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      Power Rankings: Wells Fargo Championship

    • Rickie Fowler won the Wells Fargo Championship in 2012, marking his first PGA TOUR win. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Rickie Fowler won the Wells Fargo Championship in 2012, marking his first PGA TOUR win. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

    The organizers of the Wells Fargo Championship have really outdone themselves in the last 12 months, and that's saying something for a tournament that's seemingly always tinkering for bigger and better. In fact, selecting which headliner deserves top billing here is foolhardy. However, for those still concerned about the temporary issues with the greens at the eighth and 10th holes at Charlotte's Quail Hollow Club, we'll start there and promptly turn the page.

    Immediately following last year's tournament, the bentgrass putting surfaces were replaced with ultradwarf Bermuda grass. It's weather-tolerant and ideal for championship designs, particularly in this region of the country that experiences the hot and cold punches that Mother Nature throws.

    The next stop in North Carolina is Pinehurst No. 2, which will undergo a transition of its own to the ultradwarf following the conclusion of this summer's U.S. Open doubleheader. It was announced recently that Pinehurst will measure 7,562 yards for the men. That happens to be the exact measurement on the scorecard at Quail Hollow, which is standard-issue par 72 with four par 3 and four par 5s. (Pinehurst No. 2 will play as a par 70.)

    Holes 15-18 at Quail Hollow, the last three comprising The Green Mile, have been stretched an aggregate 70 yards. There's a new tee 23 yards back at the par-3 17th that lifts its maximum distance to 221 yards, but the most noticeable change occurred at the par-4 16th. To accommodate hospitality, the fairway was moved about 80 yards to the left. Not only did that create new sightlines off the tee and into the green, but the hole can now top out at 508 yards, 21 more than last year. The Green Mile is a par 4-3-4 finish that averaged +0.818 strokes to par in 2013. Each of the holes has ranked inside the top-six hardest on the course in all 11 editions of the tournament.

    Overall scoring hit a six-year high at 73.043, ranking Quail Hollow as the second-most difficult par 72 in non-majors.. Striping its fairways is never a bargain, evidenced again last year with a clip of just 51.73 percent, good for fifth-lowest on the PGA TOUR and the fifth consecutive year inside the top five of all events. Interestingly, distance off the tee was down considerably at 274.6 yards. That's a drop of approximately 20 yards over the usual and largely due to cool conditions and secondary winds from the north and east.

    Hitting the 6,500-square foot greens is about the easiest test on a course set up like final exam. Last year's field averaged 64.33 percent (ranking 19th), but the mean proximity to the hole placed second-longest at 38'9". Scrambling was limited to 53.90 percent (10th).

    If the layout feels like that of a major, that's the point as Quail Hollow is preparing to host the 2017 PGA Championship. On March 18, it was announced that the title sponsor extended its agreement through 2019 with the caveat that the Wells Fargo Championship will be contested at Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, N.C. in 2017. Simply more evidence of a popular tournament that never sits still.

    The severe weather that affected the South since Sunday night is expected to exit greater Charlotte by Thursday morning. Once it does, passing clouds will pose as the only threat to ideal conditions. High temperatures will flirt with 70 degrees. Prevailing winds from the west and southwest will serve as a natural challenge to the field of 156.

    POWER RANKINGS: WELLS FARGO CHAMPIONSHIP

    RANK

    PLAYER

    COMMENT

    1 Rory McIlroy Rory McIlroy

    Site of breakthrough victory in 2010. Playoff loss in 2012; T10 last year. Owns course record (62). Top 10s in Houston and at the Masters.

    Site of breakthrough victory in 2010. Playoff loss in 2012; T10 last year. Owns course record (62). Top 10s in Houston and at the Masters.

    2 Lee Westwood Lee Westwood

    Focus of converging trends. T17 (Houston), seventh (Masters) & win (Malaysia) upon arrival. T5 (2012) & T4 (2013) in last two starts here.

    Focus of converging trends. T17 (Houston), seventh (Masters) & win (Malaysia) upon arrival. T5 (2012) & T4 (2013) in last two starts here.

