2023 Wells Fargo Championship Predictions: Winners, Sleepers, Busts, and Holes to Watch at Quail Hollow
After a year away from its traditional home due to the Presidents Cup, the Wells Fargo Championship returns to Quail Hollow Club for the 2023 edition. It’s also a bit of an amped-up edition as the PGA Tour bumped it up to Designated status this season, although a few top players are taking their lone exemption this week, most notably Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler.
But despite the absence of the top two players in the world, the Wells Fargo Championship still boasts a strong field headlined by world No. 3 Rory McIlroy, who’s won this event three times and holds the tournament’s all-time scoring record. So, naturally, he’s the betting favorite this week.
But McIlroy will undoubtedly have plenty of competition at Quail Hollow Club as only 10 of the eligible top 50 in the world rankings aren’t in the field.
Defending champion Max Homa is looking to become the first player to ever win the Wells Fargo two years in a row, and while he won last year’s title at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm, he certainly knows his way around Quail Hollow. Not only did he win the Wells Fargo here in 2019, but he also went 4-0 in the Presidents Cup last fall.
2023 Wells Fargo Championship predictions
Here are a few predictions for the 2023 edition of the Wells Fargo Championship from Sportscasting golf experts Luke Norris and Jack Dougherty.
Luke Norris: Viktor Hovland
At some point, Viktor Hovland has to win one of these high-profile tournaments, right? I mean, seriously, the guy is just too good of a player to keep coming up short.
Hovland has finished in the top 10 in three of his last four stroke-play events, and in his lone start at the Wells Fargo two years ago, he shot 69-72-68-67 at Quail Hollow to tie for third. So he certainly has fond memories to look back on.
In addition, the Norweigan has gained strokes off the tee in every start he’s made in 2023 and has gained strokes with his irons all but once. His play around the greens still needs to improve a touch, but he’s certainly improved in that aspect from last season when he ranked 191st in strokes gained around the greens.
Viktor Hovland is primed for that true breakthrough win. It might as well be this week.
Jack Dougherty: Rory McIlroy
This has to be the week for Rory McIlroy, right?
The Northern Irishman absolutely destroys Quail Hollow. In 11 career starts on this track, McIlroy has won three times and has finished outside the top 10 just three times. He ranks No. 1 in the field in true strokes gained at Quail Hollow dating back to 2016, and his two biggest threats, Jon Rahm and Scottie Scheffler, are both taking the week off.
Rory’s had a month off to get over his Masters no-show, and I think he returns with a bang.
Luke Norris: Keith Mitchell
Remember how I said that Viktor Hovland tied for third at the Wells Fargo two years ago? Well, the man with whom he tied was Keith Mitchell. And just two years earlier at Quail Hollow, Mitchell finished eighth.
So that’s two top-10s in three career appearances at this tournament. Yeah, I’ll take that at 70-1.
Jack Dougherty: Luke List
Golf bettors are staying far away from Luke List this season, and I understand why. The 38-year-old has missed nine cuts in 18 starts this season, including five in his last seven tries. He hasn’t recorded a single top-10 finish all year.
Well, I think his first is coming this week.
In his last three starts at the Wells Fargo Championship, List has notched a T6 and a T9. His strength off the tee fits Quail Hollow perfectly, so as long as his putter cooperates for a few days in a row, he should be able to surprise some people as a 250-1 longshot.
Most likely bust
Luke Norris: Xander Schauffele
There’s no specific reason for me not to like Xander Schauffele this week. In his last start at the Wells Fargo two years ago, he tied for 14th. And in last year’s Presidents Cup, he went 3-1 at Quail Hollow. In addition, he’s finished in the top 10 in his last three starts.
But for some reason, I just don’t see the world’s fifth-ranked player being in contention this week. And given my recent string of luck in this department, that likely means Schauffele will win the tournament.
Jack Dougherty: Tony Finau
Tony Finau is coming off a win at the Mexico Open at Vidanta, which gives him four victories in his last 18 starts. The only player with four wins over that same span? Jon Rahm.
And yet, I’m fading one of the hottest players on the planet this week.
In his last five starts at Quail Hollow, Finau hasn’t recorded a single top-20 finish. He missed the cut here in 2021 and finished 60th in 2019. On paper, Finau’s game should fit this golf course well, but he’s struggled around this place his whole career. I’m betting on that to continue this week.
Luke Norris: No. 17
The 17th at Quail Hollow is one of my favorite par-3s on the PGA Tour. While not the longest on tour, it’s certainly not short either, as it can play close to 230 yards at its longest.
To start, you’ve got an all-water carry to the putting surface — well, minus the bunker protecting the front of the green anyway. That same water stretches all the way around the hole on the left side, meaning anything in that direction is getting wet. And if you miss to the right, you’ve got a tight lie waiting for you in the collection area.
As for the putting surface itself, it’s a good size at 6,500 square feet and features plenty of undulation. With the number of hole locations available at this fantastic penultimate hole, the amount of bogeys (or worse) could easily outnumber the amount of birdies.
Jack Dougherty: No. 18
One of the best finishing holes on the PGA Tour, the par-5 18th at Quail Hollow is the perfect challenge for a player trying to close out a win with a one-shot lead. It plays long at nearly 500 yards, and the dead uphill approach shot makes it play even longer.
Trouble also looms down the left side, with a creek blanketing the entire hole. Four pars on 18 throughout the week would be a major win for these guys.