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The 7th hole  of the U.S. PGA Championship at the Whistling Straits Golf Course.
The 7th hole of the U.S. PGA Championship at the Whistling Straits Golf Course. (Getty Images)

'No question' PGA Championship will return to Whistling Straits

PGA of America Chief Executive Officer Jim Awtrey said Sunday that he and Whistling Straits owner Herb Kohler Jr. are in talks to bring the PGA Championship back to the links-style course, adding that "someday there will be a Ryder Cup here."

HAVEN, Wis. (AP) -- The world hasn't seen the last of Whistling Straits, the gem of a golf course that debuted to magnificent reviews during the PGA Championship.

Course owner Herb Kohler Jr. and PGA chief executive Jim Awtrey said they're in talks to bring another PGA Championship and also a Ryder Cup to the Pete Dye-designed Irish imitation golf course on the shores of Lake Michigan.

"We'll be back here, I mean, there's no question," Awtrey told The Associated Press on Sunday. "We couldn't be more pleased with the relationship with Herb Kohler, the Kohler Co., and Whistling Straits. And we've both agreed we're coming back. The only thing that's an issue is what date is that?

"The next question everybody will want to know is will there be a Ryder Cup in here someday? And in my opinion someday there will be a Ryder Cup here," Awtrey added. "We have not talked about dates and there's a few things that he has to work through and then we'll be more specific."

The PGA Championship is booked through 2011, although things could change. The final major was supposed to return to Valhalla in 2004 until the PGA of America grabbed Whistling Straits and sent a Senior PGA to Valhalla.

"We've both made an unwritten commitment to each other that we will have a PGA Championship, and God willing the creek don't rise too high, we will have a Ryder Cup," Kohler said.

Kohler also confirmed he's talking to the United States Golf Association about hosting a U.S. Open at Whistling Straits and about getting another U.S. Women's Open at nearby Blackwolf Run. The event drew record crowds there in 1998, when Se Ri Pak beat amateur Jenny Chuasiriporn in a stirring 20-hole playoff.

The USGA visited Whistling Straits during the week to see how it handled the golfers and crowds and left impressed, Kohler said. He said the USGA was looking at 2009 for the women and 2012-16 for the men.

An Open at the Straits? Tiger Woods cringed at the thought of it.

"I would hate to see what the USGA would do with this golf course," he said after finishing at 2-under 286.

The USGA is notorious for its arduous course setups, which might be overkill at Whistling Straits. It just hosted the longest major in history at 7,514 yards and looks and plays differently from month to month.

The course would be wet and green in June for an Open and brown and dry in September, when the Ryder Cup is contested.

"I think this is a site that's capable of a significant tournament every four years," Kohler said.

Whistling Straits, which opened just six years ago, proved a capable test of golf's greatest players while also proving itself able to host a major tournament, Awtrey said.

"You never know how a golf course is going to play until you hand out a scorecard and a pencil to the best players in the world," he said. "And we had 95 of the top 100 players in the world.

"Everybody's been saying now what a wonderful venue and it's going to be one of the major championship sites forever. And that's what happens when you combine the vision of Herb Kohler and the artistry of Pete Dye and this extraordinary location."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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