CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Jim Furyk packed up the contents of his Quail Hollow Club locker late Sunday afternoon, then waited in anticipation of possibly unpacking, then completed collecting his belongings.
Furyk posted the low score of Sunday’s final round of the 12th Wells Fargo Championship with a bogey-free 7-under-par 65 to post a 13-under 275, and champion J.B. Holmes nearly came back to his total with bogeys on two of the final three holes. But in the end it wasn’t enough and Furyk had to settle a runner-up finish by a shot.
He provided fireworks in the middle of his back nine, as he holed a 10-foot birdie putt on 13, 11-foot birdie putt on 14 and chipped in from 60 feet for eagle on the 15th.
“Really I wasn’t thinking about the lead or anything in the tournament,” Furyk said. “After birdieing 13 and 14 and having the eagle at 15, lo and behold I’m up there tied for the lead. Then I had to recalculate a little bit and figure out how best to play the last three holes and kind of calm down a bit, take a deep breath.”
But a 22-foot putt on the 16th was Furyk’s best look at birdie over the tough three-hole “Green Mile” closing stretch, and Holmes got to 16 under through his 15th hole.
Furyk began the final round seven strokes off Holmes’ 13-under lead and started his run at the lead with birdies on holes 5, 7 and 9 for a front-nine 33 despite having little confidence after a poor pre-round range session. He had another solid chance for birdie on the par-5 10th but three-putted from 46 feet.
“I didn’t trust the read on the second [4-foot] putt and pushed it a little bit,” Furyk said, “but other than that I hit a lot of quality golf shots.”
Furyk has become a fairly consistent contender at Quail Hollow. He won the tournament in 2006, a year after losing to Vijay Singh in a playoff, and finished seventh in both 2007 and 2010. He has played in 10 Wells Fargo tournaments, but didn’t play last year.
“I actually skipped this event last year just because I didn’t feel like my head was in a good place,” Furyk said. “I wasn’t having a lot of fun playing, and I wasn’t really enjoying the game at the time, and I was treating it look a job really instead of having fun. … I think I’ve enjoyed the game a lot more [this year]. I think I’ve enjoyed competing more.”
Furyk hasn’t missed a cut this season and has five top-10s in 10 starts.
Lefty goes south
Phil Mickelson recorded his ninth top-12 in 11 Wells Fargo starts, but that was hardly what he was looking for when he teed off Sunday. Mickelson shot a final-round 76 and is still seeking his first Wells Fargo title. Three of his finishes have been top-threes.
“I had two great rounds and I had two pathetic rounds this week,” said Mickelson, who shot rounds of 67, 75, 63 and 76. “But I really enjoyed the week and I enjoyed the golf course.”
Mickelson began the final round two shots behind Holmes and went the first 12 holes without a birdie and dropped a pair of shots with missed 3-foot par putts on the eighth and 11th holes. He missed a short birdie putt on the 14th and four-putted the 16th green from 33 feet.
Mickelson hit 12 of 18 greens in regulation Sunday but needed 33 putts. “I thought I drove the ball really well and hit a lot of great iron shots, it was on the greens,” Mickelson said. “I just couldn’t get it in the hole.”
This is the longest Mickelson has gone into a year without a win since 2003.
“Even though I didn’t play well today and didn’t play well Friday, I had two great rounds and it’s kind of a good start for me to get me back on the right track,” Mickelson said. “I’ll use this as a stepping stone. I’ve felt good and healthy all week, and have for a couple of months now and I hit a lot of good shots this week.”
Chappell finishes strong
Kevin Chappell, whose caddie is Galivants Ferry native Michael Maness, created some good mojo heading into the $10 million Players Championship beginning Thursday.
Despite a pair of bogeys to close his final round, Chappell shot a 4-under 68 Sunday to move into a tie for 11th at 7-under 281 and earn $158,700.
“It’s nice to put together a solid week and have some momentum going into The Players,” said Chappell, who shot 73, 70 and 70 in the first three rounds.
“I think I hit it a little closer to the hole and was able to play the par-4s a little better than I had all week, and took advantage of the par-5s,” Chappell said. “I’ve seen more putts fall, and that’s the difference between shooting 70 and 68 out here.”
Chappell has made 11 of 15 cuts this year, but his tie for 11th is his best finish of the season. He is a respectable 55th in the PGA Tour’s All-Around ranking but is 166th in strokes gained putting.
“My game has been close all year. It’s only been one thing off it seems like all year. I’ve struggled with the putter for a lot of the year and that’s been holding me back. I feel like I’m putting it better the past couple weeks.”
Chappell, a past NCAA individual champion who led UCLA to the 2008 team title, is in his fourth year on the PGA Tour. “I’m trying to keep getting better every day and progressing in my career,” Chappell said. “Obviously you want to get a win, but I think that comes with just getting better.”
Maness and his wife Tinsley are expecting their first child – a girl – on Aug. 4.
Phil is a fan
We can assume Quail Hollow officials had an eye on their hosting of the 2017 PGA Championship when they chose to make a number of changes to their course following the 2013 Wells Fargo Championship.
The changes received good reviews this week, particularly from Phil Mickelson, who believes the greens that are now less severe will be better suited for the season’s fourth major in 2017.
“I thought that the greens were beautifully done. I thought Fazio did a great job in bringing out the subtleties. It’s much more subtle, it’s not in your face. When the greens are firm, fast and set up the way the PGA Championship is going to have them, the nuances will come out and the greatness of the course will come out,” he said “I’ve always thought this is one of the best tee-to-green courses if not the best tee-to-green course I’ve ever played. I still feel that way, and now that the greens complement it, it’s one of my favorite courses I’ve ever played.”
There will undoubtedly be some changes in setup for the PGA Championship compared to the Wells Fargo Championship. For instance, PGA Tour rules official Steve Rintoul, who was responsible for the back-nine course setup this past week, believes the banks around the near-peninsula 16th green will be shaved so balls will be able to roll into the water. Rough buffered the green collars from the water this past week.
“I’m so happy for [Quail Hollow Club president] Johnny Harris and this community to have such a treasure in this course, in this tournament and now soon to be a major championship,” Mickelson said.
Feet firmly planted
Holmes hasn’t been on roller blades since he broke his ankle more than a year ago. The injury kept him from a golf course for several months.
“I really don’t like running, so I was trying to figure out a way to do cardio that was somewhat fun and that turned out not being rollerblading,” Holmes said. “Me and my wife (Erica) went out and said, ‘Hey, that will be fun, so it turned out it was fun for a short period of time.”
For exercise now, Holmes has hired a personal trainer. “Somebody to make me do stuff,” he said.
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