Notes Quail Hollow responds to Leftys criticism

By Associated PressMay 3, 2010, 3:24 am

Quail Hollow ChampionshipCHARLOTTE, N.C. – Phil Mickelson entered the final round of the Quail Hollow Championship thinking 11 under might give him his second straight victory.

The Masters champion did his part with a 4-under 68, but was blown away with Rory McIlroy’s course-record 62 that left Mickelson alone in second place, four shots back.

“I thought 11 under would have been a good score to post because the course was pretty challenging,” Mickelson said. “But 62 is one of the best rounds I’ve seen in a long, long time.”

Mickelson sank a 40-footer for birdie on 13, then birdied 14 to get within a stroke. But Mickelson’s hopes sank when he walked down the 15th fairway.

“I saw that he had eagled 15 and had started to pull away,” Mickelson said. “For him to win on the PGA Tour before his 21st birthday, I think it just sets his career off. … I’m happy for him that he was able to put together this great round. I’m sorry it was at my expense.”

Mickelson, who recovered from a stomach issue early in the week, plans some time with coach Butch Harmon before The Players Championship begins Thursday.

“I think after coming off such a great high as Augusta and taking a couple weeks off, you’re never really sure where your game’s going to be,” Mickelson said. “For me to play solid, get into contention and have a fun, good week, gives me some momentum.”

PHIL’S CRITICISM: Quail Hollow has enjoyed plenty of praise for its major-like feel, old-school layout and top field – which made Mickelson’s comments about the greens even more biting.

After telling his caddie to keep the flagstick in on 18 Saturday because he felt the hole location didn’t allow him to putt toward the cup, Mickelson said the greens “are some of the worst designed greens that we have on the tour.”

Added Mickelson: “I would say 18 is the worst on this Tour, but it’s not the worst on this golf course. Twelve is, and we have some ridiculous putts here.”

Quail Hollow Club president Johnny Harris responded to the criticism Sunday.

“I was sort of glad that he did it,” Harris said. “We have always tried to listen to the players and to the patrons and to the people that work here about how we can improve our product. I think Phil voiced something that he wouldn’t have said if he didn’t feel it.

“I look forward to listening to what he has to say and see if there’s not some things we can do to tweak the situation and improve it. We’ve always done that.”

Harris said they’ve already planned changes for next year, including eliminating the false front and the ripples on the back left on the eighth green. They’re also considering removing cedar trees on the right of the 18th fairway.

Harris said he plans to meet soon with Mickelson – who indicated he’s keeping the event on his schedule.

“I’ve come to really love and enjoy this golf tournament,” Mickelson said.

MAYFAIR’S LETDOWN: Billy Mayfair’s feel-good story ended with a flat final-round 76, ending his hopes of becoming the first Monday qualifier to win on the PGA Tour since 1986.

“Disappointing finish, but all around it was a great week,” he said.

Mayfair, who lost his exempt status after finishing 157th on the money list last year and hasn’t won since 1998, entered Sunday with a two-shot lead. But he ran into trouble early, including a double-bogey on the par-5 seventh.

He eagled the 14th, but his third shot on the 16th hit the lip of the bunker and stayed in. His double-bogey ended his chances of finishing in the top 10. He tied for 14th and collected $120,250.

“I have a lot more golf this year to try to keep my card,” Mayfair said. “It’s a learning experience.”

NEW NAME?: The tournament could soon have its third name.

The Wachovia Championship last year became the Quail Hollow Championship after Wells Fargo, which bought Wachovia, took the bank’s name off the event amid scrutiny following federal bailouts during the financial crisis.

Wells Fargo’s deal as title sponsor runs through 2014, and the company was more visible this year. Putting the name back on the event could come in 2011.

“I didn’t expect them to take their name off the event, so they fooled me before, but I can’t imagine that they don’t want to do something that involves their name with the event,” Harris said.

Harris said his only concern is confusing television viewers with another name change.

“It’s their call,” Harris said of Wells Fargo. “We look forward to embracing anything they want to do.”

