High Praise for Quail Hollow

By Rex HoggardApril 30, 2010, 12:22 am
Quail Hollow ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. – It’s not Magnolia Lane, but from the moment one wheels onto the property off Gleneagles Road everything about the place screams Augusta National, from the white guardhouse tucked into a sea of foliage to the rolling greens that Stimp on the white knuckle side of high anxiety.

Bobby Jones never graced Quail Hollow’s grounds but if you look hard you can see Jones sipping an old fashion on the modest porch.

“Wait until you see it,” gushed Jay Williamson to a Quail Hollow first-timer earlier this week.

Quail Hollow’s kinship with Augusta National is distinctly by design. Of the club’s 324 members 14 have a coveted members green jacket in the closet. It is part of the charm, and the curse, of the place.

When Quail Hollow joined the PGA Tour fold in 2003 it was an instant classic, attracting a major-championship quality field to a major-championship quality venue with every bell and whistle the modern pro has come to expect.

For all those disgusted to distraction by the impending “fifth major” debate, the best way to sum up Quail Hollow is Grand Slam Lite. Check the champion’s board, Quail Hollow’s winners are a who’s who collection of major players – Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, David Toms, Jim Furyk.

“I would say it’s better than a major because it’s easier to get around,” said Dale Lynch, Geoff Ogilvy’s swing coach who has seen his share of major venues.

With high praise, however, come high expectations. And at Quail Hollow it seems those expectations may have exceeded its status as the biggest fish in a frenzied PGA Tour pond.

On paper Quail Hollow is stone-cold Tour lock with a sponsor, albeit a largely absentee check book, that is on the board through 2014, a stellar course and a tony date on the docket.

But clear, sunny skies for Thursday’s first round and beyond belie an approaching imperfect storm of major ambition and political opportunism.

Officials renamed the event the Quail Hollow Championship last year, but they may as well have dubbed it the Barney Frank Open. Frank, the outspoken congressman from Massachusetts, publically blasted TARP-recipient Northern Trust for what he viewed as corporate extravagance during last year’s Tour stop in Los Angeles. So when Wells Fargo purchased Wachovia, Quail Hollow’s original sponsor, the financial giant kept writing the checks but did so from afar.

Yet Wells Fargo’s duck-and-cover act is less of a linchpin in the Tour’s future at Quail Hollow than Johnny Harris, the omnipotent president of the club.

“We have a contract through 2014. We look forward to having the Tour here until then, and then we’re going to look at all our alternatives,” Harris told the Charlotte Business Journal this week.

And as warm and fuzzy as that endorsement sounds, Harris’ follow up was even chillier. Asked if he felt it was necessary to have an annual Tour stop he said, simply, “wouldn’t think so.”

Harris planned to meet with commissioner Tim Finchem this week. But the more important meetings may likely come in the next few months between Harris and officials from the PGA of America.

Sources close to the situation say the club, and Harris, want to host a Ryder Cup but will likely need to host a PGA Championship first. On the competitive calendar the next available PGA is 2017 and the next open date for a U.S. Ryder Cup is 2024.

With that kind of Grand Slam glory on the hook there would be little need, or open seating for the matter, for a yearly Tour stop. And, in a twisted way, Tour types seem to be writing their own ticket out of town.

Almost to a man, the reviews of Quail Hollow leave little room for ambiguity or hyperbole.

“If we all turned up here and had a U.S. Open or a PGA it would feel like a normal U.S. Open or a PGA,” said Ogilvy, three shots off the lead after Round 1. “It does feel like a major kind of place.”

Paul Goydos, who is tied with Ogilvy at 4 under, offered the ultimate player endorsement: “The green speeds are Augusta-like if not even quicker.”

Although some sources estimate there is a 60 percent chance the Quail Hollow Championship is headed for a far-to-premature swan song when its agreement with the Tour is up in 2014, one Tour veteran mused late Wednesday on the practice putting green that with a PGA or Ryder Cup the club gives up control, while with a Tour event Harris & Co. call many of the most-meaningful shots.

But does the membership, specifically Harris, want a yearly Tour stop?

“That’s a good question,” the veteran allowed.

Without question, Quail Hollow would be up to whatever major challenge they wish to tackle. But for Tour types the question remains, at what cost?

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Fowler among 5 to skip WGC-Match Play

By Ryan LavnerMarch 17, 2018, 2:24 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – Five of the top 64 players in the world will skip next week’s WGC-Dell Match Play.

Justin Rose, Rickie Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Brooks Koepka and Adam Scott all will miss the second WGC event of the year, held next week at Austin Country Club.

