Five things to watch this week at the Wells Fargo Championship
Five things I'm looking for this week from the Wells Fargo Championship (and everywhere else):
1. You'll hear a lot of chatter about age this week because somewhere in China a classroom is missing a 12-year-old. Ye Wo-cheng will become the youngest ever to play on the European Tour at the Volvo China Open, where a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old are also in the field. In the States, Guan Tianlang, 14, who made the cut at the Zurich Classic after shining at the Masters, has taken an invitation to play in the HP Byron Nelson, May 16-19.
I won't say they have no right to tee it up, but the 19th-hole beverage of choice on a major men's pro tour probably shouldn't be a juice box.
2. The Wells Fargo Championship will take a hit, but not just because of the absence of Tiger Woods, who wanted another week off. The chilly, wet spring left the eighth and 10th greens in such bad shape they were re-sodded last week, while the 12th and 13th greens are said to look worse than they putt.
Tour rules official Mark Russell said he couldn't remember a course redoing its greens so close to the start of an event, and while he expects them to roll fine, he also added, "We have 12 very good greens out there." All 18 greens will be redone after this week.
3. Golf will keep rolling down "H" Avenue as a Haas or Russ Henley will likely contend this week. Bill Haas has top-25 finishes in his last four starts, and he's a Carolina guy, so I expect him to be in the mix at the Wells Fargo at Quail Hollow.
Henley is coached by Quail Hollow pro Charles Frost and has played numerous practice rounds there; plus he's coming off a T6 at the RBC Heritage. Jay Haas, Bill's dad, will play in the Champions Tour's Insperity Championship at the Woodlands. He won the tournament in 2006, finished second in 2009, and is coming off a T4 with Fred Couples at the Liberty Mutual Legends of Golf.
4. Speaking of Henley, it will be a big week for Georgia Bulldogs as the University of Georgia Golf Course plays host to the Web.com Tour's Stadion Classic. Henley and Hudson Swafford, Bulldogs both, won the tournament in 2011 and '12, respectively. Six former UGA golfers are in this week's field, as well as two current ones: T.J. Mitchell and Keith Mitchell, who are not related. Edward Loar (Oklahoma State) leads the money list with nearly $200,000. Kevin Kisner (Georgia) is sixth with $122,000.
5. Moving to the ladies' tour, Jiyai Shin's victory over Paula Creamer in a nine-hole marathon playoff at last year's inaugural LPGA Kingsmill Championship might get a bit more play than it otherwise might have as the event tees off for the second time at the 6,379-yard, par-71 River Course at Kingsmill Resort.
That's because the Oakland A's beat the L.A. Angels 10-8 in a 19-inning, six-and-a-half-hour game that ended early Tuesday morning, and stories like that are how an otherwise unremarkable contest winds up on the front page. (Exhibit A: John Isner's epic, 11-hour-plus victory over Nicolas Mahut -- 70-68 in the fifth set -- at Wimbledon in 2010.)
Groups to Watch (All times Eastern)
7:30 a.m. (No. 10) Sergio Garcia, Webb Simpson, Bill Haas
7:40 a.m. (No. 10) Phil Mickelson, Nick Watney, Rickie Fowler
12:55 p.m. (No. 1) Rory McIlroy, Bubba Watson, Angel Cabrera
Course: Quail Hollow Club
Location: Charlotte, N.C.
Defending Champion: Rickie Fowler
Architect: George Cobb (1961); Arnold Palmer (Modified in 1986); Tom Fazio (Redesigned in 1997 and 2003)
TV Schedule (All times Eastern)
Thursday: 3-7 p.m. Golf Channel
Friday 3-7 p.m. Golf Channel
Saturday: 1-2:30 p.m. Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. CBS
Sunday: 1-2:30 p.m. Golf Channel, 3-6 p.m. CBS
Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio
Thursday and Friday: 1-7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: Noon-6 p.m.