For those that enjoyed John McNamara’s first edition of Long-Term 101, Volume One, you’ll be pleased to learn that his next version will publish this Friday, May 5. “Long-Term 101, Volume Two” will include an updated ranking of Johnny Mac’s top 101 fantasy golfers with an eye at the remainder of the PGA TOUR season.
Inside the Ropes
Wells Fargo Championship
Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte, NC
Quail Hollow Club
Yards: 7,469 as per the scorecard
Par: 72 (36-36)
Average green size: 6,500 square feet
Stimpmeter: 11 ft.
Water Hazards: 3
Course Architect: George Cobb (1961); Redesign Tom Fazio (1997, 2003)
Notes: 419 Bermudagrass and perennial ryegrass fairways with G2 creeping bentgrass greens.
Winner’s Share: $1,224,000 and 500 FedExCup Points
Defending Champion: Lucas Glover defeated Jonathan Byrd with a par on the first playoff hole.
Date: May 3-6
Notes: Full-field event; 156 golfers
This is the 10th anniversary of the Wells Fargo Championship.
There have been nine different champions.
In the nine previous events, four have resulted in playoff finishes, including consecutive tournaments from 2004-2006 and last year.
Of the nine winners on this track, six of them are Major champions. Only Joey Sindelar, Anthony Kim and Sean O’Hair have failed to win a major.
In 2008 Anthony Kim became the first golfer to win his first-career title at Quail Hollow.
In 2012 12 of the 18 winners (19 events) on Tour won when they were ranked in the top 50 OWGR (Hunter Mahan has two wins). This year at Quail Hollow 34 (Graeme McDowell WD Monday morning) of the top 50 OWGR are playing, including half of the top 10.
Eight of the nine former champions of this event are entered this week. Only 2004 champion Joey Sindelar is out.
In 19 tournaments this season the “Young versus Old” argument now stands at 9-8-2 as Jason Dufner scores another point for the “middle”.
For the “young”, Johnson Wagner (31), Brandt Snedeker (31), Kyle Stanley (24) and Bill Haas (29), John Huh (21), Hunter Mahan TWICE (29), Rory McIlroy (22) and Justin Rose (31) lead the way for the Young guys.
Mark Wilson (37) is joined by George McNeill (36), Luke Donald (34), Tiger Woods (36), Bubba Watson (33), Carl Pettersson (34), Ben Curtis (34) and now Jason Dufner (35) in the “middle”.
Steve Stricker (44) and Phil Mickelson (41) are flying the flag for the “old” folks on Tour.
That makes two in a row for the Stars and Stripes with Ben Curtis VTO and Jason Dufner this week as the “middle” guys on Tour are trying to catch the young ‘uns.
So What? So Let’s Dance!
Quail Hollow Club has two signature holes. The par-4, 14th is a dogleg left that can be driven with a good tee shot. It measures 346 yards from the pro tees. A 15 acre lake frames the left side of the hole and the rough on that side slopes down to the water. The narrow landing area measures about 27 yards across and is guarded with two bunkers on each side. The two-tiered green is long and narrow with about 7,100 square feet of putting surface. Two more bunkers guard the left, front and middle of the green, and a collection area waits just off the right front of the green for short approach shots hit off line, or almost perfect drives. The area immediately left of the green slopes severely down 15 feet to the lake, so anything hit left has a very good chance of ending up in the hazard.
The 17th hole is a 217-yard, par-3 over water. A rock wall rings this part of the lake and borders the left and front of the green. The tee shot must carry the water hazard and a bunker that protects the center. The 6,500 square foot green is undulated, and on the left side there is only six-feet between the edge of the putting surface and the water hazard. On the right there lies a closely mown collection area for errant shots. The water will be the collection area on the left. Shots hit too strong also have a good chance of getting wet since the lake wraps around behind a good portion of the green and the rough slopes drastically down to it.
Quail Hollow Club ranked 24th out of 51 courses on Tour as most difficult in 2011, which includes the four majors.
The average winning score here is almost 13-under par over the first nine years of this event.
