On the Tee: Wells Fargo Championship

by | CBSSports.com Senior Golf Columnist
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Built on rolling, wooded property, Quail Hollow is making some changes to meet player demands. (Getty Images)  
Built on rolling, wooded property, Quail Hollow is making some changes to meet player demands. (Getty Images)  

Everything you need to know about the Wells Fargo Championship:

Nuts and bolts

Tee times | Hole by hole | Past champions

Defending the throne

Just five days earlier, they had been teammates, just like in college, many years before.

Veterans and multiple tournament winners Lucas Glover and Jonathan Byrd, who were on the same Clemson team for three years, ended up facing each other in a Sunday playoff at the Wells Fargo Championship last year.

From brothers in orange to guys chasing green.

In Tuesday's practice round, they teamed up in a match with Charles Warren, another Clemson product, and Charlotte native Davis Love. It came flooding back to Byrd in the final round, when he had a similar putt on the 72nd hole.

"It did feel odd a little bit," Byrd said of facing Glover. "We played 18 holes [Tuesday], and I had a putt on the last hole to halve the match from about 15 feet, and I wanted to make that putt just as bad as I wanted to make that putt in regulation.

"I told my caddie walking up today, 'It's just like that putt we made on Tuesday, when I birdied 18 in regulation.' I said, 'Let's make it again.'"

Byrd made the birdie attempt to force overtime, but it was the bearded Glover who won the tournament trophy with a par on the first extra hole, claiming his first title since the U.S. Open in 2009.

"I'm a little disappointed just because you're here to win," Byrd said. "You love to compete, especially when you get in a playoff. You birdie the last, you feel like, 'Hey, this is just going to work out.'

"If I couldn't win, I couldn't pick anybody else I'd want to win other than Lucas, so I'm very happy for him."

The playoff saved the tournament from some unwanted scrutiny, to be sure. Finishing one stroke out of the playoff was Rory Sabbatini, a focal point all week as news circulated that he'd been embroiled in two on-course blowups earlier in the year involving other players or course volunteers.

Venue and you

The Quail Hollow Club is exclusive and private, and in many ways, the event is modeled after the Masters. So in other words, for those who aspire to play this venue, which will host the PGA Championship in five years, the quickest route might be to become a plus-five handicap, marry a member's daughter or win the lottery.

Track and field

Last year, only 12 global events drew more top-15 players than did the Quail Hollow tournament, which attracted eight from that category. This year, the number of marquee players is down slightly, with six of the top 15 entered. In 2011, the event drew the same number from the top 50 as this year, with 22. The number of top-30 players didn't change either, hitting 13 for the second straight year.

Three whacks from short range

 Players love the two-man pro-am format at this event, which allows them to get off the golf course Wednesday in less than six hours. But there's a catch. With less monies generated from pro-am fees, some middle-tier events pony up far more cash to charity as a result. In fact, for all of the huffing and puffing about charitable donations on the PGA Tour, this event spends a huge chunk of its profits -- tickets are sold out this week -- on running the event. Last year, the Wells Fargo tournament donated $1.1 million to charity while, say, the John Deere Classic in tiny Silvis, Ill., gave away $5.3 million.

 The 17th hole, a brutal par-3 surrounded by water on three sides that causes conniptions every year, will be played from the so-called members' tees this week, at least selectively. At 217 yards from the professional tees, some players have aimed for the bail-out area rather than take on the lake. The second tee box, which has an easier angle to the green, can play between 150-180 yards, club officials said. Over the years, the 17th has cost several players a chance to win, including Phil Mickelson and Sergio Garcia, who blew a six-shot overnight lead. Because of player criticism, a new tee and modifications to the green are on the club's future drawing board.

 While Quail Hollow always draws a top field, and the course was given positive reviews in a recent survey of tour players, there has been an undercurrent of grousing about the greens, which started two years ago when Mickelson complained openly about the severe undulations. The club, built on a terrific piece of undulating and wooded property, has been making gradual renovations to fix the perceived problems.

Odds and evens

Odds on winning, via Golfodds.com and the Las Vegas Hotel & Casino:

Rory McIlroy, 7/1; Tiger Woods, 9/1; Phil Mickelson, 10/1; Lee Westwood, 12/1; Hunter Mahan, 20/1; Jim Furyk, 20/1; Keegan Bradley, 30/1; Webb Simpson, 30/1; Zach Johnson, 30/1; Bo Van Pelt, 30/1; Bill Haas, 40/1; Rickie Fowler, 40/1; Nick Watney, 40/1; Jason Day, 40/1; Cameron Tringale, 40/1; Kevin Na, 50/1; Jonathan Byrd, 50/1; Carl Pettersson, 50/1.

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