Beautiful weather, outstanding golf, and meeting my favorite players. It all made for an exciting time in Charlotte at the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship.
This was my second visit to Quail Hollow Club and it is one of the more beautiful courses out there. Having perfect weather is always a plus as well and there was plenty of it to be had down in the Queen City. First came the Practice Round on Tuesday, where players spend the day honing their game in preparation for the tournament. The one caveat, here, is you never know which player you're going to see and when (or if) they will be on the course. I got to Quail Hollow kind of early and, boy, did I time it just right. A little while after I arrived, I hung out at the driving range and saw Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Rickie Fowler (more on that in a second), and others. I was also able to snag an autograph from the newly-crowned Wells Fargo Champion, Jason Day. It was pretty random as he was walking from the practice putting green and stopped to sign. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Speaking of right place at the right time, I was so stoked to meet Rickie Fowler for a third time. And, yes, I finally got a picture with him - well sorta. I met Rickie at the PGA Championship at this very same course last year and completely lost the chance to snag a photo with him due to my, oftentimes, overbearing nervousness taking over. From that point on, I vowed to return to Quail Hollow for the Wells Fargo and get a photo with him if he played there. As Rickie came towards the small group of us waiting to see if he would sign, the nerves escalated. He reached to my portion of the line when I asked the question I had waited nine months to ask - and he obliged! I chose to take a selfie with him (pictured right) which, in hindsight, I should not have done. The selfie would have been fine had it not been for me cutting off half of my own smiling face! I guess the other half of my face was in shock at what was transpiring. Every part of this moment flashed before my eyes, so it's a miracle I even got the photo!
Moving on to Friday and the second round of competition, I woke myself up at 3:30 a.m. to make the two-hour trek down to Charlotte in order to follow Rickie and Justin Thomas’ group, which had a 7:30 a.m. tee time. I typically don’t follow a group the entire 18 holes but decided to do so for these guys, particularly because of Rickie. I think my feet are still somewhere at Quail Hollow because I ended up walking about eight miles through the duration of their round. It was totally worth it! Much like the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, the Wells Fargo was set up in a way that provided fans the chance to get pretty close to their favorite players. Especially when said players hit the ball off line, much like what Justin did during his round. Justin’s misfortune provided some amazing opportunities to snag a couple of photos as well. Plus, it was great getting some photos of the two best buds walking from hole to hole.
I stayed for a good while after Rickie and Justin’s round and I’m glad I did as I met Paul Casey and J.B. Holmes. But the icing on the cake. The best part of the whole week for me - alongside getting a selfie with Rickie - was being able to meet and get an autograph from the one and only Phil Mickelson! I came very close at the PGA last year but could not quite snag an autograph, so I finally got it this year. I always knew Phil was a nice person but I did not truly appreciate this until Friday. As he signed, Phil carried on small conversations with almost every fan, smiling the entire time. As Phil took my ticket and signed it, all I could muster the ability to say was “I’m such a huge fan,” to which he replied, “Thank you and thanks for coming.” What a way to end my time in Charlotte!
All in all, my experience at Quail Hollow and the Wells Fargo Championship was one for the books. Filled with awestruck moments and sheer joy, my two days at this championship will be remembered for a long time!