Coming off one of the most boring fields of the year, the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow will be a welcome relief. Several top names are in the field and exciting storylines abound. Will the greens be as atrocious as last year? Will someone outside the top 1,000 in the world win like last year? Does this tournament have some sort of jacket that the winner has to wear? The answer to all of these questions is no.
Quail Hollow has hosted the Wells Fargo since 2003. Though it came under fire for the ridiculously bad green conditions at last season’s event, there is no doubt that Quail Hollow is a top quality course, as it prepares to host the PGA Championship in 2017. To fix the green issues in addition to toughening up the course, tons of changes have been made since last year. Every green has new grass, a bermuda strain to better withstand the heat, and a few greens have been moved. Tee boxes have also been added on several holes to holes longer and/or give the players a tougher angle.
This is one of those courses with a named stretch of holes, though you can be forgiven if you’ve never heard of it since naming stretches is thoroughly overdone. Anyway, holes 16-18 have been dubbed “The Green Mile.” Measuring in at 1,222 yards, this stretch of holes is well under the mile mark, but when you take into consideration the par-3 17th and the fact that 16 and 18 are par-4s it does seem like a pretty stern test. I don’t think anyone is going to feel too badly if they sneak out of this stretch even par or one over.
No player has won at the Wells Fargo more than once, eleven years and eleven different champions. That isn’t to say that the fields have been poor, as past champions include Tiger, Vijay, Rory, Furyk, and Fowler. This year’s field isn’t quite as well-endowed with only four of the world’s top 20, but Phil and Rory are here which makes all the difference in the world. I’m anticipating several top names to be in the hunt come Sunday, including (but not limited to) Webb Simpson, Rory, Justin Rose, Bill Haas, Furyk, Lee Westwood, and Ryan Moore.
Why you should watch
So many reasons to watch this week: Mickelson and Rory are in the field, this is a major championship course that has undergone extensive changes since last year, there have been playoffs in each of the last three years (and 6/11 overall!), and the last time there wasn’t a playoff, Rory was absolutely blitzing the field with a Sunday 62 from back in the pack to win by four. This thing has excitement written all over it, especially come Sunday afternoon.