PITTSFORD — The world’s best players have spent the first part of the week mostly gushing about Oak Hill Country Club.
“The golf course is in wonderful shape,” said world No. 1 Tiger Woods.
“The golf course here is just in incredible shape,” echoed world No. 2 Phil Mickelson. “It’s one of the best setups I’ve ever seen. … I just think it’s incredibly well thought out and should identify the best player this week.”
“I think they have set the golf course up fantastically well,” said world No. 3 Rory McIlroy.
As the 95th PGA Championship gets started with the first round today, it’s so far been a perfect week in suburban Rochester.
Superb weather conditions have only added to the experience for the thousands of fans who have come through the gates.
“It’s incredible to see how many people are out there, Monday, Tuesday and today,” McIlroy said during his news conference Wednesday. “They really seem to love their golf here, and Oak Hill is such a historical and traditional venue. So many great championships and so many great players have played here.”
So even with the best yet to come, the natural question that comes up is: When will the PGA be back? Tournament locations for the next four years have been mapped out, and PGA of America CEO Pete Bevacqua has a stated desire of having a PGA Championship on the West Coast, where it hasn’t been held since 1998.
That means the earliest the PGA would be back is 2019.
“We have nothing definitive post 2018. It goes without saying that this week has been amazing, the reception we have received from Oak Hill and Rochester and the state of New York,” Bevacqua said. “But again, we have not thought much past this week. This is the most critical week of the year for PGA of America and all of our attention and all of Kerry’s attention is making sure the next four days go as well as possible.”
Bevacqua is referring to Kerry Haigh, the PGA’s chief championships officer.
“We have a wonderful relationship with the club and community here in Oak Hill and in Rochester,” he said. “We love the championships we’ve had here, and just like other sites, once we are through and finished here, we’ll certainly look to be talking and seeing what the interest is of the club, because it’s a two-way street, certainly.”
Haigh has set up four major championships at Oak Hill.
He heaped praise on Oak Hill superintendent Jeff Corcoran and his staff, saying he’s the best superintendent he’s worked with in more than 20 years on the job.
“The work he and his staff have done have been truly outstanding,” Haigh said. “The overall playing conditions of the surfaces are second to none and we could not be happier with the overall conditioning.”
Oak Hill is the only course in the United States to have hosted all six of the men’s touring major championships: the U.S. Open, U.S. Senior Open, PGA Championship, Senior PGA Championship, Ryder Cup and U.S. Amateur.
It has not hosted a Presidents Cup. Coincidentally, that tournament – which is held biennially – does not have a site for the 2017 event.
Mickelson showed up to Oak Hill on Wednesday afternoon, but wasn’t there to get in any last-minute practice.
So why was he there? According to a report on Golf Channel, Mickelson needed to register for the tournament. Had he failed to do so before today’s first round, he would have been disqualified.
Mark Brooks, the 1996 PGA winner, withdrew from the field Wednesday because of injury. He was replaced in the 156-player field by J.J. Henry.
Acclaimed golf course designer Rees Jones, author of GREEN Glory, a visual tribute to the courses of the major championships, will sign copies of his book along with renowned photographer Patrick Drickey from 1 to 3 p.m. today in the golf shop at Oak Hill.