Quail Hollow Inside Track
Our man Stateside Harry Emanuel previews this week’s Quail Hollow Championship in North Carolina.
Quail Hollow Championship
Course: Quail Hollow Club
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Low winning total: 272 (-16) Anthony Kim
Course Record: 64 Kirk Triplett (2004) Bo Van Pelt (2006) Rory Sabbatini (2007)
Cut: Top 70 plus ties after two days
Tee Off: 13:00 GMT Thursday
This week is the halfway point of the PGA Tour regular season (16 weeks into the year) and the tour heads to North Carolina for the Quail Hollow Championship.
Formerly known as the Wachovia championship, the tournament has been held at the Quail Hollow Club since 2003.
There may been no headline sponsor but there is no shortage of top golfers. Seven of the world’s top ten players are in attendance, the winners of 14 tournaments so far this year on the PGA Tour and 19 major champions with a combined 40 major victories.
Last Time Out
In 2008 Anthony Kim earned his first PGA Tour title, taking a four-stroke lead into the final round and rolling to a five-stroke victory over Ben Curtis.
Kim finished with a tournament record 16 under par 272 and was the youngest winner on the PGA Tour last year aged 22 years, 10 months and 15 days.
Quail Hollow is a demanding golf course and ranked 20th most difficult course on tour in 2008 and 11th in 2007. It is an old fashioned style tree lined golf course with narrow fairways and multiple doglegs.
A combination of narrow tree lined fairways and tricky slopey greens make Quail Hollow a tough all round test of golf. No player has recorded four rounds in the 60’s.
At 7,442 yards Quail Hollow is only three yards shorter than Augusta but driving distance is not a prerequisite to victory. In fact last year only three players ranked in the top 20 for driving distance finished in the top 10.
The course rarely plays its full yardage and the organisers often move the tees forward notably at the 4th and 14th making them drivable par fours.
With wet weather forecast, which will soften up the fairways, and less rough than in previous years the wayward off the tee will be less penalised but the narrow tree lined nature of the course makes this more a test of accuracy than power.
The greens are some of the most slopey the players will ever come across and their putting strokes will undergo a rigorous examination on the bentgrass greens.
Although wet weather may soften the greens they have a built in SubAir system which controls the moisture so the organisers should be able to provide fast greens.
They want to see a lot of birdies, so they cut all the rough down, which is going to be optimum for scoring – Anthony Kim
There’s a few greens out there that are maybe a little too undulating for my taste, and I’m sure if you asked a lot of the players they would say the same thing – Todd Hamilton
17 and 18 are two of the toughest holes you’ll ever see, and to put them back to back is very difficult. You can make up ground, though, on the lead, but you’ll most likely do it through pars and having the leaders make mistakes”- Phil Mickelson
Horses for Courses
Jim Furyk, who won the Quail Hollow Championship in 2006, has almost all or nothing success at Quail Hollow.
In five appearances at the event he has missed the cut twice, finished tied for second in 2005 and seventh in 2008 to go with his win.
In 16 career rounds at this event he has only shot over par twice. Seven of his 16 rounds have been in the 60s.
The 17th, ranked the most difficult hole, is the signature hole at Quail Hollow. The tee shot requires a 200 yard carry over water and the green slopes back to front and right to left. It was the toughest par three hole on the PGA Tour in 2008 (average score 3.418).
The 18th, ranked the second most difficult hole, has a creek that meanders along the left hand side of a narrow fairway. There is a hazard on both sides of the deep slopey green. Last year it was the fourth toughest finishing hole on the PGA Tour (average score 4.367).
There is an unsettled outlook for the week with rain and the possibility of thunderstorms on Thursday evening and Friday afternoon continuing into the weekend.
With less rough than in previous years and rain forecast players will need to make a lot of birdies to win. Three of the last six winners have been major champions so expect the highest ranked players to feature at the top of the leaderboard.
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