Kite Balances Life on Both Tours


2005 Constellation Energy ClassicHUNT VALLEY, Md. -- Tom Kite still thinks he can compete against the best young golfers in the world.
When he's not going up against his peers on the Champions Tour, the 1992 U.S. Open winner tests himself against the heavy hitters on the PGA Tour. Unfortunately, with few exceptions, the 55-year-old Kite has experienced little success in either endeavor this year.
'I don't know that it's a ridiculous challenge. It's a lot of fun, something I've really enjoyed,' he said Thursday. 'The thing that's been a little disappointing for me this year is that I haven't really played all that well. I've been real inconsistent.'
Kite has missed the cut in seven of 11 PGA events. But he led the Booze Allen tournament after three rounds, and although his bid to become the oldest golfer to win a PGA Tour event fizzled on Sunday, Kite proved he's not necessarily out of place among players who weren't even born when he launched his pro career in 1972.
He's back among his own age ground this weekend at the Champion Tour's Constellation Classic, where he hopes to earn his first win in 2005.
'It's not like I haven't played well some of the time, but the thing I've always done through the years is play really consistent. When I get it going, it kind of stays there for many weeks on end,' he said. 'This year, it's been a struggle. I haven't hit the ball nearly as well from tee to green.'
Which goes a long way toward explaining his struggle on the PGA Tour.
'When you play on the junior tour, you'd better bring your A-game,' he said.
Kite has fared better on Champions Tour, finishing second twice and earning $546,291 for 24th place on the earnings list.
Money, however, is not what motivates him. That's why he's willing to compete against Tiger Woods and Vijay Singh rather than chum around with his buddies on the Champions Tour.
'I've had a nice career financially, but never played for the money. I always played for the game and the competition,' he said. 'That hasn't changed since I was 10 years old.'
Kite's lifetime earnings exceed $19 million. If he focused solely on playing the Champions Tour, he'd have probably won an event by now. At least, that's how money leader Dana Quigley sees it.
'He's not struggling when he comes out here with us,' Quigley said. 'He goes from not being one of the longest hitters to being one of the longest hitters. Kite made the choice to play primarily on that tour, and it's certainly detracted from what he did with us.'
Kite will seek to rectify that situation this weekend against Quigley, Tom Watson and defending champion Wayne Levi on the par-72, 7,051-yard Hayfields Country Club course.
'I'm playing a lot better, there's no question about it,' Kite said. 'I'm looking for some good things these last few weeks of the year.'
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