Wells Fargo Championship
Quail Hollow Club
Charlotte, North Carolina
Quail Hollow Club
Par: 72 (36-36)
Greens: Miniverde Ultradwarf Bermudagrass; 6,500 square feet on average.
Rough: 419 Bermudagrass with rye grass at 2”
Water Hazards: 3
Course Architect: George Cobb (1961); Tom Fazio (2003)
Winner’s Share: $1,224,000
FexExCup Points: 500 to the winner
Defending Champion: Derek Ernst defeated David Lynn on the first playoff hole for his first victory of his career.
Dates: May 1-4
Notes: 155 players this week with the top 70 and ties making the cut.
Recent History Lessons
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won the 19 of 24 events of 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every and Matt Kuchar have cashed for the red, white and blue. Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed four victories and now we add South Korean S.Y. Noh to the party. Europe? Hello, Europe?
S.Y. Noh joined Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley and Matt Jones as the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had seven in 24 events so far in 2014. Anyone of the four best this week would have been a first-timer.
Young Guns versus Prime Time versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. The last three weeks have found first-time winners and they have all been in their 30s. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33), all first-timers, won over the last three weeks before Watson chalked up win No. 2 of the season. Matt Kuchar, 35, joins this list this week as he racks up his seventh career win.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) and now Noh, 22, are the twenty-somethings on the board.
John Senden’s back is hurting from carrying the “Old Guys” this season as he’s the only winner on TOUR in his 40s. David Toms, who has been playing decent golf as of late, was T15 to fly the flag for the oldies, but goodies.
Pay Attention: It’s FREE!
This is the 11th edition of the Wells Fargo Championship. All 11 events have been held at the Quail Hollow Club.
In the last six years, three times the winner has broken their TOUR maiden including the last two editions.
Derek Ernst, the fourth alternate last year, won in his first appearance at Quail Hollow.
In the last six tournaments here, five winners have been twenty-somethings.
In the last six tournaments, four of the winners have been YOUNGER than 24 years of age. #experiencedoesNOTmatteragainthisweek
Yet, six of the 11 winners are also major champions.
Don’t get too excited if you have the leader on Sunday morning as only three of the 11, 54-hole leaders have gone on to win. Jim Furyk and Derek Ernst are the only two to go wire-to-wire in 11 tries.
The last three editions have gone to sudden death holes. That makes six in 11 years where 72 holes has NOT been enough to settle it. #freegolf
There have been zero repeat champions at this event. In fact, the last four champs have either MC or MDF. #weird
The course record is 62 set by Rory McIlroy in 2010 on Sunday en route to his victory.
Anthony Kim has the tournament record with 16-under, 262. (Anthony Kim mention! Everybody take a drink!)
Jimmy Walker, Patrick Reed and Bubba Watson are the only players on TOUR with multiple victories in the 2013-14 season. Only Jimmy Walker is in the field this week.
This is the last chance to WIN and gain entry into THE PLAYERS next week. The OWGR top 50 was set for THE PLAYERS Sunday night.
This Will Win You a Bar Bet
The 2017 PGA Championship will take place at the Quail Hollow Club. #steamyinAugust
2003: David Toms -10
2004: Joey Sindelar -11
2005: Vijay Singh -12
2006: Jim Furyk -12
2007: Tiger Woods -13
2008: Anthony Kim -16
2009: Sean O'Hair -11
2010: Rory McIlroy -15
2011: Lucas Glover -15
2012: Rickie Fowler -14
2013: Derek Ernst -8
Inside the Ropes
The Quail Hollow Club was built by George Cobb in 1961 and perfected by Tom Fazio in 2009 with some minor redesign before last year’s event. The greatest factor that has to be taken into account during this year’s tournament is the addition of Miniverde Ultradwarf Bermudagrass. All 18 greens were replaced after the 2013 edition to prepare the course for competition in August, especially in 2017.
The Bentgrass they had on the greens had issues during the previous summer and didn’t repair fully in time before last year. Greens Nos. 8 and 10 were re-sodded and Nos. 12 and 13 had sections that weren’t up to TOUR standards. Throw in chilly temperatures, wind and rain and it’s no wonder why Derek Ernst posted the highest winning score, eight-under-par, 280 en route to his first ever win ON TOUR.
Over the years, Quail Hollow has played, on average in the harder half of courses used on TOUR. The famous finishing stretch of holes, The Green Mile, doesn’t yield too many birdies so the pros will have to locked and loaded into place before coming home. This stretch of holes is constantly ranked as some of the hardest three-hole stretches on TOUR annually. The par-four 16th plays at 508 yards and now has a shaved bank on the left side approaching the green that will sink loose shots. No. 17 is (as of 2013) 221 yards which requires a 200-yard carry and water on three sides. No. 18 is 493 yards with a creek running down the middle and trees flanking the fairway eliminating a bailout. Phil Mickelson made two bogeys in this stretch last year to lose his lead and miss Sunday’s playoff. It’s quite a test for even the most experienced and most talented.
The pros will have to make their hay in the first 15 holes, with the exception of No. 9. The final hole going out is a 495 yards of monster and was the 25th-hardest hole on TOUR last year. It goes without saying it was the hardest hole on the course last year! With four par fives on the card plus two, short par fours, there are plenty of chances for birdies as well. The average winning score before last year’s anomaly was pushing 13-under so there will have to be birdies made and bogeys avoided.
The pros will that find the most greens and avoid the most bogeys will be the ones having the say on Sunday. Quail Hollow feels like a PGA as its long, over 7,500 yards and scores relative to par will be in play. Only Lucas Glover has won with four rounds in the 60s so that points me to guys who have no problem grinding this week. The players who get used to the new green surface the quickest will also have an advantage. They all have sub-air systems so there shouldn’t be any issues with rain, wind or even heat.
The trends say young and first-timer or grinding, major champion. In other words, another week on TOUR where the guys who play the best golf, either from tee-to-green or around and on the greens, will handle the trophy come Sunday.