Diane Knox Balas: Our Pickswise golf analyst with her Wells Fargo Championship best bets and course insights

Corey Conners tees off on the sixth hole during the third round of the RBC Heritage golf tournament.
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Diane Knox Balas


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Diane Knox Balas loves golf (she’s Scottish, so of course she does) but let’s just say she’s much better at analyzing golf than playing! The same cannot be said for her brother, Russell Knox, who’s a 2-time winner on the PGA Tour and fueled Diane’s initial passion for the sport. A seasoned TV and radio host, Diane has given out 8 outright winners since joining the Pickswise team in April 2022. Her general rule is she has to have three stand-out reasons for each pick and spends her time studying stats, playing form and little nuggets of information from golfers’ lives on Tour. Diane lives in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband Garrett, son Greyson and two English Bulldogs Bowser & Barkley. You can follow her antics on Twitter @KnoxyDiane and Instagram @dianeknoxbalas. For Diane Knox Balas media enquiries, please email contact@pickswise.com.
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We all know about the highs and lows of sports betting, but the margin between the two is often very thin — like one place on the leaderboard thin! I was pulling hard for Martin Trainer on Sunday at the Mexico Open at Vidanta, who I had picked for a Top-10 finish at +2800 in my column last week. After a final round 64, he shot all the way up the leaderboard and was sitting quite comfortably, until Patrick Rodgers birdied the last hole and pushed him back to a share of 11th place. This is a cruel sport at times!

This week on the PGA Tour it’s a familiar tournament in a not-so-familiar setting. The Wells Fargo Championship is traditionally played at Quail Hollow in Charlotte, N.C., but Quail is hosting the Presidents Cup in September (where USA faces the rest of the world in a team format). So the 2022 edition of the Wells Fargo is off to TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Maryland. This course isn’t completely alien to the field; TPC Potomac hosted the Quicken Loans National in 2017 (Kyle Stanley won) and 2018 (Francesco Molinari won) and was home to a couple of Web.com (now the Korn Ferry Tour) events in 2012 and 2013.

We’ll see a pretty good field teeing it up, with defending champion Rory McIlroy making his first start since the Masters. Plus, this week is the last qualifying week for the PGA Championship — so there’s also that added incentive for a large proportion of the players.

TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm course preview: What you need to know

We can look at the Stanley/Molinari winning blueprint to give us some idea of the course demands for this week. In 2017 at the Quicken Loans National, Stanley won in a playoff over Charles Howell III, each with a final score of -7 after 72 holes. 2018 was a very different story, however. Molinari cruised to victory with a total score of 21-under-par, helped by an incredible Sunday round of 62, and an eight-shot winning margin. Both years, the cut was over par and, in 2017, the course yielded the fourth-highest scoring average on the Tour, including the majors.

Unlike last week in Mexico, and the usual Wells Fargo course of Quail Hollow, distance is not all that rewarding (apart from the long Par-5s, which I’ll talk about soon!). Playing at 7,160 yards, the focus will really be on accuracy off the tee and premium iron play into the small greens. If you’re wayward off the fairway, you’re in the thick trees and that’s where you’ll get yourself into a lot of trouble.

There are only two par 5s, and they are both beasts. No. 2 is going to play 641 yards and is a real test of strategy. The par 5s are not easy birdie chances by any means, with a 4.83 scoring average.

It’s a tough scrambling course too, with a lot of small Scottish-style bunkers surrounding the greens. To sum it up, guys have to be accurate off the tee, confident with their long irons to be able to hit their safe-spot on the greens, and not get frustrated with the lack of “easy” birdie chances.

Knox’s Knockout Wells Fargo Championship picks

Corey Conners (+2100) FD Sportsbook

Can you believe this guy has only had one win on Tour?! He’s one of the most well-rounded players we see tee it up, and he’s been playing some excellent golf – a 3rd place finish at the Matchplay not long ago, followed by a T6 at the Masters. Conners seems to play well on the more difficult courses and I love him this week. He’s 6th in strokes gained off the tee and 37th in accuracy, but it’s his long iron play that is always clinical. We just need a solid putting week from the Canadian, but he’s my favorite.

Brian Harman (+6500) DK Sportsbook

A former Wells Fargo Champion (at a different course), Harman’s morale will be boosted when he sees images of his ’17 victory around the venue this week. His driving accuracy percentage of just over 68% puts him at 16th on the Tour this season, combined with 22nd in total putting. The Georgia Bulldog is having a great year with three top-tens, including a 3rd place finish at The American Express, and has gained strokes off-the-tee in five of his last six starts. I feel like he’s been playing some of his best golf this year, and his skillset could really be rewarded around TPC Potomac.

Denny McCarthy (+9000) FD Sportsbook

There’s a running joke between me and some of my golf-betting friends about Denny McCarthy. I pick him often, I like where is game is trending and he’s SUCH a good putter. This week could belong to him, as it’s a demanding course that he knows well. Denny grew up just a few miles from TPC Potomac and, combined with tournament rounds, has played here a lot. He flew in a few days early to get some additional practice under his belt, he’ll be surrounded by familiar faces and gets to stay at his parents’ home close by. Surely Mom’s cooking has to serve as fighting fuel! Denny’s 20th in putting this season, and has a driving accuracy percentage of 65%. His form has dipped from the start of the season, but that means his price is higher for his hometown event.

Wells Fargo Championship Prop Bets

Sung Kang top-5 finish (+3500)

When the PGA Tour appeared at TPC Potomac in ’17 and ’18, Sung Kang had great finishes in both – T5 and solo 3rd. Some course just really suit a player’s eye, and game, and this could be that course for Kang. Sitting at 157th in the FedExCup standings, he really has to make a move and play some good golf to make it into the Top 125 before the playoffs begin in a few months. There’s not much form to write home about, but he’s performed well here before and may we worth a little look.

Francesco Molinari top-10 Finish (+800)

It’s hard to overlook the Italian this week after he won here in 2018 by a staggering EIGHT shots. No matter how he’s been striking the ball lately, those winning memories have to come flooding back when Molinari steps on the property. By no means is he having a terrible season, but the one highlight is a tie for 6th at The American Express back in January, and Francesco is coming off two missed cuts. However, the old adage of “horses for courses” rings true often on the Tour, and I’ll take a top-ten at 8/1.

Pickswise is the home of free expert Golf Picks and Golf Predictions. Our PGA expert picks go live every Tuesday, so check out our latest golf picks, best bets, and analysis for this week’s PGA tournament now.

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