- 2018 – Jason Day (-12)
- 2017 – Justin Thomas (-8, PGA Championship @ Quail Hollow)
- 2016 – James Hahn (-9)
- 2015 – Rory McIlroy (-21)
- 2014 – J.B. Holmes (-14)
- 2013 – Derek Ernst (-8)
The golf course underwent another slight redesign after the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship, and the two winners since then are considered some of the best drivers on the PGA Tour. Though the golf course itself was only lengthened 100 yards on the scorecard, the redesign over the first 5 holes and the reduction from a Par 72 to a Par 71 has made Quail Hollow a more difficult and longer golf course than in previous events.
Even without these changes, Quail Hollow has typically favored longer hitters off the tee. Rory McIlroy is a two time winner and has posted a career 2.92 Strokes Gained on the golf course. Other horses-for-courses at Quail Hollow in the field this week include Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler and Tony Finau. All of them have gained over 1.5 strokes on the field in their career at Quail Hollow and are all elite and long ball-strikers tee-to-green. PGA Championships normally turn into driving exhibitions, so it’s no wonder not only was Quail Hollow selected to host a PGA Championship but it’s leaderboard often resembles one by the end of the tournament.
Picking a winner this week is a difficult task, as while a top heavy field narrows down the list of credible winners, one can make the case for any one of the favorites under 50/1. While several favorites may not be playing well heading into this week, their strong course history at Quail Hollow makes it difficult to rule them out.
Here’s who I like this week (with odds courtesy of mybookie.ag):
Tony Finau – 20/1: The top four favorites in Rory, Jason Day, Rickie and Rose are all strong possibilities. But with all at odds 12/1 or less the value isn’t very good on any of them. Instead, the first golfer that piques my interest to lay a futures bet on is Tony Finau. Finau is still searching for his first breakthrough victory, as his only win on the PGA Tour came in an opposite field event in Puerto Rico. While the moment may have been a little too big for Finau in the final group at The Masters, Finau is a great fit at Quail Hollow with how well he drives the ball and how good of a ball-striker he is with his irons. Maybe this is finally the week for Finau to notch a big time win on the eve of the PGA Championship.
Hideki Matsuyama – 22/1: Matsuyama has some demons he needs to shake off at Quail Hollow. He was leading the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow at the turn of the Final Round, but a back nine 38 snuffed out his first real shot at capturing a major title. If he can clear his head, then there’s no reason why he can’t get some redemption given how well his ball-striking has been of late. Since Torrey Pines, Matsuyama has averaged 2.17 Strokes Gained – Tee-to-Green, and his lowest tournament average was a whopping 1.47 that he registered at the WGC-Mexico Championship. In order to win, he’ll have to putt much better than he has. However, some of his best putting performances have come on fast bermuda surfaces, with is exactly what he’ll face this week. Matsuyama is looking for his first win since 2017, and at a golf course he has past success at he’s worth laying some capital at 22/1.
Gary Woodland – 33/1: Like Matsuyama, what’s holding Woodland back is his putter in 2019. But also like Matsuyama, Woodland has putted well on fast bermuda surfaces and should feel comfortable on the greens at Quail Hollow this week. If that’s the case, then Woodland could be in line for a much needed victory after several close calls over the last 12 months. Woodland has averaged over 1.5 Strokes Gained Tee-to-Green since Torrey Pines and fits the mold of a golfer who should contend for the win at Quail Hollow.
Tournament Props and Matchups
Paul Casey Top 10 – +225: Casey has two very high profile bombs on his resume when he ejected himself quickly from The Players Championship and The Masters with dreadful first rounds. Taking these performances out, however, and Casey has performed tremendously in 2019. Excluding these two events he’s averaged over two strokes gained tee-to-green since Torrey Pines. We’ve also seen evidence he can shake off a poor performance when he followed up his missed cut at TPC Sawgrass with a victory at the Valspar the following week. While I don’t think he’ll win the event, I like him to appear on the first page of the leaderboard by the end of the weekend at a golf course he has a good history at.
Jason Kokrak -125 over Henrik Stenson: The case was made for Jason Kokrak in this week’s DFS column. As for Stenson, fading him hurts a lot considering he’s personally one of my favorite golfers in the world. But between poor form and poor course history, I don’t see Stenson fairing well in the bombers paradise at Quail Hollow this weekend. While his iron play has been pretty good in 2019, he’s costing himself a lot of strokes to the field off the tee. Quail Hollow is the wrong golf course to lose ground to the field off the tee, and that may ultimately cause the demise of Henrik.
Byeong Hun An -130 over Aaron Wise: The case was made for An in this week’s DFS column. As for Wise, he’s struggled badly in 2019. While he peformed well at The Masters and his performance off the tee is the strength of his game, I need to see more evidence that he’s ready to turn it around before I stop fading him against superior opponents in matchup props. On the year he’s 96th in Strokes Gained – Tee-to-Green and an abysmal 175th in Strokes Gained- Approach, so even if he has a good week off the tee his iron play is so poor it should cost him a good performance. While I think he’ll make the weekend, An should still best him one-on-one.
Sung Kang +1.5 Strokes over Chesson Hadley (-135): Sung Kang hasn’t missed a cut since the Waste Management Phoenix Open and is on the upswing with his form. Meanwhile, Chesson Hadley has missed the cut three of his last four tournaments and has struggled both off the tee and with his irons over that stretch. Kang performs much better off the tee than Hadley and is a stronger player than Hadley on longer approach shots. I consider Kang a superior player than Hadley in this tournament, and getting 1.5 strokes in this matchup is just the cherry on top.