PGA Tour Preview: Wells Fargo is Deepest Field of Season

Last Week

Billy Horschel and Scott Piercy rallied from three shots behind the leaders at the beginning of Sunday's final round of the Zurich Classic by shooting a five-under par 67 in foursomes (alternate shot) to top Jason Dufner and Pat Perez by a shot. It was the best round of the day in team play, the only official tournament on the PGA Tour to utilize the unique format. The winners were able to follow-up Saturday's dazzling 61 in four-ball, better known as best ball to those of us that play golf as a diversion, with another great round to take the title.

Frontrunners Kevin Kisner and Scott Brown struggled to a closing 77, while Tony Finau and Daniel Summerhays limped home with a 73 to allow a number of other teams to make a run. It was entertaining and refreshing to watch the best players in the world play in a format they generally encounter only in the Ryder and Presidents Cups international competitions.

The foursomes, in particular, pose challenges not seen by the independent contractors for most tournaments. I'm sure the Ryder Cup captains were paying attention to how certain pairings played in the two very different formats, possibly getting a read on where to place their eventual qualifiers in the difficult and stressful rotation later this year.

This Week

Wells Fargo Championship
Charlotte, North Carolina
Quail Hollow Country Club - Par 71
Defending Champion: Brian Harman - 10 under par 278 (at Eagle Point)


The Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Country Club began as a PGA Tour event in 2003. But from 1969-1979, the same course played host to the Kemper Open before it moved to the Washington, D.C. area. The Carolinas, both North and South, are a hot-bed for golf, with meccas such as Pinehurst and Myrtle Beach in the region, so it's no surprise that a spring PGA Tour event would find its way to the area to augment the Wyndham in Greensboro, a long-standing Tour venue.

Since its inception, the Wells Fargo has attracted strong fields, with seven of the tournaments won by major champions with 12 more recording runner-up finishes. Quail Hollow is a quality track that yielded the event to Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, North Carolina in order to prepare for the 2017 PGA Championship. With the exception of a couple of romps by Rory McIlroy and a four-shot win by Anthony Kim, the tournament generally comes down to the last hole, with seven of the 15 going to extra holes. The aforementioned McIlroy has won twice and Tiger Woods has a Wells Fargo as one of his 79 career victories.

2018 Field

* Seventeen of the top 30 finishers from last year's tournament are in the field

* Six of the top 10, 12 of the top 20, and 31 of the top 50 in FedEx Cup points

* Six of the top 10, 12 of the top 20, and 26 of the top 50 in the World Golf ranking

* Twenty countries represented

* Ten colleges have three or more former players represented: Georgia (6), Oklahoma State (6), Clemson (5), Georgia Tech (6), Alabama (6), Auburn (4), Florida State (4), UNLV (3), Arizona State (3), Washington (3)

* Oldest player: Vijay Singh (55)

* Youngest Player: Joaquin Niemann (19)

* Major Champions (22): Tiger Woods (14), Phil Mickelson (5), Ernie Els (4), Rory McIlroy (4), Vijay Singh (3), Retief Goosen (2), Keegan Bradley, Stewart Cink, Jason Day, Jason Dufner, Lucas Glover, Martin Kaymer, Brooks Koepka, Davis Love III, Graeme McDowell, Geoff Ogilvy, Louis Oosthuizen, Patrick Reed, Charl Schwartzel, Adam Scott, Webb Simpson, Justin Thomas

* Total Tour Victories: 424 (Tiger Woods, 79)

* Total Major Victories: 48 (Tiger Woods, 14)

What to Look For

With the Players on the schedule next week, it's a little surprising that the Wells Fargo has attracted the outstanding field that will tee it up Thursday morning. This is a full field event, with 156 players vying for a prestigious victory. Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Justin Thomas, and Ricky Fowler will bring a lot of buzz to the tournament, and given the history of this event, it wouldn't be a surprise for one of those favorites to end up on top of the leaderboard come Sunday afternoon.

There's no question that Quail Hollow is a major championship-caliber venue and it has attracted an impressive number of former major winners. Woods has been out of action since the Masters, where he didn't look sharp with his iron game. If he regained some touch since Augusta, the former world No. 1 could challenge against a very deep field.

Rory McIlroy, the Jekyll and Hyde of the men's golf, could dominate or miss the cut. Then there's Phil Mickelson, trying to stay in form for a run at the U.S. Open and career Grand Slam at Shinnecock Hills in June. Defending champion Brian Harman is without a win in the 2017-2018 season, but his consistency has him in the top 20 of the FedEx Cup standings.

Masters champion Patrick Reed is making his first individual stroke play start since winning his green jacket and is coming off a tie for seventh paired with Patrick Cantlay at the Zurich Classic. That leaves Fowler, a former Wells Fargo champ and Thomas to round out our list of favorites.

Kevin Krest is the author of the entertaining PK Frazier series of sports suspense novels and the co-host of the weekly "The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports" broadcast. His books can be found on

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