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Renovations Promise Memorable PGA Championship At Quail Hollow



We’ve waited for the proper test of brains and brawn all season long, and finally, Quail Hollow has arrived. What used to be a known commodity has been architecturally refined and will demand nothing less than greatness from the golfers who wish to add a major championship to their resume.

The PGA Championship returns to the Tar Heel state for the first time since 1974. Tanglewood Park, near Winston-Salem, hosted the event in which Lee Trevino denied Jack Nicklaus another major title. Quail Hollow is well known to the traveling professionals (it hosted the Wells Fargo Championship from 2004-2016), and it should yield a familiar winner. New holes, a new feel, and the air of a grand slam event will make Quail Hollow shine like never before. Time to get pumped for glory’s last shot, the 2017 PGA Championship in Charlotte.

Turning a PGA Tour Layout into a Major Venue

There are new, front-nine holes at Quail Hollow, meaning television viewers may not recognize them. No. 1 is a combination of the old 1st and 2nd holes. It’s a par-4 that will play more like a par-5, erasing the notion of a gentle handshake for an opening hole. The 4th is an entirely new par-3, shaped on land once occupied by the old 5th hole. The 5th is a massive par-4, playing over a valley to a hillside green. On the inward half, the 11th was lengthened by 40 yards. A corner oak was replaced by sand, and the hole will test the validity of Dustin-proofing a golf course.

Remember that Quail Hollow is home to the toughest three-hole stretch on the PGA Tour. The closing triumvirate of 4-3-4 demands nothing less than power and precision to avoid watery graves and close the door on the competition. The putting surface at No. 16 was moved nearly 100 yards to bring it up against … you guessed it … a lake.

Let’s talk grass for a second. Quail Hollow was regrassed with a strain of bermuda. Normally bermuda doesn’t engender fast and firm, unless it replaces rye, which encourages balls to drop and nestle. It hugs them with a mother’s embrace, which is not what professional golfers want during a round.

Four Groups you Probably Overlooked

  • 8:40 a.m. Thursday-Pieters, Schauffele, Pampling
  • 1:15 p.m. Thursday-Horschel, Fitzpatrick, Kim
  • 1:45 p.m. Thursday-Kuchar, Rose, Snedeker
  • 2:15 p.m. Thursday-Vegas, DeChambeau, Smith

Pieters and Schauffele are young guys with recent close calls in major championships. Kuchar and Rose are middle-aged guys who had major titles STOLEN from them this year. Vegas, DeChambeau, and Smith are recent winners on the PGA and European tours, who still have the good vibes of victory pulsing in their memory. And Horschel, Fitzpatrick and Kim are good, young players who could manage the traditional, tree-lined tour layout of Quail Hollow well.

Top-10 Contenders

World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational - Round Three

  • 1A: Rory McIlroy, Won 2X at QH-Wells Fargo Championship
  • 1B: Rickie Fowler, won 1X at QH-Wells Fargo Championship
  • 3: Matt Kuchar, DONE with having no major wins & on form
  • 4: Justin Rose, DONE with having one major win & on form
  • 5: Hideki Matsuyama, No one has more talent & temperament
  • 6: Jordan Spieth, Putting well, so you can’t discount him
  • 7: Jason Day, Finally on the mend, finally comfortable again
  • 8: Jimmy Walker, Cool enough to defend-none since Tiger in ’07
  • 9: Thomas Pieters, Time for more than Ryder Cup, lad
  • 10A: Grayson Murray, Young and confident #TotalDarkHorse
  • 10B: Zach Johnson, The little guy who can. See #Firestone

Dustin Johnson? Not on form. Justin Thomas? He will have to wait for 2018 for a major title. Henrik Stenson? See Dustin Johnson. Patrick Reed? Rubik’s cube of the PGA Tour. Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia, et al.? Who knows? So many great golfers!

Related: Full betting odds for the 2017 PGA Championship

The Weather

It’s August in North Carolina, but it feels like September in Wales. Forecasts suggest precipitation for the next 10 days. The golf course should be soft, the rough might be difficult to tame, and if the rains do come to North Carolina’s Queen City during the tournament’s four days, Quail will eliminate a number of competitors. In fact, it might be reduced to a bomber competition. Forget the little guys; it will be the 290-yard carries that win the week.

My Predictions

World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational - Preview Day 3

Rory and Rickie will be paired together all four days. They will fend off all comers, and will reduce the field to a mano a mano duel. In the end, one will stuff an iron on the waterlogged 17th hole… while the other one goes for a swim. It will be an easier walk down the 72nd fairway for Rickie Fowler, as he captures his first major professional title.

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Ronald Montesano writes for from western New York. He dabbles in coaching golf and teaching Spanish, in addition to scribbling columns on all aspects of golf, from apparel to architecture, from equipment to travel. Follow Ronald on Twitter at @buffalogolfer.

