Peter Malnati leads a star studded field as the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow heads to the weekend. Malnati sits at -7 after posting a 3-under 68 today with 5 birdies. The 30 year old from the University of Missouri has struggled this season, making just 8 cuts in 18 starts and never finishing inside the top 25. Malnati bounced between the Web.com and PGA Tours before winning his first PGA Tour event in November of 2015, defeating William McGirt and David Toms at the Sanderson Farms Championship. He currently sits at 174th in the 2018 FedEx Cup points list. He leads Aaron Wise and Jason Day by 1 stroke (-6), with Paul Casey and Charl Schwartzel tied for 4th at 5-under-par.
A few notables missed the the +3 cut line this week, including Tommy Fleetwood (#12 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Alex Noren (#17), Kevin Kisner (#24) and Louis Oosthuizen (#30). Rickie Fowler sits at -1, 6 strokes off the lead in a tie for 20th. He’s second in the field this week in driving accuracy at 75%. The last 2 major winners, Justin Thomas (2017 PGA Champion) and Patrick Reed (2018 Masters Champion) are tied for 28th at Even par. Arguably the 3 biggest stars at Quail Hollow this week- Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and 2-time champ Rory McIlroy, are all tied for 48th at plus 2 for the tournament. McIlroy had a bad Friday, shooting a +5 76 after a 68 on Thursday. McIlroy explained the round after to reporters, “Tough conditions. Obviously wind was up and gusty, greens were firm. Just struggled with everything really. Struggled with my game, struggled to get my ball in the fairway, made some pretty bad mistakes. Didn’t birdie any of the par-5s. It was just one of those days where I just couldn’t get anything going.”
For Woods, his struggles have been with the putter- saying he traditionally plays worse on slower greens. “I’ve struggled a little bit here and there on certain courses, until I got the feel of it. But this week is a combo that I’m just not … they’re springy, firm but a little on the slower side. That’s not what you would expect. When you’re walking on the greens as I’m feeling on my feet, the greens are firm, but they’re just not rolling out,” Woods said after his second round 73. Tiger avoided missing just his 18th cut ever on the PGA Tour in his career. Quail Hollow is the only course he has missed more than one cut at- in 2010 and in 2012. Long time rival Phil Mickelson said there are simply not as many scoring holes at QH since the renovations for the 2017 PGA Championship. Before, he said their were arguably 8 scoring holes. Now he believes there are just five- which are likely just the 3 par 5s and the 2 shortest par 4s.
Tee times will begin early Saturday at 7am. Mickelson will go out with Shane Lowry just after 9am, McIlroy with J.B. Holmes shortly after at 9:13am, and Woods will go out with Brooks Koepka (who recently returned from a wrist injury) at 9:40am. Malnati will head out in the final group with Aaron Wise at 1:40pm. Keep it tuned to The Wrightway Network for all things PGA Tour this weekend and in preparation for next week’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.