It’s been nearly a month since we last saw Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods in action on the PGA Tour. Both players took extended absences from tournament golf after disappointing T-40th finishes for the pair in last month’s Masters; however, they’re both going to be in action this weekend at Quail Hollow Golf Club for the Wells Fargo Championship.
The weeks leading up to The Masters are often fraught with anticipation, which, of course, leads to stress. The weeks immediately following Augusta normally result in distilled fields as players take the time to recover from months of preparation. For the last several years, the reconvening point for the game’s top players has been Quail Hollow, and once again a loaded field will be in attendance this weekend for the Wells Fargo.
McIlroy and Woods are two of 18 major championship winners who are scheduled to be in attendance, including Phil Mickelson and protege Keegan Bradley who will be paired together with defending FedEx Cup champion Bill Haas. The trio should create one of the larger galleries on Thursday and Friday, having been part of an exciting three-way playoff at the Northern Trust Open earlier this year.
Of course, McIlroy and Woods also figure to draw their customarily large crowds, as well. McIlroy, the 2010 champion, is scheduled to be paired with Jim Furyk and David Toms, while Woods, the 2007 champion, is scheduled to go off in the group directly in front of McIlroy with Webb Simpson and Geoff Ogilvy.
Quail Hollow features one of the toughest three-hole stretches on the PGA Tour, with Nos. 16, 17 and 18 known as “The Green Mile.” The Par-4 480-yard 16th, is a long challenging hole and No. 17 is a long Par-3 over water with a green that funnels back towards the hazard. However, the 18th hole, which played as the 14th-most difficult on tour in 2011, is the most challenging of the bunch.
With trouble left and right of the fairway, a well-placed tee shot is critical, and a short-sided approach could potentially find the creek on the left. The hole played to an average of +0.380 strokes over par in 2011.
A loaded field and an exciting finishing stretch should make an entertaining return to action for Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods.