Kite Increases Distance as a Champion

By Golf Channel NewsroomAugust 26, 2003, 4:00 pm
Tom Kite hasnt broken through to the winners circle this year, but the signs of late have been most encouraging. As the Champions Tour prepares to launch its final major Thursday ' the JELD-WEN Tradition - Kite has three top-10 finishes in his last five tournaments.
Kite has won six times on the Champions Tour over-all since he broke in 2000. Since that inauguration, he has been positively super-human in launching the ball. After hitting it around 260 yards during most of his regular-tour career, he has gained an additional 20 yards as a senior. Kite is averaging nearly 280 (279.9) yards per pop this year.
Now, the 53-year-old can joke about how much extra distance he is getting. Actually, Im just standing. As soon as I hit, I walk backwards, he said to a room full of laughter.
But there is not doubt that he is stronger, both with the golf clubs and in the exercise room. When it was almost time for him to hit the trail for the Champions Tour after 19 wins on the PGA Tour, he embarked on a strenuous exercise program. And he also has dialed in the right settings on his equipment.
In my case, obviously the equipment has a lot to do with it, lightweight drivers and lightweight shafts, Kite said. The Pro V1 golf ball, and everything everybody is using right now. The new technology obviously has a lot to do with the distance that everybody is hitting it.
One of the things that I've been able to do is gain ground on the field, and that's through a pretty nice exercise program that I got on a number of years ago that helped me swing the club a little bit better. So, I'm hitting the ball quite a bit further than I used to.

Monster-long, you might say. He stands 13th on the Champions Tour driving distance statistics. But just dont say it where Kite can hear you.
Monster long, I'm not, he said with a grin. Don't even go there.
And the physical activity is somewhat new to him, though he has always exercised in some form. But new knowledge gained over the last decade has placed exercise squarely in the front of the to-do list.
We were a generation ahead of all the fitness, Kite explained.
When I was growing up, it was considered bad for your golf to exercise. As great a teacher as Harvey Penick was, one of his things was, Let's don't do any exercise program, let's don't get in the gym.
He discouraged me from doing that, but that was the general thought that everybody had back then. They didn't want to build up any muscles because you would lose the flexibility. The flexibility was considered more important than the strength.
Gary Player was considered a - I almost hate to say revolutionary because he was considered almost freakish. Why would you do that? He was way ahead of his time, in going to that extreme to work out, but most people considered that to be foolish for your golf. We see that he's still competing, where people that are younger than he is are struggling to stay healthy. So he was way ahead.
Now, everybody does it. If you don't do it, you really have no chance to compete now because, as Tom (Watson) alluded to back there, Tiger and all these other guys, they are in great shape, and if you're not spending some time in the gym working on your strength, flexibility, and speed, then you're not giving yourself a chance at all.
Kite says he has trained mostly on speed work. He has gained strength, yes, but even more so, he has gained quickness in his movements.
The things that have helped me a lot is training to go faster, he said. A lot of drills that the basketball players use to train their muscles to go very quickly, to train their bodies to go quick; not so much - I mean there is strength in the exercises, but really training yourself to go fast. That's the thing that helped me a lot.
Kite has worked extensively with Todd Wright, who is the strength coach of the mens basketball program at the University of Texas.
He wears me out, Kite said in an interview last year. We get together in the off-season and he absolutely just kicks my rear up one cheek and down the other.
But its a wonderful program that has added muscle, reduced fat and added speed to my body. Its really changed the way that I work out. And a lot of the distance that Ive been able to gain, the credit can be given to Todd and the program that hes developed for me.
So some of it is technology, some of it is blood, sweat and tear and blood and guts in the gym. Those are two things that have made a difference.
Related Links:
  • Tom Kite's Bio
  • JELD-WEN Tradition
  • More Champions Tour Preview Information
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    Hadwin returns to site of last year's 59

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 11:04 pm

    Adam Hadwin had a career season last year, one that included shooting a 59 and winning a PGA Tour event. But those two achievements didn't occur in the same week.

    While Hadwin's breakthrough victory came at the Valspar Championship in March, it was at the CareerBuilder Challenge in January when he first made headlines with a third-round 59 at La Quinta Country Club. Hadwin took a lead into the final round as a result, but he ultimately couldn't keep pace with Hudson Swafford.

    He went on to earn a spot at the Tour Championship, and Hadwin made his first career Presidents Cup appearance in October. Now the Canadian returns to Palm Springs, eager to improve on last year's result and hoping to earn a spot in the final group for a third straight year after a T-6 finish in 2016.

    "A lot of good memories here in the desert," Hadwin told reporters. "I feel very comfortable here, very at home. Lots of Canadians, so it's always fun to play well in front of those crowds and hopefully looking forward to another good week."

    Hadwin's 59 last year was somewhat overshadowed, both by the fact that he didn't win the event and that it came just one week after Justin Thomas shot a 59 en route to victory at the Sony Open. But he's still among an exclusive club of just eight players to have broken 60 in competition on Tour and he's eager to get another crack at La Quinta on Saturday.

    "If I'm in the same position on 18, I'm gunning for 58 this year," Hadwin said, "not playing safe for 59."

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    Rahm: If I thought like Phil, I could not hit a shot

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 10:39 pm

    When it comes to Jon Rahm and Phil Mickelson, there are plenty of common bonds. Both starred at Arizona State, both are now repped by the same agency and Rahm's former college coach and agent, Tim Mickelson, now serves full-time as his brother's caddie.

    Those commonalities mean the two men have played plenty of practice rounds together, but the roads quickly diverge when it comes to on-course behavior. Rahm is quick, fiery and decisive; Mickelson is one of the most analytical players on Tour. And as Rahm told reporters Wednesday at the CareerBuilder Challenge, those differences won't end anytime soon.

    "I don't need much. 'OK, it's like 120 (yards), this shot, right," Rahm said. "And then you have Phil, it's like, 'Oh, this shot, the moisture, this going on, this is like one mile an hour wind sideways, it's going to affect it one yard. This green is soft, this trajectory. They're thinking, and I'm like, 'I'm lost.' I'm like, 'God if I do that thought process, I could not hit a golf shot.'"

    CareerBuilder Challenge: Articles, photos and videos

    The tactics may be more simplified, but Rahm can't argue with the results. While Mickelson is in the midst of a winless drought that is approaching five years, Rahm won three times around the world last year and will defend a PGA Tour title for the first time next week at Torrey Pines.

    Both men are in the field this week in Palm Springs, where Mickelson will make his 2018 debut with what Rahm fully expects to be another dose of high-level analytics for the five-time major winner with his brother on the bag.

    "It's funny, he gets to the green and then it's the same thing. He's very detail-oriented," Rahm said of Mickelson. "I'm there listening and I'm like, 'Man, I hope we're never paired together for anything because I can't think like this. I would not be able to play golf like that. But for me to listen to all that is really fun."

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    DJ changes tune on golf ball distance debate

    By Will GrayJanuary 17, 2018, 9:16 pm

    World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is already one of the longest hitters in golf, so he's not looking for any changes to be made to golf ball technology - despite comments from him that hinted at just such a notion two months ago.

    Johnson is in the Middle East this week for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, and he told BBC Sport Wednesday that he wouldn't be in favor of making changes to the golf ball in order to remedy some of the eye-popping distances players are hitting the ball with ever-increasing frequency.

    "It's not like we are dominating golf courses," Johnson said. "When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy? I don't really understand what all the debate is about because it doesn't matter how far it goes; it is about getting it in the hole."

    Johnson's rhetorical question might be answered simply by looking back at his performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions earlier this month, an eight-shot romp that featured a tee shot on the 433-yard 12th hole that bounded down a slope to within inches of the hole.

    Johnson appeared much more willing to consider a reduced-distance ball option at the Hero World Challenge in November, when he sat next to tournament host Tiger Woods and supported Woods' notion that the ball should be addressed.

    "I don't mind seeing every other professional sport, they play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball," Johnson said. "In baseball, the guys that are bigger and stronger, they can hit a baseball a lot further than the smaller guys. ... I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage."

    Speaking Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, Johnson stood by the notion that regardless of whether the rules change or stay the same, he plans to have a leg up on the competition.

    "If the ball is limited then it is going to limit everyone," he said. "I'm still going to hit it that much further than I guess the average Tour player."

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    LPGA lists April date for new LA event

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 17, 2018, 8:18 pm

    The LPGA’s return to Los Angeles will come with the new Hugel-JTBC Open being played at Wilshire Country Club April 19-22, the tour announced Wednesday.

    When the LPGA originally released its schedule, it listed the Los Angeles event with the site to be announced at a later date.

    The Hugel-JTBC Open will feature a 144-player field and a $1.5 million purse. It expands the tour’s West Coast swing, which will now be made up of four events in California in March and April.

    The LPGA last played in Los Angeles in 2005. Wilshire Country Club hosted The Office Depot in 2001, with Annika Sorenstam winning there.