By Sam McPherson
If there was any doubt about who the No. 1 golfer in the world was going into the Wells Fargo Championship last weekend, Rory McIlroy put those to rest. Winning by a whopping seven strokes over the field and setting a tournament scoring record of 21-under par, the Northern Irishman claimed his second Wells Fargo title on the Quail Hollow course.
McIlroy’s third-round 61 also broke the course record, which he set in this event back in 2010, when he won the tournament previously. Sunday’s victory made him the event’s first two-time winner. Yes, it was a Rory kind of weekend for the PGA Tour. And if you’re keeping track at home, that’s two wins for McIlroy in the last three weeks, with a top 10 at The Players Championship sandwiched in the middle. Despite having played in only seven events this season so far, the world’s top player has already earned $3.9 million. There’s certainly plenty more to be earned in 2015 the way he’s swinging the clubs right now.
Patrick Rodgers and Webb Simpson finished tied for second at 14 under, while Phil Mickelson finished in a three-way tie for fourth place at 12 under for the tournament. The 2014 event champion, J.B. Holmes, missed the cut after shooting a second-round 76 on Friday. Make no mistake, though, all eyes were on McIlroy over the weekend, and the rest of the field knew it.
No other golfer shot lower than 65 on Saturday while Rory scorched the middle of the course. In one 10-hole stretch, from the seventh to the 16th, he made nine birdies. With two holes to play, McIlroy had a shot at a rare 59 score. However, he merely made par on 17 and 18 to finish the day four strokes ahead of the field and well on his way to victory. McIlroy shot a relatively pedestrian 69 on Sunday, still the third-best mark of the day, to officially break Anthony Kim’s tournament scoring record (-16) set in 2008.
Although he missed the cut at this event as the defending champion in 2011 , McIlroy has fared very well at Quail Hollow in the last six seasons. He has three additional top-10 finishes there, including a second-place finish in 2012, when he lost in a playoff to Rickie Fowler — the winner of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass this season. McIlroy finished tenth in 2013 and eighth in 2014, so it’s fair to say he likes this course in Charlotte.
With the victory, McIlroy earned $1,278,000 to move up to second on the PGA Tour’s 2015 money list. He trails only Jordan Spieth, who’s earned $5.1 million this year in 13 events. McIlroy is third in the FedEx Cup standings now, behind Spieth and Jimmy Walker (who also has played 13 events).
Next On The Tee: Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial
The Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas hosts one of the PGA Tour’s five invitationals, meaning the field for Crowne Plaza Invitational this week is smaller than usual. The event dates back to 1946, when Ben Hogan won the tournament; he also won it in 1947, 1952, 1953 and 1959. Adam Scott is the defending champion, having defeated Jason Dufner in a three-hole playoff in 2014 after both shot nine under for the event. The purse this year is expected to be around $6.5 million.
McIlroy is taking the week off, as is Mickelson — who won the Colonial in 2000 and 2008. However, Scott will defend his title against recent champions Boo Weekley (2013), Zach Johnson (2010 and 2012), David Toms (2011), Steve Stricker (2008) and Rory Sabbatini (2007). Spieth, the FedEx and money leader, is also in the field. Johnson holds the event scoring record at 21-under par, set in 2010.
Players are invited to the Colonial if they are a former champion, have won a major in the past five years or have won a World Golf Championship event in the last three years. Any PGA Tour winner from the past year is also invited, as are Ryder and Presidents Cup team members and top-15 finishers from the previous year’s event. Finally players in the top 80 of the FedEx Cup rankings, from both last year and the current year, are invited. Thus, the field has the potential every year to be stacked with the best golfers.
The Colonial Country Club course plays 7,204 yards long and is a par 70.
Adam Scott, Zach Johnson, Jordan Spieth
Players to Watch:
Patrick Rodgers, Robert Streb, Geoff Ogilvy
Sam McPherson is a freelance writer covering baseball, football, basketball and fantasy sports for many online sites, including CBS, AXS and Examiner.