124th U.S. Open

Pinehurst No. 2

The Loop

Milwaukee's history

October 15, 2009

The U.S. Bank Championship (formerly the Greater Milwaukee Open), which officially ceased operations on Wednesday (see the news story here), predates Tiger Woods, of course, but it generally will be recalled as the tournament at which he made his professional debut in 1996.

On Wednesday of that week, he formally made the announcement at a news conference that he began by saying, "Well, I guess, hello, world." "Hello World" was the title of the advertising campaign Nike had built around Woods. Other memorable moments from his debut week included:

-- His first professional shot, a harbinger, as it were, 336 yards down the right side of the fairway.

-- The par-5 sixth hole, which he covered 556 yards in two shots, the second with a 5-iron to 12 feet of the hole. "Pretty good, isn't he?" one of his playing partners, John Elliott, said to the gallery.

-- Kelly Gibson, at the conclusion of his second round, noting that 14-under par was leading. "How's the boy wonder doing? Gibson said. "I'll bet he wasn't too happy a camper when he saw 14-under was leading. Welcome to the real world of golf." To say the least, the real world of golf proved not particularly imposing for Woods.

But the U.S. Bank Championship will be missed for other reasons, too, notably for the fine public course on which it was played, Brown Deer Park, and the fact that it only measured 6,759 yards, which allowed for players of every ilk to compete -- long hitters (Kenny Perry, who won in 2003) and short hitters (Corey Pavin, who won in 2006) alike.

Here's hoping that efforts by Wisconsin natives Steve Stricker and Jerry Kelly help revive the tournament.

-- John Strege