Unusually cool and rainy conditions in the Southeast this spring have made the smoothness of the greens an issue at Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo Championship. Nine PGA Tour players who committed to play in the tournament have decided to forgo the discomfort of dealing with the bumpy, peanut brittle-like greens.
The thermometer is normally north of the 80 degree mark for late April and early May in North Carolina, which provides excellent growing conditions for greens and fairways. The temperature will struggle to get into the low 70s this week, and more rain is in the forecast.
Several expanses on the greens at Quail Hollow have no grass and spotty clumps on many of the putting surfaces. Uncertain putting surfaces apparently affect the health of a PGA Tour professional and create other physical ailments that require withdrawal.
David Toms, Jeff Overton, Mark Wilson, Freddie Jacobson, Dustin Johnson, Ian Poulter, Vijay Singh, Ben Crane and Retief Goosen have injuries, real or imagined, and have chosen to withdraw from the Wells Fargo Championship this week.
Golf offers a fair supply of bad bounces without the aid of less than perfect greens. Evidently, several players feel the need not to risk the chance of affecting their pure putting strokes, as well as add more stress to their already brittle mental state.
The PGA Tour requires players to commit to a tournament by 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before the event. Players are independent contractors and can withdraw anytime prior to the start of the tournament, although it is frowned upon by tour officials. Alternates are on site and on call to fill the open spots when a player decides to withdraw.
John Daly was the ninth alternate when he won the 1991 PGA Championship at Crooked Stick. It is not uncommon for players to withdraw from a tournament, but it is uncommon for nine of them to withdraw.
It is not a positive image for the tour when players decide to withdraw. Tournament directors spend a great deal of time rounding up the strongest field possible for their event to draw fans and appease big money sponsors. Top name players that withdraw affect not only the sponsors, but also local fans that look forward to seeing their favorite players in action.
Playing in less than perfect conditions, PGA Tour pros have come to expect, evidently affects the tender sensibilities of tour players.
Players may want to emulate Erik Compton, who is still in the field and playing with his third heart. For some, a poor putting surface is only a minor inconvenience in the big scheme of things.
It is fortunate that Wells Fargo has become one of the premier events on the PGA Tour and annually draws a quality field. There will still be plenty of star power on hand even without the players that have chosen to withdraw.
Defending Champion Rickie Fowler, world No. 2 Rory McIlroy, fan favorite Phil Mickelson and hometown boy Webb Simpson are still in the field and should provide plenty of excitement for golf fans.