The Green Mile: Evil and golf really coexist at Quail Hollow Club, site of the 2022 Presidents Cup

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If you were named after a novel written by horror master Stephen King, there must be a plethora of chilling, eerie features associated with your existence.

Even if the terror in question is set among the gentle, rolling hills of a peaceful Queen City golf course.

Seriously, can evil and golf really coexist?

At Quail Hollow Club they certainly do.

During a walk of more than 1200 meters over three holes – that would be the 16e17e and 18e – danger, horror and fear refuse to be disguised at the annual home of the PGA Tour’s Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina.

While certainly not as deadly as depicted in the 1999 film adaptation of the same name starring Tom Hanks, where death row inmates make their final steps into the execution chamber on a dull green painted floor, the dreaded emerald green ground at Quail Hollow is late. players gasp for air and exhale heartily when all is said and done.

In short, the journey is likely to be a spoiled walk.

That will certainly be the case with the 14e edition of the Presidents Cup, where the US will try to continue their dominance over the Internationals. And the organizers of the biennial clash have given a big kick out of the trifecta of terror. More on that later.

“It has to be one of the toughest stretches in golf,” said Brandt Snedeker of the US. ‘You can’t miss them. There is really no rescue on any of the holes.

“You just have to suck it up and get through it.”

Or as Quail Hollow member and 2012 US Open champion Webb Simpson said, “I’ve thought about this a lot. I can’t think of a three-hole stretch, including the major championships, that’s tougher than the Green Mile.”

How heavy is it? Let’s add another movie reference and call on Clubber Lang’s prediction in Rocky II: Pain. Consider: Every hole of the white knuckle course has dangerous water hazards, potentially puzzling elevation changes, strategically placed bunkers, and no-tampering Bermuda greens.

This was the result of a major renovation prior to the 2016 Wells Fargo Championship that involved rebuilding all 18 greens, shifting greens and tee boxes, removing over 100 trees and adding length to the layout.

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In five editions of the Wells Fargo Championship since the makeover, the 494 yard, par-4 18e has been ranked as the hardest hole in the tournament three times and second once, while the 217-yard, par-3 17e was the toughest hole in 2019 and was never worse than sixth on the list of threatening holes. The par-4 506-yard 16e? It was the third hardest hole in three of those games.

And yes, the field average for each hole was too high every tournament, including in 2021 when the 18e played to an average of 4,456, making it the second toughest par-4 on the PGA Tour that year.

“That’s three really brutal finishing holes,” said Aussie Adam Scott. “If you can survive those holes and win, you’ve certainly proven that to yourself because they’re so demanding. There is no breathing space.”

With that, here’s a quick snapshot of each hole.

Quail Hollow Club

Quail Hollow Club

Number 16 at Quail Hollow Club, which will play as number 13 in the Presidents Cup (Picture: Ben Jared/PGA Tour)

the 16e is a par-4 that plays to 506 yards. The hole can be tipped to about 530 meters. The green had shifted 80 meters to the left, the right slammed into a large lake. A large, deep fairway bunker on the right side should be avoided on the descent on the tee shot. Bunkers at the front of the green are best avoided.

“The turn is not too difficult, but then you come to your second turn and you see a lot of water. Under the right circumstances, you can perform some sort of attack. But it’s rarely the right circumstances,” said Justin Thomas, who won the 2017 PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club.

the 17e is a par-3 playing to 223 yards. The hole can be stretched to 235 meters. The tee shot is over water, with only land on the right side of the green giving you safety from the H2O. The green is usually firm – okay, sometimes it’s almost concrete – meaning that even well-hit shots can bounce to backpins and then roll into the water.

Quail Hollow Club

Quail Hollow Club

Number 17 at Quail Hollow Club, which will play as number 14 in the Presidents Cup. (Photo: Ben Jared/PGA tour)

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“Even if you get a pretty good shot at 17, you can still hit it in the water. All you’re trying to do when it plays long is hit the green. And when the wind is blowing, you have to make sure that your country,” said Spain’s Sergio Garcia. (Side note: Thomas’ better-than-good 7-iron in the final round of the PGA Championship actually sealed his win).

the 18e is a par-4 that plays to 494 yards. A creek and heavy rough runs all along the left side of the hole, while a dense collection of trees and problematic bunkers protect the right side of the fairway. The tee shot is downhill and the green is slightly elevated.

“There is no rescue on the hole and you just have to do your best. You can’t relax after a great ride. It’s just a tough hole,” said Aussie Jason Day, the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship winner.

In summary, we offer Rickie Fowler of the USA (he won his first PGA Tour title in the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship): “You just have to buckle up and survive.”

Quail Hollow Club

Quail Hollow Club

Number 18 at Quail Hollow Club, which will play as number 15 in the 2022 Presidents Cup. (Photo: Ben Jared/PGA Tour)

That’s what Rory McIlroy did in 2021, the most recent time the club has hosted the Wells Fargo Championship. On the last lap, McIlroy birdied the 14e and 15e holes to gain a two-stroke advantage at the start of the Green Mile.

He made a big mistake when he started thinking about how wonderful it would be to have his wife Erica and 8-month-old daughter Poppy behind the age of 18.e green and celebrate with them on their first Mother’s Day.

He survived the 16e and 17e with manual pars to maintain a two-shot lead. But then he set off alarm bells when he pulled his tee shot at the 18e just to the left of the creek and on a side hill of nasty rugged.

He wanted to try to get the ball to safety with a lob wig, but his caddy, Harry Diamond, persuaded him to take a penalty. McIlroy did, finding the green from 200 yards with an 8 iron and two putts for the win in one shot.

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It was his first victory in 553 days. And McIlroy, who won his first PGA Tour title at Quail Hollow in 2010, became the only three-time winner of the event.

“Closing those three holes is pretty tough, especially with the crosswinds out there,” McIlroy said. “I gave myself a hard time but hit a great third shot there in the 18th and was able to two-put and get the job done.

“It’s a heavy piece, one of the toughest pieces we play all year. I think 17 is the hardest part of the final stretch. Especially from that back T-shirt, you’re elevated and you’ve got that very skinny green. At 16 you have to be aggressive from the tee. You have to take that bunker on the right and try to get it down there as far as possible. It’s a long enough hole. And the same at 18. I think aggressiveness from the tee; you can reward yourself with a slightly shorter iron stroke and be able to tackle a little more on the green.

“I’ve had quite a few good runs on that stretch and bad runs.”

Now back to the kicker. As the Green Mile is the star of the golf course, those responsible for the Presidents Cup have rerouted the layout to ensure that players in the match play format will make it to the three holes.

The Green Mile thus plays as holes 13-14-15, with the par-5 10ethe par-4 11e and the par-4 ninth pinch hitting as the last three holes.

The Green Mile follows two risk-reward holes – the rideable par-4 11e (annually the 14e) and the uphill reachable par-5 12e (annually the 15e). You’ll love that five-hole stretch – with each hole guarded by water.

But it will be the Green Mile that will shine the brightest – for better or for worse.

“There’s a lot going on on those three holes,” said Jordan Spieth from the US. “That’s where you go to see some triumph and disaster.”

List

Presidents Cup Results: Year After Year History of the Biennial Battle Between the Americans and Internationals

1996 Presidents Cup

1996 Presidents Cup

Story originally appeared on GolfWeek

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