Kuehne Winds Down Amateur Career

By Associated PressApril 9, 2008, 4:00 pm
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Trip Kuehne will always be remembered as the other guy, the one who played a pivotal supporting role on that summer day when Tiger Woods revealed to everyone just how special he was going to be.
 
Who knows how their lives would have turned out if Woods had not rallied from five down with 12 holes to play to win the first of three straight U.S. Amateur championships in 1994?
 
Well, Woods likely would have survived the disappointment and still gone on to be the worlds greatest golfer. But theres no way Kuehnes life would have been the same.
 
My whole life would have been different, he said. I wouldnt be married to the great woman I am today. I would not have my son. I would have turned professional.
 
Kuehne had an epiphany at the TPC Sawgrass, as he watched Woods hoist a trophy that was supposed to be his. Maybe professional golf wasnt all it was cracked up to be. Maybe he wasnt going to be the games No. 1 player. Maybe he should consider another line of work.
 
Kuehne did just that, going into the investment business and playing golf on the side as an amateur. He now runs a Dallas-based company that deals in hedge funds, though he did find time to squeeze in a victory at last years U.S. Mid-Amateur championship, earning him a spot in the Masters.
 
Hes come full circle. For two days at least, Kuehne will be on the same course as Woods, the childhood friend who bested him 14 years ago and sent their lives veering off in strikingly different directions.
 
I learned you can play your best, give it your all and still not come out on top, Kuehne said Tuesday, looking back to his landmark duel with Woods. But it very much made me the person I am today. Its great to always be linked with Tiger in that tournament.
 
As the runner-up to Woods, Kuehne got a chance to play in the 1995 Masters. He was gone in two rounds, then had to wait 13 years to get invited back.
 
The course was a lot shorter then, he recalled. I made every rookie mistake a guy could make. I was under the grand illusion that I could do pretty well. When I didnt do it, I was more crushed and depressed than anything.
 
Hes under no such illusions now. Hes a family man with a rambunctious 8-year-old nipping at his heels. While Kuehne talked with family, friends and business associates just outside the stately clubhouse at Augusta National, young Will pulled on his dads slacks, chewed on a green felt pen and played with a Pokemon toy.
 
Kuehne insists there are no regrets. Even in a family that sent brother Hank and sister Kelli to the pros, the eldest of the siblings charted his own unique path. Hell leave the office at 4 oclock in the afternoon, go to the range to hit balls, and still be home in time for dinner.
 
Golf is my stress release, he said. Some people after work drink a couple of beers. Some people run. Some people lift weights. I hit golf balls for an hour and a half. It just relaxes me.
 
This is where the golfing part ends for Kuehne, at least on the competitive side. At 35, its getting harder and harder to keep it up with all those big hitters coming up through the college ranks. He can think of no better place to call it a career than Augusta, which was founded by greatest amateur golfer there ever was, Bobby Jones.
 
Kuehne wishes there were more people who followed his and Jones path, though he knows amateur golf doesnt stand a chance against the big money being thrown around on the PGA TOUR. Still, the not-for-pay ranks have given him a chance to play some of the worlds greatest courses, some of the worlds most prestigious tournaments.
 
In addition to making the Masters twice, hes been in four U.S. Opens (making the cut in two of them). Hes also represented the U.S. on three Walker Cup teams and at the World Amateur.
 
If you play golf well, you can get a phenomenal job that still allows you to play five or six tournaments a year, Kuehne said. You can get the thrill of the competition, but you dont have to worry about making a 6-foot putt to put bread on the table for your family. It was a great decision for me.
 
He played a practice round Tuesday with Phil Mickelson, his one-time college roommate. For Kuehne, it was only further confirmation that he made the right call to pursue business instead of golf.
 
If we were keeping score for 18 holes, Phil probably would have beaten me by 15 strokes, Kuehne said. Never in my lifetime could I beat him. I always wanted to see that, and I got to see it today. Hes truly special. I love watching people who are best at what they do when theyre playing their best.
 
Mickelson enjoyed catching up with his old roomie.
 
I respect the fact that he has put his family life and his business life first, Lefty said. He didnt want to travel, wants to be in one place and be able to raise his son and be with his wife. I have a tremendous amount of respect for that.
 
A day earlier, Woods and Kuehne bumped into each other on the putting green. They talked briefly, then moved on to more important things. The worlds greatest golfer has a fifth green jacket to win, an unprecedented Grand Slam to get started on. Kuehne has the rest of his life in front of him.
 
