Louisville is a sports town as it is home to world-championsip horse racing, NCAA Championship basketball and Louisville Slugger bats. What people might not know, though, is that Louisville also has a rich history in the golf world as well. Valhalla will play host to the 37th Ryder Cup as it comes to town later this year. While it is sure to be the biggest event the club will host, the celebrated club has had its share of memorable moments in the professional golf word.
1996 PGA Championship
The 78th PGA Championship was held in August of 1996 at Valhalla Golf Club. It was the last time a major has been played without Tiger Woods, and Mark Brooks won in a playoff against Kentucky’s own Kenny Perry, going 11 under par. It was Brooks’ biggest victory in his careeer. Runner-up Perry will get a chance again at Valhalla on golf’s biggest stage, as he is all but a lock for the 2008 US Ryder Cup team.
2000 PGA Championship
The 82nd PGA Championship was again held in August at Valhalla Golf Club. This time, it was golf’s most recognizable figure, Tiger Woods, who took home the trophy. He defended his 1999 PGA Championship title as he went 11 under par, defeating Bob May. With the news of Tiger’s knee injury just a few weeks ago, Woods will be forced to skip this year's Ryder Cup in Louisville.
Club Professional Championship A golf tournament held for golf club professionals and teachers who are members of the PGA, Barry Evans of Berry Hills Country Club in West Virginia took home the 38th annual winner’s trophy.
2004 Senior PGA Championship
A major championship in men’s senior golf, 5-time Ryder Cup member Hale Irwin, won at Valhalla to take home the # 1 spot in this prestigious tournament. Past winners of this tournament include Lee Trevino, Tom Watson and Fuzzy Zoeller. Louisville’s Golf Athletes Not only does world class Valhalla Golf Club call this river city its hometown, but so do two of golf’s most successful and inspirational professional athletes.
Bobby Nichols An 11-time PGA event winner, this St. Xavier High School graduate was the first Kentucky golfer to win a major championship. He has the ultimate bragging rights of beating both Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, as he was also a member of the 1967 Ryder Cup team. Bobby was involved in a life-altering car accident while in high school, requiring a three-month stay in the hospital. He overcame several broken bones, a concussion and back injuries to become one of the most successful athletes ever to hail from Louisville. The city of Louisville honored Nichols by opening a 9-hole golf course that bears his name.
Frank Beard Spending 20 years in the PGA and earning over a million dollars in his career in golf, Beard was also an 11-time tournament winner. Also a graduate of St. Xavier High School, Beard was chosen for the Ryder Cup team twice, in 1969 and 1971. Beard topped the earnings list in 1969 as he also authored a book about that year on the tour called “Pro”. He finished his golf career on the Senior PGA Tour was also an ESPN golf commentator.