Horses for Courses: 2021 Wells Fargo Championship

Max Homa is FINALLY back to defend the title, his first at the time, won in 2019.

But he’s not THE horse this week.

The Queen City of Charlotte returns to its normal residence on the PGA TOUR schedule this year as the Wells Fargo Championship pulls in to the Quail Hollow Club. The full field of 156 players will battle the 7,521-yard Par-71 for the first time since 2019.

After navigating “The Snake Pit” last week at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook, the best on TOUR will be faced with the most difficult closing three-hole stretch in golf this week with “The Green Mile.”

Quail Hollow Club has had a truncated schedule the last few years and plenty of course modifications to go with it.

The course ditched Bentgrass greens after the 2013 edition to add Bermuda. In 2016 the Mini-Verde was changed out for the tougher Champion strain to get ready for the 2017 PGA Championship, won by Justin Thomas. The first few holes were re-arranged and par was shortened from 72 to 71 after Tom Fazio put the finishing touches on the final routing for the 2017 major.

While all of that was happening, the WFC moved to Fazio’s Eagle Point in Wilmington for the 2017 event, so those results won’t interest gamers this week. After events at Quail Hollow Club in 2018 and 2019, COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 edition. Next year’s tournament will move to TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Maryland as the club and course prepares to host the 2022 Presidents Cup.

Got all that?

Only Torrey Pines (South Course) and Corales Golf Course play longer on the card but the test will be even sterner this week as Charlotte has been soaked by severe weather and rain. Fairways and greens that are usually difficult to hit will expand as shots won’t run out. The over-seeded rough is just two inches of ryegrass so that will also help. The greens are over-seeded to help the look nice and run smooth yet are difficult to consistently hit even though they average over 6,500 square feet. The last three editions have had exactly six players break 10-under for the week. It’s not easy.

The list of winners here suggests power plays so that never hurts. Plenty of Torrey winners/contenders too. And Riviera.

Max Homa is the reigning champion from 2019 and will defend for the first time. The field of 156 will be chasing Rory McIlroy’s course record of 61 set in 2015 en route to his second win here. They will also be chasing his unbelievable tournament record of 21-under set in 2015. A purse of $7.9 million will pay the winner $1.442 million plus 500 FedExCup points. Top 65 and ties will play the weekend.

Recent Event Winners Stats

Year20202019201820172016
 No EventMax HomaJason DayJustin ThomasJames Hahn
Score15-under12-under8-under9-under
Notes Par-71Par-71PGA Championship Par-71Par-72
MOVCovid- 19 322Playoff
Cut 1-over  1-over
Age 28302633 
      
Disantance – All Drives 239126
Driving Accuarcy T45T49T62T20
GIR T17T69T17T13
Ball-Striking 1555T178
Proximity 1659T29T13
Putting: Birdie or Better % 3T1T3T7
SG: Off-the-Tee 18192211
SG: Approach-the-Green 12501642
SG: Around-the-Green 4112220
SG: Putting 1248
SG: Tee-to-Green 1291110
Scrambling 22T3053
Bogey Avoidance 1T2T13T17
Par-3 Scoring T18T13T19T74
Par-4 Scoring 1T4T1T1
Par-5 Scoring T2T2T11T5

Recent Winners and Notables

2019: Max Homa (-15, 269)

Closed with 67, co-low round of the day, to win by three shots. … All four rounds 70 or better including three in the 60s. … First TOUR win at age 28. … Fifth, first-time winner here since 2003 and first since 2013. … Second in birdies with 20. … Only made five bogeys (1st). … Slept on first co-54-hole lead. … Posted bogey-free 63 in Round 2, co-low round of the week, to sit one back. … Career best finish entering the week was T6. … Only had one top 10 in nine events prior on the season. … MDF his first appearance in 2016. … Entered the week ranked No. 417 in the OWGR.

