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Whitcomb Blog: Simply an amazing Friday on so many levels
In his third blog from Southern Hills, PGA of America President Brian Whitcomb reflects on a Friday that not many will forget, thanks to Tiger Woods' record-tying round, two special PGA Golf Professionals and special putt by a special girl.
TULSA, Okla. -- Imagine that, the story right now at the 89th PGA Championship is Tiger Woods.
Is it surprising to see Tiger play like he did today? No. Is it amazing to watch? Of course. Tiger is Tiger, what can you say? I should add that he has been a classy and wonderful defending champion for us, and by his play today, it looks like he wants the opportunity to remain our champion.
For a good part of the day, Tiger was in position to set a major championship scoring record. I know he was stunned that the birdie putt on no. 18 somehow horseshoed out. But what a feeling to watch history unfold in front of you. Tiger Woods had three putts on the last three holes to set the all-time scoring record in a single round of a major championship. That's special to watch, it really is.
If you watched his play last week at Firestone Country Club, you know how he can play when his game is on. I think today certainly emphasized that point. No matter what happens on the weekend, there are going to be a lot of people fondly remembering Tiger's performance today.
But I want to point out, Tiger's great round was not the only storyline. We have two superb PGA Golf Professionals who will be representing the Association this weekend in the championship. That's really great and exciting. And if you look at how these two players, these world-class players, go about representing the PGA of America, it makes your heart proud.
Mike Small has been a great player and coach for a long time. He's been our PGA Professional National Champion before, he's won the Illinois Open three times in a row (four times total), and he just won that tournament this week on Wednesday before flying down to play here.
Ryan Benzel also made the cut here. My fondest memory thus far of Ryan is the amazing shot he had on the final hole of this year's PGA Professional National Championship at Sunriver Resort, when he holed out a shot from 177 yards to really move up the money list there. He was coming here anyways, but that shot provided a great memory for him and a nice boost to his bank account, I'm sure. But here's hoping Ryan gives us more great memories this weekend. If you watch his smile, the way he carries himself, you can tell there's a lot of pride running through that young man, and there should be. He's a great player and a fine PGA member, one we're all very proud to have as part of the family.
And speaking of proud, I should point out that today was an extra special day for me because my daughter Megan was able to join me and spend a good part of the day with me experiencing the magic of this championship.
Megan will start her sophomore year at Arizona State University next week, so what a great way to spend some time together before she leaves for school. We are a very close family and are so blessed to be able to share some great times and experiences together like we are doing this week.
One special treat was as Megan and I were walking around the course, we happened across our Managing Director of Tournaments, Kerry Haigh, who was setting tomorrow's hole location on hole no. 10. He was kind enough to invite Megan down to try a putt or two on the green. So my daughter has hit a putt on the 10th green of a PGA Championship course during the tournament.
And yes, play was done for the day, we didn't play through any groups or anything. And Megan did make the putt, at least as far as you know.
So when I remember this Friday, there will be so many great things to recall. Tiger Woods made it a day for the ages, Mike Small and Ryan Benzel made it a great day for PGA Golf Professionals around the country, and Kerry Haigh's wonderful gesture made it a day that me and my daughter will remember the rest of our lives. How great is that?
That's the spirit of the PGA of America, an association I am so proud to be a part of. Surprising? No. Amazing. You bet.