Quail Hollow Club is probably most famous for its finishing stretch, “The Green Mile”. Hole 16 kicks off the stretch with 480 yards of par 4 uphill to the hardest green to putt on the course. As we read above, hole 17 is also no picnic as the players will have to carry their tee shots 200 yards over water to the tilted green. Water lurks in the front and to the entire left side of the green. Players will have to hold their nerve to get out with a par. Hole 17 has ranked in the top 13 of most difficult par 3’s since 2006 but it might be easier this year. Club officials have decided to play all four rounds from the member’s tees that the pros have suggested for years. We’ll see what effect it has on the players coming down the stretch in 2012 Hole 18 wraps things up and it just as much fun. The creek that runs through this hole affects the tee ball and the approach as it guards the left fairway and the left front of the green. There are bunkers up the right fairway and protecting the front right and back right portions of this green. Hole 18 has ranked 24th or harder of the par 4’s on Tour since 1996. Finishing these three holes at even-par is considered a solid finish.
David Toms and Jim Furyk have had success here so it’s not all bomb and gouge but I bet that would help a bit this week. Also, with the averaging winning score pushing 13-under, guys are going to have to save pars and make birdies.
“The Green Mile” is a great test and it shows just how amazing Rory McIlroy’s course-record 62 on Sunday was in 2010. Oh, and he had just turned 21 when he accomplished that. McIlroy won his first professional tournament in 2009 at the Dubai Desert Classic so that’s why he’s not in the “first-time winners” category above.
Charlotte is known for big banking(see: Wells Fargo), Michael Jordan screwing up the Bobcats and Cam Newton. Oh, and my friend Eric Goldstein lives there. Guess what business he’s in? Right! Banking! Glad you’re paying attention!
Let’s see what players we can take to the bank this week!
Rory McIlroy: Anytime this youngster tees it up we have to pay attention. I know, nobody has multiple wins on this track but I wouldn’t put anything past McIlroy at this point. His T40 at the Masters was his worst start in his last 12 starts dating back to T64 at the PGA Championship last August. His only other finish outside of the top four in those events was T11 at the Dubai World Championship. He holds the course record, 62, which he shot on Sunday of his victory in 2010. Last year he MC but I doubt that will bother McIlroy this week. This is his first event since the Masters but he might be too good to worry about any rust!
Jim Furyk: Furyk has quietly gone about his way in 2012 as he’s hit the top 11 five times in eight events. His best finish was P2 at TC in March. Sure he hasn’t won yet in 2012 but this could be the week as he tees it up on a track that he firmly enjoys. In eight outings at Quail Hollow he’s hit the top 11 five times including a WIN, T2, T7, seventh and T11. He is the most accurate driver of the golf ball on Tour in addition to being 27th in strokes gained-putting and 15th in scrambling.
Phil Mickelson: One of the very few places that Phil plays regularly and hasn’t won, Quail Hollow still has been good to “Lefty” over the years even though he’s not a huge fan of this course. In eight career-starts Mickelson has seven-career top 12 finishes but no victory. Mickelson has been very solid this season with a WIN at AT&T and P2 at NTO on top of his T4 SHO and T3 at the Masters. Mickelson still struggles with the driver sometimes but his short game is where he makes his money. He’s first in scrambling and Mickelson’s total putting has improved from 108th in 2011 to 14th in 2012. His putter might be the club that pushes him into the winner’s circle this week in Charlotte. This is Mickelson’s first start since Augusta. If you’re worried about rust, I wouldn’t, as Quail Hollow has been the first event back for Mickelson for the last four years. Fore!
Hunter Mahan: Mahan is starting to move into the “automatic selection” role in the top five each week. As the only player on Tour with two victories this season Mahan continues to roll right along. In the season’s first major, and his last event, he finished T12 at the Masters. He’s currently fifth in driving accuracy and GIR. His short game has improved as well as he ranks 39th in strokes gained-putting and 26th in three-putt avoidance. After three CUTS and one WD in his first four outings in Charlotte, Mahan has finished T16 last year, T17, T22 and T12 in his last four tournaments. Gitty up!
Cameron Tringale: I put him in here last week and he bogeyed 18 to finish T7 so I’m going to let him redeem himself this week. Tringale has hit the top 10 in three-consecutive starts giving him four all together in 2012. Tringale makes tons of birdies and is 36th GIR and 31st strokes gained-putting. I’m riding this horse until he falls over!
Lee Westwood: Westwood began his 2012 season in the States finishing fourth at WGC-Match Play and fourth at the Honda Classic. He stumbled to T29 at WGC-CC and T21 at SHO before rebounding to T3 at the Masters. “Stumbled” to T29 and T21? Those are Westwood’s two worst starts of 2012. Oh, and he won last week in Indonesia. His history at Wells Fargo is not very good but his ball striking is. I can’t pass on the world No. 3 but his history at this event moves him down the list.
