Wells Fargo Championship
Quail Hollow Club
Charlotte, North Carolina
Quail Hollow Club
Yards: 7,492 as per the scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: G2 Creeping Bentgrass; 6,500 square feet on average
Rough: 419 Bermudagrass and perennial rye grass at 2 inches
Water Hazards: 3
Course Architect: George Cobb (1961); Tom Fazio (1997; 2003)
Winner’s Share: $1,206,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Rickie Fowler defeated Rory McIlroy and D.A Points with birdie on the first playoff for his first win on TOUR.
Dates: May 2-5
Notes: This is year 11 for the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club. Webb Simpson and Johnson Wagner consider this their home club. Quail Hollow will host the 2017 PGA Championship.
This is the 11th edition of the Wells Fargo Championship. There have been 10 different winners.
Half of those 10 winners have won in a playoff. I’m not good at math but this would suggest that there is a 50-50 chance of a playoff again this year…
Only Anthony Kim (2008) and Rickie Fowler have made Quail Hollow Club the site of their first victory on TOUR.
Six of the 10 winners at WFC have won majors in their careers.
There have been 18 tournaments this season. After Americans won the first 14, the rest of the world, Scotland, Australia and Northern Ireland, have won the next three in a row. That streak came to an end in New Orleans as the USA is back in business.
The winners on TOUR have been Johnson (28), Henley (24), Gay (41), Woods THRICE (37), Mickelson (42), Snedeker (32), Merrick (30) Kuchar (34),Thompson, M (27) Brown (29), Streelman (34), Points (36), Laird (30), Scott (32), G-Mac (33) and Horschel (26) last week. The young folks (30 and younger) now have seven victories; the 30-somethings have nine victories, and the “old folks” (40 and up) have their two wins.
Rank and File
As of Monday morning, 21 of the top 50 in the OWGR are playing this week.
Quail Hollow Club, located just outside Charlotte, N.C., hosts this tournament for the 11th time. The course was built in the early 60s and was remodeled by Tom Fazio in the late 90s. The first year of this tournament was 2003 when David Toms fired 278 (10-under) to win. Only Sean O’Hair (279) has gone higher in victory. Anthony Kim’s 272 in 2008 is the tournament record.
Quail Hollow Club boast the hardest three-hole finish two of the last three years yet only ranks at the midway point of the hardest courses on TOUR (25 hardest of 49 played in 2012). This makes sense when you realize that Kim, O’Hair, McIlroy and Fowler weren’t exactly seasoned veterans on TOUR when they won here. The averaging winning score here is just a hair under 13-under par so players will have to make hay on the first 15 holes so they can breathe easy on the final three. Good luck with that. No. 16 plays uphill to 480 yards. No. 17 is a 200-yard carry over with water surrounding almost the entire green but they moved the tee box to an easier location last year. And just to top it off, No. 18 has a creek running through it just to make you think a little bit harder about that final tee shot and approach shot. Not many places to leave it!
Looking at the list of winners, Toms, Singh, Furyk, Woods, O’Hair, McIlroy, Glover and Fowler, the one thing that stands out is ball-striking. Sure, they had to hole putts as well, but these guys keep it in play and hit tons of GIR. The rough will not be a huge deal. Last year on Sunday Rory McIlroy ( 5 of 14) and D.A. Points (6 of 14) couldn’t find the fairway but hit 14 of 18 (T6) and 15 of 18 (1st) greens respectively to join Fowler in the playoff. Fowler hit 11 of 14 fairways that same Sunday to lead the field.
The course is lush and green and has two new greens on Nos. 8 and 10 that were replaced less than two weeks ago. When they return here next year, all 18 greens will have their bentgrass replaced with Bermudagrass to get ready for the PGA Championship in 2017. For more course changes, please read Rob Bolton’s Power Rankings at pgatour.com. Confidence and ball-striking is a must this week. Players that have been playing well will factor as will the “old guard” of the world’s elite.
Let see who’s going to factor this week.
Top 10, Plus One
Rory McIlroy: In 17 rounds in 2013 he has played exactly three of them over par and that includes 79 on Saturday at the Masters that led to T25. Gamers get frustrated with McIlroy because he’s not that automatic top 10 like Tiger Woods was in his prime. Get over it. There’s only one Tiger and one Rory so deal. McIlroy showed up here last year after posting a T40 at Augusta and finished P2 to Rickie Fowler. He shot a Sunday 62 in his victory here in 2010. On a similar, long, challenging layout at Valero he was second to Martin Laird.
