Tales of Tiger, Traden and some warm nights in Tulsa (finally)
By Ken MacLeod
Did the news that Tiger Woods is playing in The Masters trigger an onslaught of new ticket requests for the 2022 PGA Championship May 19-22 at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa.
Not yet, said Championship Director Bryan Karns, but that doesn’t mean it’s not coming.
“It will certainly move the needle, but it’s not like we can change our plans on inventory at this point,” Karns said. “Ticket inventory was based on how many people can functionally move about the golf course.
“I imagine the remaining Wednesday and Thursday tickets will go quickly. But a lot still has to happen. If he goes out and has two solid rounds Thursday and Friday, that would be a good indication he’s capable of being here. But what a story. The fact that he’s at Augusta at all is unbelievable, a comeback story befitting what Tiger has accomplished.”
Before we can count on Tiger being in Tulsa, let’s see how he handles four (hopefully) days of competition at Augusta National, a very challenging course to walk. It’s a truly remarkable comeback to get to this point and he wouldn’t be there if he didn’t think he could handle it, but we don’t have long to wait to find out.
Common sense would say that if this week goes well at all, he’ll be in Tulsa to try to double down on his victory in the 2007 PGA Championship at Southern Hills. And wouldn’t that be great?
As for defending champion Phil Mickelson, Tiger’s surprising reemergence has driven his name to the back of the news bus. But Mickelson’s victory in 2021 at Kiawah Island was also one of the great stories in golf history and we would love to see him here as well. My guess is he is currently serving a PGA Tour suspension that will be end prior to the PGA Championship, leaving it up to him and the PGA of America on whether he will compete. He’ll face an interesting first press conference back if he does but nothing he can’t handle with a clear direction forward.
Any day spent chatting with Traden Karch is a good day
Visited earlier this week with Traden Karch for a story for our 90-page PGA Championship Preview Issue that will go to press next week. Traden, you may remember, is the young man and now Broken Arrow High School golfer who was nearly killed in a horrific accident when he was 13. His skull was shattered, he suffered brain injuries and he coded out three separate times as emergency personnel rushed him to the hospital.
Now Traden is a tall, handsome well-spoken golfer more worried about his ACT scores and troublesome slice that creeps into his game. He’s looking forward to the PGA Championship, where he will be a standard bearer, and a chance to reconnect with Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler and other PGA Tour players who gave him support and love early in his recovery.
Next year Traden will attend Rogers State in Claremore, where he has been offered a spot on the team by coach Stephen Brown.
Before meeting me, Traden came from classes at Tulsa Tech, where he is working on his Emergency Medical Training certification with a goal of eventually studying nursing. He wants to be the one to help anyone in an accident as traumatic as his and be there to tell the distraught relatives that there is hope.
He’s a living example of it.
Forecast finally includes some warm nights
Took a look around Southern Hills earlier this week at the corporate village that has arisen as most of the corporate tents and the massive merchandise tent are erected with flooring completed.
If you’ve driven by lately and seen the bright green fairways surrounded by still dormant Bermuda rough, well the bright green is a dye that helps trap heat and will hopefully lead to quicker true green up in the coming days. As anyone with a Bermuda yard or who plays golf in Oklahoma knows, the nights have not cooperated to this point with enough heat to really get Bermuda growing, and the low this Friday is predicted to be near freezing,
The forecast Saturday through Tuesday, however, is much better, with daytime highs near 80 and nighttime lows in the 60s, precisely what it takes to get Bermuda grass up and thriving.
The good news also is that despite a few severe cold snaps this winter, there is no apparent winterkill at Southern Hills and not much around the state, a great relief to superintendents after what they went through in 2021 with the devastating winter kill throughout the state.