We’ve reached the final major of the 2016-2017 PGA Tour season this week and the action is underway as players have firmly set their sights on capturing the last major crown of the year - the PGA Championship.
Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, NC is hosting the 99th staging of the event and now joins a handful of courses that have hosted both regular tour stop events and major championships.
In 2016, as James Hahn (Pro V1x) out-dueled fellow Titleist golf ball loyalist Roberto Castro (Pro V1x) in their the Wells Fargo Championship playoff, Tom Fazio’s design team and grounds crews were already getting to work on the front-nine, starting renovations to ready Quail Hollow for its first major championship.
In fewer than 90 days, all the greens had been stripped of their original bent grass putting surfaces, replaced by Champion G-12 Bermudagrass. The sand in every bunker was removed, replaced by the same sugary white sand found in the bunkers at Augusta National. Approximately 900 trees were removed. The fairways and rough are also now carpeted with stouter and trickier Bermudagrass. There are essentially four new holes and the layout has been stretched to 7,600 yards (par-71).
One player who adapted quickly to the new changes at Quail Hollow was Titleist golf ball loyalist Rickie Fowler (Pro V1), who captured his first PGA Tour win on this course at the 2012 Wells Fargo Championship. Fowler fired a 2-under-par 69 in the opening round.
“I've definitely had a lot of good finishes here,” Fowler said. “Getting my first win, and then being in contention a couple years ago. This golf course has a great look to me. It suits my eye. Obviously the greens are different - I feel like we did a good job of that on the putting surfaces today. The big thing for me is continuing to drive it as good as I did today, if not better. That can be tightened up a little bit. If we do that, it will be a good week.”
Heading into the second round, Fowler sits two shots off the lead shared by two players, including Titleist golf ball loyalist Kevin Kisner (Pro V1). Kisner shot a balanced round of 4-under-par 67 (2-under on the front-nine and 2-under on the back) thanks in large part to his putting. He ranked second in the field in strokes gained-putting (4.029) on Thursday and made 104 feet of putts.
“I love putting on the surfaces,” said Kisner. “They are pure. You know if you start it on line, even late in the day they were getting a little choppy, but you start it online, it's going to have a good chance of going in. When they are rolling this fast, you have to have perfect speed because they are big breakers, and you have to almost die them in the high side every time because you don't want the 4- and 5-footers coming back.”
Kisner had six birdies in Round 1 but noted that his game plan calls for a conservative approach on most holes.
“There's about four or five holes that I have to birdie to compete - 7, 8, 14, 15 - and I birdied them all today ... Other than that, I'm playing for par.”
Good luck to Rickie and Kevin, both of whom are looking to capture their first career majors, and good luck to all of #TeamTitleist the rest of the way at the 99th PGA Championship!
• • •
TITLEIST BY THE NUMBERS
This week at the PGA Championship, Titleist is once again the overwhelming golf ball choice, with 94 players trusting a Titleist Pro V1 or Pro V1x golf ball, more than four times the nearest competitor with 23 and more than all competitors combined.
Titleist was also the top choice among players in the irons category with 38 sets in play. Vokey Design Wedges also topped the approach, sand and lob wedge (160) category and Scotty Cameron putters were the top choice among players with 49 putters in play.
• • •
- The defending champion at this year's PGA Championship is Titleist Brand Ambassador Jimmy Walker (Pro V1). Walker followed a holed bunker shot for birdie at the par-4 10th at Baltusrol with a 30’ 2” birdie at the par-4 11th to get to 13-under and two strokes clear of the field. Walker would never lose the outright lead, posting a 3-under 67 to claim a one-stroke victory at 14-under 266 and claim his first career major title.
- This year's Open Championship winner, Titleist Brand Ambassador Jordan Spieth (Pro V1x) is seeking the fourth and final leg of the career Grand Slam. Should he win at Quail Hollow, he’d become the youngest player to perform the feat. Spieth's other major victories came a the 2015 Masters Tournament, 2015 U.S. Open and 2017 Open Championship, which marked a his 11th PGA Tour win. Spieth is making his fifth start at the PGA Championship this week.
- All of the top-10 players in the Official World Golf Rankings, a well as all of the top-ten players in FedExCup standings are in the field this week. Thirteen PGA Championship winners are also competing, including Titleist Brand Ambassadors Jason Dufner (2013) and Jimmy Walker (2016) as well as Titleist golf ball loyalists John Daly (Pro V1x/1991), Davis Love III (Pro V1/1997), Shaun Micheel (Pro V1/2003) and Padraig Harrington (Pro V1x/2008).
- Prior to 1958, the PGA Championship was a match play competition. Since becoming a stroke-play event, the third-round leader/co-leader of the PGA Championship has gone on to win 34 times in 59 events, including each of the past three champions now.
- Courses on recent PGA TOUR schedule that have also hosted majors:
- Aronimink GC – PGA Championship (1962)
- Bellerive CC – U.S. Open (1965)
- Bethpage State Park (Black)– U.S. Open (2002, 2009)
- Colonial CC – U.S. Open (1941)
- Congressional CC – U.S. Open (1964, 1997, 2011), PGA Championship (1976)
- Crooked Stick GC – PGA Championship (1991) Firestone CC – PGA Championship (1960, 1966, 1975)
- Pebble Beach GL – U.S. Open (1972, 1982, 1992, 2000, 2010), PGA Championship (1977)
- PGA National (Champion) – PGA Championship (1971, 1987)
- Quail Hollow Club – 2017 PGA Championship
- Riviera CC – U.S. Open (1948), PGA Championship (1983, 1995)
- Torrey Pines GC (South) – U.S. Open (2008)
It looks like beautiful day will greet players in Charlotte for Round 2.
Titleist Brand Ambassador Jason Kokrak trusted his combination of a Pro V1 golf ball and a 917 D2 driver to win the traditional long drive competition at the PGA Championship. His winning drive: 321 yards in the rain (1 yard of roll)..
Titleist Brand Ambassador Charley Hoffman (Pro V1) finished third at last week’s WGC Invitational at Firestone, but coming down the stretch, with a chance to win, Charley showed that he's made of the Right Stuff.
Titleist golf ball loyalist Joost Luiten (Pro V1) created a memory for a lifetime on Thursday.
Defending Champion, Titleist Brand Ambassador Jimmy Walker (Pro V1), took a look back at his major victory at last year’s PGA.
A great photo of Team Walker and the prize he won at Baltusrol last year.
A chance to make history this week as the youngest player to capture all four legs of golf's Grand Slam. Good luck, Jordan!
Titleist Brand Ambassador Justin Thomas (Pro V1x) took some time out for young fans after a practice round earlier this week.
What they're all playing for - The Wannamaker Trophy. Good luck to all of #TeamTitleist this weekend!