Simpson, Haas Lead A Group Of Locals Looking For A Win At Quail Hollow
The 2014 Wells Fargo Championship gets underway Thursday morning at Quail Hollow Country Club. The course is set to unveil its newest additions: firmer Bermuda greens, a new 16th hole, and a new tee at the par-3 17th. Combine those two holes with the dreaded 18th hole and you have one of the toughest finishing stretches on the PGA Tour. Superstars like Rory McIlroy and Phil Mickelson are in the field, but the tournament has an abundance of players with local ties. From ACCers to guys that call Charlotte and the Carolinas home, the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship features a large group of players who could benefit from the performance boost many feel when they play somewhere they’re loved. Here is a preview of each and every golfer in this year’s Wells Fargo Championship that has ties to the area:
Davis Love III
Everyone loves DLIII. In my mind, he is to the fans at Quail Hollow what Freddie Couples is to the patrons at Augusta. Born in Charlotte and a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Love is all North Carolina. He’s played in 13 events this season, making the cut in 9 of them but hasn’t really come away with anything to show for it. He’s had a hell of a career though, 20 wins on the PGA Tour, including the 1997 PGA Championship, thirty 2nd-place finishes, and 176 Top-10 finishes. DLIII’s father died in a plane crash in 1988, 3 years after he turned pro. In 1997, Love published a book titled “Every Shot I Take” to honor his father’s lessons and teachings on golf and life. In 2013, Love received the Bob Jones Award from the USGA, which is the organization’s highest honor. He hasn’t played at the Wells Fargo Championship in two years but I sure would love to see him in contention on Sunday.
Laird was born in Glasgow, Scotland but can often be found at his home up at Lake Norman. He turned pro in 2004 and has had 3 wins on the PGA Tour: the 2008 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open, the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational, and the 2013 Valero Texas Open. Laird finished T-26th in 2012 at Quail Hollow, but missed the cut last year. This season he’s played in 11 events but hasn’t finished in the Top 10 in any of them and has missed the cut in his last 3 tournaments. Laird and his wife, Meagan, support the Quilts for Kids program, which is an organization that gives needy children hand-made quilts. Laird has the Scottish flag on his belt, his bag, and his tee so he should be an easy one to spot this week.
Glover played his college golf at Clemson and was born in Greenville, South Carolina. He’s won 3 times on the PGA Tour, including the 2009 US Open and the 2011 Wells Fargo Championship. A knee injury shortened Glover’s year in 2012 but in the 2013 Wells Fargo Championship, Glover finished T-27th after he shot 68-71-73-75 during the tournament. He’s played in 17 events this season but has missed 11 cuts, although he did shoot a 2nd round 69 at the Masters this year. Glover is a big-time Clemson sports fan and was inducted into the Clemson Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007. I’m not sure if he still has it, but Glover is known for his large beard so keep an eye out for a golfer that looks like a lumberjack.
Haas was born in Charlotte, attended Wake Forest, and currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina. His father, Jay, had a very successful career on the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour. His uncle, Jerry, also played his college golf at Wake Forest and became a PGA Tour player. Jerry is currently the head coach of the Wake Forest golf team. Bill Haas has won 5 times during his career on the PGA Tour, while also finishing 2nd three times and 3rd three times in 251 career events. Unfortunately, Haas missed the cut at the 2013 Wells Fargo Championship after shooting 79-70 on Thursday and Friday. He had the lead at the 2014 Masters after the 1st round but finished T-20th. He’s had a hell of a 2014 though, finishing in the Top-10 twice and the Top-25 nine times in 13 events. However in the last tournament he played in, the RBC Heritage in Hilton Head, Haas withdrew after the 1st round. That was 2 weeks ago now and Haas looks to get back on track in Charlotte.
Simpson is another Demon Deacon who has connections to the area. He was born in Raleigh but now lives in Charlotte. He even married a girl from a wonderful family in Charlotte. Webb really put himself on the map when he won the 2012 US Open at the Olympic Club. Overall, Webb has 4 wins on the PGA Tour and was a member of the 2011 Presidents Cup and 2012 Ryder Cup Teams. At the 2013 Wells Fargo Championship, Simpson finished T-32nd, but he finished 4th in 2012, which included a first-round 65. Webb has been on fire in the 11 events he’s been a part of in 2014. He has five finishes in the Top-5, six finishes in the Top-25, and he won the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. Webb has missed 2 out of the last 3 cuts though in 2014 and his last tournament was the Masters, where he missed the cut. Like Haas, Webb hopes the magic of familiarity will get him back on top.
The NC State Wolfpack will make an appearance at Quail Hollow in the form of Pettersson. The Gothenburg, Sweden native and NC State grad turned pro in 2000 and has 5 career victories on the PGA Tour. In last year’s PGA Championship, Pettersson led after the first-round and held a share of the 36-hole lead but finished T-3rd. Carl didn’t play at Quail Hollow in 2013 but in 2012, he finished T-46th. He’s played in 14 events in 2014, missing the cut in 7 and making it in 7 with one Top 10 finish. Pettersson still resides in Raleigh.
