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Whitcomb Blog: Honoring a great man, then great golf
In his second blog from Southern Hills, PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb tells us about Wednesday night's Distinguished Service Award banquet honoring Jackie Burke Jr., Thursday's great play and the support of the Tulsa community.
TULSA, Okla. -- Last night the PGA of America awarded our highest honor -- the Distinguished Service Award -- to Jack Burke Jr. What an event that was, one that many people there will remember forever. Jack is not only one of the great statesmen and gentlemen in the game of golf, he is one of the last remaining links to the golden era of Hogan, Nelson and Snead. He is a walking, breathing museum of golf and it's such an honor and privilege to be a part of the same association as him. What a wonderful night for a wonderful person!
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And of course, today's big story, we have started play at the 89th PGA Championship. If you love golf, like I do, then watching the world's best players compete on an outstanding golf course like Southern Hills, well, how does it get any better than that? Many people have asked me if I root for a particular player or even follow any specific players. I really don't. Do I have friends that compete on TOUR? Of course I do. But there are players that I haven't had the opportunity to meet yet that I'm sure are great people. Really, what I'm hoping for -- what we are all hoping for -- is a great champion to emerge to represent our major Championship. I love to watch great players play great golf, and I definitely keep an eye on the leaderboard, but no, there is not any one player that I'm hoping does any better than anyone else.
From what I've seen and heard, the Championship is off to a great start. The course is playing firm but fair, and there have been some impressive numbers put up in the first round. Graeme Storm's bogey-free round of 65 was really impressive, wasn't it? And Brad Lardon, a PGA Professional from Bryan, Texas, shot a great even-par round today. I saw that he holed out a shot on the first hole from 108 yards. How's that for a hot start?
Speaking of hot, another popular question for the week is, "how are you dealing with the heat?" Well, I've spent a good part of my life in Arizona and so the heat doesn't bother me so much. In fact, as a golfer, you're used to playing in hot weather, and you know how to deal with it. My concern isn't so much for the players, I know they are well prepared to deal with hot conditions; but I definitely share a concern for our wonderful patrons that are here to enjoy the tournament. I can't express enough how thankful all of the PGA of America is for their support and their enthusiasm of our PGA Championship. It is truly special. I hope they are all able to have a wonderful time watching the golf and enjoying the atmosphere, but of course, able to stay cool enough and stay hydrated so that their health is never a concern.
And I need to make one more mention about that. What a great community Tulsa has been for this Championship! It has been unbelievable, it really has. We have more than 3,000 volunteers on 70 different committees participating in putting this tournament together. We have met with the mayor, the governor, all kinds of government and civic leaders, and they have been so generous in their support. We are so thankful for everything and that's why it's always a thrill to hold a Championship in a community like Tulsa. You can actually feel the energy and excitement when you walk around the course. They deserve a great show and I think we're able to provide that for them through this Championship.
We will have three more days of golf. I hope and expect they will all be as exciting and event filled as today's opening round. See you tomorrow for round two!