Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson highlight the field at this week's Wells Fargo Championship. Here's everything you need to know.
In the condensed period between the Masters and the second major of the year—heretofore the U.S. Open, henceforth the PGA Championship—the Wells Fargo Championship sticks out as the tournament with the most star power. Justin Rose, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler headline the field at Quail Hollow this week, which feels like an unofficial shifting of the golf world's attention from the unbelievable Masters to the upcoming test at Bethpage Black. Jason Day will also be back to defend his title.
There is, however, one particularly notable absence this week—that of Tiger Woods, who surprised some when he let last Friday's deadline to enter the tournament come and go without a peep. Woods's decision to sit this one out means he will all but assuredly make zero starts between winning the Masters and going for major No. 16 at Bethpage Black.
The course this week has a major-like feel, and that's because, well, it has hosted a major quite recently. Quail Hollow played host as Justin Thomas won his first and to-date, only major championship at the 2017 PGA, and it will also host the Presidents Cup in 2021. It's easy to understand why so many of the world's best use this as their final tuneup for the PGA. (Next week's venue for the AT&T Byron Nelson, Trinity Forest, is linksy and will look nothing like Bethpage Black).
Here's everything you need to know about the Wells Fargo Championship.
As previously mentioned, Quail Hollow has trasncended the "good PGA Tour layout" stage and has moved to the "host major-events stage." The golf course at the private club, located in Charlotte, was originally designed in 1961 by George Cobb, who did most of his work in the Southeast. It hosted the Kemper Open from 1969-79 and did not host another PGA Tour event until the then-Wachovia Championship debuted there in 2003.
The course was given a significant touch-up by Arnold Palmer in the mid 80s and more recently modernized by Tom Fazio, who helped beef up the track to major-championship standards. As currently laid out, it's a brutally long par 71 at an even 7,600 yards. In terms of style, it's a classic, big American track—Bermuda grass, long par 4s, manicured water hazards, big and flat bunkers, etc. The course finishes with one of those named three-hole stretches, this one going by the moniker of the "Green Mile." It begins with the 500+ yard, par-4 16th, then moves to the 220ish yard par-3 17th over water and finishes with the picturesque, 494-yard 18th with water all along the left side.
On Sunday of last year's tournament, Day played the Green Mile in two under to secure a two-shot victory.
The RBC Heritage actually offered more world ranking points (56 vs. 50), but the Wells Fargo seems to have the upper hand in terms of star power.Rory McIlroy returns to the site of his first PGA Tour victory, which he got in 2010 via a final-round 62. Rickie Fowler's first Tour win also came at Quail Hollow, and he too will tee it up. Justin Rose and Paul Casey are making their first starts since shocking missed cuts at the Masters.Jason Day will defend his title from a year ago. Phil Mickelson is playing, and he has a sneaky strong history at Quail Hollow.Tony Finau, Patrick Reed, Webb Simpson and Gary Woodland round out the other top-25 players in the field.
Here are some featured groupings for the first couple days. Here is a full list of tee times. All times EDT.
Paul Casey, Patrick Reed, Hideki Matsuyama— 7:30 a.m.* Thursday/12:40 p.m. Friday
Phil Mickelson, Jason Day, Harold Varner III— 7:40 a.m.*/12:50 p.m.
Rickie Fowler, Justin Rose, Webb Simpson— 12:40 p.m./7:30 a.m.*
Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Tony Finau— 12:50 p.m./7:40 a.m.*
* denotes 10th-tee start.
All times EDT.
Thursday, Friday — 2-6 p.m. on Golf Channel
Saturday, Sunday — 1-2:45 p.m. on Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. on CBS
2018 — Jason Day (-12)
2017 — Brian Harman (-10) *event was moved to Wilmington, N.C. to accommodate PGA Championship
2016 — James Hahn (-9)
2015 — Rory McIlroy (-21)
2014 — J.B. Holmes (-14)
2013 — Derek Ernst (-8)
2012 — Rickie Fowler (-14)
2011 — Lucas Glover (-15)
2010 — Rory McIlroy (-15)
Rory McIlroy +600
Jason Day +1000
Justin Rose +1100
Rickie Fowler +1100
Hideki Matsuyama +1800
Sergio Garcia +2000
Webb Simpson +2000
Tony Finau +2200
Paul Casey +2500
Phil Mickelson +2500
Gary Woodland +2800
Henrik Stenson +3300
Patrick Reed +3500
Charles Howell III +4000
Jason Kokrak +4000
Lucas Glover +4000
Sungjae Im +4500
Byeong-Hun An +5000
Aaron Wise +6600
Jhonattan Vegas +6600
Keegan Bradley +6600
I'm going chalk this week, with Rory McIlroy at 6-1. The Masters was by far his worst tournament of the season, and he still finished a not-horrible T21. Before that, he hadn't finished worse than T6 in any stroke-play event on the year, and I think that paints a better picture of where McIlroy's at with his game and his mind. Given how well he was playing coming in, he was under enormous pressure at Augusta to finally complete the career Grand Slam, and he'll never admit it, but there's definitely a chance he was pressing. He'll be playing without any sort of expectation this week, and I think he'll make a statement ahead of the PGA. Plus, his history at Quail Hollow is tough to beat, with the two victories. Other guys worthy of a play: Gary Woodland at 28-1 and Phil Mickelson at 25-1.