The 156-player field for the 99th PGA Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, N.C. includes 97 of the top 100 world-ranked players according to the latest Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR). Seventy-three international players from 25 countries will tee it up this week. There are also 30 Major Champions in the field who have combined to capture 49 majors. Thirteen of those 30 major champions are PGA Champions, including each of the last eight winners. Twenty PGA Professions are again amongst the field, and they are representing 16 of the 41 PGA Sections nationwide.
SNEDEKER WITHDRAWS, KIRK JOINS FIELD AT PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
Brandt Snedeker has withdrawn from the 2017 PGA Championship, due to injury. Chris Kirk of Athens, Georgia, will assume his spot in the field.
TAR HEEL STATE TIES
Numerous players in the field either reside, were educated or were born in the state of North Carolina: Bill Haas (born in Charlotte, Wake Forest University alum), Mackenzie Hughes (resides in Charlotte), Jason Kokrak (resides in Charlotte), Davis Love III (born in Charlotte, University of North Carolina alum) William McGirt (born in Fairmont, N.C.), Grayson Murray (resides in Raleigh, N.C., Wake Forest University alum), and Webb Simpson (born in Raleigh, N.C., Wake Forest University alum, resides in Charlotte, is a member of Quail Hollow).
THEY’VE WON HERE BEFORE
There are eight players among the 99th PGA Championship field that posted victories here at Quail Hollow Club during the Wells Fargo Championship. Rory McIlroy leads the grouping, having won twice, in 2010 and ’15. McIlroy also shares the course record (61) at Quail Hollow, which he posted during the third round in 2015 (Jerry McGee carded a 61 in the first round of the 1979 Kemper Open played at Quail Hollow). McIlroy will join Jim Furyk (2006), Lucas Glover (2011), James Hahn (2016), J.B. Holmes (2014), Sean O’Hair (2009) and Vijay Singh (2005) in attempting to rekindle their winning ways this week at Quail Hollow.
PAUL CLAXTON AND CLAXTON FRUIT CAKE…IT’S ALL IN THE NAME
What’s in a name? What about a healthy dose of pure coincidence and a side of fruitcake (approximately 5 million pounds per year). PGA Professional Paul Claxton, of Claxton, Georgia, married into the family that has owned Claxton Fruit Cake since 1945. The fruitcakes are named after the town of Claxton, which has a water tower that proudly proclaims it the “Fruitcake Capital of the World.” Paul’s wife, Paula Parker Claxton, is the granddaughter of the first family member to ever own the company, the late Albert Parker. After Paula and Paul were married, she insisted they live in the town of Claxton. Meanwhile, Paul Claxton works at Hawks Point Golf Club in Vidalia, Georgia, a town renowned for its sweet Vidalia onions. He will be playing in his first PGA Championship this week at Quail Hollow.
MCILROY & FOWLER SURPRISE HUNDREDS OF PGA JUNIOR LEAGUE GOLFERS
It looked like a virtual sea of PGA Junior League Golfers in front of the “monster board” around the 18th Green at the 99th PGA Championship at Quail Hallow Club on Monday. More than 300 girls and boys from across the Carolinas PGA Section took part in a surprise Q&A session with PGA Junior League Golf Ambassadors Rory McIlory and Rickie Fowler, which was hosted by Golf Channel’s Michael Breed. PGA Vice President Suzy Whaley also joined in the fun. The kids took group photos and selfies, and asked questions: What’s your favorite number if you were playing PGA Junior League Golf? (Rory: No. 7…Rickie: “Double digits—No. 15”). What’s was your favorite subject in school? (Rory: History…Rickie: Math). Favorite club? (Rory: Driver…Rickie: “Putter, when it’s working!”). Meanwhile, McIlroy disclosed that if he had played PGA Junior League Golf—the program started in 2013 with 9,000 kids (he was far outside the age parameters at the time) and has grown to a record 42,000 this year—he would have worn a green PGA Junior League Golf jersey. “Ireland green,” McIlroy exclaimed. Fowler said he preferred his iconic “orange” to roars from the kids wearing the same color jersey. The PGA Junior League Golfers then watched a taping of “The Golf Fix with Michael Breed” on the Golf Channel set at Quail Hallow.
MENTORING FINDS A SPOT AT THE PGA CHAMPIONSHIP
PGA Championship Week kicked off in inspirational style at Quail Hallow Club in Charlotte, with “Beyond the Green: Turn Your Passion into a Profession” - a special mentoring and networking event for 60 high school and college students who are members of the Young Black Leadership Alliance (YBLA) of Charlotte. The program was designed to encourage future leaders to understand how the game of golf can provide professional and personal relationships throughout their lives, in order to succeed. The students were treated to a stirring keynote speech by three-time Daytime Emmy Nominated Actor Dondre Whitfield and speed networking with the likes of: PGA President Paul Levy, PGA Vice President Suzy Whaley, Bank of America Executive Vice President Kieth Cockrell, ESPN College Game Day/ABC College Football Reporter Maria Taylor and Charlotte Hornets/FOX Sports Southeast NBA Game Analyst Stephanie Ready. The students were also treated to a personal tour of the PGA Championship, a golf talk panel discussion and a case study competition. Throughout the day, the importance of learning from a mentor and identifying positive role models were stressed as keys to success. Whitfield stressed living life with a purpose. “Acting is not a purpose,” he explained. “It is my passion. Golf is my passion. But when you do transformational work, you can change someone’s life.”
“It’s been eye popping for me—it’s changed my perspective of golf,” said Joshua Ussery, 17, of Charlotte.
VETERANS CELEBRATE SECOND ANNUAL SECRETARY’S CUP
Kicking off PGA Championship week in the Queen City, the Secretary’s Cup attracted a contingent of 25 Veterans representing PGA HOPE chapters in the Carolinas, Metropolitan and New Jersey PGA Sections for a nine-hole scramble event on Sunday at nearby Charlotte Country Club. They were accompanied by five PGA Professionals. The event developed out of a partnership between the PGA of America and the Department of Veterans Affairs, and is named in tribute to the Secretary of the Veterans Administration. PGA HOPE (Helping Our Patriots Everywhere) is a rehabilitative program designed to introduce golf to Veterans with disabilities to enhance their physical, mental, social and emotional well-being. PGA HOPE is the flagship military program of PGA REACH, the charitable foundation of the PGA of America. There are 90 chapters nationwide, with the Carolinas PGA Section hosting eight. As the Veterans completed the nine-hole journey across the pristine fairways, they were greeted behind the 18th green by 50 youngsters who are members of The First Tee of Charlotte. It was a non-stop autograph session for players signing pin flags and greeting new golfers.