Rory McIlroy and 5 Golfers to Watch at the Wells Fargo Championship

Immer ChriswellCorrespondent IMay 4, 2011

Rory McIlroy and 5 Golfers to Watch at the Wells Fargo Championship

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    KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - APRIL 17:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland looks on in his third round during day four of the Maybank Malaysian Open at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club on April 17, 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Ima
    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    The Wells Fargo Championship is going on without Tiger Woods, just in case if you haven't heard. While many people won't be flipping to the tournament because of this, I ask you to consider the field. It is one of the best fields of the year, outside of the obvious picks (WGC, Masters).

    A lot of talented names will be putting their best on the line for four days, but only one will claim the trophy. Last year, young gun Rory McIlroy burst into the final round, shooting 62 to win by five strokes over Phil Mickelson.

    So who will be this year's champion? Who will come out on top after the three hardest closing holes on tour?

Dark Horse: Sergio Garcia

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    CHENGDU, CHINA - APRIL 23:  Sergio Garcia of Spain in action during day three of the Volvo China Open at Luxehills Country Club on April 23, 2011 in Chengdu, China.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    If you haven't noticed by now, I am a Sergio Garcia fan. I think he's a great golfer, but of course has not had the success he should have had on tour. After taking a break from the game for the first time in his career, Garcia has posted respectably. His last tournament, and even par third round plagued his opportunity to capture the trophy, and he had to settle for T22.

    However, don't write him off. His game is very solid if his putting shows up. He is one of the best on tour for greens in regulation, and the more chances you have, the better chance you have of capitalizing on those chances.

    This course requires accuracy, and Garcia is definitely a more accurate player. Don't forget either, that Garcia does not have a spot in the US Open. Should he win, he would drop into it. There's motivation in itself.

Rickie Fowler

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    HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC - APRIL 21:  Rickie Fowler hits his tee shot on the 8th hole during the first round of The Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on April 21, 2011 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Although Fowler hasn't particularly stuck out in the way he has played, he has still been competitive this year. He's trying to follow up his Rookie of the Year season with a win, and this is a great opportunity.

    Last year, Fowler finished in solo sixth place, accumulating a four round total of seven under par. Although he was nine strokes off the lead, he was only four strokes off of the leader everyone expected to win the tournament, Phil Mickelson.

    Without a win, Rickie Fowler is still unproven. However, it's easy to see this young man breaking through this week.

Tommy Gainey

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    HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SC - APRIL 24:  Tommy Gainey hits a shot on the 13th hole during the final round of The Heritage at Harbour Town Golf Links on April 24, 2011 in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    I first saw "Two Gloves" on the Big Break. I never really regarded him as a potential player on tour. Boy was I wrong. So far, Gainey has two third place finishes, two more top 10s, and a top 25 to his credit. While it may not seem impressive, keep in mind this man was not really regarded as a threat.

    Gainey has seen his rank go from somewhere in the 500 range to 89 in the matter of a year. It seems as though a year of the Nationwide Tour has taught this original player how to make success out of what he has: a strange swing.

    The plus to this is that if he wins, there won't be any fingerprints on the trophy.

Steve Marino

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    AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 08:  Steve Marino hits a shot on the fifth hole during the second round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 8, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
    David Cannon/Getty Images

    The man without a win, but with all the birdies. That's what Steve Marino is. And that's what he may always be. After this weekend, he could very well get rid of that title. Last year, had it not been for McIlroy's final round dramatics, the winning score would have been at 11 under par. 

    Steve Marino has it in him to make 15 birdies or more this week, the question is will it be enough, and can he avoid the bogeys that plague him?

Phil Mickelson

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    AUGUSTA, GA - APRIL 10:  Charl Schwartzel of South Africa is presented with his Green Jacket by Phil Mickelson for winning the Masters after the final round of the 2011 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club on April 10, 2011 in Augusta, Georgia
    Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

    I didn't pick a contender this week, because I don't think there is anyone clear cut from the rest of the field who has proven to be a force. However, that doesn't mean that classic choices like Phil Mickelson are any less intimidating. 

    He broke through the week before the Masters, only to post a relatively disappointing finish there. It doesn't classify as a bust or a choke, but it certainly wasn't Lefty's best.

    Last year, Mickelson's steady play was upstaged by Rory McIlroy. The person to take it this week will be... 

Winner: Rory McIlroy

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    KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - APRIL 14:  Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland in action during the first round of the Maybank Malaysian Open at Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club on April 14, 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
    Ian Walton/Getty Images

    Normally I'm not the person to pick last year's champion as a big contender, but McIlroy was impossible not to pick. After how well he has played in the past three weeks, not to mention how he has carried himself, he has shown how much he has grown.

    While he was already mature in many was, in the public eye he was very much a raw personality. He spoke about Tiger when he wished, and wasn't afraid to speak his mind. After the Masters, he also showed the class act he is. His post-round interview was great, and McIlroy nearly was able to win the next week as well.

    Although it's hard to see McIlroy recovering like this for many, it's the obvious pick for me.