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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Wells Fargo Championship - Preview

The PGA TOUR returns to Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo Championship. While the story last year at Quail Hollow was the desperate shape of the greens, they have since been torn up and rebuilt. Sometimes new greens can be very firm and less receptive than greens with some age to them, so we'll see if that's the case this week.

Quail Hollow is a 7,442-yard par 72, featuring four par 5s and four par 3s. The closing three-hole stretch is known as "The Green Mile" with two lengthy par 4s and a long and watery par 3 in between.

As you will see when we list the winners and runners-up below, there are several trends that stand out. First is the correlation between major championship winners, especially U.S. Open champs, and those that have won at Quail Hollow. Second is the emergence of young stars winning at Quail.

Here's a look back since 2005:

  • 2005 - Vijay Singh (276) over Jim Furyk (276) and Sergio Garcia (276) in a playoff.
  • 2006 - Jim Furyk (276) over Trevor Immelman (276)
  • 2007 - Tiger Woods (275) over Steve Stricker (277)
  • 2008 - Anthony Kim (272) over Ben Curtis (277)
  • 2009 - Sean O'Hair (277) over Lucas Glover (278) and Bubba Watson (278)
  • 2010 - Rory McIlroy (273) over Phil Mickelson (277)
  • 2011 - Lucas Glover (273) over Jonathan Byrd (273) in a playoff
  • 2012 - Rickie Fowler (274) over D.A. Points (274) and Rory McIlroy (274) in a playoff
  • 2013 - Derek Ernst (280) over David Lynn (280) in a playoff
Since the greens were as bad as they were in 2013, I'm basically tossing out the '13 results in my research. Derek Ernst's lack of success in every other PGA TOUR event before and after that further support that decision. 

So, between 2005 and 2012, 16 different players finished first or second. Of those, eight are major champions and four of those are U.S. Open winners and five have won Masters. Also of interest, Woods and Glover each won at Bethpage Black, which puts a premium on being long and accurate off the tee, while McIlroy won on a long and wet Congressional. So, success at long U.S. Open venues and Masters winners anyone?

As for the stats, I'm focusing on Driving Distance, Total Driving, Par 4 Scoring Pverage, Par 5 Scoring Average and I'm tossing in Par Breakers and Scrambling. 

I will return tomorrow night with a power ranking. Until then, happy research!

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