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Quail Hollow Championship
by Matt Fargo - 04/27/2010
Tiger vs. Phil Part II. The Quail Hollow Championship is the tour’s next stop this week and the drama continues from Charlotte. A day after Tiger Woods announced it would be the second event in his return to competitive golf, Masters Champion Phil Mickelson committed to play as well. This has turned into a made for TV event and that is just fine with PGA Tour officials following a couple lackluster weeks following Augusta.
Quail Hollow is not just Tiger and Phil this week however as five of the top ten in the OWGR are in play with Lee Westwood, Jim Furyk and Anthony Kim making up the other three. Also teeing it up are notables Padraig Harrington, Retief Goosen, Hunter Mahan, Kenny Perry, Camilo Villegas, Dustin Johnson and defending champion Sean O'Hair. This is slowly becoming one of the bigger stops on tour that is not a Major.
Quail Hollow is no easy track and it can produce some dramatic finishes. The 7,422-yard layout is tight so accuracy is of the utmost importance here. Last year the course ranked 19th in difficulty (out of 51) but it is the closing hole where the tournament can be won or lost. In 2009, the 18th was the second-toughest closing hole on tour with a scoring average of +0.374 over par. The 17th is also a tough hole leading up to that as it finished the second most difficult on the course.
Phil Mickelson (+1000) makes his first start since obtaining another green jacket at Augusta. All of the talk that he is in a slump can now be tossed out the window as his Masters win put him firmly back on the radar. He has Mickelson has played the tournament five times and has four top-10 finishes, including a T5 last year. The two-week break since the Masters could be a perfect gap to refresh and recharge.
Tiger Woods (+350) is the favorite this week and that is no surprise as that is the case every week he is entered. He showed flashes of brilliance at the Masters but the rust was certainly evident. He has been practicing hard and he will be a factor once again this week. Woods finished fourth last year and won it in 2007. He has started here four times in his career, never finishing worse than T11.
One of the hottest players on tour is Anthony Kim (+2000). His strong finish at the Masters vaulted him into the top ten in the world and three of his last four events have finished in no worse than an outright third including a win at the Shell. He won this event two years ago by five shots over Ben Curtis and six shots over Jason Bohn, last week’s winner in New Orleans. Kim played in South Korea last week with a T16 so there is no rust following Augusta.
Jim Furyk (+1500) has won twice this season including his last start at the Heritage in a playoff over Brian Davis. He is playing some of his best golf in years and he hits a stop he loves. He has four top 11 finishes over his last five starts at Quail Hollow which includes a win in 2006 in a playoff over Trevor Immelman. Furyk is ranked ninth on tour in driving accuracy and as mentioned, that is a huge edge. This is a great value play with a hot player who has had past success here.
Looking for a longshot and we look no further than Boo Weekley (+5000). He was the longshot pick two weeks ago in Hilton Head where he finished T12 and while he didn’t win, it carried over into a T10 at the Zurich last week. After missing the cut in three of his first six events, he has three top 25’s in his last four starts. His accuracy off the tee makes him a dangerous player especially if his putter gets hot.
Tournament Win Bets (all for ¼ Unit)
Jim Furyk +1500
Anthony Kim +2000
Camilo Villegas +3000
Boo Weekley +5000