The Field

The field this week is a regular 144 man PGA field with the cut taking place after Friday’s round.  The top 70 players and ties will play the weekend.

This course will actually be the host of the PGA Championship in 2017.  I mention this because I believe this has helped attract a few stronger players.  It’s likely no coincidence that Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson will all be in attendance and will all hope to bag a win while also gaining good info for a future major.  This event has seen a surprise winner or two, but it’s mainly been a place where bigger names have won and dominated.

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Course Details

Quail Hollow Golf Club—Charlotte, North Carolina

 7,500-7600 yards – Par 72

Quail Hollow is a long par 72 course that features a lot of challenging holes but also presents players with some decent scoring opportunities as well.  It has undergone some renovations in the past two years and the greens have been completely changed from Bentgrass to Bermuda, something to keep in mind as last week’s event, the Players, also used the same Bermuda grass.  Although players can get away with being inaccurate off the tee there are still some holes where water comes into play.  The most significant examples being on the 16th-17th and 18th holes which also makes up one of the hardest finishing stretches on Tour, affectionately dubbed “the green mile” by organizers.  Players will have to have solid tee to green games this week if they are going to be able to both score well and navigate some of the tough and long par 3’s and 4’s that await the players down the stretch.

Last Five WinnersUSATSI_8544487_168381090_lowres

JB Holmes—2014
Derek Ernst—2013
Rickie Fowler—2012
Lucas Glover—2011
Rory McIlroy —2010

What will it take to succeed at Quail Hollow?

This is an interesting event that has seen its fair share of big name winners the past 10 years or so and speaks to the quality of the golf course.  As mentioned previously players who are hitting it well tee to green have tended to have the most success here.  Being able to take advantage of the par 5’s is always important on a course like this as par will be considered a good score on many of the other holes.  Players who have the length to reach par 5’s in two and the scrambling ability to save par on the tougher holes should do very well this week.  Additionally, given the fact that this course has seen its fair share of first time winners, and since it’s seen some extensive remodelling, I’m not placing a huge emphasis on a player’s past history at this course.  This is certainly a place a solid golfer should be able to navigate even if it is their first or second time around the course.

Who has had success here?

Even though the event has changed its name a few times, the golf course has remained the same throughout and some players have very nice records at this event that are worth noting:

  • Phil Mickelson has absolutely dominated this event but has yet to record a victory. He’s made his last ten cuts at Quail Hollow and recorded finishes of 2-3-3-5-7-9 in that span, only twice in those ten years has he finished outside of the top 12.
  • Jim Furyk also has an impressive record, he won the event in 2006 and in the past ten years has made 9 of 10 cuts with 5 top ten’s, he finished runner-up here last year.
  • Brendon de Jonge has compiled a very nice record here as well. He’s played Quail Hollow each of the past 6 years and never missed the cut, he has finishes of 4th and 6th in that span.
  • Rory McIlroy won this event in 2010 (his first on tour) and in the past three years has gone 8-10-2. The course definitely suits his eye and he will be a hard fade this week.
  • Jonathon Byrd makes for an interesting cheap option this week, that is of course assuming you like players with good course histories. He’s made five of six cuts and has finishes of 2-5-9 to his name.

Who has struggled here?

  • Henrik Stenson tops the list of players who have struggled here, he’s played Quail Hollow three times since 2011 and never made the cut
  • Branden Steele has been one of the most consistent players on tour this year but he’s yet to record a finish better than 30th at this event. He’s also missed 3 of 6 cuts.
  • Jhonattan Vegas is a big hitter but he’s played this event three times and never made the cut, possibly showing that scrambling and play around the greens is just as vital this week as long hitting
  • Finally William McGirt and Freddie Jacobson, a couple golfers who are generally quite adept at making a lot of cuts, both have crummy histories at this event. McGirt has never made the cut in 3 attempts and Jacobson has missed 4 of 7 cuts and not played here since 2011.

What statistics are important?

Given the list of past winners, Driving Distance seems like an important stat to consider and I’d definitely give it consideration over Accuracy this week.  However I would also consider strokes gained: tee to green here as well, this shows how well a player is faring compared to the field on his play up to the green on a given hole.  Long players have done well at Quail Hollow but solid ball strikers like Jim Furyk have also fared well here suggesting consistent ball striking is just as important as length, and strokes gained tee to green is a better representation of who is striking it solidly time and time again.  I’m also looking at scrambling statistics but not placing as large an emphasis on them since I think a solid driving week is more important.  Still, players who have been hitting it long and consistent, and have been chipping it well, should get extra consideration.

My Recommendation

One thing for certain is that a player’s ability to be solid from the tee and fairway is more vital than their statistics on the green.  While a solid putting week will always be needed, being able to hit a lot of greens in regulation on some of the tough holes seems like a good way to ensure success this week.  Try to identify players who might be hitting the ball solidly and long, and who have also shown an improved or consistent touch in the wedge and chipping department.  That mix seems to be a good recipe for success at Quail Hollow and one I’ll be focusing on for the week.

My pick(s) to win: Rory McIlroy and Louis Oosthuizen

After success last week I’m going with the two tiered approach again.  McIlroy is playing great and going to be very hard to beat on a course that he has really taken to.  He’s my pick amoung the heavy favorites.  Oosthuizen’s been playing extremely solid the past few weeks and looked great in the Match Play event.  He ranks highly in strokes gained tee to greens and has great length that will play a large factor this week.  One of the most underrated players on tour, I like Oosthy as an under the radar play this week to possibly bag his first win on American soil.