PGA Tour Confidential: Phil Mickelson coughs up late lead at Wells Fargo

Rory McIlroy, Wells Fargo
Chuck Burton / AP
Rory McIlroy navigated Quail Hollow's bumpy greens and finished tied for 10th.

3. Phil Mickelson, Lee Westwood and Rory McIlroy were all around the lead at Quail Hollow. If you had to bet on one at the U.S. Open, whom would you put your money on and why?

Van Sickle: I'll take Phil out of that bunch. Merion is a course that rewards good iron play, especially short irons, and when Mickelson is on his game, he's as good an iron player as there is in the game. Westwood's finishing kick, or lack thereof, did not impress me. Or, I imagine, him.

Passov: For as wild as he is, Lefty's U.S. Open record is surprisingly superb, with all those seconds and another top 5 at Pebble in 2010. Westwood's major results are consistently great as well - just missing the trophy. That said, Rory hits a ton of greens, which bodes well for Merion. He's got my money.

Ritter: Not sure any would be in my top three, but forced to pick one, I'll take Rory. I think he's emerging from his early-season fog, and I could see him having success at a shotmaker's course like Merion. Remember: Rory seemed lost for a time last summer, too, before it suddenly clicked at the PGA at Kiawah.

Morfit: I'd put my money on Phil, because he really might be able to win that thing without hitting a driver, depending on how dry it is.

Reiterman: I'd throw all my bones on McIlroy. He's knocking on the door again, and we all know what happens once when he puts four good rounds together.

Godich: I'll take Phil. Westwood's short game isn't good enough, and Rory doesn't seem like he's able to string four good rounds together. Plus, Phil's got the short game to maneuver around Merion.

4. The players have mostly fawned over Quail Hollow, so much so that it was awarded the 2017 PGA Championship, but somehow, it hasn't quite cracked the big Top 100 lists yet. Its patchwork, moribund 2013 greens aside, where does Quail Hollow rate among Tour courses?

Passov: It's so seldom these days that the pros get to play such a classic-looking course, one with wonderful, mostly natural terrain combined with holes that demand big-boy shotmaking. I'm a fan of all the hardwoods, the lack of sharp edges and the absence of artificiality, with the contrived (but unforgettable) 18th a notable exception. Where it falls flat for me, however, is the lack of individually memorable holes outside of 17 and 18. They're mostly solid, just too similar. That's where Pebble, Riviera, TPC Sawgrass, Harbour Town and Muirfield Village, among others, stand out.

Godich: It has to be in the top five. As for those greens, it's nice to see the world's best experience what the rest of us often face.

Morfit: It's in the top 20 percent, for sure. And the fact that Phil keeps coming close and losing heartbreakers only speaks to its bona fides as a U.S. Open course.

Reiterman: I'd say it's in the top five, maybe top three. Plenty of great risk-reward par 5s, a fun driveable par 4 and a dramatic finishing hole. The 17th is the one glaring weak spot, but it's fun to watch on TV!

Van Sickle: Quail Hollow is a very nice course. It's one of the best layouts on the PGA Tour. It'll be a nice track for the PGA, other than the usual issue of having an event in the heat of August in the South, which will necessitate watering the greens to keep them alive. Thus the PGA often yields lower scores. Not that there's anything wrong with that, eh, Jerry?

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