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Monday’s Photos from the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open



GolfWRX is live this week from the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California.

Tiger Woods, who has won eight times at Torrey Pines, will make his first start in a full-field PGA Tour event since his spinal fusion surgery. The last we saw of Woods was in the 18-player Hero World Challenge where he finished T9, and showed that he could be healthy for 72 holes.

Jon Rahm, who’s now ranked No. 2 in the Official World Golf Rankings, is the defending champion at the Farmers, and he also won last week at the CareerBuilder Challenge. He’s joined in the field by notables Hideki Matsuyama (No. 5), Justin Rose (No. 6), Rickie Fowler (No. 7), Jason Day (No. 14) and Phil Mickelson.

Enjoy our photos from the 2018 Farmers Insurance Open below!

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Tour Rundown: Rahm gets win No. 2 and goes to world No. 2



Week two of the 2018 calendar season added events on the PGA Champions and European tours. The PGA caravan left Hawaii for California and found its first playoff of 2018, just as the Champions Tour reached the islands. The Euros teed it up in Dubai, and the Web.Com Tour stayed in the Bahamas for a second week. With an Asian Tour event in Singapore, the globe’s eyes were once again on professional golf. Time for Tour Rundown at warp speed!

Rahm continues to build career with win at CareerBuilder Challenge

For all of the final round, it looked like Jon Rahm would pull away for a 4-stroke victory. His driving was impeccable and his irons were dialed in. His putting stroke looked sound, but some of the birdies simply did not nest. Throughout the four-hole playoff with Andrew Landry, it seemed as if Rahm was destined to lose. Somehow, he persevered and won.

Rahm’s patience pays off with second PGA Tour win 

How many edges of holes were singed with putts and chips by Jon Rahm down the stretch? At least four, not counting the playoff. Fortunately for the Basque, only Andrew Landry made enough of a move to track him down temporarily. Rahm played like the 3rd-ranked player should, and now he’s the world No. 2 player. Perhaps the fact that he couldn’t or didn’t separate himself from his pursuers, yet had enough weaponry to pull out a victory, mattered more than a runaway triumph. Yet golf is a funny game. The only fairway Rahm missed in extra time came on the 4th hole. Despite that errant tee ball and his misses on the first three playoff holes, Rahm was able to drain the only birdie of the playoff and walk away a champion.

See the clubs Jon Rahm used to win

Landry and others made the most of their opportunities

Andrew Landry showed more gumption than anyone anticipated. The 2016 first-round leader of the U.S. Open stayed around even longer this week. A 72nd-hole birdie brought him to 22-under par and a tie with Rahm. The Arkansas alumnus drove the ball straight and far on each of the playoff holes, and never once sniffed a bogey. His irons brought him within birdie range but, like Rahm, he could not find the proper combination of line and speed. In the end, Landry missed last and settled (if such a term might be used) for a runner-up finish.

Fleetwood greets 2018 with title defense at Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship

Tommy Fleetwood looks for all the world to be a millenial hipster with his free-flowing hair and his strands of beard. In absolute contrast, he is equal parts passion and cold blood. When opportunity beckons, he doesn’t look away. Given the slightest opportunity to defend his 2017 Abu Dhabi title, Fleetwood assented and took charge.

How Fleetwood dispatched Fisher and the rest

Through 9 holes of Sunday’s final round, the tag for Tommy Fleetwood’s title defense percolated as He gave an admirable effort. Nine holes and six birdies later, that tag line had changed to How in the name of all that is known did he defend his title? And yet, there was Fleetwood with the fourth European Tour title of his career and third in the past dozen months. When Fleetwood needed a great drive, he got it. When he didn’t hit a great drive, he came through with a stellar approach. When his approach was off, he drained a long putt. And for good measure, he hit a wonderful pitch at the 18th, nestling the ball 5 feet for birdie, and made that. The end result was a 2-stroke margin of victory over the runner-up, Ross Fisher.

What is it about Ross Fisher?

Ross Fisher is eternally composed. Not like his countryman Colin Montgomerie (more on him later), who wore every disappointment like a Halloween mask. Yet, the two share a certain sad penchant for missing opportunities. Last October, Fisher wasn’t going to catch Tyrell Hatton in St. Andrews, but he was chasing immortality. He had a 25-foot putt for the first 59 at The Old Course…and missed. He had a 4-foot putt for the first 60 at the Old Course…and missed. He broke the course record with his 61, but, you know. Fisher has an 0-5 record in European Tour playoffs. On Sunday, he was victimized by Fleetwood’s marvelous back 9 of 30 strokes, but by his own inability to gather the fruits of opportunity. Case in point: Fisher made a long and testy putt for bogey on the par-5 10th, a hole that many birdied. Rather than use it as a springboard to return to his coach on the birdie train, he floundered with four pars and one bogey over his next five holes.

