McIlroy chasing second Wells Fargo title
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 Wells Fargo Championship | Preview | 30 Apr 2014
The outstanding layout of Quail Hollow Golf Club in Charlotte in North Carolina will again play host to the Wells Fargo Championship when the event begins this Thursday.
Quail Hollow has been back on the PGA Tour schedule since 2003 when the Wachovia Championship was first played there and will remain on the schedule until at least 2019 although in 2017 the Wells Fargo Championship will move to the Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington when the Quail Hollow hosts the PGA Championship.
The event produced a surprise winner in 2013 when Derek Ernst won his first PGA Tour title when defeating England’s David Lynn in a playoff.
Other recent winners have been Rickie Fowler, Lucas Glover and in 2010 Rory McIlroy won his first PGA Tour title with a final round of 62 to defeat Phil Mickelson by four shots.
McIlroy will start the favourite this week following a series of solid finishes this season including a last start 8th place finish at Augusta National when coming from well off the early lead. Not only did McIlory win in 2010 he was runner-up after a playoff in 2012 and 10th last year. His current form and obvious liking for the golf course therefore make him the logical favourite.
Phil Mickelson clearly is below his best this year but has played well at Quail Hollow on occasions including when runner-up to McIlroy in 2010 and when 3rd last year. A missed cut at the Masters was the continuation of a struggling start to the season so it is hard to get excited about the leftie’s chances although a return to Quail Hollow might just boost his prospects.
Justin Rose has been generally very good this season but the problem for the Englishman is his indifferent record in this event in the few times he has played at Quail Hollow.
Lee Westwood appears to be returning to his best as his victory at the recent Malaysian Open and 7th place finish at the Masters would suggest. Importantly for his chances this week Westwood finished 4th in this event last year.
Rickie Fowler surprisingly missed the cut last week in New Orleans but was the winner of this event in 2012 and prior to last week had put together a couple of very good finishes. Given his record on the golf course and what appeared to be improving recent form he might be a good chance at longer odds.
Jim Furyk has been a winner and runner-up in this event and is playing well enough of late to be a serious chance to continue that form.
The Australians in the field include recent winner Matt Jones, the improving Stuart Appleby, Robert Allenby and Geoff Ogilvy, Greg Chalmers, Bronson La’Cassie and Scott Gardiner.
Jones missed the cut at the Masters but he of course won the week before in Houston and has played this event quite well in the past including a 7th place finish one year.
Appleby does not enjoy a good record at this venue but Allenby has played well on occasions and appears to be approaching better form than he has shown for some time. Allenby finished 4th in this event in 2008 and last year after a slow start finished 27th which given his form at the time was a good effort. He stands a very good chance of being the leading Australian.