What we learned: Wells Fargo

By Jay CoffinMay 7, 2012, 12:10 am

Each week, the GolfChannel.com team offers thoughts on 'what we learned' from the most recent events and news developments. This week we learned a lot about Rickie Fowler, who grew up before our eyes with his first PGA Tour victory at Quail Hollow.

I learned that Rickie Fowler is 23 years old. Seriously. With all the expectations heaped on him the past three years I thought he was pushing 30. With most of the golf world wondering when the dude was going to win on the PGA Tour for the first time, I thought time was running out. I didn't think he had much of a window left. Now that I know he's 23, I'm glad to see he has more time to collect more victories than I originally thought. – Jay Coffin

I learned that those of us who have been preaching Life After Tiger won’t lead to the eventual demise of the game were once again proven right on Sunday. Yes, Woods has helped bring untold amounts of riches to his peers. And no, I don’t think he is “done” just because he missed a cut for the eighth time in his career. But Rickie Fowler’s victory in a three-man playoff that included fellow 23-year-old Rory McIlroy should discredit any notion that some 500 years after the game was born in Scottish fields, it will cease to survive without one of its greatest all-time players. The current state of golf is eminently healthy, with a cornucopia of impressive – and largely youthful – champions so far this season. Those declaring, “The end is nigh!” in 19th holes around the world should officially give up the cause. – Jason Sobel

In a world of the 24/7 news cycle, 140-character quips and WiFi hot spots at 10,000 feet, we are far too concerned with instant gratification.

Rickie Fowler turned professional in 2009 and in only his second event –the Frys.com Open at Grayhawk in Scottsdale, Ariz. – he finished T-2 after losing in a three-way playoff to Troy Matteson. Three years later, Fowler nabbed his first Tour victory, but has been scrutinized every step of the way.

The kid’s only 23 and he has a lifetime of good golf to play. We should cut the kid some slack and hope this is a preview of more Rory vs. Rickie Sundays to come. - Bailey Mosier

I learned sometimes groups take time to gel. The Golf Boys came out with their first single at Congressional last year for the U.S. Open. Frankly, it stunk. The bomb of a track hurt their collective performance for months until Ben Crane beat Webb Simpson in a playoff for the McGladrey Classic. Almost seven months later, all four members of the band have won on the PGA Tour. 

Bubba Watson won the Masters. Hunter Mahan won the WGC-Accenture Match Play and the Shell Houston Open. Now, Rickie Fowler has won the Wells Fargo Championship in addition to winning the Korea Open last fall. Collectively, they have five PGA Tour wins in that stretch.

La-le, la-le, indeed. – Ryan Ballengee

I learned Rickie Fowler is playing in a different league now.

You don’t beat a world-class field on a golf course as demanding as Quail Hollow without all the makings of an elite player. You don’t birdie Quail Hollow’s treacherous 18th hole in a playoff without the kind of skill and confidence it takes to win a lot more big events, including majors. You don’t outplay Rory McIlroy when he’s on his game, on a golf course where he has won before, without a belief that goes beyond Wells Fargo.

The folks who thought Fowler would never live up to “the hype” surrounding him probably won’t be convinced by one PGA Tour title, but a legion of Fowler fans, including all the new fans he won Sunday, are relishing this bright young face’s breakthrough. He’s good for the game. So is fellow 23-year-old McIlroy. If they’re the future of golf, if they’re leading the game’s changing of the guard, golf is in good hands. These two have more than big games. They’ve got big-time personalities and stories to tell. They’ve also got the big-picture perspective and class it takes to keep the game in a good place. – Randall Mell

That the Official World Golf Ranking may have it right after all considering that Rory McIlroy returned from a three-week break and came within a missed 16 footer at the 72nd hole of winning his second title of 2012 and his second Wells Fargo Championship.

He didn’t get the win, but his runner-up finish pushed him past Luke Donald to the No. 1 spot.

And that Sean Foley was correct when he figured following Tiger Woods’ five-stroke victory at Bay Hill earlier this year that the swing was only “50 percent” to where it needed to be. At Quail Hollow, where Woods missed the cut, Tiger still looked like a work in progress. – Rex Hoggard

John Hancock Pivotal Moments

Getty Images

Simpson overtakes DeChambeau in Ryder Cup race

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:09 pm

A T-12 finish at The Open allowed Webb Simpson to move past Bryson DeChambeau into the eighth and final automatic qualifying spot in the U.S. Ryder Cup points race with just three weeks to go.

Simpson finished the week at 3 under, five shots behind winner Francesco Molinari. Adding another strong result to his win at TPC Sawgrass and T-10 finish at the U.S. Open, he's now edged in front of DeChambeau by less than 41 points. But with players earning one point per $1,000 each of the next two weeks and 1.5 points per $1,000 at the PGA Championship, the race is far from over.

Jordan Spieth's T-9 finish strengthened his position at No. 6, as the top six players are essentially assured of qualifying automatically. Rickie Fowler held onto his spot at No. 7, while Xander Schauffele and Kevin Kisner both moved onto the bubble following T-2 finishes at Carnoustie. After a T-6 finish, Tiger Woods jumped from 31st to 20th.

Here's a look at the updated American standings, with the top eight after the PGA qualifying automatically and captain Jim Furyk adding four picks in September:

1. Brooks Koepka

2. Dustin Johnson

3. Patrick Reed

4. Justin Thomas

5. Bubba Watson

6. Jordan Spieth

7. Rickie Fowler

8. Webb Simpson


9. Bryson DeChambeau

10. Phil Mickelson

11. Xander Schauffele

12. Matt Kuchar

13. Kevin Kisner

14. Tony Finau

15. Brian Harman

On the European side, Molinari was already in position to qualify automatically but is now assured of a spot on Thomas Bjorn's roster this fall. Fellow major champs Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy also solidified their footing with runner-up performances.

Here's a look at how things look for the Europeans, with the top four from each list after the PGA Championship qualifying automatically:

European Points

1. Francesco Molinari

2. Justin Rose

3. Tyrrell Hatton

4. Tommy Fleetwood


Thorbjorn Olesen

Russell Knox

Eddie Pepperell

World Points

1. Jon Rahm

2. Alex Noren

3. Rory McIlroy

4. Paul Casey


Matthew Fitzpatrick

Sergio Garcia

Ian Poulter

Getty Images

Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

Getty Images

Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

Getty Images

Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.