We come off yet another victory as Jason Dufner picked up his 1st career PGA Tour win at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Dufner utilized some timely putting and excellent driving to beat Ernie Els on the 2nd playoff hole. He was our favourite selection last week and did not disappoint.
This week we travel to the Quail Hallow Club in Charlotte North Carolina for the Wells Fargo Championship. Last year’s winner Lucas Glover returns along with one of the best fields we get to see throughout the year. Let’s take a closer look at the golf course that will test the golfers this week.
Quail Hallow is one of the longer courses the players play on Tour. At 7442 yards and Par 72, this course forces the players to cover every yard of that distance (It is not like when the guys play in Arizona and the ball travels much further). The Players will have to manage the course while bombing the ball on the long Par 4’s and 5’s.
The course features four Par 4’s that are 478 yards or longer, along with a 566 yard Par 5 as its second shortest Par 5. You might think the designer would let up on the players for the Par 3’s but that is not the case. The course features only one Par 3 that measures less than 200 yards. Let’s look a little more in-depth at three holes I feel could have a major impact on deciding this excellent tournament.
Par 4 480 yards 16th Hole – This is a beautiful hole that begins a 3-hole stretch that will decide the tournament this week. The drive must be straight as there is a bunker on the right hand side that will try and swallow up golf balls. If you succeed in driving the ball straight you will have an average difficulty shot into a green that absolutely no one wants to putt on. Wait until you see some of the breaks players will be faced with on this crazy 16th green this week. It should be entertaining.
Par 3 217 yard 17th Hole – Any green that is almost an island and is the 17th hole tends to provide plenty of excitement on the PGA Tour. This 17th hole will provide players with a decision on whether to go for the pin or lay-up safely to the other side of the green come Sunday. If you are a player who needs the birdie on this hole, you had better understand your ball has a strong chance of getting wet.
Par 4 478 yard 18th Hole – The 18th is one hole that I would love to play but I think I would post a Kevin Na type score come Sunday with the pressure. The 18th has a very tight fairway forcing the players to be extremely accurate. To add to the difficulty there is a bunker on the right and a creek down the left hand side. The green is well guarded and will force players to once again be accurate. This is always an interesting finishing hole.
The field this week as I stated earlier is superb. This week we have 5 of the world’s Top 10 players (Rory McIlroy – 2nd, Lee Westwood – 3rd, Hunter Mahan – 5th, Tiger Woods – 7th, and Phil Mickelson 10th). Lucas Glover returns as last year’s champion of this event, looking to right the ship after a brutal start to the year. He is joined by 7 other past champions this week in Rory McIlroy (2010) Sean O’Hair (2009) Anthony Kim (2008) Tiger Woods (2007) Jim Furyk (2006) Vijay Singh (2005) and David Toms (2003).
There will be 17 past major champions competing this week, once again showing the depth in this field. All the players know the competition level is at premium this week in North Carolina so expect the cream of the crop to rise to the top. Look for the top players in the world to battle it out, while a lesser known play or two attempts to make a statement.
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KEEGAN BRADLEY 38 TO 1 – This was a mistake for Keegan to be listed at 38 to 1. I feel this is a knee jerk reaction to him missing the cut last week and not based on how well this course sets up for him. Keegan likes to methodically work his way around a course, a style that helped him win The PGA Championship last season. He is a grinder and loves to be matched up against the best in the world.
Bradley has 9 Top 25’s in his 11 starts this season, including a playoff loss on another difficult course at the Northern Trust Open. The statistics I like from Keegan this week are his All Around Ranking (1st), Total Driving (11th), Bounce Back (2nd), and Scrambling (14th). I also feel that Keegan has his sights set on making the Ryder Cup team this season and a win over a talented field like this week would all but lock up his spot, as he currently ranks 4th in the points (Top 8 automatically make it, then 4 are selected by Davis Love III).