With the PGA Championship a couple weeks away, many of the game’s best are here at a former PGA Championship venue in Quail Hollow. This week’s PGA Tour event is the Wells Fargo Championship.
It’s been held annually in the Charlotte, North Carolina, metro since 2003. An exception was in 2020 when the pandemic led to the event’s cancelation.
Quail Hollow has been the primary venue, except for years when it’s hosted the PGA Championship in 2017 or the Presidents Cup in 2022.
The George W. Cobb design opened in 1959.
Quail Hollow hosted the Kemper Open from 1969-1979 and the PaineWebber Invitational from 1983-1989.
Tom Fazio redesigned the course in 1997, 2003, and 2014-16 in advance of the 2017 PGA Championship.
Winning score tends to fall between 10- and 15-under par. Rory McIlroy won this event for the second time in 2015 with a tournament record 21-under to win by seven shots on a soft golf course. It broke the previous record of 16-under.
That same year, McIlroy set the course 18-hole record of 10-under 61.
Another reason Tiger liked to play here is because he can shine on a long, arduous golf course.
It’s grown to 7,600 yards. There is some tree line to contend with, though Quail Hollow is not overly dense and trees were removed during the latest redesign.
The vaunted “Green Mile” of holes 16-18 make for one of the tougher stretches on the PGA Tour. Earlier in the course are birdie holes, which makes this one of the more fair tests of golf.
Quail Hollow can be a brute of a course, especially when the course is soft.
Champion Bermudagrass is the surface from tee to green. Green complexes are about average size by PGA Tour standards with greens usually rolling faster than average.
There is a Sub-Air system in place.
Strokes gained off the tee is a big stat to watch this week. Driver is the right club off most par-4s and par-5s and big hitters who are driving it straight this week tend to do well. The field usually averages just around 50% fairways hit, so if everyone’s playing from the rough, that’s where the bombers benefit.
Sixteen of the top 20 from the Official World Golf Ranking are in the field this week. No. 1 Jon Rahm and No. 2 Scottie Scheffer are notable absences.
It looks like there might be a little rain in the forecast on the weekend, but otherwise, it’s shaping up to be a cool, dry week in Charlotte.
Let’s get into this week’s top 10:
Given Jordan Spieth’s proclivity to play a bunch of Texas events in his home state around this time of the year, the Wells Fargo Championship is often an event he skips.
Now that it’s reached designated event status, Spieth is at Quail Hollow for the first time in an individual event since the 2017 PGA Championship where he took T-28th (72-73-71-70).
This is his debut playing the Wells Fargo Championship.
He’s no stranger to the venue, though. Spieth lit Quail Hollow on fire last fall, going a perfect 5-0-0 to help the Americans to victory at the Presidents Cup.
Spieth would love to recapture that magic as he quests for his first victory of the 2022-23 season.
The 29-year-old has been knocking on the door with four top-four finishes in his last six starts. That includes solo second in his last start at the RBC Heritage where he had several chances to close the door before falling in a three-hole playoff against Matt Fitzpatrick.
Spieth comes to North Carolina and the Wells Fargo Championship on a streak of five made cuts in stroke play events and seven in his last eight.
He ranks 15th on the PGA Tour in total strokes gained per round (1.296) and is gaining strokes in every category.
Spieth isn’t known for his length, but he’s got enough distance to contend here if the rest of his game is sharp. The former Texas Longhorn is 63rd in driving distance (302.5 yards).
I don’t envision a win yet for Jordan, but watch out for him at Oak Hill in a couple weeks.