PITTSFORD, N.Y. (WROC) — With the 2023 PGA Championship less than two months away, PGA of America Chief Championship Officer Kerry Haigh is eager for May to come around.
“I couldn’t be more excited every time I walk around here, and especially with the changes, it is even more exciting,” said Haigh. “I can’t wait for the championship to start and the best players in the world to come and be challenged by the new Oak Hill. It’s going to be great.”
Those best players will include members of the controversial Saudi-backed LIV golf tour. Exempt golfers such as Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson will be allowed to play. And the PGA of America might use some of its invitations toward LIV players to round out the field.
“We may invite some players who are not exempt based on their ability and their performance,” said Haigh. “It’s going to be unbelievable that all the best players in the world of golf will be here in May. And that’s what makes it a major championship. And we’re looking forward to having Oak Hill show its mettle.”
Tiger Woods also continues to trend towards playing at Oak Hill. Woods played in and made the cut at the Genesis Invitational, his first non-major since 2020. He said afterward that he was hoping to play in all four majors this year.
“That’s obviously his decision. We would welcome and love him to be here,” said Haigh. “I think from what I read, he’s hoping to be here. So let’s hope so. Obviously, he’s one of the greatest players in the world ever. It would be fun to have him back.”
With major changes made to three holes, hundreds of trees removed, and several greens essentially redesigned, the keyword for Haigh is options. Both in new ways for him to set up the course and for the players to tackle Oak Hill.
“It will in my mind hopefully turn into more excitement and potentially more birdies,” said Haigh. “Players going for shots that previously, because there were so many trees, they were literally forced to chip out or play out into the fairway. Now there’s an opportunity potentially to hit shots toward the green or go for the green.”
Construction of tents, complexes, and other major infrastructure at the course is currently ahead of schedule. Haigh is confident that the course will be ready for the event even if mother nature isn’t very cooperative, though it could look a little different than previous August tournaments.
“We’ve looked at the last three or four years in May, and certainly the grasses, the putting surfaces, the fairways, and the roughs look as though they should be fine,” said Haigh. “I think it’s more the look and the trees and the trees being leafy is more visually the concern.”
The PGA Championship will begin on May 18th and run through May 21st.