Webb Simpson: After missing the cut in his last two events, Simpson decided that he needed to find his love for the game again. He started playing practice rounds with college kids who would just pick a target and hit it. This freed his swing up and the results at Harbour Town were pretty good as he fell in a playoff to Graeme McDowell when his unlucky birdie putt blew away. He credits his wife with reinforcing his belief that he can win and he was THIS close to doing so last week. It won’t hurt that he’s playing his home course this week either. He finished fourth here last year.
Nick Watney: He’s made seven cuts on the bounce and is right on the precipice of breaking out. He shot four straight 69s last week in New Orleans to finish T15 and that was with a double on the back nine on Sunday. Ball-strikers do well here and he fits that description. He’s made seven of eight cuts at Quail Hollow and six of those have been T24 or better including last year’s solo eighth.
Rickie Fowler: The defending champion quite likes it around here as he’s finished WIN, T16 and sixth in his only three starts over the last three years. He has only one round over par and that was his first round three years ago. He only made three bogeys on the weekend in New Orleans and his accurate driver will help put him in excellent position here for a fourth year in a row.
Lee Westwood: He blasted the weekend here last year (68-66) to jump into a T5 so he’s definitely on the radar this week. He was T10 at SHO and T8 at Augusta, two places where he is horse-for-course. If last year in an indication, he’ll add this place to his list of places he enjoys playing. He’s also surprisingly seventh in scrambling and has made 12 cuts in a row so that won’t hurt either.
Bill Haas: He’s made nine cuts in a row and has been playing very solid golf in 2013. Haas ranks eighth in GIR and has five top 10 finishes to co-lead the TOUR. In five weekends he’s played in nine tries, Haas has finished fourth and T4 twice and hasn’t finished outside the top 30.
Dustin Johnson: WD ON WEDNESDAY MORNING
D.A. Points: Time to hop on board! After winning in Houston and finishing second in New Orleans, Points returns to Charlotte where Rickie Fowler knocked him and Rory McIlroy out the playoff last year. He showed last year that he can find GIR from places other than the fairway and that helps around these parts. He’s hot and confident and that’s what we look for on a week-to-week basis!
Lucas Glover: The 2011 champion at Quail Hollow has also added T22 and T2 in the last four years though he was MC last year. He’s striping it right now and even though he didn’t win last week, he’s gotten another taste of being near the winner’s circle. The only thing missing in his “comeback” tour is a victory as he’s pegged top fives at Honda and Zurich. He’ll give himself plenty of chances with as well as he strikes the ball. Come on the putter! Please be aware that his wife is due any moment with their first child. He remarked last weekend that he has no problem walking off the course to be with her for this special event. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Bubba Watson: I’m sorry I love Watson. He’s inconsistently consistent and can bust it any week. After his “scared” round of 73 to open last week, he backed it up with 65. After his even par round on Saturday, he went low again with 66. I wish I would have stuck with him in the Yahoo! game on Sunday last week. I would have had a monster…He’s made his last three cuts here and that includes T2 in 2009. He did not play here last year.
Phil Mickelson: Here he is again as “plus one”. As with most places he plays, his course history is off the charts. In nine events, he’s been T9 or better SIX times. You can’t leave him off but you cannot ignore that he didn’t fire at the Masters. That’s Mickelson in a nutshell, Phrankenwood or not.
Jimmy Walker: Another familiar name to this column and there are reasons why! Long off the tee? Check. He’s 26th in GIR and 21st in strokes gained-putting. He’s fourth in scoring average. He’s played on 20 consecutive weekends. He has 4 top 25s and four top 10s. He’s essentially the 2013 Bo Van Pelt and that’s a compliment.
Sergio Garcia: He’s six of seven in Charlotte which includes T2 in 2005. He’s six of six this season on TOUR and his worst finish was T13 in stroke play if you don’t count the week he WD when I had him in the one-and-done at Bay Hill. I’m not bitter or anything…
Padraig Harrington: He’s Phil Mickelson Light of Ireland. He’s top 10 or bust. His last two appearances in Charlotte have seen him finish T9 (2011) and T7 (2010). After posting T9 his first tournament this year he went MC, MC. He racked up aT10 at SHO but then he no-showed at Augusta with 75-78. Figured it out yet? Me neither.
Ian Poulter: After beginning the season T9 and fourth, Poulter hasn’t been living up to gamer’s expectations. He’s fired final rounds of 75 at Doral and 75 at Bay Hill to knock him out of possible top 10s and he didn’t fire at the Masters. Yet, his putting and grit can pull him through if things aren’t going well. According to his Twitter feed, he’s been in the Bahamas practicing as he prepares for this WFC/PLAYERS double over the next two weeks. He was fifth here in 2009 in his last appearance.
