Wells Fargo (This Week), U.S. Open (June)
Among 2024 North Carolina Golf Highlights

By David Glenn
North Carolina Sports Network

It’s a strange time in the golf world, with the LIV Golf tour now in its third year of competition with the PGA Tour, but the state of North Carolina has an even greater presence than usual in the golf universe here in 2024, starting with a star-studded field at this week’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte.

Whereas the Wells Fargo Championship and the Wyndham Championship (Aug. 8-11 in Greensboro) have been important parts of the PGA Tour circuit for decades, North Carolina occasionally gets a third event in the form of a major championship, and 2024 is one of those years.

The 2024 U.S. Open will be held June 13-16 at the world-famous Pinehurst No. 2 course in Moore County. That event, which is expected to bring a $500 million, state-wide economic impact, will represent the fourth time North Carolina has hosted America’s national championship; Pinehurst No. 2 also served as the venue in 1999 (winner: Payne Stewart), 2005 (Michael Campbell) and 2014 (Martin Kaymer).

Thanks to the ongoing LIV Golf-PGA Tour divide, which impacts all but golf’s four major championships, this week’s Wells Fargo Championship won’t have quite the same field as next month’s U.S. Open. For example, prominent LIV golfers such as Jon Rahm, Brooks Koepka, Tyrrell Hatton, Cam Smith, Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Phil Mickelson aren’t competing at Quail Hollow this year.

However, the 69-man field competing for the $20 million purse available at the Wells Fargo Championship includes all but two invitees, both of whom offered pretty solid explanations for their absences.

Scottie Scheffler, the two-time Masters champion and the reigning #1 golfer in the world, opted to be with his wife, Meredith, who is expecting the couple’s first child any day now. Swedish star Ludvig Aberg, #6 in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR), chose to rest his ailing knee in anticipation of competing in next week’s PGA Championship, the second major championship on the 2024 calendar.

Among the top 16 golfers in the current world rankings, 13 are competing at Quail Hollow this week, and most of them have had great success in this Wells Fargo event previously: #2 Rory McIlroy (the champion in 2010, 2015 and 2021), #3 Wyndham Clark (the 2023 winner), #4 Xander Schauffele (the 2023 runner-up), #7 Viktor Hovland, #8 Patrick Cantlay, #9 Brian Harman (the 2017 winner), #10 Max Homa (the 2019 and 2022 winner), #11 Tommy Fleetwood, #12 Sahith Theegala, #13 Collin Morikawa, #14 Matt Fitzpatrick (a 2022 runner-up), #15 Hideki Matsuyama and #16 Cameron Young (a 2022 runner-up).

“This field is loaded,” Wells Fargo tournament director Gary Sobba said. “We have (69) of the best golfers in the world, and because of our format, the fans will get to see all of them play all four days.”

Overall, 26 of the top 30 golfers (see full list below) in the OWGR are in this week’s Wells Fargo field, and there are a bunch of familiar faces and other intriguing participants even beyond that illustrious group, including some with deep ties to the Carolinas.

Akshay Bhatia: Only 22 years old, Bhatia already has two PGA Tour victories — the 2023 Barracuda Championship and the 2024 Valero Texas Open (last month). The lanky lefty, who lives in Wake Forest, N.C., near Raleigh, has risen to #33 in the world rankings.

Lucas Glover: The 44-year-old Glover was a two-time first-team All-American at Clemson, which is just a two-hour drive from the Charlotte area. The 2009 U.S. Open champion and 2011 Wells Fargo winner, he had a career resurgence in 2023, when he won the Wyndham Championship and the FedEx St. Jude Championship on back-to-back August weekends.

Grayson Murray: The 30-year-old Murray, once a prep star at Leesville Road High School in Raleigh, has had a wild ride since then, including collegiate stops at Wake Forest, East Carolina, UNC Greensboro (commitment only) and finally Arizona State. Since turning pro in 2015, he has won two PGA Tour events: the 2017 Barbasol Championship and the 2024 Sony Open (in January). With almost $2 million in on-course earning so far this year, a number that ranks 42nd on the PGA Tour, he is well-positioned for what could be — by far — his best year as a professional.

Webb Simpson: The 38-year-old Simpson, known best nationally for his 2012 U.S. Open championship, has scores of fans all across North Carolina. He was a prep star at Broughton High School in Raleigh, then a three-time college All-American at Wake Forest, before turning pro in 2008. When he moved his family to Charlotte years ago, he chose a house by the seventh tee at Quail Hollow, where he is (of course) a member. His best home-course performances in the Wells Fargo event so far led to second- (2015) and fourth-place (2012) finishes.

Brendon Todd: The 38-year-old Todd burst onto the North Carolina golf scene while in high school, when he starred at Green Hope High School in Cary. With nearby Prestonwood Country Club as his home course, he was the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Class 4A individual champion as a Green Hope freshman, junior and senior. He then became a four-time college All-American at Georgia before turning pro in 2007. He has three career PGA Tour victories, most recently the 2019 Mayakoba Golf Classic.

The Wells Fargo Championship is one of eight so-called “Signature Events” (previously “designated events”) on the PGA Tour, meaning it draws players from a variety of eligibility categories:

* Top 50 from previous season’s FedExCup standings

* Top 10 available and not otherwise exempt from current FedExCup standings

* Top 5 available and not otherwise exempt FedExCup points earners from previous signature event (RBC Heritage)

* Current-year tournament winners and PGA Tour members in the top 30 of the Official World Golf Ranking

* Four sponsor exemptions who are PGA Tour members

There is no cut at the event, meaning the golfers will compete all four days (Thursday-Sunday).

Prominent 2024 Wells Fargo Championship Participants
(Official World Golf Ranking/Past Wells Fargo Success)

#2 Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland (2010/2015/2021 champion)

#3 Wyndham Clark, USA (2023 champion)
#4 Xander Schauffele, USA (2023 runner-up)
#7 Viktor Hovland, Norway
#8 Patrick Cantlay, USA
#9 Brian Harman, USA (2017 champion)
#10 Max Homa, USA (2019/2022 champion)
#11 Tommy Fleetwood, England
#12 Sahith Theegala, USA
#13 Collin Morikawa, USA
#14 Matt Fitzpatrick, England (2022 runner-up)
#15 Hideki Matsuyama, Japan
#16 Cameron Young, USA (2022 runner-up)
#18 Russell Henley, USA
#19 Keegan Bradley, USA (2022 runner-up)
#20 Matthieu Pavon, France
#21 Jordan Spieth, USA
#22 Chris Kirk, USA
#23 Tom Kim, South Korea
#24 Jason Day, Australia (2018 champion)
#25 Sepp Straka, Austria
#26 Nick Taylor, Canada
#27 Sam Burns, USA
#28 Tony Finau, USA
#29 Justin Thomas, USA
#30 Will Zalatoris, USA