WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — First-Round Notes – Thursday, May 4, 2017
Weather: Mostly sunny, with a high of 83. Wind SE 15-20, with gusts to 30 mph.
Francesco Molinari 66 (-6)
J.B. Holmes 67 (-5)
Alex Noren 67 (-5)
Brian Campbell 67 (-5)
Grayson Murray 67 (-5)
First-round lead notes
Derek Ernst (2013) and Jim Furyk (2006) are the only first-round leaders/co-leaders of the Wells Fargo Championship to hold on for the win.
The last winner of the Wells Fargo Championship who opened with a score in the 60s was Derek Ernst in 2013. J.B. Holmes (2014), Rory McIlroy (2015) and James Hahn (2016) each opened with rounds of 70 en route to their wins.
Four of the 24 first-round leaders/co-leaders on the PGA TOUR this season have been able to convert for the win in stroke-play events, but not since Justin Thomas went wire-to-wire at the Sony Open in Hawaii in January.
Making just his second start at the Wells Fargo Championship (T17/2016), Italy’s Francesco Molinari chipped in for birdie from the intermediate rough at his last hole of the day, No. 18, to open with a 6-under 66. He made eight birdies and two bogeys.
Molinari has never been higher than T2 after 18 holes on the PGA TOUR before this week.
The lowest start by an eventual winner at the Wells Fargo Championship is 66 (-6) by Rickie Fowler at Quail Hollow in 2012.
Molinari is making his 12th start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season, where he has made 10 of 11 cuts. His best finish of three top-10s is a T4 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open.
Molinari, who made a return to the PGA TOUR this season by virtue of a 111th-place finish on last year’s FedExCup points list, remains in search of his first career win on TOUR in his 99th start this week. His best finishes on TOUR, a pair of T3s, came at the 2011 World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship and 2015 Genesis Open.
Molinari is the winner of four international victories, including the 2010 WGC-HSBC Champions.
2014 Wells Fargo Championship winner J.B. Holmes birdied his last three holes in round one to open with a 5-under 67. En route to his 2014 victory at Quail Hollow, he opened with a 2-under 70 and was four strokes back.
Holmes, a four-time winner on the PGA TOUR, is in search of his first win since the 2015 Shell Houston Open.
The only two-time winner of the Wells Fargo Championship is Rory McIlroy (2010, 2015). Holmes is making his 11th start in the Wells Fargo Championship this week. In addition to his 2014 victory, he also finished inside the top 10 in 2011 (T9). Unable to break par in any round last year, he finished T53.
Holmes is making his 11th start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season this week, with a T5 at last week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans his lone top-10 showing. In the two-man team event last week at TPC Louisiana, he partnered with Bubba Watson. En route to a 30th-place finish on last year’s FedExCup points list, he recorded four top-five showings.
Playing on a sponsor exemption, Sweden’s Alex Noren made six birdies and one bogey (par-4 13th) en route to a 5-under 67. Noren hit 11 of 14 fairways in regulation and missed just two of Eagle Point Golf Club’s 18 greens. Noren comes into this week’s Wells Fargo Championship ranked ninth in FedExCup non-member points and No. 12 in the Official World Golf Rankings. Noren is making his first start in the Wells Fargo Championship this week and sixth start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season. His best is a T5 at the World Golf Championships-Dell Technologies Match Play. Of nine international victories, Noren claimed four on the European Tour in 2016 alone.
After a double bogey 6 on his second hole of the day, No. 11, PGA TOUR rookie Brian Campbell made eight birdies, including five in a six-hole stretch to open with a 5-under 67. He birdied Nos.12, 13, 18, 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7. He bogeyed his last hole of the day to drop to 67. Campbell, a California native, made his way onto the PGA TOUR this season by virtue of his 36th-place finish on last season’s Web.com Tour money list. Campbell is making his 11th start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season and 14th professional start on the PGA TOUR. He has made just four cuts this season with a T25 at the CareerBuilder Challenge his best showing.
Raleigh, N.C. native and PGA TOUR rookie Grayson Murray offset four bogeys with nine birdies to post a 5-under 67. He bogeyed his last two holes of the day, Nos. 8 and 9, to drop from the outright lead at 7-under par. Murray has never been higher than T11 after 18 holes on the PGA TOUR before this week. Murray hit just six of 14 fairways in regulation and 12 of 18 greens, but needed only 24 putts to complete his round. Murray found his way onto the PGA TOUR after finishing as the 2016 Web.com Tour Finals leading money winner. On that Tour last year, he won the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship. Murray is making his 15th start of the 2016-17 PGA TOUR Season, with a T8 finish at the Sanderson Farms Championship his lone top-10 showing.