Chris Kirk: In his last four events on TOUR he’s finished T21, T30, T22 and T16. His worst round over that stretch is 73. Once. When you make as many putts as he does, you tend to hang around. He’s already made more cash this year than he did in all of 2012. He’s seventh in the all-around ranking and seventh in total putting. He’s the perfect complement to a horse-for-course this week.
Henrik Stenson: He was T2 in Houston and backed that up with a very solid T18 at the Masters in his last time out. His course history is not very good but his form what I’m looking at here. He’s long, accurate and has no problem racking up GIR.
Boo Weekley: Well, when you’re hot, you’re hot. He’ll have to play himself off my list. He’s made 10 cuts in a row and has three top 10s on the season.
Nicolas Colsaerts: I opined last week that New Orleans could have been the tonic Colsaerts needed in the States. Grip and rip it with light rough. There will be a few more trees this week but he’s super-long and hits plenty of GIR. It’s his first time here so let’s hope he bring his GIR game like he did last week (T8).
Kevin Streelman: Another form over course history pick for me as Streelman is cruising along in 2013. After winning in Tampa, he was T21 at Bay Hill, MC at Augusta and T3 at Harbour Town. Not bad. His game is growing up and is confidence is sky-high at the moment. Good combo.
Off the Beaten Path
Either “horse-for-course” or guys off the radar
Jonathan Byrd: He’s coming off wrist surgery from last year and has only played four events in 2013. He fired his best round of his comeback in the second round last weekend before being cut. He returns to the place where he was P2 to Glover in 2011, T5 in 2009 and T9 last year.
Martin Laird: I’m going with the “D.A. Points” theory on this one. He played well at a long, demanding course at Valero and will see some of the same again this week. He fired three rounds under par here last year.
Kyle Stanley: High-risk, high-reward look here as Stanley looked like early 2012 Stanley last week in New Orleans. He’s played six rounds here and five of them have been par or better. He hits it a mile but it will be the putter that will make the difference.
Ross Fisher: He has five top 25s in eight tries. His worst finish is T38. Horse-for-course and hits it a mile as well.
Vijay Singh: Sure, he’s in his 50s. Sure, he’s dealing with that entire “Deer Antler Spray” issue. He’s the 2005 champion to boot.
Matt Jones: In his last two starts here he’s finished T21 and T7. He’s quietly having a decent 2013 as he’s made nine of 11 cuts.
Ken Duke: He’s made five straight cuts here and four of his last five on TOUR with his worst finish being T31. He was a nice compliment last week on my GC team Group 3 (T21).
Brian Davis: He’s made five of his last six at Quail Hollow including T9 and T16 the last two years. He’s also made his last four cuts on TOUR.
Take It Deep
Jordan Spieth: With so many big players in this week, he’ll calmly slip under the radar and bounce back after his MC last week. His bogey-free 69 on Friday in New Orleans should be a nice springboard for this week.
Josh Teater: He’s 27th in ball-striking and 33rd in putting. He has no problem making birdies.
Richard H. Lee: T21, T9 and T13 in his last three. Yes, please.
Steve LeBrun: T21, T18 and T37 in his last three so he’s playing pretty well in April.
Angel Cabrera: I couldn’t resist after as well as he played at the Masters and winning at his home course in Argentina.
Robert Allenby: Copy and Paste.
Charles Howell III: He has one top 25 in 10 career starts.
Hunter Mahan: His best finish here in nine starts is T16. He’s MC, MC and 91st in his last three starts. I’ll wait for his slump to pass.
Zach Johnson: All or nothing here but his 2013 form pushes me away. His best full-field finish in 10 events is T23. I’ll wait until next week or Colonial.
Rookie of the Week Last Week
I keep an eye on the youngin’s each week to see who is making the most noise.
Sony: Russell Henley WIN
Humana: David Lingmerth P2
Farmers: Brad Fritsch T9
WMPO: James Hahn T16
AT&T: James Hahn T3
NTO: Luke Guthrie T21
WGC-Match Play: Russell Henley 2nd round
Honda: Luke Guthrie 3rd
WGC-Cadillac: Russell Henley T28
Puerto Rico: Jordan Spieth 2nd
Tampa Bay: Jordan Spieth T7; Shawn Stefani T7; Ben Kohles T7
Arnold Palmer: Ben Kohles T14
Shell Houston Open: Robert Streb T22
Valero Texas Open: Ben Kohles T37
Masters: Russell Henley MC (not many to choose from last week!)
