The 2012 Wells Fargo Championship takes place this week with both Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy out to put their US Masters disappointment behind them.
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Tiger Woods is back in action this week at the Wells Fargo Championship. It will be his first outing since a disappointing showing at the Masters and all eyes will be on the American to see if he can bounce straight back. Rory McIlroy is also in the field and it looks set to be a cracking event (Woods 9/1 Tournament Outright
The Woods comeback appeared to be on course when he claimed his first regular season tournament in over two years at the Arnold Palmer Invitational but that success at Bay Hill proved to be a false dawn as the Tiger of the last couple of years re-emerged at Augusta and a share of 40th place was no more than his performance deserved.
The 36-year-old has been steadily improving this year and there is no doubt that he has emerged from the slump that saw him drop out of the world’s top 50 but it would be wrong to suggest that he is back to the player he was when destroying fields around the world for more than a decade.
His driving was woeful at the Masters and he failed to get anything going, with approach shots coming in from all angles and from a number of different lies.
The challenge now for the 14-time major winner is to show the world that it was just a blip and he is capable of stringing together four decent rounds to challenge for further honours.
The Florida resident won this event in 2007 when it was known as the Wachovia Championship and he is known to like the course in Charlotte, and the hope is that he will not be firing his drives to all parts of North Carolina and keeping it on the cut strip for most of the event.
McIlroy (15/2 fav)was equally poor at Augusta and the much-hyped contest between the established force of Woods and young Northern Irishman failed to materialise (McIlroy 4/5, Woods Evens, tie 16/1 72-hole result).
But they have another chance to square off and the US Open champion is favourite to win this week with the way in which he tore up the course two years ago to claim his first PGA Tour title.
The Holywood-born star carded a final-round 62 to storm to victory on that occasion and it was then that the world knew that a new star of the sport had emerged.
The last two successful years have proved what the majority of people felt and, although he was knocked off the top of the rankings by Luke Donald on Sunday, that is more down to the fact the McIlroy is currently picking and choosing his tournaments to avoid burn-out.
The one positive to come out of his disappointing Masters was the way in which he took it on the chin – it was not his week and he accepted it and will move on to the next event.
He will be 23 on the Friday of this week’s tournament and who knows how many events and majors he will have won by the time the dust settles on his career?
He looks ready to win again and it would be no surprise to see the Ryder Cup star right in the mix on Sunday.
This event has attracted a stellar field and Phil Mickelson is third in the market and good value at 12/1.
The 41-year-old looks as good as ever and has already won this season at Pebble Beach, with second, third and fourth places as well this term.
He came up just short at the Masters as Bubba Watson and Louis Oosthuizen faced off in the play-off but was as competitive as ever and striking the ball as well as anyone.
If there is anything that is going to motivate ‘Lefty’ to pull out the stops it is the sight of Woods’ name on the leaderboard and he is a good bet to secure a high finish on Sunday (Mickelson 5/2 Top 5 Finish).
Lee Westwood will also make an appearance stateside and is still going strong despite being just one year short of his 40th birthday.
The world number three tied with Mickelson at Augusta and followed it up by defending his Indonesian Masters title.
It may not have been the strongest field in the Far East but a win is a win and will have boosted the Englishman’s confidence as he prepares to tackle the big boys this week.
Westwood admits that putting has been his Achilles heel of late and a decent showing on the greens would have seen him walk away with the Masters – will the putter be hot this week?
Hunter Mahan can now be confident of eating off the top table as he is ranked fifth in the world and has already won twice this year.
A share of 12th place at the Masters was by no means a disgrace and the American is in the form of his life.
Whether or not he will win this week is open to question but it is a safe bet that he will be in the frame at the business end of the event.
Jim Furyk won the event in 2006 and cannot be discounted as a possible winner at Quail Hollow.
He has finished second, 11th, 11th and eighth in his last four events and is playing well tee to green.
The 41-year-old suffers with the same problem as Westwood and is struggling to convert birdie opportunities but if it clicks, then he will be a contender.
Other names that leap off the page include Keegan Bradley, who missed the cut last week but has shown plenty of solid form this season, and Webb Simpson, who has not won this year but looked good in New Orleans.
This looks set to be a superb event and has the potential to feature a head-to-head between Woods and McIlroy, but there are plenty of other stars who will have something to say about that.