PGA Tour Preview: Rory, Phil headline Quail Hollow

Preview – PGA Tour – Wells Fargo Championship – Quail Hollow Club – Charlotte, North Carolina –

Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson return to action this week at the Quail Hollow Club for the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship.

The full-field 156-man tournament is the final tune-up for the PGA Tour’s Flagship event – The PLAYERS Championship – next week in Florida and features a strong international flavor with the likes of Lee Westwood, U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, Jonas Blixt (T-2 at the Masters) and last week’s champion Seung-Yul Noh teeing it up.

Quail Hollow, measuring more than 7,400 yards, should test the world’s best players, especially when trying to find the right spot on the refurbished greens. Traditionally a difficult course to drive the ball off the tee with pine tree trouble lurking, Quail Hollow typically comes down to work around the greens. Putting and scrambling should determine the champion at the Tom Fazio designed par-72 layout.

Expect the “Green Mile” – holes 16-17-18— to make the difference down the stretch this week. Several past winners at Quail Hollow are in the field this week including Rickie Fowler and McIlroy, who fired a course-record 62 in the final round to edge Mickelson in 2010.

2013 Recap:

  • Derek Ernst (8-under) captured a playoff victory over David Lynn here. Ernst only carded a 72-70 on the weekend, but Mickelson’s 73-73 surprised everyone as he missed the playoff by a stroke. Robert Karlsson and Westwood were 6-under and T-4. Ryan Moore, Kyle Stanley and Kevin Streelman logged Top 10s.

FANTASY:  Struggling to find his game this season, Mickelson has made 10 of 10 cuts at Quail Hollow with seven Top 10s (including a second and a pair of thirds). He is the top-ranked player in the field at No. 9. Fowler, a past champion here, seems due for a solid outing after a missed cut last week. Westwood has a pair of Top 5s in his last two starts here. Avoid Rose, who has no Top 25s in five starts at Quail Hollow.

BETTING: McIlroy (7-to-1) is the outright betting favorite at struggling to make the cut at the Masters before rallying for a Top 10 finish. Take Blixt 50-1 for the value as he comes in rested after a run at Augusta. Westwood, at 16-1, comes in with momentum backing up his Top 10 at the Masters with a victory on the European Tour in Malaysia. Take a flier on Moore at 40-1 who was T-6 here last year and T-5 in 2012.

Golf Channel and CBS Sports have the television coverage this week.

Other Golf News:

  • Rolex Ranking No. 1 Inbee Park and No. 3 Stacy Lewis headline the LPGA Tour field at the North Texas LPGA Shootout this week. Park is the defending champion.
  • The European Tour hosts The Championship this week in Singapore.  Bernd Wiesberger is the favorite at 14-1 odds.
  • The Champions Tour hosts the Insperity Invitational at the Woodlands Country Club in Texas. The 54-hole event will be televised by Golf Channel.
  • Park and Lewis are co-favorites at at 5 ½-to-1 odds to win the North Texas LPGA Shootout. Lexi Thompson (9-1) and Michelle Wie (12-1) are also expected to contend.