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Brian Whitcomb
Brian Whitcomb is always impressed with the golf fans he meets at Oak Hill. (Photo: The PGA of America)

Whitcomb Blog: Big thanks due at halfway through

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- I can't tell you how many tournaments I've attended as an officer of The PGA of America, but I can tell you that it never gets old or rote to me. I'm on the first tee each morning at these events as the early groups go off, not because I have to be, but because I truly enjoy the opportunity and privilege of greeting these great players and seeing the spark and hope in their faces as they start their rounds. As the President of the America, I want to offer each of them congratulations for being here, best wishes on their round and our sincere APPRECIATION for them coming here to what I feel is the most prestigious golf tournament in the world for senior players.

And the players have responded in an overwhelmingly positive way, which validates what we've tried to do with this championship. I look at this course (Oak Hill Country Club) and the history behind it, the fact that it has now hosted thee major PGA of America championships (the Ryder Cup, the PGA Championship and now the Senior PGA Championship) as well as three major men's championships from the United States Golf Association (the U.S. Open, the U.S. Senior Open and the U.S. Men's Amateur championship), and you can understand how even the most seasoned golf veteran marvels at this facility. The great championships that have been held here, the great champions who have been honored here -- this course is a practically a history museum about many of the great moments in golf.

Actually, as of 5:00 p.m. ET today, Oak Hill is a museum. Or at the least, it now has an incredible Historical Center that archives and displays this course's place in golf history. To see, through their video presentations and prominent exhibits, some of the great moments in golf that took place on this very course, it really is amazing for me or anyone who loves golf. Of course, I have to point out what a prominent presence we, as The PGA of America, have in this Historical Center, including great moments from the PGA Championship in 2003 (and that very memorable 7-iron Sean Micheel hit on the final hole, which clinched the championship) and of course the great excitement of the 1995 Ryder Cup and now this wonderful championship being held this week.

And speaking of Oak Hill, I was fortunate enough to have lunch today with the principals of this wonderful club. The members here are fiercely proud of their place in golf history (as evidenced in part by the new Historical Center), but they are also very committed to being a part of the future of golf and its major championships. All over the course, you can see monuments or testaments to how much the people of Oak Hill Country Club value being a part of the legacy of the game and their relationship with The PGA of America. It's so nice when we have a relationship like we have with a course that is so spectacular and a membership that is so excited about sharing its course with the world via one of our major championships.

And as long as I'm talking about the fantastic people at Oak Hill, I have to give acknowledgement to the very fine people of Rochester and the surrounding communities and the people who have come out to support this tournament. We knew that Rochester was a great sports market and a spirited sports town, but I don't know that anyone knew the extent of it until yesterday. I don't want to offend the Chamber of Commerce, but it was cold yesterday. I mean, it was really cold. But the fans still showed up and were great supporters of this tournament. And today, with the sun out and the weather warmer, we have even more. And you know there will be a larger turnout this weekend. So we could not be more appreciative to the Rochester community for everything they've done to make this tournament go so well. I hope many of the people who have volunteered or come watch this tournament get a chance to read this because I want to send an important message to them: THANK YOU!

Fan support like this really validates our decision in 2001 to move the Senior PGA Championship out of South Florida and move it around to some of the elite golf venues around the country. And after visiting Ridgewood Country Club, Firestone, Aronimink, Laurel Valley, The Ocean Course or here at Oak Hill (among others), the crowds, by their numbers and their enthusiasm, have shown time and again that it was a good decision.

And I can't end today's blog without a quick word about the 38 PGA Club Professionals who played their way into this elite field and another acknowledgement about the 11 who were able to make the cut. Think about that, these players, who have daily responsibilities that take them off the course, were able to come here to this great test of golf, and hold their own in a most impressive and respectable way. Since 1916, we have stuck to one set of core values at The PGA of America, that the PGA Professional can teach the game, can manage the game, can promote the game and, oh yeah, we can play this game, too. And you've seen it this week thus far and you'll see it more come this weekend.

So thank you Rochester, Oak Hill Country Club and the world-class players that have made this 69th Senior PGA Championship such a thrilling event thus far. And the good news is, we're only halfway through. I hope you're as excited as I am about seeing the competition unfold this weekend and a new champion crowned.

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