the Kentucky Derby because of a broken ankle he got in March of 2013 in a rollerblading accident.  Now it’s the first Wells Fargo had missed since his rookie year in 2006 and we haven’t even gone into the fact that he had to undergo brain Surgery in August of 2011 to repair Chiari Malformations.  Gosh I don’t know of any other player that has had brain surgery and won on the PGA Tour.

So what does all of this mean, will J.B. Holmes win on Sunday?

Probably not, I am a big opponent of history that shows we haven’t had a third round leader win since 2008 but on the other side of the fence it may be long overdo to finally have a third round leader win.  In looking at the history of other events that has this streak their is only one other event is tied with the Wells Fargo and that is the Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial who hasn’t seen a third round leader win since 2008 with Phil Mickelson.  Another thing that worries me a bit about J.B. Holmes, yes his two victories in Phoenix were because he was a leader going into the final round, but the third time wasn’t the charm for him as had a one shot lead going into the final round of the 2010 Valero Texas Open and shot 76 and finishing T13th.  That memory and the fact that he hasn’t been in contention going into the final round since the 2012 Greenbrier Classic sends some warning bells.  But at the end of the day Holmes is leading the driving distance stat this week and second in strokes gained putting which makes me think that Holmes has a better than 50-50 chance of winning on Sunday.

So if not Holmes, who else?

Of course many will point to Phil Mickelson who shot 63 on Saturday but if you subtract the field average of 71.137 his true under par value was 8.137 under par while Angel Cabrera’s first round 66 with a first round average of 73.385 makes his round almost as good.  At the end of the day the fact remains can Mickelson keep the good karma going and shot 67 or 68 which it will take for him to win?  One thing riding in Mickelson’s favor is the fact that in ten starts at the Wells Fargo he has seven top-ten finishes but some warning signs could be last year when he finished 3rd with a final round 73.  If I was to place odds on Mickelson winning it would be in the 50-50 range.  One thing to remember about Mickelson’s day on Saturday, after shooting 29 on the front nine he slowed down on the back making just two birdies and no bogeys in what could of potentially been a round in the 50s.  At the same time one thing to remember was his great par save on 18 after driving into a fairway bunker and still finding a way to make par which should carry the momentum into the final round.

So if not for Holmes or Mickelson, who else?

I like Justin Rose who is just four back or even McIlroy at 7 back.  Funny in looking at Rose’s record in this event there is nothing there.  But he hasn’t played since 2011 and is a much different player now so look out he could bust out with a 66 or a 65.  As for Martin Flores (a shot back), Kevin Kisner (3 shots back), Jason Bohn (4 shots back) I will be as diplomatic as possible in saying not a shot in the world but in saying those words have to remember that this is the season of the “faceless” winners and I also thought the same about Seung-Yul Noh going into the final round of the Zurich last week, or Matt Jones going into the final round of the Shell Houston Open or Steven Bowditch going into the final round of the Valero Texas Open.  I can probably name a dozen more winners in 2014 but I really don’t want to bore you other than to say “on the PGA Tour, anything is possible.”

Below is a list of the top-27 players on the leader board going to five under which is 8  shots back of J.B. Holmes

Of the top-27 on the leaderboard, who is playing the best: for the Wells Fargo Championship

