Brian Harman might be the Wells Fargo Championship’s official defending champion, but the Quail Hollow return of World No. 2 Justin Thomas might be even more significant.
The last time the PGA Tour was at Quail Hollow was for last August’s PGA Championship, where the then 23-year-old Thomas captured his first major championship in a brilliant two-stroke effort over Patrick Reed, Francesco Molinari, and Louis Oosthuizen.
It was the crowning achievement in Thomas’ five-win 2017 season, and made him an easy choice for PGA Tour Player of the Year. During a pre-event press conference, Thomas said returning to Quail Hollow brought back some “cool” memories.
“It’s always nice and fun to come back to a place where you have some success and have won before, especially here being my first major, it is really cool,” said Thomas.
“Today was my first time on the back nine and Jimmy and I were kind of going through some of the shots that we had hit and some of the clubs that we had hit. Yeah, it’s definitely a lot of fun
and brings back a lot of great memories.”
Thomas noted, however, that while the name is the same, Quail Hollow is a much different golf course today, specifically the putting surfaces.
“The greens are quite a bit different. The greens are very firm and a decent bit slower than the PGA. The balls are going to be bouncing very high on our approach shots into the green. It’s different,” said Thomas.
“They take a couple hops and then they check on the shorter irons, but that first hop is a big one. So you need to kind of have some height coming into the greens and some spin on certain shots. But other than that, I mean, the grasses are completely different.”
Thomas is still aiming to reach the top spot in the Official World Golf Rankings, and he could do it this week with a win, but one list he does top is the current FedExCup Standings. In 11 events this season, Thomas has two victories among five top-10s, and has already earned over $5 million. He is currently second on Tour in scoring average, trailing only World No. 1 Dustin Johnson.
The Kentucky native is coming off of a missed cut at last week’s Zurich Classic, the only event this year where he has failed to reach the weekend, but it was a team event (he was paired with Bud Cauley) so it is difficult to determine whether much of anything could be drawn from that event.
World No. 3 Jordan Spieth and world No. 4 Jon Rahm, also missed the cut. Thomas has played the Wells Fargo twice, with a high finish of T7 in the 2015 edition.
More on Thomas’ press conference from Quail Hollow.