A handful of golf's biggest stars will descend on Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina, this May for the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship, where they'll each look to earn an impressive PGA Tour victory.
Although top-ranked players such as Tiger Woods, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson and others will sit out this weekend, plenty of familiar faces will be in action, including world No. 9 Phil Mickelson and world No. 11 Rory McIlroy.
This tournament was established in 2003, and no player has ever won twice. Defending champion Derek Ernst looking to make history by becoming the first back-to-back winner.
Adding to the significance, the course, which can present numerous challenges, is also set to host the 2017 PGA Championship.
With a deep field set to tee off on Thursday morning, let's get you up to speed on what you should be watching for this weekend.
When: Thursday, May 1 through Sunday, May 4
Where: Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina
Tee Times: For a complete list of tee times for the first two rounds, visit PGATour.com.
Purse: $6,900,000; Winner's Share: $1,242,000
FedEx Cup Points: 500
|2014 Wells Fargo Championship TV Schedule|
|Thursday, May 1||3-7 p.m.||Golf Channel|
|Friday, May 2||3-7 p.m.||Golf Channel|
|Saturday, May 3||1-2:30 p.m., 3-6 p.m.||Golf Channel, CBS|
|Sunday, May 4||1-2:30 p.m., 3-6 p.m.||Golf Channel, CBS|
Contenders to Watch For
Perhaps the biggest name teeing off at Quail Hollow this weekend, former world No. 1 Rory McIlroy will be eyeing his first victory since 2012 when he tees off alongside Jonas Blixt and Rickie Fowler on Thursday morning.
According to Golfodds.com, McIlroy is the favorite to win this weekend with 7-1 odds.
The 24-year-old hasn't competed since finishing eighth at the 2014 Masters, but he will be ultra-confident, as he won by four strokes here as recently as 2010. According to The Irish Times' Philip Reid, McIlroy is a big fan of Quail Hollow, saying, "I love the golf course, love the area."
McIlroy certainly loved the course four years ago when he earned his breakthrough PGA Tour victory. He shot one over through the first two rounds but lit up the course over the weekend, fending off runner-up Mickelson by shooting a 10-under 62 in the final round.
It's asking a lot of McIlroy, who finished four strokes off the pace and tied for 10th here a year ago, to recreate that memorable performance in 2014, but he's certainly capable of catching fire at Quail Hollow.
Although McIlroy's top-10 finish at Augusta National wasn't what he had hoped for, it was a career-best mark and likely signals that his drought will soon come to an end.
Rickie Fowler is another contender to watch closely this weekend, and he will tee off alongside McIlroy and 2014 Masters runner-up Blixt:
The 25-year-old shot 14 under to win this event in a playoff over McIlroy and D.A. Points two years ago (his first and only PGA Tour win) and has recorded three top-10 finishes on tour since late February.
Here's a look at Fowler's big shot in 2012's playoff, via the PGA Tour on Twitter:
Most recently, Fowler missed the cut at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. But prior to that, he recorded back-to-back top-10 finishes at the Masters (fifth) and the Shell Houston Open (sixth), turning in impressive third-round performances at both events.
At the 2014 Masters, Fowler admitted that it's time he raises his game when it counts, via Golfweek's Nick Masuda: "It's about time that I need to kind of step up and start playing well on the weekends, especially at the major."
Following a disappointing performance at Quail Hollow a year ago—in which he not only failed to defend his title but also came unraveled in the third round and didn't play on the final day—expect a motivated Fowler to challenge at the top of the leaderboard in 2014.
His recent triumph on this course should give him plenty of confidence, and with some of the tour's big names out of the picture, Fowler will have fewer stars to contend with.
Like McIlroy, Jimmy Walker hasn't entered a tournament since finishing eighth at the 2014 Masters. But with three wins and five top-10 finishes to his name already this season, the 35-year-old must be considered a dark horse to win this weekend.
The FedEx Cup points leader has only missed one cut in 14 events this season and has earned over $4.2 million, ranking second on the PGA money list behind only Masters champion Bubba Watson.
If Walker can continue to drive the ball deep (tied for 17th on tour in average driving distance) and putt with confidence (third on tour in strokes gained putting), he'll have an excellent shot to pick up some more FedEx Cup points this weekend and build on his lead.
And considering that no player has ever won this event twice, Walker will be an intriguing pick for bettors, as he enters with 30-1 odds of winning, according to Golfodds.com.
*All tournament information and statistics according to PGATour.com.
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