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April 26 2013

9:32 PM

First Look: Wells Fargo Championship

Rickie Fowler picked up his first PGA TOUR win last year at Quail Hollow Club. (Lecka/Getty Images)

FIELD LIST: Wells Fargo Championship

By Jeff Shain, PGATOUR.COM contributor

COURSE: Quail Hollow Club, 7,492 yards, par 72. Designed by George Cobb, the course opened in 1962 and quickly established itself as a worthy host of big events. Quail Hollow was the original site of the Kemper Open (1969-79), later hosting the World Seniors Invitational (1980-89) before the PGA TOUR returned in 2003. The final three holes, known as the “Green Mile,” are considered perhaps the toughest closing stretch on TOUR. Quail Hollow’s stature figures to grow even more in upcoming years, joining the list of major championship hosts with its selection to stage the 2017 PGA Championship.

FEDEXCUP: Winner receives 500 points.

CHARITY: Teach For America Charlotte, the local arm of a national campaign to sponsor teachers who are recent college graduates and who commit to two years of teaching in inner-city and rural public schools. More than 300 Teach For America alumni work in metropolitan Charlotte.

FIELD WATCH: World No. 2 Rory McIlroy, the 2010 winner, and U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, a Quail Hollow resident, headline a lineup that features 10 of the top 25 in this week’s world rankings. The list also includes Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson. … Jordan Spieth, the Texas teen who earned special temporary status last month, is playing on a sponsor exemption. A tie for ninth at the RBC Heritage was his third top-10 of the year. … Nicolas Colsaerts, a member of Europe’s winning Ryder Cup team last fall, makes his first visit to Quail Hollow.

72-HOLE RECORD: 272, Anthony Kim (2008).

18-HOLE RECORD: 62, Rory McIlroy (fourth round, 2010).

LAST YEAR: Rickie Fowler captured his long-awaited first PGA TOUR victory, beating out Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points with a brilliantly struck wedge on the first hole of their playoff. Quail Hollow’s 18th had yielded just four birdies all day before Fowler – clad in his Sunday all-orange – stuffed his approach to 4 feet for the winning birdie. Points appeared to have victory in his grasp giving a shot back from a greenside bunker on the final hole of regulation – ending a run of 40 holes without a bogey. His 1-under 71 left him even with Fowler (69) and McIlroy (70). Fowler’s victory came in his 72nd PGA TOUR start.

STORYLINES: Fowler, who hasn’t finished lower than 16th in three starts at Wells Fargo, joins five other past champs with a chance to become the first multiple winner in the event’s short history. Fowler’s first visit in 2010 resulted in a tie for sixth; he shared 16th a year later. … Though still seeking his first victory at Quail Hollow, Mickelson owns six top-10 finishes in nine visits. The list includes finishing runner-up to McIlroy in 2010 and a tie for third in 2007. … Simpson, whose home stands about a mile from the Quail Hollow clubhouse, will try again for a home-turf victory. Simpson held the 54-hole lead last year before a closing 73 left him one shot out of the playoff.

SHORT CHIPS: Fowler’s victory gave Quail Hollow its third winner under age 24 in the past five editions. Anthony Kim won the 2008 title at age 22; McIlroy was 20 when he captured the 2010 crown. … Each of the past three defending champions wound up missing the cut a year later. … The 54-hole leader has gone on to win just three times in the tournament’s 10-year history – David Toms (2003), Jim Furyk (2006) and Kim (2008). … Reyhan Griffin, 14, will be one of Fowler’s partners in this week’s pro-am after winning a video contest through The First Tee program. Griffin has been a member of The First Tee of San Francisco since 2006.

TELEVISION: Thursday-Friday, 3-7 p.m. EDT (Golf Channel). Saturday-Sunday, 1-2:30 p.m. (GC), 3-6 p.m. (CBS).

RADIO: Thursday-Friday, 1-7 p.m. EDT (SiriusXM PGA TOUR Radio). Saturday-Sunday, noon-6 p.m. (SiriusXM).

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