Players like changes made to Quail Hollow’s 17th

PGA Tour players have been clamoring for change at Quail Hollow

for nine years, and finally someone listened.

Club and tournament officials significantly altered the course’s

signature hole – the watery par-3 17th – by moving the tee box

about 75 yards left to the member’s tee for this week’s Wells Fargo

Championship. It not only shortens the hole by about 25 yards to

192, but also provides a more receptive angle to the green.

Players argued for years that the tees built specifically for

the pros made for an awkward tee shot.

”I think it’s a great decision just because of the way the

green is designed,” said Phil Mickelson, who was one of those who

pushed for the modification.

”It’s designed to receive the shot from over there,” he added.

”When the green gets firm like it will be this week it’s a much

better hole from over there. There is more decision-making and more

risk-reward as opposed to 100 percent defense. I think it’s a great

hole from over there.”

Mickelson has six top-10 finishes at the Wells Fargo

Championship in nine attempts but has never won.

Quail Hollow’s 17th hole has been one of the toughest par-3s on

the Tour for years – a fact not lost on Mickelson.

In his previous 36 rounds at Quail Hollow he’s a combined

14-over par.

WESTWOOD DOWN A CADDIE: Lee Westwood is third in the world

rankings and can move to No. 1 if he wins this week and Rory

McIlroy, the world’s current top-ranked player, finishes seventh or

worse.

But it won’t be easy.

Westwood’s caddie, Billy Foster, injured his right knee before a

charity soccer match Monday and is expected to be out at least a

month and possibly longer depending on the outcome of a CT scan

Friday. Casey Kerr will take Foster’s place on the bags for at

least the next two tournaments.

Westwood said ideally he hopes to have Foster back for the

Scandinavian Masters, one week before the U.S. Open.

”It’ll be a loss for a few weeks, but accidents happen,”

Westwood said. ”What can you do? He goes skiing twice a year and

he’s never done anything doing that, and then he puts his foot down

wrong on a football field having a kick around, which like I said I

could have done at home playing with my son in the garden, and it

just blows out. I did remind him that he’s now 46 and not 26.”

Westwood said he received a call from Foster, who sheepishly

informed him of the news.

”He started off by asking ‘Do you love me?”’ Westwood

said.

Westwood said he will miss Foster’s advice from tee-to-green,

but doesn’t seem too worried that it will affect his game.

”I’ve been out here a long time,” Westwood said. ”This is not

my first rodeo. I think I’ll be able to cope.”

RETURNING THE FAVOR: Speaking of caddies, Bill Haas took to

carrying the bags for his younger brother Jay Jr. at Monday’s

qualifying event in Charlotte.

Normally it’s the other way around.

Jay Jr. has been caddying for Bill since the middle of last year

and the two have experienced great success together, with Bill

winning the Tour Championship and the $10 million FedEx Cup in

2011. He started this year by winning a playoff at Riviera.

”Jay likes to play and I know that he has the itch every time

he’s out here,” Bill Haas said of his brother. ”He thinks he can

play with all of the guys out here. I think he’s got the

talent.”

Jay Jr. shot a 1-under 71 but didn’t qualify for the

tournament.

”I wanted him to get into the field,” Haas said. ”I thought

maybe I could help him with a shot or two.”

When asked who’s more expensive as a caddie, Bill laughed and

said, ”He doesn’t pay much.”

WHAT’S THE MASTERS?: Hunter Mahan recently threw out the first

pitch at a Texas Rangers game and got to mingle with some of the

players.

Mahan said most of the guys knew who he was, but Rangers star

Josh Hamilton didn’t.

”After he hit batting practice he goes, ‘So what tournament did

you play?” Mahan said. ”I told him ‘The Masters.’ You’ve got to

the love the guy (because) he had no idea what the Masters was or

ever heard of it. I mean he was just … he was so funny.”

TOP FIELD CONTENDING: The Wells Fargo Championship is always a

competitive field and this year is no different. Five of the top 10

players in the Official World Golf Rankings are in the field,

including McIlroy, Westwood, Mickelson, Mahan and Tiger Woods.

Fifteen of the 19 PGA Tour winners from last year are entered.

The one notable absentee is Masters champion Bubba Watson, who

withdrew from a couple of weeks ago to spend more time with his

family.

WOODLAND WITHDRAWS: Gary Woodland withdrew from the tournament

Wednesday to give his injured left wrist another week to heal.

Woodland suffered the injury during the third round of the

Masters, continued to play and withdrew after the round. He said

there is no structural damage and doctors have cleared him to play.

But the former Kansas star has decided to rest the wrist. He plans

to play next week at The Players Championship.

Woodland was replaced in the field by Russell Knox of

Scotland.