Updated throughout each tournament week, 'The Starter' will provide key news, notes, and other nuggets prior to the first tee time on Thursday morning. Think of it as an all-in-one resource to help guide you in the days leading up to the start of the tournament, as you prepare your fantasy golf lineups and entries. As soon as we receive valuable news updates on things such as tee times, featured groups, withdrawals and other course reports we’ll be sure to post them all here.
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Max Homa raises the Fortinet Championship trophy in back-to-back seasons. One shot back of Danny Willett on the 72nd hole, Homa chipped in for Birdie and went on to win by a single shot. With the win, Homa moves up six spots and becomes 16th ranked golfer in the world.
Danny Willett had a putt to win the tournament from inside 4-feet on the final hole. He three-putted it to make Bogey and finished runner-up, one shot behind Homa. Willett still finished 5th for the week in SG: PUTT (+5.19). In his post-round interview last Friday, Willett mentioned that he put a different putter into the bag a few weeks prior–the same model of putter he won The Masters with in 2016 he noted.
Rickie Fowler finished Tied-6th, which notched his first top-10 finish since last October at THE CJ CUP. Fowler found success with new irons in his bag this past week, ranking 25th in SG: APP at the Fortinet Championship. Fowler appears to be trending in the right direction after switching both his caddie and swing coach prior to the new season.
Taylor Montgomery (solo 3rd), Byeong Hun An (T4), Davis Thompson (T9), Thomas Detry (T12), Zach Blair (T12), Harrison Endycott (T12), and Paul Haley II (T12) were among the Korn Ferry Tour graduates who produced nice finishes, taking advantage of a fairly soft PGA Tour field that only featured three top-25 ranked golfers in the world.
Lastly, five Presidents Cup golfers competed at the Fortinet Championship. Here is how they fared:
Max Homa (Winner)
Hideki Matsuyama (T25)
Taylor Pendrith (T67)
Corey Conners (Missed Cut)
Cam Davis (Missed Cut)
Quail Hollow Club - Charlotte, North Carolina
12 v. 12 team event; no prize purse; no FedExCup points awarded
Team events don’t come along often in professional golf (unless you’re watching the 4 Aces dominate LIV Golf events these days), which makes an event like the Presidents Cup unique and special. The entire format differs pretty drastically from a typical PGA Tour event. Whichever team earns the most points after four days of matches wins.
For those of you that are unfamiliar, or maybe just need a refresher, here is how the day-to-day matches breakdown for the Presidents Cup:
Thursday: Five matches total, four-ball (best ball) or foursomes (alternate shot)
Friday: Five matches total, foursomes or four-ball (the opposite of Thursday’s format)
Saturday: Eight matches total, four-ball and foursomes split the morning and afternoon
Sunday: Twelve matches total, singles
Four-ball (best ball) = teams of two play their own ball and take the score of the teammate that scores the lowest on each hole.
Foursomes (alternate shot) = teams of two alternate back and forth for every single shot.
Before each round of the Presidents Cup, team captains produce a lineup of the team’s pairings for that day.
Sam Burns (OWGR 12th)
Patrick Cantlay (OWGR 4th)
Tony Finau (OWGR 14th)
Xander Schauffele (OWGR 5th)
Scottie Scheffler (OWGR 1st)
Justin Thomas (OWGR 7th)
6 Captains Picks
Max Homa (OWGR 16th)
Kevin Kisner (OWGR 25th)
Cameron Young (OWGR 18th)
Collin Morikawa (OWGR 9th)
Jordan Spieth (OWGR 13th)
Billy Horschel (OWGR 15th)
Will Zalatoris (OWGR 8th) - Will Zalatoris would have been shoo-in to make this team if not for the back injury he suffered during the FedExCup Playoffs in August. His competitive spirit and outward emotion would have been fun to see displayed in a team format, but alas! - Zalatoris will have to wait to make his debut on one of these national teams.
Dustin Johnson (OWGR 23th) / Brooks Koepka (OWGR 29th) - Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka competed for the U.S. Ryder Cup team in 2021 at Whistling Straits. DJ put on a dominant display there, going 5-0-0 in his matches. They’ve both been staples for these international team events, but their departure to LIV Golf has prevented them from competing this week.
Aaron Wise (OWGR 37th) - Aaron Wise would have been a very curious wildcard pick for the U.S. team, no doubt. The reason Wise’s name popped up during the team selection process was because his game was trending positively at the end of the season. Wise made a strong run through the FedExCup Playoffs, which led to a Tied-13th finish at the TOUR Championship. Additionally, Wise boasts some of the strongest course history to Quail Hollow: Runner-Up, Tied-18th, and Tied-9th over the last three years.
