PGA Championship director Jason Mengel joined the CharlotteFive podcast to discuss several topics regarding the upcoming festivities: the course, the event, how many people are expected to attend, what makes the PGA Championship unique and, lastly, who he thinks might take the Wanamaker Trophy when all is said and done.
You can listen to the full podcast here. Some highlights from the interview are transcribed below.
On the process that goes into making Quail Hollow PGA Championship-ready
“Here’s a good parallel: You go to a (Carolina) Panthers game, and everything’s already there. We’re building that.”
On living in a different place every two years due to the PGA Championship moving location
“Coming to new locations and meeting new people, building up a new project and seeing it tangibly pay off… that’s where the reward comes from.
"But we talk about the difficulties of moving – we have three young kids, so it means new schools every two years, new doctors… so that’s certainly a challenge, but it is what we make of it. It’s an adventure for our family right now.”
On why Quail Hollow was the choice
“When you look at what it takes to host an event of this size and scope, it starts with the golf course – and really the track record that it has. The players love the golf course. And then there’s all the logistical room to pull off this kind of event – you start to add that up, and there a lot of good courses out there, but not many with this kind of footprint.
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“And then there’s the appeal of hosting it in the Carolinas. Golf is such a big part of so many people’s daily lives here. And for us at the PGA of America, this is home to our largest section. We have over 2,000 members here, so you look at how we landed in the Carolinas, and it just checks so many boxes.”
On the anticipated crowds
“Throughout the course of the week, we’re expecting north of 200,000 people. So about 40,000 per day.”
On the field
“The PGA Championship typically has the strongest field in golf, so if you look at the top-100 rankings… unless someone’s hurt, chances are they’ll be here.”
On Jordan Spieth’s chance to make history
“To have that type of history – with Jordan Spieth having the chance to complete the career Grand Slam – is special. Someone’s life is going to change when they throw up that Wanamaker Trophy at the end of the week. Imagine how exciting that will be not for just us here – but for the millions of people watching if Spieth is in contention to win the title on Sunday.”
On what this event means
“You could kind of say that golf has four Super Bowls. They’re all special for their own reasons. And the PGA Championship is special because it’s a celebration of the roles that our 28,000 men and women golf professionals play in growing the game around the country on a daily basis. It’s our chance to really highlight the PGA professionals who are on the front lines day in, and day out.”
On who he thinks will win
“We’ve talked about all of the great storylines… If you watched Rory McIlroy last week, he got off to a rough start but wound up finishing fourth. He won the Wells Fargo (Championship), he’s won the PGA Championship before. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s more comfortable coming into this event than him.”