We are back on the PGA Tour winner hunt at a Quail Hollow course that has seen some design changes since the PGA Championship was held their in 2017 when Justin Thomas won his first Major.
Here’s what Rory McIlroy said about the course:
“The changes are good. It definitely makes the start of the golf course more challenging. The first hole, now instead of it being 3 wood and a wedge, it’s a driver and a good mid iron. I think you won’t really see guys getting off to the hot starts that they used to. You see guys maybe, especially those first six holes, you’d see guys 3 or 4 under par. I don’t think that’s going to happen now. And then the rest of the golf course is pretty much the same. Obviously they have lengthened 11 a little bit. But what they have done on 16, 17 and 18 over the years has stayed pretty much the same. I like the changes. I mean, I obviously like the golf course the way it was before. My record around there is pretty good. I fancy my chances around there. But it’s always been, I guess, a modern player’s golf course. You’ve got to, if you can drive it a long way, there’s an advantage there, especially coming in with the driveable par-4, 14th and in; the par-5 15 and the long holes coming in. “
There is a clear key performance indicator at Quail Hollow and that is par 5 scoring. There are birdie opportunities on the shorter par 4’s but bogeys are unavoidable. To win here you must limit the damage on the par 3’s and 4’s and make hay on the par 5’s.
Ryan Moore has been playing himself into a nice bit of form with his last three results: 7 – 16 – 28. This is just the upwardly progressive profile i like to look for and with four top 20s in his last six visits to the course he looks primed to contend this week.
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Chesson Hadley is a player that scores on par 5’s, ranking 7th in par 5 scoring on the PGA Tour in 2018. His course form reads 11 – 20 – mc suggesting he can improve on last year’s 11th placed finish. He has finished inside the top 20 in each of his last three tournaments.
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A favourite of Skeeter’s, Emiliano Grillo has caught the eye recently as a player ready to return to form with a 3rd placed finish coming before a 16th spot in his last tournament. he missed the cut on his first try at the track before coming in 61st last year but he can improve massively on that.
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Another from Skeeter’s barn, Bryson Dechambeau, has the type of game that should suit a classic course like Quail Hollow and a 33rd placed finish in 2017 followed a missed cut the year before. He is ranked #4 in par 5 scoring and is in good form with a 2nd and 3rd in his last three starts.