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Thursday's 2013 Wells Fargo Championship Notebook

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Duke’s Nate Smith late addition, early leader in Wells Fargo Championship

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  • Friday’s Weather Forecast

    Partly cloudy for much of the day. High 68. Chance of rain: 10 percent.



Nate Smith loves to cheer for his Duke Blue Devils.

Smith, one of seven tied for the lead at 67 Thursday after the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow Club, is a 2006 graduate of Duke, where he was a two-time All-American and got a degree in cultural anthropology.

“I was following the Duke boys last week in the ACC championship,” Smith said of the Blue Devils’ victory at the Old North State Club in New London. “They pulled that out and that was pretty exciting, because we haven’t had too many of those. It’s something to be proud of.”

Smith made the Wells Fargo field Monday when he finished in the top four of a qualifying tournament at Charlotte’s Carolina Golf Club. He had the lead to himself Thursday until he bogeyed the 17th hole, dropping him into a pack of six others tied for the lead.

Smith, who grew up in Santa Cruz, Calif., and is a regular on the Web.com Tour (he’s not a member of the PGA Tour), lives in Charleston. He planned to play in a tournament in Athens, Ga., this week until he qualified for the Wells Fargo.

It’s his second appearance at Quail Hollow; he missed the cut in 2011.

Smith’s golf bag sat next to him as he spoke to reporters after his round. It was marked with about 60 autographs of his fellow competitors. As a prank, a friend of his had set it out in the locker room, with a sign asking for autographs so it could be auctioned for charity.

Notes

• Not a good day for Charlotte native Bill Haas. He took a nine on the par-5 seventh hole and finished with a seven-over 79. Haas hit his tee shot out of bounds to the right, then, after taking a penalty, did the same with his third shot into the water.

To Haas’ credit, he recovered from the debacle at No. 7 to birdie No. 8. He declined to talk with reporters after his round.

• The seventh hole also didn’t treat Erik Compton well. Compton, who has had two heart transplants, called a wrong-ball penalty on himself after he went into the water that flanks the right side of the fairway. He inadvertently used a ball that was the same brand, but a different model, than the first ball he played. That cost him two strokes and he finished with a 76.

• Players are allowed to take a preferred lie on the fringes of the resodded eighth and 10th greens. That means they can lift and place the ball one club length from its original position (but not closer to the hole or on the green).

• Boo Weekley’s 68 has him tied with Phil Mickelson, one shot off the lead. Weekley, who has been troubled by injuries in recent years, came to Charlotte after tying for sixth at New Orleans last weekend. His best finish of the season was second at Tampa Bay.

• The PGA Tour Wives Association is commemorating its 25th anniversary with a book called “Beyond the Fairways an Greens: A Look Inside the Lives of PGA Tour Families.”

The book includes stories, photos and recipes from golfers’ wives. Included is a cobbler recipe from Dowd Simpson, wife of Charlotte’s Webb Simpson. Proceeds from the book, which costs $50 and is available in bookstores or at www.pgatourwives.org, go to charities supported by the group.

• Charlotte native Davis Love III is recovering from neck surgery and is missing the tournament. He had the surgery in February to relieve numbness and weakness caused by spinal stenosis and joint bone spurs. Love hasn’t played since the Phoenix Open in early February.

Quoting

“It’s not terrible. It’s just not what you’d expect here.” – Zach Johnson, on the conditions of the greens.

“My web page isn’t updated anymore, but I do still travel with my lucky blanky.” – Nate Smith, who is tied for the lead.

“As far as scoring for us, we got the best conditions we possibly could.” – Nick Watney, one of seven players tied for the lead.

By the numbers

1 First-round leader to eventually win tournament (Jim Furyk, 2003).

4 Former winners in field this week (Rickie Fowler, Sean O’Hair, Rory McIlroy, Lucas Glover).

72 Even par, first-round score of defending champion Fowler, tied for 54th.

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