Unlike any other PGA Championship venue in recent memory, players will be incredibly familiar with Quail Hollow...
... Well, sort of.
Between 2003-2016, Quail Hollow has been home to a PGA Tour event known first as the Wachovia Championship and then as the Wells Fargo Championship. It's been regarded over those years by players as a "mini major" because of the quality of the course, the field it attracted, the quality of winners and the hospitality they received in the area.
This season, the tournament took a one-year hiatus from the Tour's schedule in order to prepare for the PGA Championship.
And there's the rub.
In those 12 months, extensive changes have been made to the George W. Cobb-designed Charlotte gem by designer Tom Fazio to beef it up for a major.
As a result, players will see a far different course.
Among the significant changes was the addition of MiniVerde Bermudagrass to Champion Bermudagrass (due to a damaging mutation in the MiniVerde) to the greens and rough. The first hole has been redesigned, as have the fourth, fifth, ninth and 11th holes. The brutal "Green Mile" -- the courses three-hole closing stretch -- remains the same as it was after Fazio's 2013 alterations.
While all those tweaks will be noticeable by players familiar with the venue, there's also a lot out there that will remind them of the Quail Hollow they became so used to visiting.
That's great news for fans.
Of the 14 Wells Fargo Championships contested at the course, major champions account for seven of the victories.
Here's a look at the list of Quail Hollow winners:
That's a solid list. Along with his two victories at the course, it should also be noted that McIlroy has a total of six top-10 finishes in his seven starts at Quail Hollow. His record there looks like this:
- 2010, Win
- 2011, Missed Cut
- 2012, T2
- 2013, T10
- 2014, T8
- 2015, Win
- 2016, T4
Yeah, that's not bad for a guy hoping to deny Jordan Spieth the career Grand Slam at the 2017 PGA Championship with his sights set on beating Spieth to that incredible achievement at the 2018 Masters, is it?
For what it's worth, Spieth's only Quail Hollow start -- in 2013 -- resulted in a T32.
Based on the number of top finishes -- and even in spite of his recent form -- it looks like it'd be foolish to bet against McIlroy, hungry for that fifth overall major title and first since the 2014 PGA Championship at Valhalla.
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