CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA | If you’re wondering, Rory McIlroy isn’t the most successful professional golfer at the Quail Hollow Club.
The argument can be made that Tom Weiskopf was the first PGA Tour player to turn Quail Hollow into his personal playground.
Before the Wells Fargo Championship, there was the Kemper Open, which was played at Quail Hollow from 1969 through 1979. In those 11 years, Weiskopf won the Kemper Open three times.
McIlroy has won twice at Quail Hollow, lost once in a playoff to Rickie Fowler, and his course-record 62 that was bettered by his course-record 61 all make for an impressive résumé. McIlroy is so enamored with the area that he said Tuesday he had considered buying a place in Charlotte but decided to stay in South Florida.
For the record, Weiskopf played a Quail Hollow course originally designed by George Cobb, one that built the bones for today’s track but was nowhere near the test the modern Quail Hollow has become.
McIlroy did his work on a course retouched by Tom Fazio (after club member Arnold Palmer made changes in the 1980s), and this week McIlroy will be like every other player in the field – playing a course that features three entirely new holes that were built since the last Wells Fargo Championship was played 15 months ago.
Since Weiskopf isn’t in the field this week, McIlroy has been tagged the player to beat despite the fact he hasn’t won a tournament this calendar year. That can be blamed, at least partially, on a cracked rib that has disrupted his playing and practicing schedule and the dull edge on his iron play thus far.
He showed signs of the old Rory last week at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone, and while Jordan Spieth will be chasing the career Grand Slam when the PGA Championship begins Thursday, it’s inevitable that McIlroy factors into the Quail Hollow storyline.
“There are certain golf courses you can just see yourself shoot a score on,” McIlroy said.
“I’ve got some great memories. I think once you go back to a place where you do have great memories, all that starts flooding back to you and it makes you feel good about yourself. That’s sort of how I feel around here.”
Tom Weiskopf would understand.