Player Zurich Classic Volvo China RBC Heritage Maybank Malaysian Masters Shell Houston Valero Texas Arnold Palmer Valspar Champ. WGC Cadillac Puerto Rico Honda Classic WGC Accenture
Jim Furyk
(188 pts)
DNP DNP T7
(55)
DNP T14
(48)
DNP T6
(40)
DNP T20
(10)
T62
(0)
DNP DNP T5
(35)
Rory McIlroy
(165.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T8
(66.67)
T7
(36.67)
DNP DNP DNP T25
(12.5)
DNP T2
(33.33)
T17
(16.5)
Justin Rose
(135.83 pts)
T8
(50)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(48)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T8
(16.67)
T34
(8)
DNP DNP T17
(16.5)
Robert Streb
(112 pts)
T2
(100)
DNP DNP DNP DNP DNP T72
(0)
DNP DNP DNP T14
(12)
DNP DNP
J.B. Holmes
(106.33 pts)
T11
(39)
DNP T18
(32)
DNP DNP T12
(25.33)
T64
(0)
T10
(13.33)
T54
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Gary Woodland
(84.17 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T26
(32)
DNP DNP T20
(10)
T8
(16.67)
T16
(17)
DNP DNP T33
(8.5)
Martin Flores
(64.33 pts)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T17
(22)
T16
(22.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T19
(10.33)
T12
(12.67)
DNP
Kevin Na
(61.33 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(26)
T14
(12)
2
(33.33)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Zach Johnson
(60.17 pts)
DNP DNP T61
(0)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
DNP T6
(40)
T43
(2.33)
DNP T16
(17)
DNP T33
(5.67)
T33
(8.5)
Pat Perez
(60 pts)
DNP DNP T18
(32)
DNP DNP DNP T11
(26)
T67
(0)
T44
(2)
DNP DNP DNP DNP
Martin Kaymer
(50.83 pts)
DNP DNP T23
(27)
DNP T31
(25.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP DNP DNP T58
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T33
(8.5)
Jonathan Byrd
(48.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T31
(19)
DNP DNP T19
(20.67)
DNP DNP T32
(6)
DNP T12
(12.67)
DNP DNP
Wes Roach
(36 pts)
T62
(0)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP T16
(22.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T4
(26.67)
DNP DNP
Geoff Ogilvy
(35.67 pts)
84
(0)
DNP T27
(23)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T11
(26)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Charles Howell III
(26.33 pts)
T34
(16)
DNP T53
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP T35
(5)
T14
(12)
DNP DNP T55
(0)
DNP
Phil Mickelson
(22.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T12
(25.33)
WD
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T16
(17)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Brendon De Jonge
(22 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP T37
(17.33)
T37
(8.67)
T36
(9.33)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T54
(0)
DNP T63
(0)
DNP
Michael Thompson
(19.33 pts)
T67
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T61
(0)
T16
(22.67)
DNP T58
(0)
DNP T54
(0)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Kevin Kisner
(18.33 pts)
T34
(16)
DNP T38
(12)
DNP DNP 68
(0)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP T49
(0.33)
DNP DNP
Ernie Els
(11.33 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP T64
(0)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T43
(4.67)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T52
(0)
DNP DNP 4
(40)

How Player Rankings are Computed

Of the top-27 on the leaderboard, who isn’t playing well: for the Wells Fargo Championship

Player Zurich Classic Volvo China RBC Heritage Maybank Malaysian Masters Shell Houston Valero Texas Arnold Palmer Valspar Champ. WGC Cadillac Puerto Rico Honda Classic WGC Accenture
Roberto Castro
(-40 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-13.33)
76
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T58
(0)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Mark Wilson
(-28.67 pts)
CUT
(-10)
DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T46
(1.33)
DNP
Jason Bohn
(-20 pts)
DNP DNP CUT
(-10)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-6.67)
T56
(0)
T65
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Angel Cabrera
(-18.67 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T43
(4.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Derek Ernst
(-5 pts)
T34
(16)
DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
CUT
(-6.67)
DNP CUT
(-3.33)
CUT
(-3.33)
DNP DNP T33
(5.67)
DNP
John Merrick
(5 pts)
T62
(0)
DNP DNP DNP DNP T54
(0)
T79
(0)
T43
(2.33)
T32
(6)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
DNP
Webb Simpson
(7.33 pts)
DNP DNP DNP DNP CUT
(-13.33)
T61
(0)
DNP DNP CUT
(-3.33)
T47
(1.5)
DNP DNP T9
(22.5)

How Player Rankings are Computed

In Conclusion:

I see a marquee winner and don’t see a first time winner this week.  Holmes has the power but the question will be if he has the nerves.  I can see him stroll to victory like he did in his two Phoenix wins  At the same time I can see nerves getting the best of him and that is one of the wonders of Quail Hollow, anything from 63 to 75 is possible on Sunday.  Martin Flores does very little for me and if you look at his record in events in which he has been close it’s rarefied air that he is breathing on Sunday.  The same with Kevin Kisner and Jason Bohn, I think that they will be playing defenseless rounds in order of picking up a fat check in the top-five.

