The PGA Tour gets back to stroke play this week for the Wells Fargo Championship. With Quail Hollow hosting this year’s PGA Championship the tournament heads to a new host, Eagle Point Golf Club, an exclusive country club in Wilmington. Big-name attendance is a bit lighter than usual for the event, but it still boasts World No. 1 Dustin Johnson, who is making his first start since falling down the stairs in Augusta. Other headliners include Phil Mickelson, Jon Rahm and Paul Casey.
A surprising win
Despite missing eight cuts in a row heading into last year’s Wells Fargo, James Hahn was able to beat out a star-packed leaderboard and get his second career win. Hahn won on the first hole of a playoff with Roberto Castro and was one shot better than Justin Rose, while Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and Phil Mickelson finished in a tie for fourth, two back.
The early reviews from players regarding Eagle Point Golf Club have been tremendous with most highlighting the Augusta-like conditioning of the course. Designed by Tom Fazio, Eagle Point is ranked inside Golf Digest’s Top 100 courses and looks to be accurate representation of what you see from most of Fazio’s work: Wide corridors, interesting green complexes and visually beautiful designs. However, the bunkering leaves a lot to be desired with many of them only affecting poor shots and and players, while infusing little to no strategic interest in holes. Quite a contrast to Alister Mackenzie’s belief that “hazards should be placed with an object, and none should be made which has not some influence on the line of play to the hole.”
What to watch
All eyes will be on Dustin Johnson and his return from his freak back injury incurred prior to the Masters. DJ has won in his past three starts and will look to get back into gear in North Carolina.
Last year, 14 of the top 25 players in the world teed it up at Quail Hollow. This year only six of the top 25 will play. Why the drastic change? It could be the Zurich Classic, whose new team format attracted many big names who are now opting for a week of rest prior to next week’s PLAYERS Championship. It’s a tough break for an event that is typically one of the strongest non-major fields. Full field
Curtis Luck will make his second professional start, looking to earn his PGA Tour card via sponsor’s exemptions. Luck is joined by other high-profile youngsters who earned their way into the field with their play. Chase Koepka will make his second career PGA Tour start, earning a spot through last week’s T5 at the Zurich. Former Alabama standout Robbie Shelton will also be in the field, earning his spot by medaling at the Monday qualifier with the help of eleven birdies.
After a light week of fantasy due to the Zurich’s team format, Paulie is back with his Draftkings, One and Done and long shot picks for this week. Check ‘em out here.
Birdie fest ahead
The Web Tour heads to the Dominican Republic for the Puntacana Championship where now-PGA Tour player Dominic Bozzelli won by four shots in 2016, shooting 24 under for the week. Matt Atkins will come in with the hot hand after his win at last week’s Mexico Championship, but with scoring in mind look out for Keith Mitchell, Aaron Wise and Ted Potter Jr., who lead the Web Tour in birdie average.
Golf Course Architecture 101
We are on to Part IV of GCA 101. In this edition, learn about the role that green complexes play in a design and how they affect shots on and around the greens. Read more