With the second major of 2021 just two weeks away, the PGA Tour has travelled to Charlotte in North Carolina for the Wells Fargo Championship.
Six of the world’s top-10 will tee-up at Quail Hollow which is generally considered to be one of America’s most respected tournament venues.
This highly-regarded parkland course opened for business on June 3rd, 1961, since when it has hosted one major tournament, plus 27 regular Tour events.
For 11 straight seasons from 1969, Quail Hollow hosted the Kemper Open, with the course returning to the PGA Tour calendar in May 2003 – following an absence of 24 years.
Famed architect Tom Fazio has been involved in a number of Quail renovations, most recently in 2016.
This latest upgrade prepared the course for the 2017 PGA Championship which was won by Justin Thomas who plays this week.
However, the biggest structural change occurred eight years ago, when all 18 putting surfaces were changed from Bentgrass to Bermuda ahead of the Wells Fargo event in 2014.
Quail Hollow, which was built 600 feet above sea level and six miles south of Charlotte city centre, will stage the Presidents Cup match of 2022.
This testing tree-lined layout has water in play on six holes, most of these late in the round.
Although Quail has generally favoured the bigger hitters, good course management remains an important attribute at a venue which has plenty of sand.
Since the greens were switched to Bermuda, the putting stats for the Wells Fargo tournament have been significant.
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In 2014, tournament winner JB Holmes was second for Putting (GiR), while third placed Martin Flores topped the table.
The following year champion Rory McIlroy was second in the list, while the 2016 Putting (GiR) category was headed by Roberto Castro who lost in a play-off. That year’s winner James Hahn was fifth in the putting stats.
And in the two most recent Wells Fargo events, in 2018 and 2019, the putting tables were topped by tournament winners Jason Day and Max Homa respectively.
Last year’s event was cancelled due to Covid and, in 2017, Quail Hollow staged the PGA Championship in August.
There are plenty of golfers who will arrive in Charlotte with a strong course history, none more so than McIlroy.
Turning 32 on Tuesday, McIlroy is a two-time winner of this event. He’s also posted five other top-10s here.
Without a victory since November 2019, the Northern Irishman will be hoping that Quail Hollow reignites that confidence so lacking in recent months.
Rickie Fowler, another former Quail champion, is in the same boat as Rory, although his star has dimmed even more, with the 32-year-old now a lowly 116 in the World Ranking – his lowest position since February 2010.
New father Jon Rahm chases a fifth straight top-10 finish this year, while Viktor Hovland continues to impress.
The Norwegian compiled another podium finish at the weekend and is up to a career-high 11th in the Ranking.
In Florida, Hovland closed with a best-of-day 65 and will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of McIlroy whose first victory at this tournament 11 years ago came on his Quail Hollow debut.
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Meanwhile, at Copperhead last week, Canadian Corey Connors produced another solid performance, making it six T-25s from his last seven outings.
And defending champion from 2019 Max Homa will return to Quail in decent shape, although the 30-year-old will feel a little disappointed by his closing 74 at Copperhead on Sunday which left him in a tie-for-sixth.
Homa’s other PGA Tour title came earlier this year at another highly-technical course, Riviera.
Twitter: Andy Swales@GolfStatsAlive
MC* – Missed Additional 54-Hole Cut
Note: List Contains Leading Reserves