Webb Simpson: The Charlotte resident has a “home game” this week and I expect him to take full advantage of his fourth start at Quail Hollow. Last week I wondered if Simpson was going to stay on a prolonged skid and he answered that question last week at Zurich with T12. Simpson has made 17 consecutive cuts and has no problem making birdies. His short game and putter are usually the two areas that give him the most problems but he’s 27th GIR. Welcome back, Webb Simpson.
Tiger Woods: He makes the list because he’s capable of winning every time he pegs it. He makes this list because his history at this course includes a WIN, T3, T4, T11 and CUT in five starts. His T40 at the Masters was his last time out so that means he’s had three weeks to work on his posture, takeaway and putting. Well, if he’s not working on his putting, he should be because he’s 143rd in three-putt avoidance.
Bo Van Pelt: Van Pelt’s early-season ride ended at RBC with CUT but not before he racked up four top-nines and a T17 in FFSP (full field stroke play) events. Van Pelt has found success through his putter as he leads the Tour in strokes gained-putting and is fourth in total putting. He’s also fourth in the all around as well. After two weeks off, I believe with he’ll be ready to go and being sixth in total driving won’t hurt this week at Quail Hollow.
Rickie Fowler: He’s picked an excellent time to return to the top 10 last week as he heads to Wells Fargo with fond memories of the last two years. Finishing T16 last year and sixth in 2010, Fowler looked solid last week in New Orleans with four consecutive rounds under par for the first time since his first event of 2012, FIO. Fowler’s ball striking has been excellent and that will help this week but his putter will have to cooperate to hit the top 10 again this week.
Zach Johnson: I almost forgot the last time we saw him he was finishing second behind Carl Pettersson at RBC as Pettersson ran away with things that afternoon. Maybe “run” and “Pettersson” don’t belong in the same sentence… Anyhow, Johnson has made all 10 cuts this season and is currently 18th in the FedExCup standings. His accuracy off the tee (sixth) and his scrambling (10th) should help him go 11-for-11 in the cuts made department this week. Johnson’s history is mixed at Wells Fargo but he finished T6 last year and was T11 in 2009.
Keegan Bradley: Let’s try this again. Last week I projected Bradley to be the winner at New Orleans. Unlike the pressure of a playoff at the PGA, Bradley wilted under this enormous weight and missed the cut. Or he just had an off-week. It’s hard to tell from here. Let’s review, shall we? He’s played 11 events, made 10 cuts and has nine finishes in the top 25. The only time he was CUT is when I picked him to win. I will now use my powers of the jinx for good and not evil.
Geoff Ogilvy: The Aussie finished strong last week at Zurich as he played the last three rounds 11-under par. An excellent putter and scrambler Ogilvy has had decent success at Wells Fargo over the years. In seven starts he’s hit the top 25 five times with his best finish T10 twice in 2006 and 2004.
Ben Curtis: I have a feeling I might be a week late to this party but after watching Curtis drive and hit irons over the last two weeks, I’m going to take the chance. After his WIN at VTO he backed that up with all four rounds under par at Zurich last week to finish T13. And he hasn’t three-putted this year. I hope I’m not too late!
Kevin Na: He broke up his three-outing hot streak with a 79 WD at VTO his last time out. He claimed via Twitter that his back didn’t feel right and he was done for the week. On television that Thursday of the VTO I saw no less than four swings where the club ended up on the ground after follow through so it will interesting to see if he’s “back” to normal. In the three events leading up to VTO, Na was T8 RBC, T12 the Masters and T4 API. His history at Wells Fargo is solid as he finished fifth last year and T14 in 2011.
High Risk, High Rewards
Ken Duke: Duke fits this category to a T. In 12 events he’s made 10 cuts. When he has made the cut he’s been top 10 three times yet he was 39th or worse in the other seven. Duke is solid off the tee and his short game numbers are nice and steady. He finished T7 last week at Zurich.
David Mathis: After being CUT 10 times in his first 11 starts, Mathis has rallied nicely with T18 VTO and T10 last week at Zurich. His T10 included a co-Sunday best of 65. Guys tend to play well in bunches so I’m taking a flyer on Mathis this week to continue his steady play.
Jeff Overton: Speaking of 65 on Sunday at Zurich, Jeff Overton also posted that number in his final round last Sunday to finish T18. Overton looked like he was rounding back into form after T18, T14 and T5 in a three-week stretch in March only to fire 84 on Sunday at API to finish T70. He backed that up with T4 SHO before CUT at RBC. Are you keeping up? Overton finished T33 here last year but had all four rounds under par.