RBC Heritage: Russell Henley T6
Zurich Classic: D. H. Lee T8
SEASON TOTAL: $2,522,050
HTOC: Steve Stricker (2nd; $665,000)
Sony: Charles Howell III (T3; $324,800)
Humana: Tim Clark (MC)
Farmers: Rickie Fowler (T6; $204,350)
WMPO: Jason Dufner (MC)
AT&T Pebble: Hunter Mahan (T16; $94,250)
Northern Trust: Bill Haas (T3; $343,200)
WGC-Match Play: Charl Schwartzel (T33; $46,000)
Honda: Lee Westwood (T9; $156,000)
WGC-Cadillac Championship: Matt Kuchar (T35; $68,500)
Tampa Bay: Jim Furyk (T7; $148,892)
Bay Hill: Sergio Garcia (WD after three rounds)
Shell Houston: Jimmy Walker (T50; $14,838)
Valero: Cameron Tringale (MC)
Masters: Phil Mickelson (T54; $18,320)
RBC Heritage: Luke Donald (T3; $336,400)
Zurich Classic: Bubba Watson (T15; 102,500)
Wells Fargo: Webb Simpson
GolfChannel.com Fantasy Challenge
Wells Fargo Classic
(I play as “Glass” for ALL fantasy games)
Mike Glasscott (Rank: 3,337; $10,399,887)
Group 1: Rory McIlroy
Group 2: Jimmy Walker
Group 3: Pat Perez
Group 4: Bobby Gates
Ryan O’Sullivan (Rank: 3,934; $10,192,211)
Group 1: Rory McIlroy
Group 2: Angel Cabrera
Group 3: Lucas Glover
Group 4: John Rollins
Ned Brown (Rank: 3,556; $10,320,722) “Pure Spin”
Group 1: Rory McIlroy
Group 2: D.A. Points
Group 3: Boo Weekley
Group 4: John Peterson
Rob Bolton (Rank: 6,177; $9,557,397)
Group 1: Webb Simpson
Group 2: Padraig Harrington
Group 3: Richard H. Lee
Group 4: Henrik Norlander
Ned said, “…
Ned Brown is a long-time contributor for Rotoworld Golf. He’s had documented success in Yahoo!’s game for years. Even if you’re confident in your selections for that game, give his insight a read. Ned also provides us with his GolfChannel.com Fantasy Challenge selections as well!
Rory McIlroy-- He actually didn't play that bad at the Masters and I'm looking for him to rebound on a course that he had a T2 on last year and a championship in '10.
Phil Mickelson--I think this spot is a real coin flip between Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson. I’m going with Mickelson because he has six top 10s here in only nine starts.
Bubba Watson, Sergio Garcia, Bill Haas
Webb Simpson-- Simpson broke out of his mini-slump last time out with a P2 finish at the RBC Heritage. He also play well in last year's Quail Hollow with a fourth place result.
Nick Watney-- Watney followed up his T13 at the Masters with a T15 last week in New Orleans. He has six top 25s in eight career starts at Quail Hollow with his first top 10 coming last year when he finished in eighth place.
Dustin Johnson-- He doesn't have the strongest history at Quail Hollow, but he has been playing well recently with a T12 at Doral, a T4 at the SHO and a T13 at the Masters. *** ALERT: DJ withdrew on Tuesday with an "irrirated left wrist," according to PGA TOUR Media on Twitter. ***
Jimmy Walker-- This is a tossup between Lucas Glover and Jimmy Walker. Both are playing well, but Glover has a better history at Quail Hollow. The problem is that Glover is expecting the birth of his daughter any day now. Those that don't mind the risk of a possible sudden withdrawal might want to go with Glover, but I'm taking the safer pick of Walker.
Lucas Glover, Zach Johnson, John Senden, Cameron Tringale
Lee Westwood-- Westwood has played well recently with a T10 at the SHO and a T8 at the Masters. He did play in last year's WFC and finished in a tie for fifth place.
Rickie Fowler-- There are a half a dozen guys that could be picked here. I'm going with Fowler because he has two top 6s in three starts at Quail Hollow including a championship last year.
D.A. Points, Henrik Stenson, Ian Poulter, Angel Cabrera
Points last week: 184
Points this year: 2,825
Overall Ranking: (452; 99th percentile)
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat WEDNESDAY at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the Wells Fargo Championship and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/GlassWGCL) on Twitter.