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PGA Tour Stats Review: Entering the Wells Fargo Championship

Jeremy Schilling

Jeremy Schilling

Schilling covers golf for RotoWire, focusing on young and up-and-coming players. He was a finalist for the FSWA's Golf Writer of the Year award. He also contributes to PGA Magazine and hosts the popular podcast "Teeing It Up" on BlogTalkRadio.

The PGA Tour rolls into Charlotte this week for the Wells Fargo Championship. Poor green conditions at the Quail Hollow Club dominated the 2013 edition of this tournament, but they've been redone and are apparently in good shape for this year's event. So who should fantasy owners pick? Here's our stats preview for this week:

History Lesson

The defending champion is Derek Ernst, who might be the flukiest winner in recent PGA Tour history. He charged past Phil Mickelson and ultimately defeated David Lynn in a playoff.

In 2012, Rickie Fowler got his first PGA Tour win in a playoff over Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points, while in 2011 Lucas Glover beat Jonathan Byrd in a playoff. McIlroy won this event in 2010.

Ernst hasn't done anything since the title, and we don't recommend him this week. We do, however, recommend Mickelson, Fowler and McIlroy.

Mickelson is coming off the missed cut at Augusta and should be ready to go this week. He show improved form in his last couple starts, and while his stats aren't flashy - he's in the 50s and higher in most of the key statistical categories (excluding sand saves where he's seventh) - he contended here in both 2010 and 2013.

Fowler has also shown that his swing changes are getting more ingrained, with his tie for fifth at Augusta. He posted this Instagram video of his golf swing looking very strong on Monday and enters ranked a surprising 43rd in driving distance (at 294 yards - that's an improvement of eight yards over last year) and 62nd in ball-striking. Fowler missed the cut last week in New Orleans, however.

McIlroy, meanwhile, had a Masters he'd like to forget but obviously has good memories of Quail Hollow and is sixth in driving distance, 21st in greens in regulation and fourth in scoring average.

Who is Playing

Other notables in the field include Justin Rose, Webb Simpson, Ernie Els, Bill Haas, Lee Westwood and Jimmy Walker.

Besides the obvious picks in Walker (three wins in the 2013-2014 PGA Tour season) and Simpson (the win in Vegas), our recommendation is Haas.

He contended Augusta before falling back to a tie for 20th. He withdrew from the RBC Heritage two weeks ago with a wrist injury, but if he plays he may be someone to watch on a course that puts a premium on hitting the ball in the correct spots. Haas is 19th in greens in regulation and 20th in the all-around ranking.

Sunday Surgers

Rory Sabbatini -
Sabbatini's Sunday 68 moved him up 24 spots on the final leaderboard to a T17 finish. He ranked sixth for the week in strokes gained-putting.

Stuart Appleby -
Appleby, on this list for the second consecutive week, shot a Sunday 69 to move up 18 spots to a T17 finish at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. For the week he was T8 in greens in regulation.

Justin Rose -
A 12 spot jump isn't the biggest Sunday surge, but we include it because we know some Rose fans may use this impetus to pick him this week in Charlotte. His Sunday 68 gave him a T8 finish for a week in which he ranked 28th in putts per green in regulation.

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