Mark Anderson: The rookie has made eight-consecutive cuts after being CUT at his season opener at Sony. He’s second on Tour in birdie-or-better conversions percentage and is 44th in strokes gained-putting.
Bobby Gates: Gates finished T6 in his only outing at Wells Fargo last season. Gates has finished T56 VTO and T24 Zurich in his last two starts, including a 68 on Sunday last week. Helped by his length off the tee, he played all four rounds under par at this course last year.
Wait until next week…
Nick Watney: Sadly for many year-long investors like me, Nick Watney has found his way into this column again this week after being CUT last week in New Orleans. For the weekly gamer, I wouldn’t try to be the guy who guesses when he breaks out of his current funk. His last four tournaments have been CUT, T32, T59 and T51.
Aaron Baddeley: Since Baddeley’s 12th place finish at WGC-CC at Doral he’s finished CUT SHO, T40 at the Masters and CUT RBC in his three times on the links. In seven events at Quail Hollow, Baddeley has been CUT three times and his best finish is T40. That’s not much to work with this week.
Mark Wilson: Wilson has played six tournaments since placing third at the WGC-Match Play and his best finish is T24 at the RBC. At Quail Hollow he finished CUT, seventh, CUT, T67, T61 and CUT.
Jonathan Byrd: I could have fit him in the top 15 above or in this category but I weighed his current form outweighs two of the last three years at Quail Hollow. Byrd began the season T3, CUT, CUT and T8 and has followed that with T33, T35, 73rd, CUT and T27 at the Masters his last time out. His record at Wells Fargo is a bit bizarre as well as he was P2 last year, CUT, T5, CUT, CUT, DNS, CUT, CUT, CUT. There are too many other options this week for me.
Stewart Cink: Similar to Byrd, Cink could have fit in the “horses for courses” category but his recent form has sent me looking elsewhere. Let’s start at Quail Hollow. Over the last six years Cink has finished T9 in 2011, CUT, CUT, T8, T5 and T26. Sounds tempting, right? In his last seven events Cink has finished CUT RBC, T50, CUT, CUT, T70, T36 and T70. I can’t pull the trigger here.
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: Wells Fargo Championship (Glass’s Picks)
Group 1: Rory McIlroy
Group 2: Cameron Tringale
Group 3: Ken Duke
Group 4: David Mathis
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. Now, Ned also provides us with his Golf Channel fantasy game selections as well!
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Phil Mickelson-- He has taken some time off of the TOUR since his disappointing T3 at the Masters. His record at Quail Hallow is very strong, with six top-10s in eight starts.
Jim Furyk-- Furyk has played well this season and he comes into this week with a streak of four consecutive top-11 finishes. His past history of four top-10s in eight starts is impressive and he did win the championship here in '06.
Kevin Na, Keegan Bradley, Webb Simpson, Zach Johnson
Rory McIlroy-- His T40 at the Masters was his worst showing on the world stage since his T64 at last year's PGA Championship. I'm expecting him to bounce back this week at a course that he earned his maiden PGA TOUR Championship.
Tiger Woods-- Like McIlroy, Woods had a forgettable Masters and finished in a tie for 40th place. His record at Quail Hollow is very good with three top-10s in five starts, including a championship in '07.
Hunter Mahan-- My normal pattern is to consider plugging Mahan in for the first time in a season at Quail Hallow, however he has broken out of that pattern this year to be the only multiple winner on this year's TOUR. His recent record at the Well Fargo has been solid with four consecutive top-25s.
Lee Westwood-- After his T3 at the Masters, Westwood then went out to Indonesia and won the Indonesian Masters by two strokes. He has made the cut in two of his three past starts at Quail Hallow, but has never cracked the top-25.
Bill Haas, Rickie Fowler, Ken Duke, Geoff Ogilvy, Bo Van Pelt, Brian Davis
Cameron Tringale-- He is playing some great golf in here and has a streak going of three consecutive top-8 finishes.
Ben Curtis-- I thought Curtis would fade after his victory at the VTO, but he continued to play well last week in New Orleans where he tied for 12th place. He has one top-10 in eight starts at Quail Hallow, which was a second place in '08
Jonathan Byrd, Jeff Overton, Henrik Stenson, John Huh
Golf Channel Fantasy Challenge: Wells Fargo Championship (Ned’s Picks)
Group 1: Phil Mickelson
Group 2: Cameron Tringale
Group 3: Ken Duke
Group 4: David Mathis
“And another thing…”
The analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat with GolfChannel.com's Ryan Ballengee on Wednesday at noon ET. They 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.