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USPGA explain 2004 PGA switch

The sudden move of the 2004 PGA Championship from Valhalla Golf Club to a new links-style course in Wisconsin will have no effect on the 2007 Ryder Cup Matches awarded to Louisville, PGA of America officials said.

The PGA said last week in a brief statement that its 2004 championship had been awarded to Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis.

The statement made no mention of Valhalla, the site of this year's PGA Championship, or that it had been awarded the 2004 tournament in October 1998.

The decision also was news to city and county officials, who were notified of the move by reporters seeking comment on the loss of an event expected to pump between $40 and $60 million into the local economy.

PGA of America chief executive officer Jim Awtrey met with Louisville Mayor Dave Armstrong and Jefferson County Judge-Executive on Tuesday, Jan. 25 before making his first public comments since the announcement.

"I'd like to say to the community that I'm sincerely sorry about the way the communication took place, and I wish it could have been done differently," Awtrey said. "I would reaffirm to you that this was not based on anything done or not done by the city of Louisville or the state of Kentucky.

"Mayor Armstrong probably said it best this morning when he said, 'Jim, you shanked one,' " Awtrey said. "And yes, I think considering what we would have liked to have done, that probably was an accurate statement."

Awtrey said Herbert V. Kohler Jr., chairman and president of the company that owns Whistling Straits, had been in negotiations with the United States Golf Association to hold a future U.S. Open championship at the eastern Wisconsin site on the shores of Lake Michigan, possibly in 2005.

Instead, Kohler chose the PGA because he was able to secure a championship a year earlier and because the month of August would be the best time to hold a tournament at Whistling Straits, he said.

Awtrey said the transfer was a business decision and had no bearing on plans to hold the 2007 Ryder Cup Matches and other future championships in Louisville.

Valhalla, a 7,144-yard, par-72 Jack Nicklaus-designed course in eastern Jefferson County, staged the 1996 PGA Championship only 10 years after it opened for play.

The PGA is in the final stages of purchasing the course and has announced its intention to include it in its rotation of future championships.

"I've heard it said that the difference between commitment and involvement is described somewhat like a ham-and-egg breakfast," he said. "The chicken was involved and the pig was committed.

"We're committed to Louisville, and I don't mind telling you I stand before you feeling like that pig invited to breakfast."

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