The PGA Tour is set up nicely for a perfect rebound Sunday, with both Phil Mickelson and Rory McIlroy in the hunt at the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship. Phil and Rory are the two biggest stars in the game with Tiger Woods on the shelf, and after an underwhelming first four months, the Tour needs them to pick it up with the calendar flipped to May.
Mickelson's charge was made on the front nine on Saturday, playing a six-hole stretch in 7-under to shoot up the leaderboard early in the day. Quail Hollow is a course where he's always felt comfortable, calling it one of the best tee-to-green layouts he's ever played. The redesign by Tom Fazio prompted him to call the course "perfect" on Wednesday, and aside from that "Green Mile" finishing stretch, his scores match his enthusiasm on the Charlotte track.
Wells Fargo Championship
Can J.B. Holmes hold on?
Jim Furyk is safely in the clubhouse at 13-under, setting an early pace which J.B. Holmes is outdoing with seven holes to play at Quail Hollow.
Wells Fargo Championship
The usual script for Mickelson includes an early season win, and then a sputtering out over the second half of the summer. But he's been a non-factor through the first four months of the year, slogging through a mix of injuries and inconsistency with his swing. He usually makes tons of cash on the west coast swing, but he whiffed out there this year and then missed the cut at the Masters for the first time since 1997. But now he's in position to wipe out that sluggish start, two shots back of leader J.B. Holmes and the unquestionable favorite with 18 holes to play. It would be the perfect way to get back on track just one week before the season's "fifth major" at TPC Sawgrass next week and with the U.S. Open just six weeks out in the same state as the Wells Fargo. He's set to tee off at 1:30 p.m. ET, and save for that half-hour blackout period during the switch over from Golf Channel to CBS, his every shot should be shown on Sunday at Quail Hollow.
McIlroy has a lot more ground to make up than Phil, but after a third round 65, he at least has a shot and will play his final 18 during the TV coverage window. On Saturday, he was out early in the morning well before the cameras were live but managed to jump up almost 50 spots on the leaderboard with his 7-under round. The Ulsterman, of course, has a bit of history at this Charlotte venue, setting the course record with a Sunday 62 here in 2010 to run away with a four-shot win, his first on the PGA Tour.
Rory's game is in much better shape this season, and if not for a couple weekend blunders, he'd have multiple wins already. He'll start Sunday seven shots behind Holmes, but when he gets to the first tee, the Mickelson number should be the one he's most concerned about. There are plenty of birdie holes on the front nine, so there's an opportunity for Rory to put some pressure on the 10 players who will go out behind him.
While NBC will take over next week at The Players, this weekend still belongs to CBS, and it's one of their better non-major events of year. That means we'll get that half-hour interruption in coverage, which we don't get with NBC because Golf Channel is under the same Comcast umbrella. The final pairing of the day goes out at 1:40 p.m. ET, so their first few holes will come on Golf Channel before Jim Nantz and friends take over at 3 p.m. ET. In addition to the TV coverage, there will be the usual simulcast streams up and running as well as a "featured group" stream on PGATour.com.
Here are all your media options for the final round of the Wells Fargo Championship:
Final round coverage (all times Eastern)
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. -- Golf Channel
3 p.m. to 6 p.m. -- CBS
10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. -- PGATour.com featured group stream
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. -- Golf Channel simulcast stream
3 p.m. to 6 p.m. -- CBSSports.com simulcast stream
12 p.m. to 6 p.m. -- PGA Tour Radio on Sirius-XM (Ch. 93/208)