Kelly wins at the Mitsubishi Electric Championship

Jerry Kelly earned the 2017 PGA Tour Champions rookie of the year award, on the strength of consistent play and his first two tour titles. On Day 3 of the 2018 season, he added to his victory total with a 1-stroke win over Colin Montgomerie. A 2-stroke swing on 18 decided the fate of both…here’s how!

How Kelly klaimed the championship

For fans of Hideki Matsuyama and his deceptive reaction to fantastic shots, Mr. Kelly is guilty of the same on well-struck putts. He drops his putter from one hand and slumps his shoulders after mid-range putts. All the while, the ball is tracking toward the hole, and usually drops. Kelly played a fine round on Saturday, with 5 birdies and 1 eagle. It might have been the sole bogey of the round, on No. 16, that ignited his hockey-bred fire. The miscue allowed Colin Montgomerie to take a 1-shot lead into the final 2 holes, but Kelly’s birdie on No. 18 brought him the title. How’s that?

How Monty lost his opportunity

We forget how difficult it is to hold a lead in any event, at any juncture. Colin Montgomerie never figured the recipe out in major championships on the regular tour, but he had it down, for the most part, in regular tour events. On the Champions Tour, he has been quite solid, winning six times as a senior in the U.S. and five times in Europe. In the third round at Hualalai, Monty’s most reliable club betrayed him at the least opportune time. A drive into a fairway bunker at the last hole left him 100 yards to the green. He flew the putting surface with his approach and played an indifferent flop shot to 7 feet for par and a playoff. His effort was off the mark and the title slipped from his grasp.

Sergio’s Singapore Open

Despite this unexpected result, Sergio Garcia opened the 2018 season with a victory in Singapore. We’ll run down what he did right.

Sergio and Singapore on a Sunday

The #SingOpen2018 and @TheSergioGarcia made a perfect match on an extended final day. Wet weather forced a last-day completion of Round 3, and most golfers played more than 20 holes on the final day. Garcia stormed from behind with 66-68 over those final 36 holes to wrest the lead from Danthai Boonma of Thailand. Nine birdies and 1 bogey over that stretch of two rounds finished the task for the Spaniard, who looks to defend his 2017 Masters title in the spring.

See the clubs Sergio used to win

The battle for second ended in a tie

With Garcia separating himself from the peloton, attention turned to Boonma and cast for the runner-up resolution. After three stellar rounds (70-68-65), Boonma stumbled in Round 4 with 73, finishing in a tie for 4th with countryman Jazz Janewattananond. Satoshi Kodaira of Japan and South Africa’s Shaun Norris each birdied the final hole to finish tied for second at 9-under, 5 blows behind the champion.

Hello, World for Sungjae Im at Web.Com Opener

Sungjae Im, all of 19 years of age and pegging it in his first Web.Com event ever, gave us a Hello-World moment with a closing 65 and a 4-shot win over Mexico’s Carlos Ortiz. How did the young Korean pro flu powder his way to the top of the podium? We’re asking ourselves the same question

How Im became I’m The Champ

Im entered the final round of the Great Exuma Classic in a tie with Ortiz, but eyes were on proven winners like Rhein Gibson, Steve Marino and Erik Compton. Sungjae Im went out in Round 4 and played perfect golf. He had 4 birds on his outward half, then seized the trophy by both handles with 3 more chirps on holes 14 to 16. Simply put, there was nothing that Ortiz or any other entrant could do, beyond bow and salute the victor.

How Ortiz and the others took the shock

Carlos Ortiz did what he had to do during Tuesday’s final round. He played a solid round, minus-3 with 5 birds and 2 bogies. He stayed ahead of Gibson and all the others, but would have needed to turn his bogies into birdies to tie Im atop the board. Rhein Gibson began round four like a boss, with birdies on 5 of the first 6 holes. He reached 8-under and looked like the eventual winner. The engine sputtered, and it was 1-birdie-1-bogey-10-pars the rest of the way. Gibson would have needed 10-under on the day to tie for the trophy, but with a few more birdies along the way, would he have frightened Im? Who knows!

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge



GolfWRX is live from the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge at the TPC Stadium Course at PGA West (7,113 yards, par 72) in La Quinta, California.


The field this week is headlined by Jon Rahm, who’s currently ranked No. 3 in the Official World Golf Rankings after his second-place finish at the 2018 Sentry Tournament of Champions two weeks ago. Joining him in the field are notables John Daly, Brian Harman, last week’s Sony Open champion Patton Kizzire, Phil Mickelson, Jimmy Walker and Bubba Watson.

Defending-champion Hudson Swafford notched his first career victory at the 2017 CareerBuilders Challenge, where he won by one stroke over Adam Hadwin. He’ll be back in the field this year to defend his title.

Check out our photos from the 2018 CareerBuilder Challenge below!

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19th Hole