Harris played coy about the future of the event past 2014, when the sponsorship deal and the contract with the PGA Tour runs out. Harris has had discussions about bringing a PGA Championship or Ryder Cup to Quail Hollow.

“There’s plenty of support as long as we can come up with the best way to attract the best players in the world to Charlotte,” Harris said. “We’ll dance with anybody.”

DIVOTS: The sold-out tournament didn’t see significant declines in weekend attendance despite Tiger Woods missing the cut. “All our indicators are up,” Harris said. “We’re up in food sales. We’re up in Bloody Mary mix sales. The merchandise tent seems to be way ahead of last year.” … Dustin Johnson bogeyed seven of his first eight holes, shot 77 and finished tied for 29th. … Rickie Fowler, 21, shot 67 Sunday while wearing all orange for his second straight top-10 finish. “Orange is the color of the Oklahoma State Cowboys. That’s where I came from,” he said. … Brendon de Jonge of Zimbabwe who now lives in Charlotte, shot 66 and finished fourth.

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LPGA's new Q-Series to offer deferrals for amateurs

By Randall MellMarch 21, 2018, 4:36 pm

The LPGA’s new Q-Series, which takes the place of the final stage of Q-School beginning this year, will come with a revolutionary new twist for amateurs.

For the first time, the LPGA will offer deferrals that will allow amateurs to win tour membership in December but delay turning pro until the following June or July, tour commissioner Mike Whan told

It’s a notable change, because the deferral will allow a collegiate player to earn tour membership at the end of this year but retain amateur status to finish out her collegiate spring season next year, before joining the tour.

“We haven’t done that in the past, because we didn’t want an onslaught, where every player in college is trying to join the tour,” Whan said.

The way it worked in the past, a collegian could advance through the final stage of Q-School, but if that player earned the right to a tour card and wanted to take up membership, she had to declare after the final round that she was turning pro. It meant the player would leave her college team in the middle of the school year. It was a particularly difficult decision for players who earned conditional LPGA status, and it played havoc with the makeup of some college teams.

Whan said the revamped Q-Series format won’t create the collegiate stampede that deferrals might have in the past.

“It will take a unique talent to show up at the first stage of Q-School and say, ‘I’ll see you at Q-Series,’” Whan said. “There won’t be a lot of amateurs who make it there.”

Under the new qualifying format, there will continue to be a first and second stage of Q-School, but it will be much harder to advance to the final stage, now known Q-Series.

Under the old format, about 80 players advanced from the second stage to the Q-School finals. Under the new format, only 20 to 30 players from the second stage will advance to the Q-Series, and only a portion of those are likely to be collegians.

Under the new format, a maximum of 108 players will meet at the Q-Series finals, where a minimum of 45 tour cards will be awarded after 144 holes of competition, played over two weeks on two different courses. The field will include players who finished 101st to 150th and ties on the final LPGA money list, and players who finished 11th to 30th and ties on the final Symetra Tour money list. The field will also include up to 10 players from among the top 75 of the Rolex Women’s World Rankings and the top five players on the Golfweek Women’s Collegiate Rankings.

“We feel if you make it to the Q-Series finals as a college player, you are probably among the best of the best, and we ought to give you the opportunity to finish the college year,” Whan said.

University of Washington coach Mary Lou Mulflur said she would prefer amateurs not be allowed to compete at Q-School, but she called this a workable compromise.

“It’s a step in the right direction,” Mulflur said. “It’s better than the way it’s been in the past. That was hard, because it broke up teams.”

Mulflur said she disliked the tough position the former policy put college players in at the final stage of Q-School, where they had to decide at event’s end whether to turn pro and accept tour membership.

“I can’t imagine being a kid in that position, and I’ve had a couple kids in that position,” Mulflur said. “It’s hard on everybody, the player, the family and the coaches. You hear about coaches standing there begging a kid not to turn pro, and that’s just not the way it should be, for the coach or the player.”

Mulflur agreed with Whan that the new Q-Series format should limit the number of collegians who have a chance to win tour cards.