Corey Conners (OWGR 26th)
Sungjae Im (OWGR 19th)
Joohyung “Tom” Kim (OWGR 22nd)
Hideki Matsuyama (OWGR 17th)
Mito Pereira (OWGR 49th)
Adam Scott (OWGR 30th)
6 Captains Picks:
Christiaan Bezuidenhout (OWGR 67th)
Cam Davis (OWGR 66th)
Si Woo Kim (OWGR 76th)
K.H. Lee (OWGR 43rd)
Sebastian Munoz (OWGR 63rd)
Taylor Pendrith (OWGR 109th)
Cameron Smith (OWGR 3rd) / Joaquin Niemann (OWGR 21st) - Both have signed with LIV Golf in recent weeks, which took away their opportunity to compete in the Presidents Cup. Cameron Smith and Joaquin Niemann would have automatically qualified for the International Team, and both surely would have been core members to be leaned on throughout the week.
Abe Ancer (OWGR 24th) / Louis Oothuizen (OWGR 33rd) / Marc Leishman (OWGR 61st) - Just a few more LIV Golf members who surely would have been in strong discussion as Captains Pick for the Presidents Cup. All three have strong team experience and would have been able to use their experience to aid the International Team.
Ryan Fox (OWGR 47th) - Similar to Aaron Wise on the U.S. side, Ryan Fox is a name that got mentioned during the selection process--not an egregious omission by any means, but considering Fox for the International Team made sense for various reasons. Fox is higher in world rank than several of the International Team members. In 2022, Fox won The Ras Al Khaimah Classic, finished runner-up at the Dutch Open, Horizon Irish Open and Soudal Open, along with a few other top-15 finishes around the world. All of these results for Fox occurred on the DP World Tour, which is perhaps why he was not on captain Trevor Immelman’s radar.
Quail Hollow has regularly hosted PGA Tour events since 2003–known now, and for the past decade, as the Wells Fargo Championship. This past season, the Wells Fargo Championship was moved to TPC Potomac at Avenel Farms in Potomac, Maryland to account for Quail Hollow hosting this year’s Presidents Cup.
As is often the case when a course holds an event like a major or team event not normally in the PGA Tour's season rotation, changes can occur in hopes of sequencing holes in such a way that creates the most drama and intrigue through all 18 holes. Quail Hollow has made some changes to the yardages and routing of holes (as illustrated below):
The rerouting of Quail Hollow for the Presidents Cup puts entertaining holes like the 17th and 18th earlier into the round. Derek Duncan of Golf Digest explained this change well:
“In the previous 13 Presidents Cups, totaling 422 matches, one team or individual closed out the opponent before the 17th hole almost 40 percent of the time. If no alterations were made, many matches would not reach two of Quail Hollow’s most entertaining, throat-clutching cornerstones, the 190-yard par-3 17th playing entirely across water and the 494-yard 18th, regularly one of the hardest par 4s on tour.”
Duncan’s entire article outlines other details about the setup of Quail Hollow and what to expect of it for this week's Presidents Cup.
Keith Wood, who is the Director of Green and Grounds--and also the Superintendent--at Quail Hollow left these additional notes on the tournament fact sheet:
Per DataGolf, here are the golfers in this week’s event that have the highest “True Strokes Gained” (average adjusted strokes gained) at Quail Hollow:
Justin Thomas (+2.05)
Hideki Matsuyama (+1.53)
Jordan Spieth (+1.51)
Billy Horschel (+1.22)
Patrick Cantlay (+1.05)
Adam Scott (+1.04)
Tony Finau (+0.97)
Although not on this list, Max Homa won the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow in 2019. He ranked 1st in SG: PUTT that week, gaining 9.90 strokes on the greens.
Justin Thomas won the 2017 PGA Championship held at Quail Hollow. The setup was very difficult that week, as the scoring average relative to par was +2.47. It should also be noted that the 2017 PGA Championship was held in August, and the Wells Fargo Championship is typically held in May.
Collin Morikawa, Cameron Young, Taylor Pendrith, Christian Bezuidenhout, and Tom Kim come into the Presidents Cup with no course history at Quail Hollow.
Despite having the lowest world ranking on the team, Kevin Kisner’s match play record is 22-7-2. This includes his strong results at the WGC-Dell Technologies Matchplay (2nd in 2022, Winner in 2019, 2nd in 2018).
Sam Burns is the only team member with no professional match play results.
World No.1 Scottie Scheffler is 11-2-2 in matchplay.
Mito Pereira, Taylor Pendrith, K.H. Lee, Cam Davis, and Tom Kim all do not have a professional matchplay record.
Adam Scott, who has the most match play experience by a fairly wide margin for the International Team, carries a match play record of 23-23-2.