CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Jeff Klauk might know every blade of grass on the Stadium Course at the TPC Sawgrass after growing up watching his father, retired golf course superintendent Fred Klauk, tend to the course for The Players Championship.
Barring an unlikely turn of events, the PGA Tour rookie will see the course next week like never before.
Because two international players have decided not to play, Klauk has earned the final spot in the field next week based on a solid start to his season that has put him 42nd in the FedEx Cup standings.
The only way he could lose his spot would be for someone not already eligible to win the Quail Hollow Championship.
The top 10 players in the FedEx Cup standings after last week were assured a place in the field at The Players Championship. The tour then goes down the standings as far as necessary to fill the 144-man field.
Miguel Angel Jimenez and Shingo Katayama elected not to play, leaving the tournament with 141 players. David Toms (No. 21) and Scott Piercy (No. 40) took those spots, and Klauk will get the last one.
“Having mowed greens and fairways and all that stuff, and then coming to a tournament and you see maintenance guys, how many hours they have to work to get the course in the conditions that they are in, it takes a lot of hours,” Klauk said earlier this year. “Just makes me appreciate things a lot more than a lot of other people.”
Also added to the field last week was Thongchai Jaidee of Thailand, who won in Korea and moved to No. 49 in the world ranking.
• • •
QUAIL HOLLOW FUTURE: Wells Fargo, which acquired Wachovia last year, has taken its name off the tournament this week, which is why it is now called the Quail Hollow Championship. The bank also acquired a contract with the PGA Tour that runs through 2014, and tournament officials do not expect it to be broken before then.
That likely will be the end of a PGA Tour stop in Charlotte – but not necessarily major golf.
PGA of America officials are in town this week as the guest of club president Johnny Harris, who is trying to land the 2017 PGA Championship and the 2024 Ryder Cup.
Whether it gets the two major events remains to be seen. Davis Love III is not convinced it will work, although it has nothing to do with the golf course, considered among the best on tour.
“There’s a lot of courses that can handle a major championship – certainly, Quail Hollow as a golf course can,” Love said two weeks ago at Hilton Head. “It’s the infrastructure. If Johnny Harris said, ‘You all come look at Quail Hollow for a U.S. Open or a PGA,’ they wouldn’t look much at the golf course. They’d say, ‘Wait a minute, is there room for parking? And is there room for corporate hospitality? Is there room for buses?’ If you get an extra large tournament, can you handle it?
“The golf course is great,” he said. “It would certainly handle a major championship. But I don’t think there’s enough room for everything else that goes with it.”
• • •
FALL SERIES: Sea Island won’t be getting a PGA Tour event this year.
Rick George, the tour’s chief of operations, said the new World Golf Championships event in China to be held Nov. 5-8 will not have an opposite-field event during the Fall Series. That date had been occupied by the Ginn sur Mer Classic, which ended its contract early. The tour had been negotiating with a couple of companies that wanted an event at Sea Island.
George confirmed that such a deal will not happen, and there will be no tournament in the U.S. that week.
• • •
O’HAIR PLANS: Sean O’Hair goes into the U.S. Open with some uncertainty at home, although there is little question he will play.
His wife, Jackie, is expecting their third child on June 25 – four days after the U.S. Open at Bethpage Black. They are expecting a boy that they plan to name Grady Quinn.
“Hopefully, he comes the week before, because I’m taking that week off,” O’Hair said.
But what if it comes early, and O’Hair gets a call in the middle of a round? He won’t be carrying a beeper, as Phil Mickelson did at Pinehurst No. 2 in 1999. He will leave, but not for long.
“If I get the call, I’ll finish my round and then fly home (to Philadelphia) and see the baby and make sure Jackie is OK. Then I’ll go back,” O’Hair said, pausing to smile, “and win the U.S. Open.”
O’Hair, 26, already has a 4-year-old daughter (Molly) and an 18-month-old son (Luke).
• • •
LPGA SCHEDULE: If anyone has lost track of the LPGA, it’s easy to see why.
Having lost three tournaments from the previous year, the LPGA has not had a tournament in the United States since the Kraft Nabisco Championship a week before the Masters. Last week’s event in Mexico, won by Lorena Ochoa, was not shown on television.
Through the first four months of the year, the LPGA Tour has staged only seven events – only two of them on the U.S. mainland. The tour resumes next week at the Michelob Ultra Open in Virginia.
• • •
DIVOTS: NBC Sports has earned a Sports Emmy for its coverage of the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. The network won in the “Outstanding Live Sports Special,” beating out the Super Bowl, Daytona 500 and Wimbledon. … Adam Scott has agreed to an expanded contract deal with Acushnet Co., which he has endorsed since turning pro in June 2000 by playing the Titleist and FootJoy brands. … The Solheim Cup is changing its schedule of play, leading off with fourballs on the first two days. “I always felt as a player that we would see better golf if you played your own ball in the morning, and then played alternate shot in the afternoon,” U.S. captain Beth Daniel said.
• • •
STAT OF THE WEEK: Robert Allenby has 46 finishes in the top 10 since his last PGA Tour victory in 2001.
• • •
FINAL WORD: “We’re not saying, ‘No,’ to too many sponsors, in case you haven’t noticed.” – PGA Tour board member Stewart Cink.