2023 Wells Fargo Championship Preview, Picks & Analysis
MAX HOMA will attempt to win the Wells Fargo Championship for the third time in four years but will have to see off course specialist Rory McIlroy if he is to do so.
McIlroy is a three-time winner and this is a course that holds a special place in his heart. Way back in 2010 he barely made the 36-hole cut but finished the weekend with spectacular rounds of 66 and 62 to defeat Phil Mickelson by four shots for what was his maiden PGA Tour success.
And when he won in 2015 he did so with a record low total of 267, which was 21 under the par at the time - the course is now a par 71.
In brutal conditions last year, Homa shot a final-round 68 for an eight-under total and his fourth PGA Tour victory, by two over Keegan Bradley (72), Cameron Young (66) and Matt Fitzpatrick (67).
He moved to sixth in the FedExCup with what was his second win of the season. The tournament was played at TPC Potomac as Quail Hollow was being prepared to host the Presidents Cup later in the year. And Homa said he had been driven on by the thought of playing in that event.
“I care about nothing more than making that Presidents Cup team,” Homa said. “I'm really hoping Captain Davis Love III was watching today or at least somebody messaged him about it.
“All of a sudden in 2021 I got into the top 50 in the world, and you start looking around and it's a new crop of people and you start thinking to yourself, ‘Am I as good as these guys?’ And then I want to be top-10 in the world, play Presidents Cups, play Ryder Cups.
“Am I good enough to do that? I've always struggled with it, but I have great people around me who bash me over the head telling me that I am that guy. I tried to walk around this week believing that and faking it a little bit until I made it.”
Of course he was good enough. He was a star of Love’s Presidents Cup team and will surely be playing for the USA in the Ryder Cup later this year.
Quail Hollow is a shotmakers course and it has attracted a world-class field once again, including Shane Lowry, Xander Schauffele, Justin Thomas and Cameron Young.
Young is still looking for his first PGA Tour victory, but it cannot be long in coming and he has good memories of this course.
The 25-year-old finished second at The Open at St Andrews last year and was tied third at the US PGA Championship. He also finished in a tie for seventh at The Masters this season.
It is all too easy to forget that 2022 was Young’s first full season the the PGA Tour. He finished tied second in only his second start at the Sanderson Farms Championship, and was also runner-up at the Genesis Invitational, Wells Fargo and Rocket Mortgage Classic and ended the season as rookie of the year.
He won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour in 2021, in successive weeks.
(Image Credit: Kevin Diss Photography)
McIlroy has a point to prove. After missing the cut at The Masters, the Northern Irishman withdrew from the RBC Heritage without giving any reason. Clearly he was disappointed with what happened at Augusta National but the RBC is one of the tour’s designated events. Players agreed with the PGA Tour that they could miss out on one of them without having to face any consequences. McIlroy had already chosen to sit out the Tournament of Champions.
He is a hugely popular man among his peers but he did attract a lot of criticism for failing to play in the RBC. He needs to address that this week and could go a long way towards that by winning this tournament for a fourth time.
It was won in 2015 and 2021 by Rory McIlroy, in 2016 by James Hahn, in 2017 by Brian Harman, in 2018 by Jason Day and in 2019 and 2022 by Max Homa. There was no tournament in 2020 because of the pandemic.
Quail Hollow should be a perfect fit for Matt Fitzpatrick as it calls for accuracy from the tee and a delicate touch on the greens. And Fitzpatrick is in form, having recently won at Harbour Town. Although Rory McIlroy missed the cut at Augusta, he is a three-time champion here and loves Quail Hollow. It would be a big surprise if he does not contend this week.
Quail Hollow is a par 70 measuring 7,160 yards. It is tree-lined, features plenty of bunkers and a couple of water hazards, most notably at the reachable par-four 14th and 221-yard par three 17th.
Rory McIlroy. Adores this course
Tom Kim. Fabulous young talent
Max Homa. World-class
Five to Follow:
Rory McIlroy. Has a point to prove this week
Tom Kim. Superstar in the making
Max Homa. Sweet swing
Tommy Fleetwood. Almost back to his very best
Matt Fitzpatrick. Course should suit his game
Five Outsiders to Watch:
Taylor Montgomery. Keep on eye on this player
Matt Wallace. He’s back. Finally
Joel Dahmen. Massively underrated
Cameron Champ. Looking to get his career back on track
Dylan Frittelli. Impressive South African
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