Duke has a couple of guys in the field but Streelman is the first one profiled here. He turned pro in 2001 and started out on the Dakotas Tour. He is said to have burned out three cars while driving hundreds of thousands of miles across the country to play on various tours through the years. He’s played in 181 events on the PGA Tour, coming away with 1 victory (2013 Tampa Bay Championship) and three 3rd place finishes. Streelman also finished T-6th at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship. In 2014, Streelman has played in 11 events, only missing 2 cuts, and had a decent showing at the Masters (T-42nd).
Brendon de Jonge
Brendon played his college golf at Virginia Tech, where he was a 2003 graduate and turned pro in the same year. He currently resides in Charlotte but was born Harare, Zimbabwe. He’s never won on the PGA Tour in 193 events but does have one 2nd-place finish, twenty-two Top-10 finishes, and fifty-four Top-25 finishes. He finished T-43rd at the 2013 Wells Fargo Championship and T-40th at Quail Hollow after a first-round 67 in 2012. In 2014, he’s played in 15 events and finished in the Top 25 twice. Brendon was named the 2012 Zimbabwe Sportsman of the Year.
The Katrineholm, Sweden native turned pro in 1989 and currently lives in Charlotte. He has played in 124 events on the PGA Tour, never winning one, but has two 2nd-place finishes, twelve Top-10s, and twenty-nine Top-25 finishes. Karlsson didn’t play at Quail Hollow in 2013 but in 2012, he finished T-48th at the Wells Fargo Championship. In 2014, Karlsson has only played in three events, making all 3 cuts, while finishing in the Top-10 twice and the Top-25 in all three events. He’ll be an easy one to spot because he’s 6-5 and one of the tallest players on the PGA Tour.
Johnson Wagner has appeared on The Drive several times, even coming in-studio so I guess you could say he is a friend of the show. Johnson is from Texas but played his college golf at Virginia Tech and now resides in Charlotte with his family. He is a huge Virginia Tech football fan. He turned pro in 2002 and has appeared in 203 PGA Tour events, winning three tournaments and finishing 2nd three times. He missed the cut at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship and finished T-65th in 2012. We certainly will be cheering Johnson on this week and so should you.
The Byrd-man is another Clemson Tiger in the field. He and Lucas Glover were actually teammates at Clemson. The Anderson, SC native turned pro in 2000 and has played in 317 PGA Tour events. Byrd has 5 wins on the PGA Tour, as well as three 2nd-place finishes. Jonathan has a brother named Jordan, who has caddied for him in the past, and is currently an assistant golf coach at Clemson. Byrd made the cut in the 2013 Wells Fargo Championship but did not finish. In 2012, Byrd shot three rounds of 69 to help him finish T-9th at Quail Hollow. Byrd has played in 12 events in 2014, missing only 3 cuts and finishing in the Top-25 in two tournaments. Byrd has had two people close to him pass away due to cancer, his father Jim in 2009, and his former caddie Chuck Hoersch in 2012. You know Byrd would love to get a win this weekend at Quail Hollow.
You probably know him as Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey. The nickname he acquired because he wears two golf gloves when he plays. Born in Darlington, South Carolina, Gainey went to Central Carolina Technical College and turned pro in 1997. He has played in 151 PGA Tour events, winning once and finishing 2nd one time but has several 3rd place finishes. Gainey finished T-50th at the 2013 Wells Fargo Championship but shot a 1st-round 68 and a moving day-69 before he shot a 75 on Sunday to finish T-40th in 2012. In 2014, Gainey has played in 17 events, missing 9 cuts, but has one Top-10 finish and two Top-25 finishes. Gainey worked in a South Carolina factory as an assembly line worker before trying to play golf professionally.
Kokrak, like Johnson Wagner, has been on “The Drive” several times and is considered a friend of the show. He is a personal favorite of QCB, who started the “Jason Kokrak Golf Tracker” to keep tabs on how Jason performs at that particular week’s tournament. He is Canadian but played his college golf at Xavier University and currently lives in Charlotte. He’s only played in 68 PGA Tour events after turning pro in 2008 but has eight Top-10s and sixteen Top-25s. In 2014, Kokrak is 10th in scoring average amongst all golfers and has two top-10 finishes and 8 Top-25 finishes in 14 events. Unfortunately he is a Cleveland sports fan and according to the PGA Tour’s website, his favorite athlete to watch, “used to be LeBron James.” A win at Quail Hollow will certainly heal his years of Cleveland-induced heartbreak. “Kokrak, Kokrak, Kokrak…..”
Stanley makes it one more Clemson Tiger in the field of the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship. Stanley turned pro in 2009 and played in 106 PGA Tour events, winning the 2012 Waste Management Phoenix Open and finishing 2nd twice. He’s played in 15 events so far this year but has only made 7 cuts and has only finished in the Top-25 once. He missed the cut at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship but performed well last year. Stanley shot 74-68-73-68 in 2013 to finish T-6th at Quail Hollow.