FedExCup points leader and World No. 1 Dustin Johnson opened with a 2-under 70 in his fourth start at the Wells Fargo Championship. He succumbed to a bogey at his last hole of the day, No. 9, to drop lose a stroke. This week’s Wells Fargo Championship marks Johnson’s first start in the event since missing the cut at Quail Hollow in 2011. Johnson, who is making his first start on the PGA TOUR since winning the World Golf Championships-Dell Match Play, is in search of his fourth TOUR victory in as many starts (Genesis Open, WGC-Mexico Championship, WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play). The last player to win in four consecutive starts was Tiger Woods in 2007-2008 (2007 BMW Championship, 2007 TOUR Championship, 2008 Farmers Insurance Open, 2008 WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play).
Davis Love III
Charlotte native Davis Love III, at the age of 53, opened with a 2-under 70 in his 12th Wells Fargo Championship. He has claimed five top-25 finishes, but remains in search of a first top-10 showing in the event. Love, a 21-time winner on the PGA TOUR, won most recently in Greensboro in 2015 at the Wyndham Championship. On the PGA TOUR this season, Love has made four starts before this week, with a T41 at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open his best showing. In his only PGA TOUR Champions start, he finished T8 at the Bass Pro Shops Legends of Golf at Big Cedar Lodge. Love is making 738th career start on the PGA TOUR this week.
With a 1-under 71, Phil Mickelson has played 41 of 53 competitive rounds at the Wells Fargo Championship at par or better. Despite today’s 71, Mickelson’s 21 rounds in the 60s is the most in tournament history. Mickelson holds the Wells Fargo Championship record for the most top-10 finishes with nine in 13 appearances. Along with his solo second in 2010, he finished T5 in 2004, T7 in 2005, T3 in 2007, T5 in 2009, T9 in 2011, 3rd in 2013, and T4 in 2015 and 2016. Of the events on TOUR in which Mickelson has competed more than 10 times, the U.S. Open (26), the BMW Championship (19), WGC-Bridgestone Invitational (18), the Memorial (16), The Barclays (15), Shriners Hospitals for Children Open (12), WGC-Dell Match Play (13) and Wells Fargo Championship (13) are the only ones to have never surrendered him victory. Mickelson is making his 20th start on the PGA TOUR in the state of North Carolina this week, where he remains in search of his first win. In addition to 13 starts at the Wells Fargo Championship before this week, he played the Wyndham Championship at Forest Oaks CC in Greensboro in 1993 (T50), 1997 (T9) and 1998 (T6). In the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, he finished runner-up in 1999, T33 in 2005 and T28 in 2014.
Additional player notes
Defending champion James Hahn opened with an even-par 72. After round one last year, Hahn was five strokes off the lead at 2-under 70. Webb Simpson and Carl Pettersson, members of Eagle Point Golf Club, opened with scores of 73 and 79, respectively. Simpson is a Raleigh, N.C. native and Sweden’s Pettersson currently resides in Raleigh. By virtue of Brooks and Chase Koepka’s T5 finish as a team at last week’s Zurich Classic of New Orleans, Chase earned a berth into this week’s Wells Fargo Championship. In his first-ever start in an individual stroke-play event on the PGA TOUR, the younger Koepka opened with a 3-over 75. Brooks is not in this week’s field. Making his third start in the Wells Fargo Championship, Gastonia, N.C., native Harold Varner III opened with a 2-over 74. Varner competed in the 2014 Wells Fargo Championship as a sponsor’s exemption, missing the cut after rounds of 78-72. He finished T24 in his rookie year on TOUR last season.
This marks the 60-year anniversary of Arnold Palmer’s victory at the 1957 Azalea Open. The event was held in Wilmington (Cape Fear CC) until 1971.
R1: Lucas Glover (71).
Front Back Total Cumulative
R1: 36.353 36.410 72.763 —
Morning scoring average (72.94) vs. afternoon scoring average (72.59).
The par-4 14th hole played the most difficult in the first round at 4.256. The par-5 12th was the easiest at 4.635.