How club pro’s clever practice-round tactic fueled hot PGA Championship start

Jeremy Wells hits a bunker shot at the PGA Championship.

Jeremy Wells led the way for club pros in the morning.

Darren Carroll/PGA of America via Getty Images

When Jeremy Wells showed up for his 9:15 a.m. tee time at Valhalla Thursday for the first round of the PGA Championship, there wasn’t a lot of fanfare.

Not surprising as Wells, the director of instruction at Cypress Lake Golf Club in Fort Myers, Fla., and one of 21 PGA club pros in the field this week, wasn’t playing with any big names. All due respect to K.H. Lee and Sami Valimaki, but that three-ball isn’t going to draw a large crowd when Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Co. are also part of the morning wave.

“[I] got like 12 people watching and I know them all,” Wells said after his round.

And while only Wells’ friends and family got to see, the 33-year-old played outstandingly, making four birdies on his way to an opening-round two-under 69. He’s got a long way to go before he becomes this year’s Michael Block, but he was the only club pro under par in the morning session.

It wasn’t the light gallery Thursday that Wells credited for his fine play. It was the massive one he had on Wednesday.

“Best thing that happened to me this year was yesterday I was on the 10th tee waiting to tee off and snuck my way in with Max Homa, Scottie Scheffler‘s back nine practice round,” Wells said. “It was the real deal. To have that experience yesterday, to be so heightened and so nervous in a practice round, and I hit it fine. I survived. And that made today feel a little bit— so thanks to those guys.”

Wells said he’s had plenty of experience playing in front of “hundreds” of people, but it has to be something different when you’re playing with two of the biggest names in the sport.

This is his second straight appearance at the PGA Championship. After missing the cut at Oak Hill a year ago, he finished T-8 in the 2024 PGA Professional Championship to qualify again.

He said he learned a lot from his approach last year in New York.

michael block hits driver on Thursday at the PGA championship
PGA hero Michael Block ejects with four-chip quadruple bogey
By: James Colgan

“I did everything possible before last year’s event, right?” he said. “It was my first year as a PGA member. It was my first PGA Championship and I was probably fairly tired when I showed up at Oak Hill last year. Four full 18-hole practice rounds later, I kind of— maybe I overdid it.

“I had a blast, but for us when you come to one of these, you never know if you’re going to play in one again, right? No regrets from that.”

For his second go-around, he made sure to do things differently.

“I wanted to be ready to play good golf on Thursday morning, or afternoon,” he said. “This year was more systematic. I had a plan.”

That plan worked well as he said he felt more relaxed Thursday after knowing he could execute in front of the World No. 1 and another top-10 player.

But now he just wants some of the PGA Associate members he’s mentoring to finish the bookwork he sent them. He went through that grind himself, but now he’s qualified for both PGA Championships he’s been eligible for since becoming a PGA Class A Professional.

“I sent out an email like three weeks ago. Thought about it. Got to motivate this group, right? Zero responses,” Wells said. “So hopefully they see this interview. And I’m going to craft a really good e-mail next week when I get home and see if we can get it going because this is one of the very cool perks and opportunities as a member.”

Jack Hirsh Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at



Watch, play, win. Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games.

Watch, play, win

Chirp Golf is your home for the best of real money Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and Free-To-Play games. Featuring simple to play. easy to learn, and fun games. Chirp Golf has something for every golf fan.

Scan to Download:

Google Play Apple Store