McIlroy thinner than as Wells Fargo winner
CHARLOTTE, N.C. Rickie Fowler and Rory McIlroy return to the site of their first PGA Tour victories at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship. Here’s 5 Things you need to know from Quail Hollow:
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1. SPARE TIRE FOR WIN? Rory McIlroy’s search for the form that sent him to No. 1 in the world continues this week. McIlroy won the 2010 Wells Fargo Championship for his first PGA Tour victory, and was involved in a three-man playoff for last year’s title, eventually won by Rickie Fowler.
McIlroy shot a final-round 62 to win here three years ago. What was different about McIlroy then? “I was chubby,” McIlroy said. “I wasn’t in the same shape as I am now, that’s for sure.”
When asked how a self-described “chubby” kid could win at Quail Hollow, McIlroy simply replied, “Talent, I guess.”
McIlroy is making his first appearance since a T-25 at the Masters, which was preceded by a second-place finish at the Texas Open. He is No. 2 in the Official World Golf Ranking. “I’m being patient with it and just waiting for the right time,” McIlroy said.
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2. GREEN SCENE: Quail Hollow’s greens have been a topic of conversation this week, and not for good reason. Several of the greens are in poor shape on the tournament’s eve. The condition of the putting surfaces is one reason why the tournament’s 10th alternate, Rod Pampling, got into the tournament after several withdrawals, including Ian Poulter and Dustin Johnson.
“You can’t lie about it,” Fowler said. “The greens are shaky. . . . There is still a hole out there. So the way I’m going into it, someone’s going to have to make putts this week. Someone’s going to win the golf tournament. They’re still giving out a trophy and a jacket at the end of Sunday.”
“I guess if you start missing putts, then you’ve got to just accept it,” McIlroy said. “I don’t mind because I’m not a guy that relies on my putter per se. So it will eliminate quite a lot of the field. I don’t mind that at all.”
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3. EL PATO ESTA AQUI: Angel Cabrera and Webb Simpson are both making their first PGA Tour appearances after playoff losses. Cabrera lost a playoff to Adam Scott at the Masters, while Simpson finished second to Graeme McDowell in sudden-death at the Heritage. Both went home after the loss.
Cabrera won a PGA Tour Latinoamerica event at the course in Argentina where he learned the game, Cordoba Golf Club. Simpson is playing his home course this week.
“I would have rather won the week before, but to play in front of my people and my town, I’m very happy with that,” Cabrera said. “It was very hard. I was tired and the course was difficult and it showed the first three rounds.
Cabrera finished third here in 2010. Simpson finished fourth at Quail Hollow last year. “I live nearby, so just a little too far to walk to the course every day, but it feels great to be here,” Simpson said.
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4. ON POINT: Trivia question: Who was the third member of the playoff at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship, which also included Fowler and McIlroy. The answer is D.A. Points, and he’s one of the hottest players on Tour.
Points has cracked the top 50 (No. 48) in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time and is No. 7 in the FedEx Cup standings. He won the Shell Houston Open and finished second by a shot to Billy Horschel at last week’s Zurich Classic.
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5. SHORT SHOTS: Web.com Tour player John Peterson is in the field this week after his T-8 finish at last week’s Zurich Classic in New Orleans. Peterson, an LSU alum, played the Zurich on a sponsor exemption. . . . Monday qualifier Jack Fields played collegiate golf at UNC and used to work at Quail Hollow. He’s the leading money winner on the North Carolina-based eGolf Professional Tour, having finished runner-up twice this year and third in his last start, the Forest Oaks Classic. Another eGolf Tour player, Joey McLister, Monday qualified. His brother, Kevin, withdrew from this week’s eGolf event to caddie. Nate Smith and Vaughn Taylor also Monday qualified. . . . Quail Hollow’s head teaching professional, Charles Frost, earned a sponsor exemption into the field. Frost’s students include PGA Tour rookie Russell Henley, who began working with Frost in the middle of last year. Frost won last year’s North Carolina Open by three shots after shooting a first-round 62 at The Club at Irish Creek. . . . Jordan Spieth and Matteo Manassero are among this week’s sponsor exemptions.