As for Mickelson, again the big question will be what will the flavor of the day be for Phil on Sunday.  If he can get off to a great start like he did on Saturday he will win, but if he presses early it may be a problem.  The two quiet players back in the pack could be Justin Rose and Martin Kaymer.  Both can surprise the field by shooting 65 and 66 which would steal the tournament.  The same with Rory McIlroy, I can see him shooting another low number, maybe not a 62 like he did in 2010 but a 63 or a 64.  Also I would watch Jonathan Byrd and Geoff Ogilvy who are at 7 under, they have the fire power to shot 64 or 65 and steal this.  Remember the 2006 U.S. Open won by Ogilvy, he pretty much backed into the tournament by being in the right place at the right time.

Who to watch for on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Championship

Best Bets:

Phil Mickelson

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
3 T26 T9 2 T5 T12 T3 T35 T7 T5

Has a great record in this event, it’s time for him to win this thing.

Justin Rose

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T28 CUT CUT T47 T44

I just can see him shooting 65 on Sunday and stealing this

J.B. Holmes

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T57 T9 CUT CUT T17 T34 WD

He hits it long which will give him the advantage, knows how to win even though it’s been six years since his last win. I have a feeling Karma could be on his side if he takes the attitude that last year he spent Wells Fargo week losing a lot of money at the Kentucky Derby and how really lucky he is getting over so many physical problems.

Great shots even though they are way behind:

Rory McIlroy

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T10 T2 CUT Win

Has great memories of this place and his first PGA Tour win back in 2010. I think it’s time for him to win again, he knows how to do it and is in perfect position if he gets off to a great start.

Martin Kaymer

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT T62 T11

Shouldn’t forget about him, in 2010 at the PGA was four behind going into the final round, shot 70 and stole the show. He can do the same thing on Sunday, only difference he will have to shot 65 or better to do it

Not a chance in the world:

Martin Flores

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T38 T21 CUT

Has never been in this position before.

Kevin Kisner

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT CUT

Frankly I never really have heard about him before Saturday, is he even on the PGA Tour?

Jason Bohn

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
CUT CUT T33 CUT CUT 3 T52 T31 CUT T32

Does have a track record and probably shouldn’t be grouped together with Flores and Kisner. Sorry just don’t think he has the fire power to make up 4 shots but just a history lesson he shot a final round 66 to win the 2005 B.C. Open and a final round 67 to win the 2010 Zurich Classic so he does have a shot.

Long shots that could come through:

Geoff Ogilvy

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T38 T21 T38 T32 T22 T24 T10 T22 T10

Time for him to break out of this two year funk he has been on. May not have the fire-power for final round 64 but still he can gain some great momentum in what has been a terrible last two years.

Jonathan Byrd

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T80 T9 2 CUT T5 CUT CUT CUT CUT CUT

People tend to forget that he has won five times on the PGA Tour and in every single one of those victories have shot a final round of 68 or lower to win. Only problem is the venues, he has won on courses that aren’t the same as Quail Hollow which could present him a problem on Sunday.

Ernie Els

2013 ’12 ’11 ’10 ’09 ’08 ’07 ’06 ’05 ’04 ’03 ’02
T34 T38

He is seven back and many may not remember but in his last victory at the 2012 British Open he entered the final round six back of Adam Scott and was four back with four holes left so anything is possible.

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