Theyre living their dream, Im living my dream, Kuehne said. This is just a chapter in my life coming to an end. Hopefully it will be Sunday, not Friday.
 
Woods still remembers that week in Florida.
 
I hit the ball well, he said. Trip played well in that final and I just got hot at the right time in that second round (of the 36-hole final) and got ahead somehow.
 
Kuehne is glad it worked out that way.
 
Seriously.
 
The good Lord was looking out for me when he gave Tiger a couple of nice bounces, Kuehne said, managing a slight grin. Im not ashamed of how I played. Yeah, Im disappointed I lost. But Ive told people on many occasions: Two winners, two champions came out of that day.
 
Tiger Woods became the golf champion he is. And I get to live a much easier life than Tiger Woods.
 
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  • If Park is nervous, she sure doesn't show it

    By Randall MellNovember 17, 2017, 11:24 pm

    NAPLES, Fla. – Sung Hyun Park says she can feel her heart pounding every time she steps to the first tee.

    She says she always gets nervous starting a round.

    You don’t believe it, though.

    She looks like she would be comfortable directing a sky full of Boeing 737s as an air traffic controller at Incheon International Airport . . .

    Or talking people off the ledges of skyscrapers . . .

    Or disarming ticking bombs . . .

    “In terms of golf, I always get nervous,” she insists.

    Everything about Park was at odds with that admission Friday, after she took control halfway through the CME Group Tour Championship.

    Her Korean nickname is “Dan Gong,” which means “Shut up and attack.” Now that sounds right. That’s what she looks like she is doing, trying to run roughshod through the Tour Championship in a historic sweep of all the LPGA’s most important awards and honors.

    Park got just one look at Tiburon Golf Club before this championship began, playing in Wednesday’s pro-am. Then she marched out Thursday and shot 67, then came out Friday and shot 65.

    At 12 under overall, Park has a three-shot lead on Caroline Masson and Sarah Jane Smith.

    She is six shots up on Lexi Thompson, who leads the CME Globe point standings in the race for the $1 million jackpot.

    She is 11 shots up on world No. 1 Shanshan Feng.

    And 11 shots up on So Yeon Ryu, who leads the Rolex Player of the Year point standings.


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    There’s a long way to go, but Park is in position to make an epic sweep, to win the Tour Championship, that CME Globe jackpot, the Rolex Player of the Year Award, the Rolex Rookie of the Year Award, the Vare Trophy for low scoring average, the LPGA money-winning title and the Rolex world No. 1 ranking.

    Nobody’s ever dominated a weekend like that in women’s golf.

    It’s all there for the taking now, if Park can keep this going.

    Park has another nickname back in South Korea. Her fans call her “Namdalla.” That means “I am different.” She’ll prove that if she owns this weekend.

    Park, 24, isn’t assuming anything. She’s humbly aware how much talent is flooding the LPGA, how the tour’s depth was underscored in a year where five different players have reigned as world No. 1, five different players won majors and 22 different winners stepped forward in 32 events.

    “I don’t think it’s quite that far a lead,” Park said of her three-shot advantage. “Two, three shots can change at any moment.”

    About those nerves that Park insists plague her, even Hall of Famer Judy Rankin can’t see it.

    Not when Park unsheathes a driver on a tee box.

    “She’s the most fearless driver of the ball out here,” Rankin said. “I would put Lexi a close second and everybody else a distant third. She hits drivers on holes where you shouldn’t, and she hits it long and she just throws it right down there between hazard stakes that are 10 yards apart, like it’s nothing. Now, that’s a little hyperbole, but she will hit driver almost everywhere.”

    David Jones, Park’s caddie, will attest to that. He was on Park’s bag when she won the U.S. Women’s Open in July and won the Canadian Pacific Women’s Open in August.

    “She reaches for driver a lot because she is a good driver,” Jones said. “She isn’t reckless. She’s as accurate with a driver as she is a 3-wood.”

    Park and Thompson played together in the first round. Park is eighth on tour in driving distance, averaging 270 yards per drive, and Thompson is third, averaging 274.

    Thompson loves to hit driver, too, but . . . 

    “Lexi hit a lot of 3-woods compared to us when we played together yesterday,” Jones said.

    Jones doesn’t find himself talking Park out of hitting driver much.

    “It’s really simple,” Jones said. “When you hit driver as straight as she does, why mess around?”

    Count Golf Channel analyst Brandel Chamblee, a student of the swing, among admirers of Park’s abilities.

