The city of Charlotte, the Quail Hollow Club and the state of North Carolina are all set to welcome the PGA Tour and the start of the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship, with festivities ready to begin on Monday. With most of the big names taking a break this week in New Orleans, some will get back to work in Charlotte next week including defending champ, Derek Ernst.
The soon to be 24 year-old Derek Ernst picked up his first, and only PGA Tour victory last year at Quail Hollow in a playoff with Brit, David Lynn. Ernst hasn’t seen much success since leaving North Carolina last year. He is currently ranked 174th in the world, and 175th in the FedEx Cup points.
It’s a pretty nice field expected for the 2014 tournament that will feature Hall of Famer, Phil Mickelson who is currently ranked 9th in the world, and finished in second place here last year. Also in the field, preparing for the Players Championship the following week are 2010 champ, Rory McIlroy, and 2012 Champ, Rickie Fowler.
Quail Hollow is one of the classic Southeastern golf courses where a premium is put on shot-making instead of raw power. The classic layout was designed by George Cobb, and opened for play in 1962. It hosted the Kemper Open from 1969 until 1979, and The World Seniors Invitational from 1980 until 1989.
Tom Fazio was brought in to redo the greens, and add some length to make up for changes in equipment, the PGA came back in 2003.
The 7442 yard layout plays to a par of 72 and will host its first major championship in 2017 with The PGA Championship coming to town. The final three holes at Quail Hollow known as “The Green Mile” is one of the toughest finishing stretches on the PGA Tour.
Quail Hollow has become the place for youngsters to win. Four of the past six winners were under the age of 24 when they picked up a win at the Wells Fargo. Rory McIlroy was 20 in 2010 and it was his first PGA Tour victory. Anthony Kim in 2008 with Derek Ernst last year were 22 and Rickie Fowler was 23 in 2012.
Wells Fargo put to rest the rumor that due to problems in the banking industry they may be looking to pull out as the sponsor of this event. The Charlotte Observer is reporting that Wells Fargo has committed support through the 2019 season with the 2017 tournament being moved to Wilmington’s Eagle Point Golf Club to make way for the PGA Championship at Quail Hollow.
The tournament has also contributed $14.8 million to charity through primary beneficiary Teach For America.Quail Hollow underwent several changes after the 2014 Wells Fargo event to better position itself for future tournaments and the PGA Championship. Key changes were centered on Quail Hollow’s “Green Mile” finishing holes and include a transition to MiniVerde Bermuda grass greens and a drastic change to the 16th hole.