Riviera trio reunited in first two rounds at Quail Hollow

May 02, 2012
Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM Chief of Correspondents

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The last time Bill Haas, Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley got together and played a few holes the title at the Northern Trust Open was on the line.

Tee times
Tee times for Bill Haas-Phil Mickelson-Keegan Bradley are below. Click here for all tee times.

Haas had polished off a 69 at Riviera that Sunday and led by one as Mickelson and Bradley came to the 18th hole, which had yielded just six birdies all day. He was waiting on the range to stay loose, just in case, and he heard the roars as, first, Mickelson, made birdie and then, his protege followed suit.

Two holes later, after a prayer of a 45-footer he was just hoping to get close, Haas had the victory -- his first since he won last year's TOUR Championship on the way to the FedExCup. He had an equally remarkable shot at East Lake, too, as Haas got up and down from a partially submerged lie at the 17th hole in regulation to force that playoff.

The trio will be reunited in the first two rounds of the Wells Fargo Championshop at Quail Hollow. The featured group tees off No. 10 at 8 a.m. on Thursday and No. 1 at 1:25 p.m. on Friday.

Both Haas and Mickelson have won this year, the latter's victory coming at the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am when he played with Tiger Woods on Sunday and closed with a 64 to win the tournament for the fourth time. Bradley, who won twice last season on the way to winning PGA TOUR Rookie of the Year honors, will defend his first in two weeks at the HP Byron Nelson Championship.

Mickelson, who currently ranks third in the FedExCup has an impressive record at Quail Hollow, too. He finished second in 2010, when he was overtaken by Rory McIlroy's closing 62, and he has only finished lower than 12th once in eight starts. His scoring average of 70.28 at Quail Hollow is second only to Rickie Fowler -- but Mickelson has played 32 rounds to Fowler's eight.

The lefthander will be playing for the first time since he tied for third at the Masters a week after sharing fourth at the Shell Houston Open. The key to Mickelson's season has been his putting -- he currently ranks third in Strokes Gained-Putting after finishing 130th or higher each of the last three years.

Haas, who grew up in Greenville, S.C., which is less than two hours away, is looking to recapture the momentum he had early in the year when he finished 20th or better in four of his first five starts. In the five since his victory, Haas' best finish is a tie for 29th, accomplished twice.

Haas, who ranks 14th in the FedExCup this year, had a scoring average of 69.75 in those first five events -- shooting over par just once and posting a cumulative 41 under. In the last five starts, though, he's a combined 5 over, has six rounds above par and owns a scoring average of 72.21.

That said, Haas has played well at Quail Hollow in the past so that could be a good omen. He's got four top-25 finishes at the Wells Fargo Championship, including last year's solo fourth.

"I'm very close, not far off, but certainly the last five weeks, Augusta especially, Hilton Head, missing the cut there, I didn't feel like I played that poorly at either one," Haas said. "And that's the frustrating part of the game, but I also know that I'm always so close, and this is certainly a week I feel comfortable, so hopefully just having that comfort feeling around here might help turn that around."

Bradley may not have a win this year like his playing partners, but he's in the midst of another consistent season. In fact, the cut he missed last week at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans was his first early exit since last year's Deutsche Bank Championship, a span of 12 events.

Haas-Mickelson-Bradley tee times
Tee times for first two rounds for Bill Haas/Phil Mickelson/Keegan Bradley
Round 1
8 a.m. ET
No. 10 tee
Round 2
1:25 p.m. ET
No. 1 tee
Watch: Phil Mickelson interview
Prior to the Wells Fargo Championship, Phil Mickelson talks about his upcoming induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame. Interview
More featured groups
1:25 p.m. ET No. 1, 8 a.m. ET No. 10
Simpson is a popular local favorite, residing in Charlotte. Woods is a past champion at Quail Hollow and will be interesting to watch after a disappointing Masters.

1:35 p.m. ET, No. 1, 8:10 a.m. No. 10
Three former Wells Fargo champions, separated by seven years. Toms won in 2003, Furyk in 2006 and of course McIlroy in 2010 after his scintillating final-round 62.

The playoff loss at Riviera is one of three top-10s this year for Bradley, who ranks 16th in the FedExCup -- the highest-placed player still looking for his first win in 2012. He's made the cut in 10 of 11 events this year and finished outside the top-25 just once (and that was a tie for 27th in his first Masters).