PGA President Jim Remy capped his week by presenting the Walter Hagen Cup to newly crowned champion Mike Small. (Photo: The PGA of America)
President's Diary: Exciting week ends with plenty of winners
In the Wednesday edition of his diary from Twin Warriors, PGA of America President Jim Remy offers his final thoughts on this national championship and the two other tournaments within this tournament that loomed so large for everyone.
By Jim Remy, PGA of America President
SANTA ANA PUEBLO, N.M. -- I talked with Mike Small, the PGA Professional from Champaign, Ill., on the first tee today and wished him good luck in his final round. Of course, I didn’t tell him that I had predicted he would storm back to win, but if you look at yesterday’s entry, you’ll see that I did say he was the one to watch in this final round.
But before I get too proud of myself for my golf prognostication abilities, let’s be honest -- it’s not exactly a reach to pick the man who’d won this championship once and finished second twice in the last five years prior to winning again today. And even more, any number of these guys could have won. This was one of the most dramatic and exciting championships we’ve seen in quite a while, it seemed throughout the day, any one of five or six guys were going to seize the Walter Hagen Cup.
It was a great shootout and one putt dropping here or there and it’s a completely different story. I think Mike’s experience and demeanor just serve him very well when he finds himself in these positions. So congratulations to him; he’s always been a tremendous representative of this association and I’m sure he will continue to be one as our national champion.
In reality, there were three tournaments going on this week. 1.) An effort to win our national championship. 2.) To make the top 20 and earn an invitation to the PGA Championship. 3.) To make the PGA Cup team.
Now, the first two items were well-chronicled all week. Mike finished in first place and we have our 20 players going to the 91st PGA Championship. I can tell you that as I went out and watched the playoff (eight players competed for the final five spots to fill out the top 20), the tension, determination and pressure on these players’ faces were as intense as you might find at any major championship in golf.
I feel for the three guys that were eliminated in the playoff, but that’s the nature of sports -- especially at this elite level. Someone wins, someone has to lose. I do have to offer my sincerest congratulations to the 20 guys who I’ll see at Hazeltine.
But that third competition that was going on this week, one that in many ways seemed to dominate the conversations in the scoring tent among the players, really gave me a great sense of pride. The question I heard several times off the 18th green was, “Did I make the PGA Cup team?”
For those who might not be aware, the PGA Cup is the PGA Club Professional version of the Ryder Cup, in which the top club professionals from the PGA of America compete against the top club professionals from Great Britain and Ireland. The players don’t get paid, they are there simply as a matter of pride in their country and their ability to earn a spot on the team.
It was amazing and exciting to hear so much enthusiasm for the PGA Cup during a time when the players had so many competing items on their plate. I think that speaks not only to the great talent of these players, but the pride they have in our association and of course, the honor it is to represent the United States of America.
So as we wrap up this week, I’m going to take away the great pride and warm spot I have in my heart for this championship -- our national championship. There was a great course, great competition and a great time had by so many people. I’ll go home tomorrow, back to my real job, knowing that we did everything we could to put on a championship worthy of the great association we have and that we represent. I’m confident that our very high expectations were met and surpassed.
So thank you again to everyone here at Santa Ana Pueblo, to the city of Albuquerque and to you all for reading. See you at Hazeltine!