Thursday, July 30, 2009

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The PGA is looking to bring more drama back to Valhalla.

The 2014 PGA Championship and 2011 Senior PGA were awarded to the Jack Nicklaus-designed layout Thursday. The decision comes months after the course hosted the 2008 Ryder Cup in which the U.S. ended a nine-year drought by beating Europe without Tiger Woods, who was rehabbing a knee injury.

PGA of America president Jim Remy said the Ryder Cup showcased why the venue has become so attractive to the PGA.

``They said you can't create history, can't create a major site,'' he said. ``I think we've probably proven that wrong. By continually working hard, making it a challenge but a fair challenge to the greatest players in the world, the reputation for the facility has really grown.''

The PGAs two previous visits to Valhalla produced memorable finishes.

Mark Brooks birdied the 18th to force a playoff with Kentuckian Kenny Perry in 1996, before winning on the first extra hole to capture his only major title.

Four years later, the PGA returned and Woods and journeyman Bob May went to a three-hole playoff. Woods captured his fifth career major and the second of his four PGA titles.

The PGA originally planned to bring the championship back to Valhalla in 2004, but awarded the tournament to Whistling Straits instead while giving Valhalla the Senior PGA that year. Hale Irwin won a weather-plagued tournament with a birdie on the 18th hole.

The course underwent significant changes following the Senior PGA in preparation for the Ryder Cup. Nicklaus lengthened the course to about 7,500 yards and gave several greens a makeover in an effort to fend off some technological advances.

The changes certainly seemed to benefit the Americans during the Cup, as bombers like Kentuckians Perry and J.B. Holmes led the U.S. to its first Cup win since 1999.

Remy isn't sure whether another facelift will be necessary before 2014.

``We feel like we could host a major championship here tomorrow,'' he said.

The return of the PGA will also give the area an economic boost. The Ryder Cup generated about $120 million, and the state is eager for another turn on the international stage.

``Over the past 12 years, the world has witnessed how Kentuckians have embraced the game of golf,'' Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement. ``We are very pleased to have two major championships return to Valhalla Golf Club, which once again enables us to showcase our state worldwide.''

This year's PGA will be held at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., on Aug. 13-16. Padraig Harrington is the defending champion.

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