Wells Fargo Championship 2013: Top Storylines Heading into Quail Hollow
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The Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club has become one of the premier stops on the PGA Tour and annually gets one of the best fields among regular tour events.
Quail Hollow is such a respected course that it will host the 2017 PGA Championship.
This week, 10 of the top 25 on the money list will tee it up in Charlotte, N.C.
Here’s a list of the top storylines heading into Thursday’s first round.
What Will Rickie Do?
What kind of title defense will Rickie Fowler offer this week?
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There must be some special connection between Rickie Fowler and Quail Hollow.
In addition to registering his first PGA Tour victory there last year, Fowler hasn’t finished any lower than 16th in three starts there.
He started the season off well, tying for third in his first two starts, but hasn't done much since. So he doesn’t exactly come to Quail Hollow red hot.
He’s one of five past champions in the field hoping to become the event’s first multiple winner.
As a reminder, Fowler edged Rory McIlroy and D.A. Points on the first hole of a playoff last year.
One More Shot at the Players Championship
Mike Weir is among those who have to win this week to get into the Players Championship.
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Billy Horschel’s victory last week in the Zurich Classic was his first on the PGA Tour, but it also secured him a spot in the Players Championship next week.
The Zurich was the last opportunity for players outside of the Top 50 in the Official World Golf Ranking to get inside that number.
But the Wells Fargo Championship gives those not in the field at the TPC at Sawgrass to get in with a win.
That list is considerable and is highlighted by names like Stephen Ames, the 2006 Players champion, Trevor Immelman, Mike Weir and nine-time PGA Tour winner Stuart Appleby.
The Rory and Phil Show
These two guys need to kick start their 2013s soon.
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The two biggest names in the field, Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson, are also the two biggest mysteries.
Much has been expected of McIlroy, the 23-year-old from Northern Ireland, who entered 2013 as the top-ranked player in the world, but his season thus far has been nothing short of a train wreck.
New equipment, high expectations and a lack of maturity have all contributed.
There have been flashes of the “old” McIlroy but not nearly enough to prove he’s anywhere close his No. 2 world ranking.
Mickelson, too, has had a disappointing season. He won going away at Phoenix but has been mediocre, at best, since.
Mickelson had his worst Masters in a long time.
He does have a good record in this event, finishing in the top two six times.
Suffice it to say that nothing either of these two do this week will come as a surprise.
A Young Man’s Game?
Will Bud Cauley be the next young star to win at Quail Hollow?
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When Rickie Fowler won last year, he did so at age 24.
Rory McIlroy was 20 when he won in 2010.
Anthony Kim was 22 when he won here in 2008.
That’s three winners in the last five who were in their 20s.
It’s a big-boy course at 7,442 yards and the last three holes, known as the Green Mile, are as tough as nails.
Maybe being younger and stronger is the winning formula there.
If so, who’s next?
Webb Simpson? Bud Cauley? Russell Henley? John Huh?
Is It Webb Time?
Webb Simpson gets a consolation kiss from his wife after losing in a playoff at the RBC Heritage Classic.
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Last year’s U.S. Open champion, Webb Simpson, lives in the Quail Hollow development, about a mile from the golf clubhouse.
He’s played in this event since 2009 and would love to win in his own backyard.
He had a great chance last year, leading after 54 holes, but he shot 73 in the final round and missed a playoff by a shot.
He’s played well this season and a win here would get him in a great place to begin preparations for his U.S. Open title defense in six weeks.