By Bill Haisten
The Tulsa World
While the memory might remain fresh for the thousands who massed around the 18th green, watching Tiger Woods complete a course-record-tying, second-round 63 before he would go on to win the PGA Championship, 8Â½ years have passed since Southern Hills Country Club hosted the most recent of its seven major professional golf championships.
The next available U.S. Open is in 2025. The next available PGA Championship is 2024.
As the Masters gets under way Thursday in Augusta, Georgia, there is this lingering question: When will Southern Hills get another major?
Since Woods won here in 2007, Southern Hills general manager Nick Sidorakis has sustained dialogue with officials representing the United States Golf Association (the sanctioning body of the U.S. Open) and the PGA of America (the sanctioning body of the PGA Championship).
â€œIn 1994 through 2009, we had six significant championships (the 1994 PGA Championship, the 1995 and 1996 Tour Championship events, the 2001 U.S. Open, the 2007 PGA Championship and the 2009 U.S. Amateur),â€ Sidorakis said. â€œCoupled with that were two golf renovations and one major, three-year club facility renovation.
â€œWe had some aspect of the facility shut down to the membership in 11 years out of 16. The membership finally said, â€˜Enough. We need a rest. Let us enjoy the club.â€™ We just made a conscious effort to bide our time. Now, itâ€™s been nine years (since the 2007 PGA Championship), and at some point in time weâ€™d love to do another major championship.â€
Ken MacLeod, publisher of Golf Oklahoma magazine, says the Southern Hills course â€œhas withstood the ravages of time and technology better than 95 percent of the courses in the country and is still a great championship test of golf, as every major held there has proven conclusively.â€
â€œWhile waiting on those two majors will be a lengthy process,â€ MacLeod said, â€œit may be interesting to see if the club pursues a different event that would be available in a shorter time frame.â€