Teeing Off: The Coral Golf Blog
The PGA Tour heads to Quail Hollow this week as Rory McIlroy makes his first start since his disappointing Masters. The world number two and 2010 winner of this event is the headline act in Charlotte as the players face the challenge of the Green Mile which is one of the toughest closing three-hole stretch of the season. Younger players have excelled at the 7,492 yard par 72 with three of the last five winners under the age of 24.
Webb Simpson would desperately love to get his hands on the title as the Quail Hollow resident lives about a mile from the clubhouse. The US Open champion looks in decent shape to contend this week after his best performance of the season in his last outing when beaten at the Heritage in a play-off by Graeme McDowell. It was the American’s third top ten of the year and his ball striking looked in top order which bodes well for this testing North Carolina layout.
Simpson, who is ninth in par four performance this season, has improved every time he has competed at Quail Hollow. The 27-year-old was the 54-hole leader at the tournament 12 months ago but ended up in fourth place missing a play-off by a shot. He is getting increasingly comfortable around the track having played many practice rounds there. With confidence rising after a strong display on his last start, Simpson is fancied to challenge on his home turf at 16/1 each way.
DA Points has enjoyed a brilliant run over the last month which started with his win at the Houston Open. The American has been in the doldrums but found his touch on the greens with his mother’s old putter helping fire him to his second PGA Tour victory. Points also came agonisingly close to another win on Sunday when he finished second at the Zurich Classic recording just two bogeys all week.
The 36-year-old will be relishing his return to Quail Hollow after just missing out on the victory here 12 months ago. Points turned up with no real form but he shot 14-under-par when losing in a play-off. His game looks in great shape and is quite capable of adding a second win of the season so looks decent value at 40/1 each way.
Lucas Glover has an excellent track record at this tournament where he won two years ago. The 2009 US Open champion has three other top tens at Quail Hollow including tied second in 2009 and joint fourth place in 2006 so this is a player who thrives at this demanding course.
His form coming in this week is extremely encouraging after he led for much of the Zurich Classic before finishing in a tie for fourth. All aspects of his game looked sharp in New Orleans and his ranking in tenth on total driving this season suggests he will give himself plenty of birdie opportunities in Carolina. Take Glover to land his second victory here at 50/1 each way.
With young golfers having such a strong record in this event, it could be well worth backing Russell Henley to shine in Charlotte. The rookie made an astonishing start to his PGA Tour career when he shot 24-under-par to win the opening event of the season at the Sony Open. The 24-year-old is third in the all-round rankings and sixth in the par four birdie or better leaders.
Henley understandably struggled to maintain his breathtaking start to 2013 although he returned to form impressively a couple of weeks ago when he tied for sixth at Hilton Head for his best finish since his victory. The American should relish the test of Quail Hollow, where he has played plenty of practice rounds in recent years, so it would come as no surprise if he managed to contend at a generous price of 80/1.
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