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Ballesteros news hits golfers hard

THE WEATHER

Today shouldn't have the weather issues Friday did. The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with a high temperature in the upper 70s with relatively light winds. Sunday's forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with a high near 80.

OBSERVATIONS

SEVE A GAME-CHANGER: The news that Seve Ballesteros' health had taken a recent sudden decline hit several golfers hard at Quail Hollow, none more so than Sergio Garcia, Ballesteros' Spanish countryman.

"He was a game-changer, not only for Europe but for golf himself when he came out," said Garcia. "To come out from Spain, do what he did was amazing. It was very inspiring."

Garcia said that Ballesteros' influence on young golfers and fans was even more amazing because he played in an era that was still fresh from the impact of legends like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer.

"He played differently," said Garcia. "And that just shows you the kind of charisma he had. That's why people loved watching him.

"We're happy he's still alive but it doesn't look very good."

JOCKS SIGHTINGS: Carolina Panthers punter Jason Baker and receiver Charley Martin hung out on the back lawn of the house of John Fox, their former coach who is now with the Denver Broncos. Fox's house is off Quail Hollow's 14th tee and he's not planning on selling it ... Football coach Dabo Swinney and basketball coach Brad Brownell were part of a large group of Clemson fans watching former Tigers golfer Lucas Glover.

BIGLEY FINISHES 76-78: Charlotte's Bryan Bigley's two-day Quail Hollow experience ended with a 76 Friday, following a 78 Thursday. Bigley, who works on the maintenance crew at Raintree Country Club, qualified for the tournament on Monday at Charlotte's Carolina Country Club. Bigley beat five other golfers in the field and was within shouting distance of established pros such as Brad Faxon and Jeff Maggert.

LOVE-ING IT: Davis Love III is at 5-under par through 36 holes though he's put a ball in the creek on the par-4 18th team both Thursday and Friday.

Love has played every year at the Wells Fargo Championship but hasn't finished inside the top 10.

"I'm a little more prepared than I've been," Love said. "I got sick a couple of times and wasn't really ready for a couple of the last few starts, so it's nice to have practiced and be ready to play."

Love hit his tee shot into the creek on 18 on Thursday but chipped in for a par. On Friday, he pulled a 6-iron approach shot into the creek and closed his day with a bogey.

"I'm not doing too good with the creek," Love said.

MCILROY MISSES CUT: Rory McIlroy stood on the 16th tee Friday afternoon figuring he needed to play the last three holes at least 1-under par to make the cut. He was in a similar position last year before his record-setting finish in winning the Wells Fargo Championship.

It didn't happen this year.

McIlroy missed the cut after rounds of 75-72 in which he never really found a rhythm.

"I'm disappointed to come back here after all that happened last year and to not be here for the weekend, but that's golf," McIlroy said.

CALMING DOWN: Jonathan Byrd was cruising along Friday afternoon when he suddenly made a double-bogey at the par-4 14th hole after having his tee shot bury in a fairway bunker.

Byrd buried his second shot in a greenside bunker, then blasted his third across the green and into the water. He needed a moment to regroup afterward.

"I just kind of had a good self-talk pretty much," Byrd said. "I wasn't that mad because ...I hit a bad tee shot, but other than that it wasn't terrible. It was just a bad double.

"I was just like, man, I'm playing great. This is just a test."

A PLEASANT CHANGE: Former Clemson golfer Charles Warren is in the field on a sponsor exemption, having made just one cut in six starts on the PGA Tour this season. Warren is making the most of his opportunity, standing at 4-under par through 36 holes.

Last weekend, Warren finished third at a Nationwide Tour event in Valdosta, Ga., and feels the momentum carrying over.

"I don't feel like I've played that badly this year," Warren, a former NCAA champion, said. "I feel my game is close."

Warren recently began working on his bunker play and putting with James Sieckman and can feel the changes getting more comfortable.

"It's an endless search," Warren said. "If you've won four tournaments, it's still a search. It's just a matter of trusting I'm doing the right things."

RIGHT AT HOME: Rickie Fowler has found an immediate comfort with Quail Hollow, having finished sixth here last year in his first appearance and being 4-under par through two rounds this year, despite a bogey-bogey finish.

"It's just fun to play," Fowler said. "You have to use your imagination a lot. It's great to drive the ball well and give yourself some chances into the green.

"There's just a cool feeling around this place."

OBSERVATIONS

This is what golf does:

On the short par-4 14th hole, Phil Mickelson hit his tee shot into the water along the left side of the hole and was forced to play his third shot from an awkward lie 142 yards from the hole. Mickelson fired his third shot to within four feet of the hole and made a par.

Mickelson's playing partner, long-hitting Gary Woodland, blasted his tee shot to within 43 feet from the hole. He also walked away with a four. Same score. Two very different ways to make it.

Tiger Woods committed to play in The Players Championship next week, which suggests his knee and Achilles feel better. Time to get the golf thermometers out again to gauge the temperature of his game.

Not sure what to make of Dustin Johnson's drive-by appearance at Quail Hollow. He shot 79 on Friday and was gone. He'll have Fred Couples' long-time sideman Joe LaCava on the bag next week at The Players. It could be a long-term gig for LaCava, who's one of the all-time best on the bag. It's time for Johnson to get things going again.

Webb Simpson just keeps rolling along. He's in the top 10 a week after the New Orleans disappointment. It's the first time in three starts he's made the cut at Quail Hollow.

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