10 Players to Watch: Wells Fargo Championship

  1. Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland — Quail Hollow might be McIlroy’s favorite course on the PGA Tour. The defending champion and two-time winner of the Wells Fargo Championship has posted five top-10 finishes in his six starts there. Last year, he carded a course-record 11-under-par 61 in the third round on his way to a seven-stroke victory over Webb Simpson and Patrick Rodgers. Rory claimed the first of his 11 PGA Tour victories by four strokes over Phil Mickelson at Quail Hollow in 2010. The Irishman is winless this season after claiming eight victories around the world in the last two years, but he has six top-10 finishes on both major tours this year, including three in his last four events, and is overdue to win.
  1. Rickie Fowler, United States — His tie for 20th in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans was a bit of a disappointment, but he figures to bounce back this week in the Wells Fargo Championship. He claimed the first of his three PGA Tour victories on the PGA Tour in 2012 at Quail Hollow, beating Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points with a birdie on the first playoff hole. Fowler has played in the tournament five times, also finishing sixth in 2010 and tying for 16th the next year. He is looking for his first victory on the PGA Tour this season, although he did win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on the European Tour, and he has five results in the top 10 and eight in the top 25 in 11 events on the U.S. tour.
  1. Adam Scott, Australia — Continuing to lead the FedEx Cup standings thanks to victories in the Honda Classic and the WGC-Cadillac Championship on consecutive weeks, Scott will be trying to get back on track after finishing outside the top 25 in the WGC-Dell Match Play (T-28) and the Masters (T-42) in his last two starts. He is making his eighth appearance in the Wells Fargo Championship and had some good results in the beginning with a tie for 16th in 2005, solo third the following year, a tie for 24th in 2007 and a tie for eighth in 2008. However, he seemed to have lost his touch at Quail Hollow, missing the cut in his last three appearances in 2009, 2010 and 2015, failing to shoot 70 in any of his six rounds during those years.
  1. Justin Rose, England — Coming off a tie for 10th in the Masters to defend his title in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last week, Rose surprisingly missed the cut. He will try to turn it into a positive after a few extra days of rest by bouncing back in the Wells Fargo Championship. He finally seemed to figure out Quail Hollow in 2014, when he posted his first top-10 finish with a solo fifth, before skipping the tournament last year. Rose, who is No. 10 in the World Golf Rankings, has four top-10 finishes and six in the top 25 on the PGA Tour but is winless so far this season after capturing the Zurich plus the UBS Hong Kong Open on the European Tour in 2015.
  1. Patrick Reed, United States — Even though he has not won since the Hyundai Tournament of Champions about 15 months ago, Reed continues to play well this season, with eight results in the top 10, including second in his Hyundai title defense and another runner-up in his last outing at the Valero Texas Open. He has finished in the top 10 in four of his last five tournaments, with the one hiccup a tie for 49th in the Masters. Those results have put him eighth in the FedEx Cup standings and No. 12 in the World Golf Rankings. Reed is playing in the Wells Fargo for the fourth time and hopes to finally figure out Quail Hollow after tying for 32nd in both 2012 and 2013 and tying for 58th last year.
  1. Phil Mickelson, United States — Even though Lefty has played in the Wells Fargo Championship 12 times, he has never won it, although he has had chances on several occasions, with eight finishes in the top 10. The closest he came was in 2010, when he closed with a 68 to finish second as Rory McIlroy flew past him with a 62 to win by four strokes. Mickelson held the 36-hole lead with 68-67 in 2013 but played the weekend in 73-73 to wind up solo third, one stroke out of the playoff in which Derek Ernst beat David Lynn of England. Lefty, who has not won since the 2013 Open Championship at Muirfield, has had his moments this year with a solo second in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am, a tie for third in the CareerBuilder Challenge and solo fifth in the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
  1. Hideki Matsuyama, Japan — The highest-ranked Asian in the world at No. 14, Matsuyama is almost quietly on his way to a career season after playing quite well the previous two years on the PGA Tour. He beat Rickie Fowler on the fourth playoff hole to win the Waste Management Phoenix Open for his second PGA Tour victory and has three other top-10 results — including a tie for seventh in the Masters in his last outing after finishing fifth at Augusta a year earlier. In 2015, he had nine finishes in the top 10 after winning the Memorial Tournament a year earlier. Matsuyama is making this third appearance in the Wells Fargo Championship, having tied for 20th last year after posting a tie for 38th a year earlier in his debut at Quail Hollow.
  1. J.B. Holmes, United States — When Holmes won the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship by one stroke over Jim Furyk, it put his PGA Tour career back on track after he underwent two brain surgeries in 2011. It was his first victory in six years, gave him back his PGA Tour card and he added a fourth win on the circuit last year in the Shell Houston Open, where he beat Jordan Spieth and Johnson Wagner with a par on the second playoff hole. Even though J.B. still is looking for his first title this season, he has three results in the top 10 including a tie for fourth in the Masters, and seven results in the top 25. Holmes has made nine starts at Quail Hollow, with his best finish other than the victory a tie for ninth in 2011.
  1. Henrik Stenson, Sweden — After something of a slow start this season, it’s time for the big Swede to get it going and he has had some good results lately, including a tie for third in the Arnold Palmer Invitational and solo second in the Shell Houston Open before he tied for 24th in the Masters. Stenson hasn’t won since claiming his 17th pro victory in the 2014 DP World Tour Championship-Dubai, but he does have nine finishes in the top three world-wide in the last year. The narrow, tree-lined fairways at Quail Hollow would seem to be right up his alley since he hits his 3-wood straighter and farther than many players hit driver, but he has missed the cut three times and finished outside the top 50 in his five appearances in the Wells Fargo Championship.
  1. Jim Furyk, United States — The Wells Fargo Championship will be Furyk’s first event since he withdrew from the BMW Championship because of a left wrist injury during the FedEx Cup playoff last September. He rested for the remainder of the year in hopes the injury would get better, but when it did not, he underwent surgery in February. If he can find any of his old form, Quail Hollow probably is a good place for Furyk to return, as he claimed one of his 17 PGA Tour victories there in 2006. He holed an eight-foot par putt on the final hole of regulation to get into a playoff with Trevor Immelman and won with a six-foot par putt on the first extra hole. Furyk lost a four-hole playoff to Vijay Singh at Quail Hollow a year earlier and finished one stroke behind J.B. Holmes in 2014.

–Courtesy of The Sports Xchange, TSX Golf Editor Tom LaMarre

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected


Latest Articles