Kite will be starting his sixth season on the Champions Tour when the event begins Friday in Hawaii. But for the first time, hes going to try playing both tours. He qualifies on the regular tour by virtue of his top-50 status in money earned on that circuit. He qualifies on the Champions by virtue of several categories, but he got into the MasterCard primarily by winning at last years 3M Championship. He won this event in 2002.
You can expect to see more players do what he is doing ' playing both tours. Jay Haas is a prime example. Also, to a lesser extent, Peter Jacobsen and Craig Stadler have tried it on both tours.
I really think you'll see a number of guys that have played throughout their career, and they have been lucky enough to be injury-free and pain-free to where they can do it, said Kite.
Obviously if you're hurting and you wake up in the morning and you've got some injuries that you are dealing with, it's going to make it difficult. You know, Greg (Norman), for example, his shoulder and his back and all that stuff has messed him up. He's not playing much of a schedule on the PGA Tour. So I really don't see him playing a whole lot on the Champions Tour for that reason.
But if you remain healthy and if you remain enthusiastic about it and you really enjoy the competition and enjoy this lifestyle, I think there will be a number of guys that continue.
Kite was virtually reborn as a player last year when he changed to the claw putting grip. Before the transformation, he had digressed to the point that he himself considered that he was a poor putter. But his much-improved putting, along with his play at the U.S. Open qualifier and his success at making the cut at Shinnecock, encouraged him to try this.
I'm going to play - I don't know how many, he said of his stab at the regular tour. There's been all sorts of articles written that have said there was 15 tournaments that I was going to play. I really haven't set a number.
I basically know what I'm going to do through June or up until the U.S. Open. I'm not in the Open, so I don't know whether I'll qualify - I will try to qualify for the Open. But up until the Open, I know exactly what my schedule is going to be. It's going to be a combination of PGA Tour, Champions Tour with a few more on the PGA Tour, and at that point in time - based on how well I play - I'll evaluate the schedule.
And either I'll continue to play on the PGA Tour with the majority on the PGA Tour, or run like (heck) back to the Champions Tour. Depends on how it goes.
The MasterCard Championship is a limited-field event. It is limited to Champions Tour winners the past two years, winners of major events the past five years, and four pros with 30 or more wins. Last years tournament was won by Fuzzy Zoeller, who recently underwent successful surgery for a heart problem.