McIlroy out to defend Wells Fargo Championship

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Rory McIlroy is still searching for his first win of the year as he prepares to defend his Wells Fargo Championship crown.

The Northern Irishman has endured a below-par season to date, winless in his eight events and with two third-placed finishes.

But McIlroy is a two-time champion at the Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte and the PGA Tour event shapes as an opportunity to get his season going.

He will still face plenty of competition, with Rickie Fowler, Adam Scott, Justin Rose and Phil Mickelson all present.


MCILROY THE ONE TO BEAT

McIlroy is the only multiple champion of the tournament and will again be hard to beat despite his struggles this year. He claimed the title by an incredible seven strokes in 2015.

Aside from the bigger names, Hideki Matsuyama is enjoying a fine 2016 - winning the Phoenix Open and finishing tied for seventh at the Masters.


PAR-FIVE CHANCES

The par-72, 7,442-yard course is suited to longer hitters. There are four par-fives, with two on the front and two on the back nine. Meanwhile, after the Zurich Classic of New Orleans was ruined by weather, mostly fine conditions are expected in North Carolina.


MCILROY NEEDS BOOST

Four-time major winner McIlroy is the world number three, but he needs to kick-start his season with the U.S. Open just weeks away. Being tied for third at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship and WGC-Cadillac Championship have been his best results this year, and he will expect better.


DOMINANCE LAST YEAR

McIlroy was spectacular at the event last year. He finished at 21 under, smashing the tournament record by five shots. He closed with a three-under 69 and was a convincing seven-stroke winner, ahead of Patrick Rodgers and Webb Simpson.


FOWLER IN FORM, SCOTT NEEDS TURNAROUND

Fowler has been somewhat questioned, but he has six top-10 finishes in 10 events this year. However, the American has been unable to challenge at his past two outings.

FedExCup points leader Scott has struggled at the Wells Fargo Championship, missing the cut on his past three visits.


NO REST FOR STUARD

Brian Stuard took out the tournament in New Orleans and looks to go back-to-back, but he was somewhat underwhelmed by his game despite his success.

"I just kind of hung in there and my short game was awesome. My putter was great," he said after winning.