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May 7 2012

1:17 AM

Notes from inside the ropes

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A clutch wedge won the Wells Fargo for Rickie Fowler. Rory McIlroy might be thinking about one wedge that got away.

By Fred Albers, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent

Rickie Fowler’s 132-yard approach into the 18th green during the playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship had to hit about a two-foot square to be close and he nailed it, using a 51-degree wedge -- an unusual loft for a PGA TOUR bag. Many players carry a 48-degree pitching wedge, 54-degree gap wedge and a 60-degree lob web. Fowler had the lofts of his wedges tweaked to close the gap between yardages and it was perfect for his first TOUR win.

Par 5s: Nick Watney attacked the par 5s at Quail Hollow, going 10 under on them in the first three rounds and getting another birdie on the par-5 fifth hole in the final round. That’s when Quail Hollow got its revenge. Watney played the seventh hole aggressively and walked away with a triple-bogey 8 that included two balls in the water.

Soft spikes: It’s always a puzzle to me why more professionals don’t wear hard spikes instead of the soft variety. There is no doubt the soft spikes are more comfortable and easier on a player’s back, but there is also no doubt the hard spikes provide more secure footing. On a course like Quail Hollow, with so many transition areas covered with pine needles, hard spikes would seem to be a better choice.

A bad wedge: Rory McIlroy was cruising through his final round at 14 under and just 97 yards from the cup on the 11th hole. From that ideal position, he made bogey. He sailed the green with a wedge, left his chip short and did not hit his putt hard enough. If there was one hole the Ulsterman wishes he could replay, it might be the 11th.

Green speed: The golf course played firm and fast in the final round and at times it appeared players needed hydraulic brake fluid to hold the putting surfaces. With a back-left hole location on the 14th, players could not stop a ball by the cup. Fowler’s approach with a wedge barely held the green and was inches away from tumbling down a slope into the water.

Shadow game: Anytime you have a heavily wooded golf course you are going to have afternoon shadows on the green. The towering pines at Quail Hollow cast fingers of darkness across the greens on the back nine, making it difficult to get correct line on putts.

The closer: Webb Simpson is ranked ninth on TOUR in back nine scoring with a 35.03 stroke average, but his Sunday numbers are not good. He is ranked 125th in final-round scoring with a 72.33 stroke average. How did those numbers play out in this week? Simpson was 7 under on the difficult back nine for the tournament but was just even par on the back nine in the final round, missing a playoff by one shot.

Fred Albers is a course reporter for SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio. For more information on SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio, click here.

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