Power Rankings: Wells Fargo ChampionshipApril 30, 2012
PGA TOUR staff
For the first time in its nine years as host of the Wells Fargo Championship, Quail Hollow Club averaged under par in 2011. What has been one of the most difficult par 72s on the PGA TOUR checked in at a relatively benign 71.953.
Even the infamous Green Mile -- holes 16, 17 and 18, a par 4-3-4=11 -- played its easiest in history, at just 0.777 strokes over par. This week, the member tee at the 17th will be employed in all four rounds. It's an angle that offers a more direct look at a green protected by water front and left. That should agree with the field of 156 given the suggestions golfers have made over the years asking for it.
"I think the players will be very excited by the move so we decided to do it," Quail Hollow president Johnny Harris told the Charlotte Observer on April 21.
Defending champion Lucas Glover exemplified the formula for success on the 7,469-yard track, leading the field in total distance of putts made. Indeed, putting and scrambling are vital at Quail Hollow.
Consider that of the 15 that finished in the top 10 on the leaderboard a year ago, only five ranked inside the top 25 in greens in regulation. Meanwhile, 12 finished inside the top 25 in fewest putts per round; 10 cracked the top 25 in total distance of putts made.
The fairways annually are among the most difficult to find. In 2011, the field averaged 47.64 percent, third-lowest of any event. The course has ranked inside the top five in five of the last six years. Yet, the challenge increases on the approach to the 6,500-square foot greens. In each of the last four years, Quail Hollow has ranked most difficult in proximity to the hole. Not surprisingly, it's a regular inside the top 10 most difficult in three-putt avoidance.
A light threat of rain early in the week would soften the turf but a dry tournament is forecast. Sunshine and high temperatures in the mid- to high 80s are expected. Winds should be light.
Power Rankings: Wells Fargo Championship Rank Player Comment Phil
First start since a T3 at the Masters, his fourth top five of the year. Hasn't missed a cut in any of his eight appearances at Quail Hollow, six of which have resulted a top 10. Third on TOUR in Strokes Gained-Putting; second in bogey avoidance. Rory
Looking to erase the taste of an uncharacteristic T40 at the Masters, just his second finish outside the top five in an official event anywhere in his last 13 starts. Broke through for the first time on the PGA TOUR here in 2010. Owns the course record (62). Jim
He's a former champ here (2006). Also finished second once and seventh twice. In his last four starts this season, he's finished no worse than T11. Leads the TOUR in fairways hit, ranks fourth in adjusted scoring and sits sixth in bogey avoidance. Tiger
First start since sharing 40th place at the Masters where he failed to break par in every round. Leads the TOUR in adjusted scoring; ranks ninth in Strokes Gained-Putting. Took the 2007 title at Quail Hollow, one of four top-11 finishes in five appearances. Hunter
The only multiple champion on the PGA TOUR this season. Ranks fifth in both fairways and greens in regulation. Sits 39th in Strokes Gained-Putting and 15th in bogey avoidance. Top 25s in each of his last four starts at Quail Hollow. Zach
Took the week off after his runner-up finish at Harbour Town where he ranked inside the top 10 in fairways, greens and Strokes Gained-Putting. Top 25s in three of his last four starts at Quail Hollow, including a career-best T6 last year. Bo
Only two top 10s in seven starts at Quail Hollow are top-six finishes (2006, 2010). Co-leads the PGA TOUR with four top 10s this season. Ranks first overall in Strokes Gained-Putting, birdies-or-better conversions and final-round scoring average. Keegan
Missed his first cut of the year last week in New Orleans, but he's a terrific fit for Quail Hollow. Currently leads the PGA TOUR in the all-around ranking. Also sits 28th in Strokes Gained-Putting, eighth in adjusted scoring and 18th in bogey avoidance. Rickie
Bit of an odd fit given he's had trouble getting the ball in the hole this year, but he returned to a cross-handed grip with his putter and finished T10 in New Orleans. In two starts at Quail Hollow, he's placed sixth (2010) and T16 (2011). Cameron
His tie for seventh place in New Orleans was his third consecutive top 10 and fourth of the year. Ranks 31st in Strokes Gained-Putting and 45th in bogey avoidance. Hit 14 greens in every round of last year's Wells Fargo Championship.
In 2012, our expert will be publishing his list of players who didn't quite make the top 10 for that particular week. Here are five other players Rob Bolton likes at Quail Hollow:
11. Bill Haas ... Still gunning for his first top 25 since his playoff victory at Riviera in mid-February, a drought that has extended five starts. Quail Hollow has furnished good vibes as he's finished fourth twice, including last year when he led by two after 18 holes.
12. Ben Curtis ... Chased his victory in San Antonio with a T13 in New Orleans. Once a runner-up at Quail Hollow (2008), if he had logged enough rounds to qualify, he'd currently rank first on TOUR in fairways hit, third in greens and seventh in Strokes Gained-Putting.
13. Kevin Na ... Returning after a sore back ended his week after 18 holes in San Antonio. Previous to that, he strung together a trio of top 15s. He's posted top 15s in each of the last two years here, including a solo fifth in 2011 when he led the field in fairways hit.
14. Ken Duke ... Fresh off a T7 in New Orleans, the third top 10 in his last eight starts. Led the field at TPC Louisiana in Strokes Gained-Putting. Ranks 34th overall on TOUR in the stat. Two top 15s in five appearances at Quail Hollow. First start here since 2009 (T38).
15. Vijay Singh ... The 2005 Wells Fargo champ has five top 10s in nine appearances. He's yet to log one this season in nine starts, however. Tweeted last Friday that he traveled to Germany for "maintenance," presumably on his back that has bothered him.