Oak Tree's first major in 18 years, the Senior PGA Championship, ended Sunday, with Jay Haas the winner. Final attendance figures won't be available for a few days, but PGA chief executive officer Joe Steranka said that it looked to him as though the tournament set records for both fan and corporate support.
That bodes well for future Oak Tree bids to host major PGA events, he said.
'What we look for for major championships, first and foremost, is a course to test the greatest players, and Oak Tree certainly does that,' Steranka said. 'You also look at the infrastructure in a community ... and you look at what sort of support you'll get from the entire community.
'The way this [club] has performed, we would certainly take another look at events' at Oak Tree, Steranka said.
PGA President Roger Warren also praised Oak Tree, saying the tournament 'has definitely exceeded our expectations,' but stopped short of promising a future major for the club.
'It would be unfair for me to speculate about future sites, other than to say that we look at the partnerships we have with venues when we come there and how they perform ... Oak Tree has demonstrated that they can do that [well],' Warren said.
'We will continue to look, as we go forward, to great venues, and I think that Oak Tree will be under consideration.'
Oak Tree owner Don Mathis said the club isn't interested in a yearly PGA tour stop but would like to host a tournament _ preferably a major -- every three to six years. The club's vice president, A.G. Meyers, is even more direct: 'My job here is to bring major championships to the golf club.'
The soonest Oak Tree could realistically host another major on either the PGA Tour or Champions Tour would be 2010. That's the first open date on the U.S. Golf Association's calendar for the U.S. Senior Open, which will be played this year at Prairie Dunes Country Club in Hutchinson, Kan.
When Bob Gilder said he would've been happy just being able to play Sunday, believe him.
The 55-year-old Gilder ended up in a hospital Saturday night to undergo what he called 'a kidney stone operation' during which he said a stent was put in. So naturally, he went out the next day and matched the tournament's best round with a 5-under 66 -- 12 shots better than his Saturday round.
His score Sunday could have been better but he bogeyed the par-4 18th.
'It was just pretty much a battle out there,' said Gilder, who tied for 11th at 5 over. 'I was just trying not to over swing and I hit some really good shots out there, and I only had a chance for bogey a couple of times.
'I don't know how to understand it. I mean, you know, you play great one day and nothing goes right the other day and it's just one of those days that went right. I needed it.'
The only other player to shoot a 66 in the tournament was Gil Morgan, who did so in the first round.
KEEPING HIS COOL
Brad Bryant wanted to maintain his composure during the tournament's final round and he said doing that was easier while playing with a group including Morgan.
'One of the things I do when I play with Gil is I watch Gil,' said Bryant, who finished second after losing a three-hole playoff with Jay Haas. 'I try to mimic his composure. He stays so level. He's just wonderful to watch on the golf course and a great man to know off the golf course.'
Coming off consecutive bogeys, Morgan 'skied a 3-wood' on the fifth hole, Bryant said.
'He hit that shot and he went, 'Goodness gracious!' That was his reaction. And I thought, you know, I haven't heard that in a long time, but that was really good. He walked up there and knocked it down the fairway, on the green and made a birdie, and I said, 'That's what I want to be.' I want to be like that guy. I want to be like Gil, because he really had it going badly and just turned it around.'
After a bogey-bogey-double bogey stretch on holes 5-7 dropped Bryant to 2 under for the tournament, he rebounded with a birdie on No. 8 and eventually worked his way into the playoff with Haas.
'Along about the 7th hole,' Bryant said, 'I said, 'You know, Gil's done it, maybe I can do it.' It worked out OK.'
Asked what the headlines should read Monday morning, Bryant started his answer not talking about golf.
'The first headline ought to be, 'Thank You,' with tomorrow being Memorial Day,' he said. 'Let's not forget that. A lot of people died and fought and a lot of people are walking around with one arm and one leg so that we can go out there today and we can play golf.
'We do not want to forget those men and women who have given us our freedom and fought for it. So if there's a headline, that ought to be the first one. It ought to be, 'Thank You.''
OAK TREE GANG
Of the four golfers in the tournament who play out of Oak Tree, three finished in the top 15.
Morgan led after the first and third rounds and ended up third at 3-under 281, one of only five golfers to shoot under par for the tournament. Meanwhile, Doug Tewell -- who's struggling with a balky elbow -- closed with a 1-under 70 and finished at 3-over, in ninth place.
'I would have rather [the course] been a little bit tamer and where we could tuck the pins a little bit more,' Tewell said. 'But I'm pleased. This is the best I've gotten out of myself in a year. So maybe we can build on this now and ... if I can play some shorter courses, maybe I can contend.'
Of the other Oak Tree Gang members, David Edwards finished tied for 14th at 290 and Mark Hayes did not make the cut.