As a result, the last man into the field is world No. 69 Luke List. Kevin Na, Charles Howell III, Joost Luiten and Keegan Bradley also got into the field.

Julian Suri and Bill Haas are the first two alternates, if anyone else withdraws from the round-robin-style match-play event.

This is the second year in a row that Rose, Fowler, Stenson and Scott will not play in Austin. Koepka reached the quarterfinals each of the past two years, but he is still recovering from a wrist injury.

The final seeding for the event will be determined after this week’s tournaments. The bracket show is at 7:30 p.m. Monday, live on Golf Channel.

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Korda happy to finally be free of jaw pain

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 2:43 am

PHOENIX – Jessica Korda isn’t as surprised as everyone else that she is playing so well, so quickly, upon her return from a complex and painful offseason surgery.

She is inspired finally getting to play without recurring headaches.

“I’d been in pain for three years,” she said after posting a 4-under-par 68 Friday to move two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Korda had her upper jaw broken in three places and her low jaw broken in two places in December in a procedure that fixed the alignment of her jaw.

Korda, 25, said the headaches caused by her overbite even affected her personality.

“Affects your moods,” Korda said. “I think I was pretty snappy back then as well.”

She was pretty pleased Friday to give herself a weekend chance at her sixth LPGA title, her second in her last three starts. She won the Honda LPGA Thailand three weeks ago in her first start after returning from surgery.

“I'm much happier now,” Korda said. “Much calmer.”

Even if she still can’t eat the things she would really like to eat. She’s still recuperating. She said the lower part of her face remains numb, and it’s painful to chew crunchy things.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“Chips are totally out of question,” Korda said.

She can eat most things she likes, but she has to cut them into tiny pieces. She can’t wait to be able to eat a steak.

“They broke my palate, so I can't feel anything, even heat,” Korda said. “So that's a bit difficult, because I can't feel any heat on my lip or palate. I don't know how hot things are going in until they hit my throat.”

Korda has 27 screws in her skull holding the realignment together. She needed her family to feed her, bathe her and dress her while she recovered. The procedure changed the way she looks.

While Korda’s ordeal and all that went into her recovery has helped fans relate to her, she said it’s the desire to move on that motivates her.

“Because I was so drugged up, I don't remember a lot of it,” Korda said. “I try to forget a lot of it. I don't think of it like I went through a lot. I just think of it as I'm pain-free. So, yeah, people are like, `Oh, you're so brave, you overcame this and that.’ For me, I'm just going forward.”

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Finally adapted to short putter, Martin near lead

By Randall MellMarch 17, 2018, 1:54 am

PHOENIX – Mo Martin loved her long putter.

In fact, she named her “Mona.”

For 10 years, Martin didn’t putt with anything else. She grew up with long putters, from the time she started playing when she was 5.

While Martin won the Ricoh Women’s British Open in 2014, about nine months after giving up Mona for a short putter, she said it’s taken until today to feel totally comfortable with one.

And that has her excited about this year.

Well, that and having a healthy back again.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

“I've had a feeling that this year was going to be a good one,” Martin said. “My game is in a special place.”

Martin was beaming after a 6-under-par 66 Friday moved her two shots off the lead at the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

“Just a beautiful day,” Martin said. “I was able to play my game, make my putts.”

Martin hit all 14 fairways in the second round, hit 15 greens in regulation and took just 27 putts. After struggling with nagging back pain last year, she’s pain free again.

She’s happy to “just to get back to a place now where my ball striking is where it has been the last few years.”

Martin, by the way, says Mona remains preserved in a special place, “a shrine” in her home.

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Clanton rides hole-out eagle to lead at Founders

By Associated PressMarch 17, 2018, 1:47 am

PHOENIX - Cydney Clanton holed out from the fairway for eagle on the par-4 13th and closed with a birdie Friday to take the second-round lead in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup.

Clanton shot a 5-under 67, playing the back nine at Desert Ridge in 5-under 31 to reach 9-under 135.

Clanton's wedge on the 13th flew into the cup on the first bounce. She also birdied the par-5 11th and 15th and the par-4 18th. The 28-year-old former Auburn player is winless on the LPGA.

Full-field scores from the Bank of Hope Founders Cup

Ariya Jutanugarn, Marina Alex, Karine Icher and Mariajo Uribe were a stroke back on a calmer day after wind made scoring more difficult Thursday.

Jessica Korda and Mo Martin were 7 under, and Michelle Wie topped the group at 6 under.