Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, is serving as the backdrop for the PGA Championship for the first time, but those who have competed on the treacherous track before might feel like it's already hosted a major.
Of the 156 golfers in this week's field, 101 teed it up in at least one edition of the Wells Fargo Championship from 2003-2016. Counting Rory McIlroy twice (2010, 2015), nine winners are on site to attempt to translate that success to this stage.
Since Quail Hollow last hosted the PGA TOUR 15 months ago, it's undergone what isn't hyperbole to describe as a massive renovation done in part both for the 99th edition of the PGA Championship as well as the 2021 Presidents Cup. For more on the changes and the challenge, be sure to scroll past the ranking.
POWER RANKINGS: PGA Championship
RANK PLAYER COMMENT 1 Hideki Matsuyama 2 Rory McIlroy 3 Rickie Fowler 4 Zach Johnson 5 Jordan Spieth 6 Thomas Pieters 7 Charley Hoffman 8 Paul Casey 9 Brooks Koepka 10 Dustin Johnson 11 Tony Finau 12 Adam Scott 13 Phil Mickelson 14 Jon Rahm 15 Henrik Stenson 16 Matt Kuchar 17 Marc Leishman 18 Alex Noren 19 Patrick Reed 20 Tommy Fleetwood
Defending champion Jimmy Walker, Masters champ Sergio Garcia, Justin Thomas, Justin Rose and Quail Hollow member Webb Simpson will be among the notables includes in Tuesday's Fantasy Insider.
Quail Hollow has been at the center of so many conversations that it can be tough to decide where to begin, but it gets that attention because it's a favorite among PGA TOUR members.
Long, demanding and never fearful to evolve, Quail Hollow will play as a par 35-36=71 at a cool 7,600 yards. Save an extension of 36 yards at the par-4 11th, holes 6-18 are essentially the same. It's the first five on which those with experience on the course may wonder if they made a wrong turn en route.
The first two holes were blended to form a 524-yard par 4 as the new greeting. Holes 2 and 3 are the old 3 and 4, respectively, while Nos. 4 and 5 are brand new. There is a total of four new greens, but all have been regrassed with Champion G-12 Ultradwarf Bermuda. (MiniVerde Ultradwarf Bermuda had replaced the old bentgrass surfaces after the 2013 edition of the Wells Fargo Championship.)
Even when Quail Hollow played as a par 72, its scoring average landed +0.953 strokes to par, second-highest among all non-majors in 2016. It ranked inside the top 10-toughest in both fairways hit (51.01 percent) and greens in regulation (57.95 percent), while standing stingiest against all approaches, yielded a season-high average of 43 feet, nine inches, in proximity to the hole.
Five of the par 4s exceed 480 yards, including the endpoints of The Green Mile otherwise known as holes 16, 17 and 18. They averaged +2.936 strokes to par as a group over four rounds last year. At +0.481, the 18th was the hardest finishing hole of any course in both 2014 and 2016. It was the fifth-hardest par 4 on TOUR in both seasons.
There is a mountain of success for those who can move it at Quail Hollow, so distance off the tee is meaningful as long as there is control and course management clutching the reins. In that sense, the host of the season's final major presents as a source of potential redemption for the series of notables who missed the cut in the U.S. Open at Erin Hills. Precision on approach and putting will also matter, as they always do in this most equitable of championships.
Inclement weather is almost certain to impact the tournament. A reasonable threat for rain and possible storms exists throughout. Generally warm and humid conditions will blanket the course with little relief from light winds.
ROB BOLTON'S WRITING SCHEDULE
PGATOUR.COM’s Fantasy Columnist Rob Bolton will be filing his usual staples leading up to this week’s event. Look for the following columns this week.
MONDAY: Rookie Ranking, Qualifiers, Reshuffle, Medical Extensions, Power Rankings
TUESDAY*: Sleepers, The Confidence Factor, Fantasy Insider
WEDNESDAY: One & Done
THURSDAY: Ownership Percentages in PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf and One & Done presented by SERVPRO
* - Rob is a member of the panel for PGATOUR.COM’s Expert Picks for PGA TOUR Fantasy Golf presented by SERVPRO, which also publishes on Tuesdays.