2018 Wells Fargo leaderboard, grades: Jason Day grabs second win of 2018 with crazy finish
The 17th hole at Quail Hollow once again determines our champion at the Wells Fargo Championship
The last three holes at Quail Hollow are a monster, and they often determine who loses the Wells Fargo Championship. This year, much like last year's PGA Championship on this course, they determined who won. Jason Day got through those three holes, playing to a field average of 1 over on the day, in 2 under on Sunday en route to a 12-under 272 for the week and his second win of 2018.
Going to the wicked par-4 16th, Day was reeling a bit. He'd just made two bogeys in his last three holes and parred the par-5 15th, which is one of the easier holes on the course. He'd hit just four of 12 fairways to that point, and he felt lost.
"I had no idea where the ball was going today," Day told CBS Sports' Peter Kostis. "I missed a lot of fairways. I missed a lot of greens."
But Day hit both the 16th fairway and green and rolled in a 11-foot putt for birdie to put some distance between himself and those chasing.
Then he stood on the par-3 17th, where Justin Thomas shut down the 2017 PGA, and he nearly dunked an ace. It might not have been a great shot considering it probably would have run off the green had it not clipped the stick, but it was timely. And it was also nearly a 1.
"The biggest thing is you're playing mental games with yourself," Day told Kostis. "I just kept on saying to myself, 'forget about those thoughts, keep pushing, keep pushing.' It was great to birdie 16 and 17."
Day closed with a par on No. 18 for a 2-under 69 to get to 12 under overall and secure a two-stroke victory over Nick Watney and Aaron Wise. His putter saved him in the final round as he gained over four strokes on the field on a day when his long game was a wasteland. That's how great ones win, though. When one area isn't working, they pick themselves up with something else. Day finished No. 1 in strokes gained around the green and No. 2 in strokes gained putting on the week. He made just seven bogeys on the week (with four of them coming on Sunday).
"My short game stood the test, which was nice," Day told Kostis. "This is probably one of the best wins I've ever had just because of how hard everything was today. I need to do a lot of work if I want to win next week."
Next week of course is the 2018 Players Championship. It's a course where Day has one of his other 11 victories, and he'll go into it as one of the favorites once again. If he closes the way he did this week, win No. 13 might be just seven days away. Grade: A+
Here are the rest of our grades for the 2018 Wells Fargo Championship.
Phil Mickelson (T5): We got the full Mickelson experience both on Sunday and for the entire week. Lefty made 18 birdies on the week, including a ridiculous seven (!) in the final round. Look at this scorecard! Mickelson grabbed his eighth (!) top-five finish at this tournament on this course in the wake of all those circles and one miracle up and down on the 72nd hole. The unfortunate part for Mickelson and his seven top-fives at Quail Hollow? He still doesn't have a victory. Grade: A
Rory McIlroy (T16): After making the cut at T48 and shooting a 66 in Round 3, McIlroy stalled with a 71 on Sunday. Those first two numbers (T48 and a 66 in Round 3) were the exact numbers he hit in 2010 when he won on this course with a 62 in the final round, but it wasn't to be in 2018. McIlroy looked like (and said) he felt uncomfortable with his game all week. His issues were a more manageable version of Tiger's struggles. He was top 15 in strokes gained tee to green but outside the top 40 in strokes gained putting. Hopefully for him he'll figure out what's troubling his game, and that won't carry over to the Players Championship next week. Grade: B+
Rickie Fowler (T21): Fowler was 6 under through 52 holes of this event before four-putting from 22 feet on the par-3 17th hole on Saturday. He played the final 20 holes of the tournament in 4 over and dropped back outside the top 20 after looking like he was going to contend to win the event. The final 18 holes were a roller coaster, too (somewhat literally). Fowler made a monstrous 75-footer for eagle at the par-5 7th, but he had two more double bogeys (including another one at the 17th). It was a head-scratching finish from somebody who is probably one of the five best players in the world right now. Grade: B
Tiger Woods (T55): The good news for Tiger is that he gets a C+ this week. Why is that good news? Because expectations, both from him and from us for him, have been raised. Woods struck the ball wonderfully all week, but he couldn't have putted a ball into the Atlantic Ocean if you'd put him on the beach with a mile-wide cement runway going downhill toward the water. Tiger didn't make a birdie for the final 21 holes of the event, mostly because he could not putt. He finished 72nd (of 75 golfers) in strokes gained putting and 8th (!) in strokes gained tee to green. For the sake of context, tournament winner Day finished just behind Woods in strokes gained tee to green (but he putted 70 spots better). Grade: C+
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