“I believe it’s a good compromise, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out going forward,” Mulflur said. “Kudos to the commissioner for giving kids this option.”

Whan said collegians who take deferrals will be counseled.

“We will sit down with them and their families and explain the risks,” Whan said. “If you take a deferral and start playing on July 15, you might find yourself back in Q-Series again later that year, because you may not have enough time.”

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Tour still focused on security after death of suspected Austin bomber

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 4:07 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Although the suspect in the wave of Austin-area bombings was killed early Wednesday, the PGA Tour plans to continue heightened security measures at this week’s WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play at Austin Country Club.

According to various news outlets, Mark Anthony Conditt has been identified as the bombings suspect, and he was killed by an explosion inside his car in Round Rock, Texas, which is 19 miles north of Austin Country Club.

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“We do not comment on the specifics of our security measures, but we are continuing to work in close collaboration with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in Austin to ensure the safety of our players and fans at this week’s tournament,” the Tour said in a statement. “Regardless of the recent developments, our heightened security procedures will remain in place through the remainder of the week.”

Authorities believe Conditt is responsible for the five explosions that killed two people and injured five others in Austin or south-central Texas since March 2.

Play began Wednesday at the Match Play.

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Monahan addresses alcohol, fan behavior at events

By Rex HoggardMarch 21, 2018, 3:53 pm

AUSTIN, Texas – Fan behavior has become a hot-button topic on the PGA Tour in recent weeks, with Rory McIlroy suggesting on Saturday at the Arnold Palmer Invitational the circuit should “limit alcohol sales on the course.”

The Tour’s policy is to stop selling alcohol an hour before the end of play, which is normally around 5 p.m., and on Wednesday at the WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play commissioner Jay Monahan said it’s something the Tour is monitoring.

“When you have people who aren’t behaving properly and they’ve had too much alcohol, then I agree [with McIlroy],” Monahan said. “In those incidences those people who are making it uncomfortable for a player alcohol sales should be cut off.”

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Fan behavior became an issue with some players when Tiger Woods returned to competition at last month’s Genesis Open. During the final round of the Honda Classic Justin Thomas had a fan removed when he yelled for Thomas’ tee shot at the par-4 16th hole to “get in the bunker.”

Monahan declined to address Thomas’ situation at PGA National specifically, but he did seem to suggest that as interest grows and the Tour continues to attract more mainstream sports crowds, vocal fans will continue to be the norm.

“I believe that there was more that went into it that preceded and in a situation like that we’re hopeful our players will reach out to our security staff and they can handle that,” Monahan said. “[But] yelling, ‘get in the bunker,’ that’s part of what our players have to accept. In any sport, you go to an away game, in any other sport, and people aren’t rooting for you. Sometimes out here you’re going to have fans that aren’t rooting for you, but they can’t interfere with what you’re trying to do competitively.”

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Senden playing first event since son's brain tumor

By Will GrayMarch 21, 2018, 3:03 pm

John Senden is back inside the ropes for the first time in nearly a year at this week's Chitimacha Louisiana Open on the Tour.

Senden took a leave of absence from professional golf in April, when his teenage son, Jacob, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He didn't touch a club for nearly four months as Jacob endured six rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, a gauntlet that stretched from April until mid-November.

But Senden told that his son's tumor has shrunk from the size of a thumbnail to the size of a pinky nail, and after a promising MRI in January he decided to plan his comeback.

"I haven't really played in 12 months, but in that time Jacob has really, really hung tough," Senden said. "His whole body was getting slammed with all these treatments, and he was so strong in his whole attitude and his whole body. Just really getting through the whole thing. He was tough."

Senden was granted a family crisis exemption by the Tour, and he'll have 13 starts to earn 310 FedExCup points to retain his playing privileges for the 2018-19 season. He is allowed five "rehabilitation" starts as part of the exemption, but will reportedly only make one this week before returning to the PGA Tour at the RBC Heritage, followed by starts in San Antonio, Charlotte and Dallas.

Senden, 46, has won twice on Tour, most recently the 2014 Valspar Championship.