The Loop

Phil Mickelson grabs Tom Fazio out of his own gallery, then praises his changes to Quail Hollow

Phil Mickelson and Tom Fazio chat in front of the 16th tee at Quail Hollow.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Tom Fazio thought he could blend in.

No such luck. When you're one of the best-known course designers, walking a future major-championship course where you made major changes, you're going to get noticed.

Especially when Phil Mickelson has the chance to pick your brain. Behind the 11th green, Fazio was pulled inside the ropes to chat to Mickelson for a solid five minutes in the middle of Mickelson's pro-am round Wednesday before the Wells Fargo Championship.

Everybody at Quail Hollow is talking about the significant changes made after last year's tournament. Even Lefty -- with high praise.

"This is perfect. I'm having such an enjoyable time playing this," Mickelson told Fazio as Lefty waited to tee off. "This has become in my mind one of the best courses I've ever played. The beauty is in its simplicity."

As he walked, then outside the ropes, Fazio described the significant changes he and his team made  from May through Labor Day last year to the site of the 2017 PGA Championship.

Mickelson praised the new green contours around the course, which were redone with a hybrid Bermuda grass (mini-verde), as opposed to bentgrass.

"Shot selections are different from the bentgrass to this hybrid bermuda, which allowed us to change elevations with pitch and speed, where different pin placements will be," Fazio said. "Now, with this firmer turf, we can have longer slopes on the greens where he feels like he can bounce the ball, roll the ball more to the hole, which he likes a lot."

Pointing across the 15th hole to the 16th fairway, Fazio detailed how he moved the 16th green into where the pond was before, and the fairway about 40 yards over, which really changes the start to the Green Mile.

The whole feel of the closing holes is different. It's now a fan-friendly spot to post up and catch action on the 16th and 17th holes. It'll be fun this week, and for 2017's PGA.