Notables

Joel Dahmen (T2) opened with 66 to share the lead first round lead with McIlroy. … Jason Dufner (T4) opened 68-63 and led after 36 plus played from the final group. … Rickie Fowler (T4) secured his fourth top 10 in eight starts, never missing the cut. … Rory McIlroy (T8) began Sunday just two off the lead but couldn’t find his third title as he limped in with 73. … Keith Mitchell (T8) picked up his first top 10 in just his second start. … Pat Perez (T8) played from the penultimate group but fired 74. … Kyle Stanley (T8) backed up his T13 from 2018 with all four rounds par or better. … Jhonattan Vegas (T8) cashed his best check in making his fourth cut in a row. … Jason Day (T24) did not become the first player to defend the title. … Only eight bogey-free rounds on the week. … Only three players were 10-under or better. … Cut was 1-over. … 71.762 scoring average (8th-most difficult on TOUR).

2018: Jason Day (-12, 272)
Led by two after 54 holes, won by two after firing 69 Sunday. … First winner since Lucas Glover (2011) to post all four rounds in the 60s. … Won in his fourth attempt at Quail Hollow, including 2017 PGA Championship (T9). … 12th TOUR victory at age 30. … One of three players 10-under or better. … Played “The Green Mile” 3-under, best ever. … Made 53-53 inside five feet. … Only needed 101 putts. … Only made three bogeys before four in the final round (T2). … T9 2012 and T22 on debut in 2010. … MC at Zurich the week before but won at Torrey and was T2 at Pebble leading up.

Notables

Aaron Wise (T2) posted all four rounds in the red on his debut and co-led the field with 19 birdies. … Bryson DeChambeau (4th) played his final 54 holes 12-under after opening with 75. … Phil Mickelson (T5) posted 64-69 on the weekend to add to his record of top 10s here. … Patrick Reed (8th) has never missed the weekend in six tries. … Emiliano Grillo (T9) picked up his first top 10 in his second start. … Luke List (T9) T9 GIR. … Charl Schwartzel (T9) matched Wise in the birdie count. … PGA Champion from 2017 Justin Thomas (T21) and 2016 event winner James Hahn (MC) didn’t factor. … Peter Malnati (T34) led by one after 36 holes. … Only 13 bogey-free rounds for the week. … Cut was 3-over. … Scoring average 72.132 (5th-most difficult on TOUR).

2017: Justin Thomas PGA Championship (-8, 276)

First major championship at Quail Hollow Club. See below for top finishes of the players entered in this year’s event.

2016: James Hahn (-9, 279)

Final year of Par-72 before the PGA Championship. … Won on the second playoff hole and picks up his second TOUR win (Riviera). … Trailed by two after 54 holes. … Bogeyed the last hole but parred it to win the playoff. … Entered the week on EIGHT consecutive MCs. … Only eight players made less than 10 bogeys for the week.

Notables

Rickie Fowler (T4) played from the final group and posted 74. … 2015 winner Rory McIlroy (T6) and Phil Mickelson (T6) both closed with 66 to kick in the back door for top 10s. … 2011 winner Lucas Glover (8th) was one of four to post all four rounds at par or better. … Danny Lee (T9) backed up his T13 from 2015. … Cut was 1-over. … Scoring average 72.953 (9th-most difficult on TOUR).

Key stat leaders

Top golfers in each statistic on the 2020-2021 PGA TOUR are listed only if they are scheduled to compete this week.

Strokes-Gained: PuttingGolfer
Rank*Top 10 since 2015 or previous winner
  
2Justin Suh (7 rounds)
3*Patrick Reed
4JT Poston
5Brendon Todd
6Chesson Hadley
8Ian Poulter
10Zach Johnson
11Xander Schauffele
14Kris Ventura
15Mackenzie Hughes
17Peter Malnati
18*Webb Simpson
19*Brian Harman
21Patton Kizzire
23Austin Cook
25Denny McCarthy
26Joaquin Niemann
27Lanto Griffin
28Brice Garnett
29Jimmy Walker
30Cameron Tringale
  
Strokes-Gained: ApproachGolfer
Rank*Top 10 since 2015 or previous winner
  
2Justin Suh (7 rounds)
3*Justin Thomas
4Will Zalatoris
5Matt Wallace
6Russell Henley
7Keegan Bradley
8Matthew NeSmith
9Tony Finau
10Corey Conners
14Jon Rahm
15Bryson DeChambeau
19Chez Reavie
20Scott Stallings
24Tom Hoge
26Xander Schauffele
28Stewart Cink
29Lanto Griffin
30Viktor Hovland
  
