The PGA Tour is in North Carolina this week for the Wells Fargo Championship at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte. Rickie Fowler defends the title and a host of star names are on the start sheet.
Founded by James J. Harris in 1959, Quail Hollow is a private member’s club, but it has been host to this tournament since 2003. There’s an illustrious list of winners in the event, formerly known as the Wachovia Championships. David Toms came out on top in 2003 and, since then, Joey Sindelar, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, Tiger Woods, Anthony Kim, Sean O’Hair, Rory McIlroy and Lucas Glover have been victorious.
Last season, Rickie Fowler took the title in a thrilling playoff with Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points. The young Californian played a sublime second to the 18th, (the first extra hole) to set up a birdie that neither his opponents could match.
McIlroy plays again this year and the young Northern Irishman will fancy his chances at a venue where he stamped his arrival on the PGA Tour with a stunning victory in 2010. He romped through the field in that event with a superb final round of 62.
The course at Quail Hollow is one of the tougher on the PGA Tour circuit. It’s particularly difficult from the tee. Last year only two courses on the PGA Tour proved more challenging when it came to finding fairways.
It’s a George Cobb design but was renovated by Tom Fazio in the late 1990s. The layout will play host to the PGA Championship of 2017.
Venue: Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, North Carolina
Date: May 2-5
Course stats: par 72, 7,492 yards
Purse: $6,700,000 Winner: $1,170,000
Defending Champion: Rickie Fowler (-14)
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Webb Simpson – He lost in a playoff on his last outing at Harbour Town. He’s enjoyed a pretty solid season and was fourth on his own in this event last year.
Hunter Mahan – He may not have been on stellar form since his second place finish in the Accenture Matchplay. But, he’s one of the most talented players on the PGA Tour and this course should suit his skills as a ball-striker. Look for him to make a return to the limelight this week.
D.A. Points – He lost a playoff for this event last year and was second last week in New Orleans following victory in Houston at the end of March. The planets are aligning for Points – he’s certainly one to watch this week.
Key holes: 17th. A par-3 where the ball must be carried all the way to the green over water. It’s been reduced in length for this season to just under 200 yards but, when the pressure is on, this hole is bound to produce some drama.
Holes 16-18 here are known as “The Green Mile,” with the 18th the pinnacle of the challenge. It’s one of the hardest finishing holes on the PGA Tour, a 478 yard par 4, uphill with a creek on the left and bunkers on the right.
Skills required: Playing the par-5s. It’s imperative here to make the most of the four par-5s on the course. It’s a tough layout and there are few “gimmie” birdies out there. The winner will play the long holes well and pick up some shots. To do that they will have to drive the ball well.
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