Harold Varner III
The ECU Pirates have a representative at Quail Hollow in 2014 in the form of Varner. He graduated from East Carolina in 2012 and turned pro in the same year. He’s never played at the Wells Fargo Championship and has only appeared in one PGA Tour event, the 2014 Northern Trust Open, where he finished T-70th. His coach is Bruce Sudderth, the former director of the Champions Tour, and the current pro emeritus at Gaston Country Club. If you see an ECU Pirate driver head cover this week, that’ll be Varner.
Roach’s presence in the field means that there will be multiple Blue Devils at Quail Hollow this week. He was born in Knoxville, Tennessee and graduated from Duke in 2011. He turned pro in 2o11 and only has 11 career PGA Tour appearances to his name, all of them coming this season. Roach made the cut in 5 of them and finished in the Top-25 in three of those five. He doesn’t have any experience at the Wells Fargo Championship but will look to make the most of his first opportunity.
Brown was born in Augusta, Georgia but attended the University of South Carolina-Aiken for college. He guided USC-Aiken to three consecutive NCAA Division II National Championships and was inducted into the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He turned pro in 2006, playing in 62 PGA Tour events, and has a win at the 2013 Puerto Rico Open on his resume. He’s played in 17 events so far this year, making three Top-10s and five Top-25s. He missed the cut at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship but finished T-38th last year and shot a final round 69. Brown is heavily involved with the American Cancer Society and the Alzheimer’s Association.
Hadley was born in Raleigh but attended Georgia Tech and graduated in 2010. He turned pro in 2010 as well, but only has 17 career events to his name and 15 of them have come this season. Earlier this year he won the Puerto Rico Open and finished in the Top-10 three times, and the Top-25 five times this season. He won the Rex Hospital Open on the Web.com Tour in his hometown of Raleigh in June of 2013. He’s another young guy that also looks to capitalize on his first appearance in the Wells Fargo Championship.
MacKenzie was born in Greenville, North Carolina and has one of the most interesting stories of anybody on the Tour. He quit golf before his junior year of high school after becoming one of the top junior players in the country. After some time and work out West, MacKenzie returned home to North Carolina. He picked the game back up when he saw his idol Payne Stewart win the 1999 US Open at Pinehurst. He turned pro in 2000, playing in numerous smaller tours but has earned the right to play in 187 PGA Tour events during his career. He has two wins during his time on the Tour, the 2006 Reno-Tahoe Open and the 2008 Viking Classic. He’s played in 15 tournaments this year, finishing 2nd at the Texas Open a month ago to go along with five Top-10 finishes in 2014. It’s his first Wells Fargo Championship but he’s one I’ll pay attention to because of his backstory.
The Southern Conference will have a representative in the field as McGirt is a graduate of Wofford College. He also was born in Lumberton, North Carolina. He is involved with an organization called Camp Spearhead in Greenville, South Carolina, which is a summer program for children and adults with special needs. McGirt turned pro in 2004, and although he doesn’t have a win in 104 PGA Tour appearances, he has finished 2nd twice. He missed the cut at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship and didn’t play at Quail Hollow in 2013.
Martin makes it four Clemson Tigers in the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship, along with Lucas Glover, Jonathan Byrd, and Kyle Stanley. Martin also hails from South Carolina and was born in Greenwood in 1987. He turned pro in 2010 and has played in 43 PGA Tour tournaments, in which he’s finished in the Top-10 three times. He’s entered into 15 events this season but has missed the cut in 9 of them, although when he did make it to the weekend, he’s had two Top-10 finishes and four Top-25 finishes.
Bray is a Nationwide Tour player from Asheboro, North Carolina, who attended the University of North Carolina, where he starred on the golf team. The 2014 Wells Fargo Championship will be his first career PGA Tour event.
Ogilvie makes it three Duke Blue Devils in the field for the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship. Ogilvie is not just a golfer, he started his own company, Ogilvie Capital, an investment advisory firm, in 2007. He’s played in 392 PGA Tour events, winning the 2007 U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, and finishing 2nd three times. He’s played in 6 events so far this year but doesn’t have much to show for it, missing the cut in three of those tournaments. He had a solid 72-71 on Thursday and Friday at Quail Hollow in 2012, but finished with a 77-75 on the weekend. Ogilvie missed the cut at last year’s Wells Fargo Championship.
Wilson is a graduate of North Carolina with a knack for charitable work. He was born in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin and he supports the Midwest Athletes Against Childhood Cancer Fund. He has a program called “Making a Mark Fore MACC” that makes a donation to the charity every time he makes a cut, and then another donation if he finishes in the Top-30 of a tournament. He also helps with a charity called Blessing in a Backpack, which aims to send food home with needy school children on the weekends. He has 297 appearances on the PGA Tour, winning five tournaments in that span. He missed the cut at the Wells Fargo Championship in 2012 after an opening round 77 set him back and Wilson did not play at Quail Hollow in 2013. I would love to see Wilson make the cut this week and finish in the Top-30 knowing what happens when he does.