    3 Phil Mickelson Phil Mickelson

    All-time earnings leader here despite no wins. He's made the cut in each of the last 10 editions and logged seven top 10s. Third in 2013.

    All-time earnings leader here despite no wins. He's made the cut in each of the last 10 editions and logged seven top 10s. Third in 2013.

    4 Jim Furyk Jim Furyk

    Four top 10s in nine trips, the last a T7 in 2010. No worse than T20 (Valspar) in last four starts. Took week off after T7 at Harbour Town.

    Four top 10s in nine trips, the last a T7 in 2010. No worse than T20 (Valspar) in last four starts. Took week off after T7 at Harbour Town.

    5 Robert Karlsson Robert Karlsson

    The PGA TOUR non-member lives locally. Shared fourth a year ago. Top 15s in all three starts this season. T11 in Morocco in his last start.

    The PGA TOUR non-member lives locally. Shared fourth a year ago. Top 15s in all three starts this season. T11 in Morocco in his last start.

    6 J.B. Holmes J.B. Holmes

    Met the terms of his Major Medical with a T11 in New Orleans, his fourth top 20 in five starts. Shared ninth here in 2011.

    Met the terms of his Major Medical with a T11 in New Orleans, his fourth top 20 in five starts. Shared ninth here in 2011.

    7 Jimmy Walker Jimmy Walker

    FedExCup points leader is back after a two-week break following a T8 in Masters' debut. Five top 10s this season. T22 here last year.

    FedExCup points leader is back after a two-week break following a T8 in Masters' debut. Five top 10s this season. T22 here last year.

    8 Justin Rose Justin Rose

    No top 25s in five tries at Quail Hollow, but he's posted top 15s in three of his last four starts, including T8 in New Orleans.

    No top 25s in five tries at Quail Hollow, but he's posted top 15s in three of his last four starts, including T8 in New Orleans.

    9 Rickie Fowler Rickie Fowler

    Despite missing Zurich cut, the 2012 Wells Fargo champ has shown enough form of late to warrant this spot. Top 10s in previous two starts.

    Despite missing Zurich cut, the 2012 Wells Fargo champ has shown enough form of late to warrant this spot. Top 10s in previous two starts.

    10 Brian Harman Brian Harman

    Poised for career year with four top 10s among 11 cuts made. Tied for seventh at Harbour Town in last start. T10 here a year ago.

    Poised for career year with four top 10s among 11 cuts made. Tied for seventh at Harbour Town in last start. T10 here a year ago.

    11 Jamie Donaldson Jamie Donaldson

    First appearance at Quail Hollow. Two weeks off since a T14 at the Masters. Eight top 15s in last 14 starts worldwide.

    First appearance at Quail Hollow. Two weeks off since a T14 at the Masters. Eight top 15s in last 14 starts worldwide.

    12 Kevin Na Kevin Na

    Five top 20s with two missed cuts in last seven starts. T14 at Quail Hollow in 2010; solo fifth in 2011. Seventh in adjusted scoring.

    Five top 20s with two missed cuts in last seven starts. T14 at Quail Hollow in 2010; solo fifth in 2011. Seventh in adjusted scoring.

    13 Webb Simpson Webb Simpson

    Hasn't posted a top 45 in a stroke-play event in three months, but he's a member of Quail Hollow and took fourth in 2012.

    Hasn't posted a top 45 in a stroke-play event in three months, but he's a member of Quail Hollow and took fourth in 2012.

    14 Ryan Moore Ryan Moore

    Earns spot primarily for a T5 here in 2012 and T6 last year. Four top 10s this season, but he's stalled since a T6 at the WM Phoenix Open.

    Earns spot primarily for a T5 here in 2012 and T6 last year. Four top 10s this season, but he's stalled since a T6 at the WM Phoenix Open.

    15 Zach Johnson Zach Johnson

    Stumbled of late, but has survived seven straight cuts at Quail Hollow, including a T6 in 2011. Four top 10s this season; last a T6 at VTO.

    Stumbled of late, but has survived seven straight cuts at Quail Hollow, including a T6 in 2011. Four top 10s this season; last a T6 at VTO.

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