    “No other swing in the game comes close to her technical perfection and elegance in my opinion,” Chamblee tweeted Friday.

    Come Sunday, Park hopes to complete a perfect sweep of the LPGA’s most important awards.

    National champion Sooners meet with Trump in D.C.

    By Golf Channel DigitalNovember 17, 2017, 11:10 pm

    The national champion Oklahoma men's golf team visited Washington D.C. on Frday and met with President Donald Trump.

    Oklahoma topped Oregon, 3 1/2 to 1 1/2, in last year's national final at Rich Harvest Farms to win their second national championship and first since 1989.

    These pictures from the team's trip to Washington popped up on social media late Friday afternoon:

    Rookie Cook (66-62) credits prior Tour experience

    By Rex HoggardNovember 17, 2017, 10:36 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – Austin Cook is a rookie only on paper. At least, that’s the way he’s played since joining the circuit this season.

    This week’s RSM Classic is Cook’s fourth start on Tour, and rounds of 66-62 secured his fourth made cut of the young season. More importantly, his 14-under total moved him into the lead at Sea Island Resort.

    “I really think that a couple years ago, the experience that I have had, I think I've played maybe 10 events, nine events before this season,” Cook said. “Being in contention a few times and making cuts, having my card has really prepared me for this.”


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

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    Cook has been perfect this week at the RSM Classic and moved into contention with four consecutive birdies starting at No. 13 (he began his round on the 10th hole of the Seaside course). A 6-footer for birdie at the last moved him one stroke clear of Brian Gay.

    In fact, Cook hasn’t come close to making a bogey this week thanks to an equally flawless ball-striking round that moved him to first in the field in strokes gained: tee to green.

    If Cook has played like a veteran this week, a portion of that credit goes to long-time Tour caddie Kip Henley, who began working for Cook during this year’s Web.com Tour finals.

    “He’s got a great golf brain,” Henley said. “That’s the most flawless round of golf I’ve ever seen.”

    Cook fires 62 for one-shot lead at RSM Classic

    By Associated PressNovember 17, 2017, 10:26 pm

    ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – PGA Tour rookie Austin Cook made a 6-foot birdie putt on his final hole for an 8-under 62 and a one-shot lead going into the weekend at the RSM Classic.

    Cook has gone 36 holes without a bogey on the Plantation and Seaside courses at Sea Island Golf Club. He played Seaside - the site of the final two rounds in the last PGA Tour event of the calendar year - on Friday and ran off four straight birdies on his opening nine holes.

    ''We've just been able to it hit the ball really well,'' Cook said. ''Speed on greens has been really good and getting up-and-down has been great. I've been able to hit it pretty close to the hole to make some pretty stress-free putts. But the couple putts that I have had of some length for par, I've been able to roll them in. Everything's going well.''

    The 26-year-old former Arkansas player was at 14-under 128 and had a one-stroke lead over Brian Gay, who shot 64 on Seaside. No one else was closer than five shots going into the final two rounds.

    The 45-year-old Gay won the last of his four PGA Tour titles in 2013.


    RSM Classic: Articles, photos and videos

    Full-field scores from the RSM Classic


    ''I've hit a lot of greens and fairways,'' Gay said. ''I've hit the ball, kept it in front of me. There's a lot of trouble out here, especially with the wind blowing, so I haven't had to make too many saves the first couple days and I putted well.''

    Cook has made the weekend cuts in all four of his starts this season. He earned his PGA Tour card through the Web.com Tour, and has hired Gay's former caddie, Kip Henley.

    ''With him being out here so long, he knows everybody, so it's not like I'm completely the new kid on the block,'' Cook said. ''He's introduced me to a lot of people, so it's just making me feel comfortable out here. He knows his way around these golf courses. We're working really well together.''

    First-round leader Chris Kirk followed his opening 63 on the Plantation with a 70 on the Seaside to drop into a tie for third at 9 under with C.T. Pan (65) and Vaughn Taylor (66).

    Brandt Snedeker is looking strong in his first start in some five months because of a sternum injury. Snedeker shot a 67 on the Plantation course and was six shots back at 8 under.

    ''I was hitting the ball really well coming down here,'' Snedeker said. ''I was anxious to see how I would hold up under pressure. I haven't played a tournament in five months, so it's held up better than I thought it would. Ball-striking's been really good, mental capacity's been unbelievable.

    ''I think being so fresh, excited to be out there and thinking clearly. My short game, which has always been a strength of mine, I didn't know how sharp it was going to be. It's been really good so far.''