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Harris tells Mickelson, several Quail greens changing

PEBBLE BEACH, Cal. -- Before teeing off Wednesday in a casual round at spectacular Cypress Point, the most dramatically beautiful golf course in the world, Phil Mickelson ran into Quail Hollow Club president Johnny Harris.

They found a couple of chairs together, just a few yards behind the first tee, and spent a few minutes talking about life, the U.S. Open and Mickelson's sharp comments about the greens at Quail Hollow, where he finished second to Rory McIlroy this year.

Harris told Mickelson that changes are coming to the greens at Quail Hollow, specifically the greens at the par-4 eighth and 12th holes and possibly at the par-4 finishing hole. "We had a very positive conversation," Harris said. "That's why we encourage feedback from our players and we listen to what they say."

In case you've forgotten, Mickelson lobbed a verbal grenade after the third round of the Quail Hollow Championship this year. With the frustration apparent in his voice, Mickelson traded his familiar smile for some biting words.

"For as beautifully designed as this golf course is tee to green, the greens are by far the worst-designed greens we play on tour," said Mickelson, who turned 40 Wednesday. "Even though they're in immaculate shape, I would say that 18 would be the worst green that we have on tour, except that it's not even the worst green on the golf course. Twelve is."

Harris, immensely proud of the club his father created and he has nurtured to great distinction, handled Mickelson's criticism beautifully. He said the club and the tournament encourage player feedback and he would rather know Mickelson's feelings than not know them.

"I like Johnny a lot. I like the tournament a lot. I probably shouldn't have said what I said publicly. Although it's accurate, I probably shouldn't have said it," Mickelson said Thursday when asked about their conversation.

"It's not going to in any way deter me from playing that tournament, I love that tournament. I'm glad that he's open to trying to improve the golf course because tee to green it's one of the best I've ever seen."

As for the proposed changes to three greens, Mickelson was diplomatic.

"I hope (there are) a few more. It's not that they need to be altered. It's just that they're overdone," he said.

It's not as if the greens hadn't been the subject of complaints before. The back of the 12th green has been gently modified once since the PGA Tour event began in 2003. It slopes strongly from left to right and runs away from players in the back.

The 18th has a couple of knobby spots that can create situations like the one Mickelson faced on Saturday when he putted away from the hole. Then there's the short eighth, with its three-tiered green, which has never been popular with players or members.

Less than a week after the Quail Hollow Championship, course designer Tom Fazio, who handled the major renovation to the course in the late 1990s, was on site studying the greens.

Harris didn't specify what changes would be made to the greens – and said nothing has been decided about the 18th green yet – but the club continually looks for ways to improve the course.

Quail Hollow also continues to be in serious discussions with the PGA of America about bringing the 2017 PGA Championship to Charlotte. Harris has met with PGA of America officials, who have toured the property and have indicated the club has the necessary components to host one of golf's four major championships.

Though no announcement is imminent, there is a strong possibility that Quail Hollow could lock down a future PGA Championship later this summer. That wouldn't necessarily mean the end of the annual Quail Hollow Championship, which has a contract with the club through 2014.

All options remain under consideration. It's also possible that Wells Fargo, the title sponsor through 2014, may opt to put its name on the tournament beginning next year.

It could be one of just several noticeable changes when the PGA Tour returns to Charlotte next year.