Bogey AvoidanceGolfer
Rank*Top 10 since 2015 or previous winner
  
1*Webb Simpson
2Russell Henley
3*Emiliano Grillo
5Abraham Ancer
6Cameron Tringale
7Patrick Cantlay
8Stewart Cink
10*James Hahn
12Andrew Putnam
15Joaquin Niemann
16Brice Garnett
17Corey Conners
18Scott Stallings
19Carlos Ortiz
20Matt Jones
21Russell Knox
21*Justin Thomas
21Harris English
21Sungjae Im
26*Brian Harman
27Charles Howell III
28Roger Sloan
29Bo Hoag
30*Kyle Stanley
33Will Zalatoris
  
2017 PGA Championship 
Top Finishers entered this week 
  
1Justin Thomas
2Patrick Reed
2Francesco Molinari
5Rickie Fowler
9Jason Day
13Scott Brown
13James Hahn
13Ryan Moore
22Rory McIlroy
22Ian Poulter
22Robert Streb
22Chez Reavie
22Gary Woodland

Horses for Courses

Player (Starts/Cuts made)Top 10sTop 25sMost RecentRecent Others
     
Max Homa (2/2)11Win (2019)Posted 3 rounds in the 60s, 63 in Round 2
Joel Dahmen (2/3)122 (2019)T16 2018; 7 of last 8 in the red
Jason Dufner (3/6)22T4 (2019)T5 2009; did not play again until 2018 (T42)
Rickie Fowler (8/8)46T4 (2019)2012 winner; T4 2016, 6th debut 2010
Rory McIlroy (8/9)78T8 (2019)2015, 2010 winner; 7 straight with T16 the WORST
Pat Perez (8/13)25T8 (2019)14th visit; 6th 2011
Kyle Stanley (5/7)23T8 (2019)T13 2018, T6 2013; 3 of last 5 visits T13 or better
Jhonattan Vegas (4/7)11T8 (2019)Cashed in 4 straight, all better than the previous
Keith Mitchell (2/2)11T8 (2019)Of 8 rounds 5 are in the 60s; other 3 are 74 or worse
     
Jason Day (4/4)24Win (2018)Of 16 rounds 13 are par or better
Aaron Wise (2/2)12T2 (2018)15-under aggregate with all 8 round par or better
Bryson DeChambeau (1/2)114 (2018)12-under last 54
Phil Mickelson (14/15)1012T5 (2018)8 top fives including 3 of last 4
Patrick Reed (6/6)118 (2018)T28 before, T28 after
Luke List (3/4)12T9 (2018)T16 debut 2013
Emiliano Grillo (2/2)11T9 (2018)T61 debut 2016
Charl Schwartzel (1/2)11T9 (2018)Co-led the field in birdies with Wise (19)
     
James Hahn (3/5)11Win (2016)T50 is next best on debut
Lucas Glover (11/15)568 (2016)2011 winner, T2 2009; T31 or better if he makes the cut
Danny Lee (4/7)12T9 (2016)T13 before, MC two after
     
Patrick Rodgers (2/3)11T2 (2015)T34 2018
Webb Simpson (6/10)24T2 (2015)T18 2019; lost by SEVEN to McIlroy
Gary Woodland (7/8)13T4 (2015) T24 2016 capped six straight; WD-MC last 2
Robert Streb (4/6)12T4 (2015)T23 before, T28 after
Kevin Streelman (4/9)23T9 (2015)T6 2013, T14 2014
Brendan Steele (6/9)12T9 (2015)T14 2016
     
OthersTop 10sTop 25sMost RecentRecent Others
JB Holmes (7/12)23Win (2014)T9 2011; T36 is the best since winning
Brian Harman (6/7)12T10 (2013)Won this event at Eagle Point in 2017; T24 2019
Stewart Cink (9/12)36T9 (2011)Of his last five, four are T23 or better
Sean O’Hair (6/11)13Win (2009)Cashed last three visits
Seamus Power (2/2)   T13-T27 last two years for Charlotte resident who qualified Monday

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s